Keyword research goes hand in hand with SEO.
While the quality and context of content matter a lot, there also comes a time when you have to decide what topics or keywords you want to rank for on SERPs.
Fortunately, there are many great processes, resources, and tools you can use for choosing the right keywords as part of your SEO efforts.
But it doesn’t matter how well you do your keyword research. There’s always a risk of you putting in so much effort on the wrong keywords.
So, how do you go about reducing this risk? Simple; choose the right keywords for your SEO, and you won’t waste an ounce of your effort.
Here’s how you can do it.
1. Understand the types of keywords
Before blindly jumping into keyword research, understand that there are three types of keywords:
- Head keywords
- Body keywords
- Long-tail keywords
The length of head keywords isn’t more than two words, but the search results they return are massive. For example, just the term ‘birthday cards’ matches with more than a billion pages.
Comparatively, body keywords can go up to three words. For example, ‘father birthday cards.’ Now, this term will return just a few million results. However, long-tail keywords consist of at least four words, showing just focused results.
Of course, ranking for head keywords is way too tricky. But with long-tail keywords, you may expect a far better rank on the SERPs.
2. Do competitor analysis
Knowing what your competitors are up to is always a smart way of staying ahead of them in the rat race to top the SERPs. Visit the websites of your competitors to discover some of the best keywords within your niche. Use one of the many competitor analysis tools to monitor traffic on a particular website and carefully the type of content they’re producing and keywords they’re using. This will help you understand their current ranking position. What next? Shape your own strategy by using those insights.
3. Plan your buyer's journey
Imagine the journey that your customers take – from when they first hear about your product/service to the point where they make their very first purchase. However, most people won’t buy the first time they hear about your product/service, especially if you’re selling high-ticket items. Instead, they’ll go through various phases like increasing awareness, consideration, and then making the final decision. This is known as the buyer’s journey in marketing books, but here’s a breakdown:
- Awareness: This is when a customer identifies their problem. Many customers in this stage might not even name their problem; they just know that there’s one. Weird? Here’s an example: an employee may experience pain in their wrist but doesn’t precisely know the issue.
- Consideration: This is where customers can name their problem and research what they can do to get rid of it. Let’s consider our unlucky worker again: they visited their doctor and found that they’re suffering from RSI.
- Decision: This is the last stage – a stage where the customer reviews a long list of potential solutions and finally decides which one to choose. Since we’re all marketers here, we would hope that their solution is to purchase our product/service instead of our competitor’s. For example, our unfortunate office worker decides to buy an ergonomic keyboard and a gel mouse mat. But they’ll have to choose where to purchase it from and what brand they should go for.
Before writing content, think about your potential reader and where they might be in the buyer’s journey. For example, an ergonomic keyboard manufacturer may think about writing a blog post on RSI, targeting buyers in the awareness stage. This blog post may end with a CTA, requesting readers to subscribe to the newsletter. Now, design your newsletter in a way that provides special offers to people in the decision stage.
4. Do search intent analysis
What does search intent tell us? The search intent answers the question, ‘why do people search’ allowing you to select keywords based on this logic. These keywords are broadly classified into the following three categories:
- Navigational: The users want to find some other web page
- Informational: The user wants to research a topic
- Commercial: The user desires to make a purchase
By thinking like a customer, you’ll be able to choose the right keywords for your content marketing and SEO strategy.
For example, searches like ‘water heater broken’ are different from ‘buy an affordable water heater.’ One is an informational key phrase, and the other is commercial.
If you’re looking to be on the safe side, offer content in each of these three areas to complete your CTA. Now, your keywords will focus on different web pages or landing pages devoted to those search phrases.
For informational searches, use the phrase and write unique content about it. Blog posts are ideal for this type of search as they contain a variety of key phrases to build relevancy. If you’re able to link this content to your contact forms or product pages, you’ll see results very soon.
While focusing on transitional (commercial) intents doesn’t require much focus, they’re pretty competitive.
5. Map every keyword to a specific website's page
It would be best if you mapped every target keyword to a page on your site. Use a simple content schedule to keep your ideas organized. This will help you in two ways:
- It will keep you organized throughout a lengthy campaign
- It will stop you from targeting the exact same keyword on two different pages on your site
Remember that web pages rank – not websites.
Generally, you’d want to ensure that all your web pages target a different, specific keyword. For example, your product/service pages can target keywords with significant commercial intent. On the other hand, you can design your blog posts to target informational keywords, as mentioned in the previous point. But don’t target the same keyword in more than one place on your website. This will help you avoid keyword stuffing and prevent you from being penalized for it.
Hopefully, you’re now well-aware of how to take advantage of keyword research and choose the right keywords for SEO. If you use the right keywords, your customers and potential target audience won’t have difficulty finding you. But perform an SEO audit periodically just in case. It’ll help you identify if any errors are tanking your traffic and rankings.