Keyword Research – How to Select Top Keywords for SEO
Keywords are the foundation of Search Engine Marketing. People are looking for information, products and services online everyday. Search engines are the first place they choose to find the information they are interested in.
The concept is simple – thanks to keywords, people are able to find the content they are looking for in search engines. Owing to accurate results and in many situations relevant results, search engines like Google, or Bing are very popular. That’s also the reason why they are commonly used by businesses and marketers all over the world (this also means you).
The point of every promotional activity in search engines is to connect searches with your website. Your business’ presence in search engines is bounded with the keywords. Knowing which specific keywords people use to find your product or information about your services gives you a significant advantage – you can make it easier for them to find you.
Being easier to find for keywords specific to your business is becoming more visible in search engines. This translates into achieving higher website’s positions for keywords, having a larger share in overall clicks from the search engines results page, and bringing in more traffic and users that are interested in your offer.
Hopefully they could turn into your new satisfied customers.
Keywords for SEO – Where to Start Your Research
Build a List of Keywords Connected with Your Business
Write down keywords and phrases, that you think are suitable to use to promote your website online. Who can know your business better than you, right? Not exactly. It’s necessary to point out that say at this point, it’s not a good idea to use keywords, that YOU think are best for your business. It’s not about you. It’s about what keywords are most commonly used by the people who find businesses like yours.
Although you shouldn’t use your keywords in the first place, this kind of research could give you an idea of what you should be looking for.
Use Tools from Your PPC Campaigns
Researching keywords is not only important for SEO purposes, but is also essential for your paid SEM activities. If you’re already managing a sponsored link campaign, there’s no contraindications to use your best performing keywords in SEO. If you’re totally new with these issues, let’s go further with our research.
Google Keyword Research provided by AdWords advertising platform is a good place to start. Of course there are other tools on the market like Bing Ads Intelligence, but let’s stick with Google, since it’s the global number one and is quite comprehensive and a complementary tool.
You don’t have to pay money or start a campaign immediately to use it. It will provide information about keywords and phrases that people use as search queries to find your product.
You will also gain the knowledge of which phrases are irrelevant to your offer.
Use Your Historical Data
The other tool you could use is of course your analytics software. I assume that Google Analytics would be your first choice in that area. You can use it to track many types of traffic from search engines – paid, referral, social and organic. While analyzing your incoming organic traffic, if the amount of it is quite visible, you can see what keywords visitors were using in order to come to your site so far.
Analyze Search Trends
Another variable you should bare in mind are search trends. You can get some inspiration from the keywords, if the ones you’ve chosen fit in local or global search trends, (depending on your business). If not, it would be a good idea to do additional research and add some new keywords and their variations to your list.
Analyze Your Competition
You can also check how much competition your chosen keywords have.
Type some of of the keywords of your choice and look what results will be shown to you. Check if your competitors offer is available and look if the sponsored links of similar offers will appear. If so, then that’s the signal that this is the keyword you want to position your website in search engines. It has a big value and it could be difficult to achieve a better keyword rank than your competitors.
Don’t know when to choose between PPC and SEO tactics when promoting your business online? Check out our guide: PPC vs SEO – Quick Results or Sustainable Effects?
Types of Keywords
At this point, you’re probably wondering what keywords you should choose. While writing this article I asked myself a question:
“What kind of keywords should I focus on to get the best possible results?”
Doing research showed me that there are many more types of keywords and methodologies used to categorize keywords.
Phrases by Word Number
This is the most common methodology.
- General Keywords
1-word keywords. Unspecific, general terms people use for search queries. In most occasions, they provide the best amount of traffic, but also are highly competitive and not specific enough to connect them with your site.
- More Specific Keywords
2-3 word keywords. They provide a good balance between the traffic volume and relevance with your website. The cost and competition usage for them is moderate.
- Long Tail Keywords
4+ word phrases. Very specific phrases with low competition. The number of long-tail keywords is much bigger than the ones above, but the statistics show that they’re responsible for driving about 70% of overall traffic on the internet. They will not give you traffic volume, but they are cheap and will provide you with the most engaged users.
Phrases by Type of Searched Information
- Information Keywords
Used when people are looking for particular information or products.
- Navigation Keywords
Used when people are looking for a specific brand or company.
- Purchase Keywords
Used when users are determined to buy a specific product or service.
Phrases by Organic Traffic Type
- Branded Keywords
Keywords that are connected with your unique brand.
- Non-branded Keywords
The phrases that does not reference your brand.
Other Types of Keyword Variations
- Geographical Keywords
Local or global keyword variations.
- Misspelled Keywords
These occur when problems with misspelling appear.
- Seasonal Keywords
Used on specific occasions.
Confused? I admit that you could be. Let’s put our analysis together.
You could argue that targeting long tail keywords is the best strategy for beginners. Want to know how to do it? Of course you do. Check out our guide: Long Tail SEO: Why Long Tail Keywords Are Worth Your Attention
What Keywords Should You Choose?
Keywords you should choose should be:
- Relevant to Your Business
You don’t want to be everywhere, especially the search engine results page which is irrelevant to your niche, so bear in mind to be consistent with your topic.
- Contain More than One Word
Focus mostly on 2-3 word phrases, they combine even metrics in every aspect.
- Provide Traffic Volume
These should be keywords that provide you with enough traffic to scale your business and increase your number of sales. The long-tail keywords shouldn’t be underestimated though, because they provide lower traffic, but it’s more targeted to your users.
- Be Targeted
The advantage that 2-3 phrases give, is they are oriented towards the topic, is that they are more specific, than very broad 1-word keywords and bring you the traffic that is targeted and in acceptable amount of volume.
- Have Low Competition
These keywords, as any business should have a niche. Trying to get traffic from very competitive keywords could be costly and doesn’t translate into conversions. Try to find a niche which won’t strain your budget.
- Good Conversion Rates
Keywords should deliver as large of a number of users as possible, that will convert to use your product.
- Good Engagement
Conversions don’t always mean sales, especially when the users just started to do research and are in the top of the buying funnel. Creating engagement with your website is important too. Low bounce rates, time spent on pige and the number of pages visited could be an indicator of your traffic’s quality.
Stick with the terms that are mostly used as search queries by users and be with your offer, where they are looking for.
Now that you have your keywords, what do you do with them? Not sure how to create a content marketing strategy? Read our guide: 12 Steps to Start Your First Content Marketing Campaign from Scratch
How to use your keywords
Once your list is complete, it’s time to give it a spin and try it out.
Optimize Your Website
Optimize your website and landing pages to be more related with your most converting keywords.
Optimize Your Content
You can use your keywords to optimize your content to be more visible and accessible for search engines.
Track and Optimize Results
If everything is ready you can now track, analyze and improve your overall efforts and strategy to achieve the best results.
Remember to analyze your SEO efforts in a holistic approach. The 80/20 rule could be some guidance. If 80% of your traffic is generated by only 20% of your keywords, try to focus on them in the first place. General and more specific keywords will deliver you the most traffic. Your brand and long tail keywords will give you less amount of traffic, but will bring you more targeted users which will generate higher conversion rates.
Try to mix your activities to find out what keyword strategy will give you the best performance.
Expand Your Keyword List
Don’t stop improving! Try to find new keywords, that will be similar to your topic. Use your keywords list to build up highly specific search queries, that people type in search engines to find your website.
Once you’re ranking for keywords, it’s time to track your progress. Want to know how and why? Check out our guide: Website Rank for Keywords – 6 Reasons Why Higher Positions in Search Engines are Important