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The Business Owner’s Guide to Keyword Research for SEO
When doing business online, you’re bombarded with information about SEO. Articles teach you how to rank for your target keywords along with mistakes to avoid.
The question is, how do you even find the right keywords?
As a business owner, you know the importance of ranking in search engine results pages. The higher up your website is in the SERPs, the more traffic it will receive from this top spot. But the question is, which keywords should I focus on? That’s where keyword research comes in.
It is imperative to your success because it’s the only way to know exactly what people are searching for. It gives you the necessary knowledge to optimise your content and website for conversions.
In this blog post, we’re going to break down what keyword research is along with actionable steps you can implement right away.
Let’s get started.
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is finding the relevant keywords you need to rank for.
It serves as the jumping off point for all your digital marketing efforts. Whether you’re writing blog posts or creating pay-per-click ads, you need to start with this crucial first step.
The results may differ depending on what your business offers and your target audience. Let’s say Business A and Business B are both travel agencies.
Business A targets young millennials who are looking for adventure. Business B caters to retirees who’d like to relax more. There may be some overlap in the keywords you find during your search but a huge majority of them will be different–even if they’re the same business.
Terms You Should Know
Before we proceed, let’s define a few words you need to know.
Search intent is why users are searching for something. It is valuable to understand what that reason is, because it helps you refine the way your content will be written.
For example, “italian food” and “italian restaurants near me” might sound like similar keywords at first. However, if you think about it, you’ll realize that the keywords are used differently.
The intent behind the keyword “italian food” is quite vague. Someone who wants to learn how to cook Italian food might use it, but it can also be used by people looking for Italian restaurants.
The keyword “italian restaurants near me” is more specific. It tells you right away that the user is looking for a nearby Italian restaurant.
Keeping in search intent in mind is vital when doing keyword research. In fact, 88% of users visit or call a business within 24 hours after finding it via mobile search.
There are four types of search intent including:
- Informational – This when people want to find information about a specific topic.
- Navigational – The searchers already have a brand or business in mind and are looking for it online.
- Commercial – The searchers haven’t made up their mind about purchasing something yet and are looking for more information.
- Transactional – The searchers have made the decision to purchase something.
Short Tail Keywords
These are keywords that are composed of three words or less. They get a lot of traffic since they’re more general and are more difficult to rank for.
Long Tail Keywords
These are keywords that are composed of four or more words. They get less traffic than short tail keywords but are also less competitive.
Search volume is the number of times a keyword is used during a specific period of time. The higher the search volume, the bigger the chances of your content being found.
In an ideal world, your target keyword would have a high search volume and low competition, but that’s rarely the case.
How to Do Keyword Research
Get to know your ideal customer.
If you think keyword research is all about numbers, you would be wrong.
Getting to know your ideal customer is essential for a successful SEO strategy. If you don’t know him, you won’t be able to predict how he’ll behave online. Knowing who they are will help you focus on the right keywords and eventually create content that people really want.
You can start by asking yourself the following questions:
- How old is your ideal customer?
- What is his educational background?
- Where does he live?
- What are his likes and dislikes?
- What are his most pressing customers?
- How does he find information?
- How often does he go online?
- What websites does he visit?
Use the questions above to create an ideal customer profile. Dig deep and understand the kind of language your ideal customer uses. A CEO in his 50s will look for things differently compared to a twenty-something intern.
Create a list of keywords.
After you’ve created your ideal customer profile, it’s time to create a list of keywords.
Open a new document in Excel or Google Sheets. Jot down keywords your ideal customer might use to find you. Make sure to include both short tail and long tail keywords.
If you’re struggling to think of more keywords, don’t worry. We’ll discuss two techniques you can use.
Google shows you related keywords.
Let’s say you own a coffee shop in Sydney. Obviously, “coffee shop sydney” can be one of your target keywords.
If you enter the keyword “coffee shop sydney,” Google will you show a bunch of results. Ignore those results and scroll to the bottom of the page. You’ll notice that Google generates related searches for you.
This tells you that people looking for the same thing have used those keywords. Choose the relevant ones and add them to your list.
Use Answer the Public.
Answer the Public is a free tool that generates related searches for you. Enter your keyword in the search bar, and it will then present results in the form of downloadable images.
Let’s go back to our earlier coffee shop own example. If you enter the keyword “coffee shops in Sydney,” Answer the Public will show you a bunch of related searches. The results are sorted according to:
- questions that start with how, why, are, will, can, where, which, what, who and when
- searches that use prepositions
- searches that use comparison words
- alphabetical order
Examine Answer’s the Public’s results. Don’t add everything to your keyboard list willy-nilly. Identify which ones your ideal client will use and only add those.
Check keyword competition.
Now that you have a list of keywords, it’s time to check how difficult they are to rank for. This step is crucial so you don’t waste time and resources trying to rank for keywords that are irrelevant or too difficult.
There are plenty of available tools you can use online. These include:
- SEMrush – This requires you to create a paid account.
- Moz Keyword Explorer – You can use some of the features a few times.
- Ubersuggest – This is completely free.
Still remember our coffee shop owner example? Once you open Moz Keyword Explorer, enter your chosen keyword and wait for it to generate results.
If we enter the keyword “coffee shop sydney,” Moz Keyword Explorer will show us the following:
- monthly search volume – This is the number of times a keyword is used in a month.
- keyword difficulty score – This rates how difficult it is to rank for a keyword.
- organic CTR score – This rates how often people click on organic search results instead of leaving the page or click on an ad.
- keyword priority score – This combines all the keyword’s other metrics like monthly search volume, keyword difficulty, organic CTR and more. The higher the keyword priority score, the better.
- keyword suggestions – These are keywords that are similar to your first keyword.
- SERP analysis – This shows you the top search results for your target keyword.
Let’s say Keyword A has a monthly search volume of 300 and a keyword difficulty of 31. Keyword B has a monthly search volume of 300 and a keyword difficulty of 62.
Keeping the search intent in mind, you might prefer to go with Keyword A. You’re getting the same number of searches, but it won’t be as difficult to rank for.
Before you even think about attempting to rank for keywords, ensure you choose the right ones.
Keyword research helps you select keywords that are relevant to your business and customers. You won’t waste energy and time attempting to rank for keywords that won’t get you results.
Get to know your ideal customer first. Think of the keywords they’ll use to find use.
Next, create a comprehensive keyword list. Enter the keywords you initially came up with in Google and check the related searches. You can also use Answer the Public to find an extensive list of similar keywords.
Creating a list isn’t enough. You also have to check if the keywords in your list are worth attempting to rank for. Check the keyword’s search volume and difficulty.
Done right, keyword research serves as a guide for your SEO and content marketing strategy.
Need help with keyword research? Cornerstone Digital is an SEO agency in Sydney that can help you find your ideal customer via SEO. Call us on (02) 8211 0668 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-founder of Cornerstone and web junkie, Michael knows just how to diagnose your online problems and remedy the issue. An online enthusiast who believes in technology as an enabler of growth, Michael worries about all the details so you don't have to.