What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of researching, evaluating and choosing the best keywords and phrases that your ideal target customer is using to actively search for your products and services or to discover your content. There is no other resource that allows you to get into the minds of prospective consumers like keywords.
When you understand the keywords that your target audience uses to search for your products or services, you can use those keywords in your ad buys, your press releases, social media campaigns, Pay per Click campaigns and to optimise your web pages for Search Engine Optimisation, and you can track the success of those keywords in your analytic software program.
Keywords are so paramount and fundamental to online marketing campaigns that PPC advertising is frequently called keyword advertising, keyword-targeted advertising or keyword-driven advertising.
Essentially, you have no control over how searchers refer to your products and services. All you can do is to identify and understand the terms being used, try to understand the searcher’s intent and how the keywords used by that user relate to the products or services that you offer.
Understanding User Intent
Once you have discovered the keywords people use to describe your products or services, you need to understand their intent behind using the keywords. The keywords you use in your ads provide the opportunity to show your prospects that you understand their pains and challenges and what they are looking for when they use specific keywords.
The keywords used by searchers are the only clues available to understand what is going on in the mind of a searcher.
For example, people who use singular and plural forms of a particular keyword tend to have different intent. A user that types in “used cars” has completely different intentions from the user that types in “used toyota camry 2006“.
People that use plural forms of a particular keyword tend to be in the early, research stages of the buying cycle, while those that use singular, more specific forms of keywords tend to have completed their research, and are much closer to the buying stage of the buying funnel.
Identifying Theme Words
Keyword research also involves identifying the theme words and phrases that are important to the topics you want to write about. If you are interested in writing about a particular topic, it is important to write like an expert or authority of that topic.
There are certain keywords and phrases you will naturally need to incorporate into the content as you write. This will help your target audience as well as the search engines perceive you as an expert on that topic. It is therefore important that you are able to identify and use those keywords and phrases in your content.
Keyword research is something you cannot afford to get wrong. With over 96% of clicks coming from the first page of the search engine results page (SERP), your goal should be to generate a list of targeted keywords and phrases your target audience will use to search for you.
Using no keywords or the wrong keywords to optimise your web pages is like putting the wrong signboard outside your store. Even if you happen to rank at the top of Google, you’ll only be attracting irrelevant traffic, and you’ll have high bounce rates and very low engagement and conversion rates which will be damaging for your organic search ranking.
Furthermore, Google search has fragmented, and now takes place on desktops, voice, tablets and mobiles. This means that you now have to work to a massive list of keywords to capture not just desktop search but mobile and voice as well.
How to Assess a Keyword’s Value
Before optimizing your site or web page for a particular keyword, answer the following question:
- Is the keyword relevant to the products or services you offer on your website?
- If a searcher finds your site or web page through that keyword, will they find what they are looking for?
- Will the traffic arriving on your site through a particular keyword convert on your site’s goals?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then you may proceed to optimize for those keywords.
It is important to understand that keyword research isn’t simply a set and forget process that you only do at the beginning of a search engine optimization campaign. On-going research is necessary in order to keep uncovering new keywords in order to achieve business goals.
According to Google, “20% of Google search queries are ones we haven’t seen in the past 90 days”. This provides tremendous opportunities to discover new keywords.
Relevance is the key determinant of the keywords you should have in your account. Sometimes very few people who are searching on a particular keyword will fit your customer profile, and you’ll want to avoid such words altogether. You should only have keywords that are relevant to the products and services you offer.
If the keywords in your ad group help a searcher find the answer to their question, then these are productive and effective keywords. If you are unable to definitively determine the user intent of a particular keyword you are considering adding to your account, you should avoid adding such a keyword.
Accuracy and Specificity
When choosing keywords, make sure they are an accurate reflection of your products and services, and that you fully understand the mind-set of the user that is searching for those keywords.
If your keywords could have multiple meanings, then they are unambiguous, and will not be particularly effective for your account. You’ll want to avoid using them because even if they may have a high clickthrough rate, such words tend to have a very poor conversion rate.
For example, let’s assume you sell flowers and have chosen this word the word “rose” or even “red roses online” as one of your keywords. If a user were to search for these terms how can you definitively discern their intent?
These are such widely used and highly competitive search terms, the user could be searching for a multitude of things that do not necessarily have anything to do with buying flowers online. For example:
- they may be looking for information on how to plant a rose garden;
- they may be trying to locate a particular person whose name begins with Rose;
- they may be looking to buy a particular brand of wine, perfume or chocolate;
In the above cases, you’ll want to add the exact keyword: how to plant a rose garden and things like wine, wines and people or person as negative keywords.
How to Test keyword Relevance
The test is: do you want the person who searches on a particular keyword to visit your website? If not, then you should not add the keyword to your list. The keywords “rose” or “red roses online” are not specific enough to have any definitive user intent.
You should be able to determine the user intent of each specific keyword in your account so that you understand exactly what the user wants when they type in that keyword. If you cannot determine the user intent from what the user types in, in all likelihood, it is more trouble than it is worth, and not a good keyword to have in your account.
In effect, the keywords that you use in your ad groups should be the same or a close variation of the words that your potential customers would use to search for the solution to their problem. When you use a particular keyword in your ad, you are telling a consumer that you can help them solve the problem they are searching about.
If your prospect is searching for instructional videos that teaches them how to play tennis, and you put the phrase “how to play tennis” in the headline of your ad, you’ve scored an empathy point with the searcher. You have tapped into their lingo and demonstrated that you have an understanding of their problem, and by clicking on your ad, you can provide an effective solution.
Semantic Keyword Research
Google and Bing are now powered by semantic search technology. Prior to semantic search, keywords were used by the search engines as the primary means by which to rank websites.
Semantic search engines have shifted the focus from simply looking at the keywords used in a search query to understanding the mindset of the searcher and the context in which the words are being used.
By analyzing the entire search query typed into the search box, the algorithm is able to return results that are contextually relevant to the searcher’s intent.
Every time you create content now, start with a basic question and then answer it thoroughly.
For example, if you sell leather handbags through your e-commerce site, you can produce content that your target audience is likely to be interested in.
- How do I care for leather handbags?
- Is leather waterproof?
- How can I increase the lifespan of my leather handbag?
- How can I spot a fake leather handbag?
- What are the most attractive handbags?
- Where can I rent a designer handbag?
- Where to get the best handbag deals?
- Where to buy Victoria Beckham handbags?
- What handbags are currently in fashion?
You can create complete articles out of the answers to each of th
These questions that will cover dozens of search queries. By creating meaningful, quality content that starts out with questions like this and targets search queries, you are making it more likely to get:
- User-generated content in the form of comments.
- Organic links
Obviously you need to conduct keyword research to find keywords that you’ll use to optimize your articles. However, the difference this time is that instead of inserting them as many times as you can get away with in the piece you are writing, you will now simply use them in an organic way that reads naturally, and is written for people first and not search engines.