A Short (But Comprehensive) Guide to Keyword Research

When it comes to SEO, keyword research is probably your most useful tool.
keyword research
Guide to Keyword Research

When it comes to SEO, keyword research is probably your most useful tool. Because if you’re not writing about the topics people are searching for, very few people are going to stumble across your website. It’s essential that you include certain keywords in your content, so that Google and other search engines will know your pages are relevant to particular search queries. The main question is, is keyword research as simple as it seems, and how do you get started?

What are keywords?

Simply put, a keyword is a word or phrase that someone types into a search engine. Keywords can also be referred to as a search query or an SEO keyword. 

So what is keyword research? As the name suggests, it’s investigating the sort of search terms your target demographic are typing into engines like Google, using this information to prioritise the keywords you use and bid on, and then analysing the results to find more opportunities for your site.

It’s also essential to note that keyword research is not something you can just do once. Trends in the market are constantly shifting, so it’s a good idea to regularly update your research, and reanalyse the results. 

what are keywords
keyword research important

is keyword research important?

If you want organic traffic visiting your website, keyword research is incredibly important! According to a study undertaken by Ahrefs, just over 90% of content gets no Google traffic, because the creators were not writing with keywords in mind – nobody was looking for their content. Pages that were getting more than 1,000 organic visitors a month made up less than 1% of the results. 

Keyword research is also helpful in terms of knowing how difficult it will be to rank for particular keywords, what sort of traffic the keywords get, and whether the people searching for certain keywords make up part of your target audience.

How Do I Know What Keywords to Use?

When you start your keyword research, it’s a good idea to consider the sorts of things your potential customers would be typing into a search engine if they were looking for your products or services. First, think about the broad themes of your business. So if, for instance, you owned a knitting business, some of the key terms might be ‘wool’, ‘yarn’ and ‘knitting needles’. These words are often called ‘seed’ keywords – they would be too expensive to bid on, as the traffic numbers would be huge, but they can plant the seed for other ideas. From ‘knitting needles’ for example, you might branch out to words like ‘buy bamboo needle set’ or ‘starter needles for beginners’.

You can also use tools to find out what keywords your competitors are bidding on. Check who ranks on the first page of Google for your seed keywords, and use them as examples. You can then use platforms like Google Analytics to discover the keywords these companies are bidding on.

Google Keyword Planner is another fantastic tool that can help you find keywords that your competitors may have missed. Simply enter your seed keywords, and you’ll get a whole list of relevant search terms, ranked by relevance. You’ll also see the average number of monthly searches, and the strength of the competition for these keywords.

Long Tail Keywords

Once you’ve looked at your competitors and used things like Google Keyword Planner, you should have plenty of ideas to start generating relevant content (with your keywords included) and know the sorts of keywords to bid on for PPC. But what about more out there keywords? The best way to discover slightly more niche keywords is to delve a little deeper – start reading question and answer forums within your industry, check out blog pages as well as groups discussing products and services you sell.

These less common search queries are often referred to as ‘long tail keywords’. Seed keywords tend to cast too wide a net – search engines won’t know exactly what information is needed. If we go back to the example of ‘knitting needles’, Google can’t know if the searcher wants to buy knitting needles, find out about the different sizes, or even learn about their history! Long tail keywords offer a more specific answer – ‘buy bamboo needle set’ is pretty self explanatory. 

Analysing Keywords

When it comes to determining the importance of particular keywords, there are few ways you can easily get this information. Firstly, you can look at the search volume for individual keywords. This will tell you the annual average of the times something has been searched. You can also look into the number of clicks a keyword gets – this will probably be a more relevant number. 

Finding out the average Cost Per Click can additionally give you a rough idea of how valuable a keyword is. If your competitors are willing to pay a lot of money to bid on a particular keyword, it’s probably got a good traffic rate and return on investment. Just bear in mind that the cost of keywords can wildly fluctuate – if you want more stable figures, stick with the search volumes and number of clicks!

analyzing keywords

Creating Keyword Rich Content

After doing your initial round of keyword research, and deciding which words are the most relevant for your site to include, you can start creating some content. There are two main things to consider here, so that you can determine whether to create just one landing page for multiple search terms, or if a keyword needs its own landing page. These things are the search intent and the overarching topic. 

Identifying the Main Topic

If you have a list of keywords, but aren’t sure which are separate themes, you can work out the main topic by seeing how Google interprets the searches. Simply type the keywords into Google, and see if the same pages are ranking for the search. If they are, it’s likely that Google believes the keywords to make up the same overarching theme, but if not, you’ll need to create more than one landing page for the keywords. 

Finding Out the Search Intent

When it comes to search intent, this will determine whether you should be creating a product page for a topic, or a blog post/guide. Essentially, you need to know whether people are searching for a product or service in order to buy it, or to find more information about it. Again, the simplest way to find this out is to enter the keywords into Google, and see what the top results are. 

So if you type in ‘starter needles for beginners’, the results are mostly about selecting the right knitting needles if you’ve just taken up knitting. Therefore for this search term, it would be sensible to create a blog post about picking the right type of needle, rather than a product page about beginner needle sets. 

start keyword research

Getting Started on Keyword Research

Hopefully you’ll now have a thorough understanding of keyword research and can begin creating content that will link to specific search terms! And if you want to find out more about bidding on keywords, you can check out our guide on the fundamentals of PPC

We’re also here to support you if you’d like to discuss keyword research in more detail, especially with your particular industry in mind. Get in touch with us today to talk about how we can help you with your digital marketing needs!