Search Engine Optimisation is a big priority for marketers and businesses alike. The more up to par your site is with Google’s and other search engines’ standards, the more likely your site will rank well on the search result page.
And that often directly translates into:
More search traffic
Increased trust in your brand, etc.
A key component of your SEO strategy is keyword research, which you could argue is the foundation of the entire process. At the surface, it seems like just a way to gather a list of keywords to leverage on your site and improve its ranking, but it’s actually a lot more than that.
In this guide, we’ll go into what keyword research is, what’s its purpose, and how you should do it.
What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of uncovering specific search terms that people type into the search engines, with the purpose of leveraging that list of keywords for search engine optimisation.
Search engines use web crawlers to literally scan the internet for all its pages. When a user types in the words “best auto repair shop in Sydney,” the web crawler will look for these keywords and bring back a list of websites that match a user query.
The web crawler cannot actually read your website content and figure out from context that your site is relevant to the search query. It’s your job to make sure you give it enough hints to make that association fast.
Keyword research can help businesses discover which search terms to cover, their popularity, and even assess how much they bring to the table in terms of helping a site rank well on the search result pages.
But why does one need to focus so much on finding the right keywords? If you have an auto repair shop in Sydney, then you just need all the different variants of this concept. Add them to your content and that’s pretty much it, right?
Well, not exactly. The truth is, you don’t necessarily know how a potential customer will type their query. You may think the logical way to do so is the ‘‘best auto repair shop in Sydney” keyword, but that might not always be the case.
Based on this example, a user may type more specific issues they need to address, such as “where to fix my engine in Sydney” or “best shops for auto paint.” Or, they may write something more general.
But that’s for the keyword research to uncover. Through it, you get a better sense of how potential customers may look for you, and adopt these terms to promote your product and service more effectively.
What Makes a Good Keyword?
Not all keywords are created equal. It’s important to understand the factors that make a good keyword so that when you create a list you know which of them hold more weight than others.
Here are some qualities that a valuable keyword has:
Search results are ranked from most relevant down. Now, relevance here doesn’t always mean your keywords need to exactly match the user query, as Google will also take search intent into consideration.
A user may have different needs when looking for something. They may want to shop for a product or service, look for some information regarding a topic, or they are trying to get to a certain website and type in the brand name in the search engine (this one is called navigational user intent).
When you account for intent, you can choose the relevant keywords that ensure your site gets delivered in the SERPs.
A specific keyword may be enough to get you on the top of the SERP, but if that keyword isn’t popular, then it will likely not result in increased search traffic.
The more popular a keyword is, the more opportunity it can present. But too popular isn’t necessarily good either. These are considered highly competitive keywords and they are likely used by your competitors as well. You should not just focus on keywords with the biggest search volume. Even those lower on the list can have major benefits.
Say you have a blog post about content marketing. Which keyword do you think would be more valuable? “Content marketing”/or “top tips for content marketing 2020?”
If you said the last one, you’d be half right. Users in 2020 don’t type in general topics when they are looking for something. Most give the search engine as much information as they can, even complete sentences, to ensure the results will be as accurate as possible.
There’s also something to be said about voice assistants present on most smartphones. Some users may not even type their query at all, but instead “ask their phone” to look for something. And when they do that, they use their regular speech.
It’s not to say that these general keywords should be ignored completely. Vague, general keywords may present more opportunities volume-wise, so it’s good to have them as well. They just show different search intent. Someone who looks for something specific is clearly interested in acting on something while searching for general terms is more in the just looking area.
These shorter keywords are known as seed keywords, and can serve as the basis for more complex ones, such as long-tail keywords or even keyword phrases.
A healthy combination of all three is usually a winning strategy.
5 Tips for Doing Keyword Research
Now’s time to get down to it – how exactly does one look for the keywords they need for search engine optimisation purposes? Here are 5 strategies to employ:
1. Make a List of Topics
Think about the topics that are specific to your business and write them down. These should mirror your business’ services and key characteristics. You don’t have to go too specific yet, but just write down some general topics related to you that will help you focus your keyword research.
Let’s go back to the auto shop example. Some topics relevant to this type of business could include:
- Car repair
- Engine repair
- Tire repair
- Car inspection
- Oil change
You can add these in a spreadsheet, with each main topic sitting on the top row. Then, on each column you can add the keywords you’ll soon discover.
Or, you can create separate spreadsheets for each topic, and add more information about each keyword you uncover, such as monthly search volume. It’s really up to you.
2. Add the Keywords
Now’s the part where you let your brain run wild and start typing everything that comes to mind relating to each of your topics.
And when we say let your brain run wild, we really mean it. The point here isn’t exactly to make a definitive list but to get as many potential keyword ideas to leverage later on. Think of how a potential customer would search for one of your topics, and write down different variants in each column. You’ll test them later to see if they are valuable or not.
For instance, for the oil change topic, we could have:
- Oil change near me
- Oil change Sydney
- Oil change service near me
- Oil change service Sydney
- Where to change car oil
- Change oil
Listen, not all of them will be winners, so don’t get too hung up on finding the perfect keyword in this stage. You should focus on volume.
3. Check What Keywords You Already Rank for
You likely rank for keywords already on your site. The search traffic may not be anything to boast about yet, but those keywords are still valuable.
Check Google Analytics or other tracking systems you have in place for your traffic sources to identify any keywords that may already be bringing some people to your website. You can also use the Google Search Console for this information as well.
4. Search for Related Terms
To perfect the list of keywords you’ve come up with, you can take a look at what related keywords come up as suggestions in the Google search bar.
If we type “car repair shop”, the search engine will offer us other popular queries. For the average user, this is a way for Google to help them speed up the process by not making them type everything. For marketers, it can uncover additional great keywords.
This is a manual process that can take some time, depending on how many related terms you want to look for, but it is a nice way to find keywords that are popular and you might have missed in your brainstorming.
5. Leverage Keyword Research Tools
A keyword research tool is your final step to this process. These tools can help you perfect your keyword search, see if certain specific keywords are worthwhile, and even identify highly competitive keywords that may be a good idea to focus less on.
Google provides some of the best tools for keyword research, specifically Google Trends and the Keyword planner.
- First, the Keyword Planner gives you information regarding search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you have gathered in your list. Keywords that have too much or too little search volume don’t usually help with your SEO, so you can flag these search terms with the help of this planner.
- Then, you can go to Google Trends and see if there may be some opportunities with certain keywords. For instance, if the Keyword planner shown on search term has low volume, your first instinct may be to remove it.
- But not so fast – what does Google Trends say? Because it could show that particular term is being used more and more often. So even though it doesn’t have high volume now, it is slowly building more popularity. That’s an amazing opportunity that could help you improve your search rankings later on, especially if your competitors totally missed that keyword.
You can also use these tools to look for keywords in the first place. Both services offer information on similar keyword search from Google users. If you’re tired of Google products and are looking for something else, there are a plethora of free keyword research tools out there, such as Ahrefs, Moz Keyword Explorer, or KeywordTool.io.
Can’t You Just Use a Keyword Research Tool?
You can definitely just use a tool to find keywords you need, however, we’d recommend you combine multiple strategies to get a more definitive list of important keywords to leverage.
Simply put, cherry-picking any of these tips and using them on their own might give you a list of keywords, but those individual keywords may not be as valuable as you’d hope. It’s easy to assume certain phrases that are descriptive of your product or service are also the ones you should focus on for search engine optimisation purposes, but reality may beg to differ.
It all comes down to what your potential customers type into the search engines. And that’s something that can change over time, which is why it’s essential to recurrently look for keyword trends to spot any emerging opportunities.
Start Improving Your SEO Now
Keyword research is an important part of your search engine optimisation journey, but it’s not the only thing you should be concerned about. Ranking well on the search result pages takes time, effort, and a little bit of insight into how search engines work.
We can help you improve your SEO and rank well in search engines. Australian Internet Advertising is the Google Partner you’ve been looking for, so if you need to create an effective SEO strategy, we’re the ones to call.
Book a free 30-minute strategy session with us now to get started on improving your SEO efforts!