How to do keyword research – The most important part of SEO
Ever wondered how to do keyword research? The first thing you must know is, your SEO efforts all hinge on how strong your keyword research game is in the end. This is a fact that has slowly disappeared in the background as people struggle to keep up with all the new, up and coming search engine optimization processes such as
- Website analysis- Link building
- Content marketing- On-site and off-site optimization
- Social media marketing In all this, people have almost forgotten the fundamentals of
SEO keyword research.
By researching, finding and ranking for the right keywords, you will be giving yourself an added advantage as far as learning what your target market wants. Keywords direct you towards what the target market looks for online, what they like to read and how they generally behave when they shop.
Attracting the right kind of traffic
As much as getting visitors to your website is important for its success and ranking, what’s more, important is getting the right kind of visitors. Yes, more eyes on your content will give it traction with Google, but will it bring in the sales? Attracting lots of traffic to your site may feel like progress at first but if that traffic is low quality this will not positively affect your bottom line.
Finding the right keywords
Proper keyword research involves a systematic analysis of your targeted market and how they generally behave when shopping online. You need to identify specific phrases that your market generally use when searching for things online and then you need to narrow that down a little bit to get a specific niche. The process should go something like this
- Identify the target market.
- Identify a specific niche market within that target market.
- Research on the kind of keywords that market uses (this often involves studying what the competition is doing).
- Find and rank for different keywords within the market (both competitive and non-competitive keywords).
Although this is an over-simplification of the entire process, it does outline the general idea behind excellent keyword research.
Now, one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to search for the right keywords is to immediately start using tools such as Google Keyword Planner.
Why is starting with Google Keyword Planner a mistake?
The problem with starting with tools such as GKP is that they almost always give biased keyword suggestions that are intimately related to your chosen topic. For example, let’s say that you typed the search term ‘Basketball’ into Keyword planner, you will get suggestions such as ‘history of basketball’, ‘basketball games’, basketball tickets’ and so on.
Although these keywords are perfectly in line with what you want, they are also the same keywords that almost everyone else is ranking for constantly.
That makes them highly competitive and almost impossible to rank for in the end. Besides, when was the last time you Google ‘history of basketball’ when trying to find a hoop for sale?
What you need to do is to brainstorm on your own. Start with pen and paper or a spreadsheet and start listing possible keywords; keywords that people like you would use in the search box when looking for basketball-related items.
Keywords such as
- Lebron James
- Free throw
- Dunking competition
These are typical things that the typical online surfer would think to look for when searching for basketball-related content.
How finding niche topics can help
One of the main problems associated with keyword research is finding phrases that are not highly competitive yet still lucrative enough to make sense.
Say for example you run a website that promotes basketball hoops. Naturally, you would like to rank highly for keywords such as
- Basketball hoops
- Indoor basketball hoops
- Portable basketball hoop and so on
But these obvious keywords are already highly competitive because you are not the only one selling basketball hoops online. In this case, it would be more beneficial to try and find other, albeit peripheral keywords, that have a healthy search rate online and little competition.
Just think of what else you would search for if you were interested in buying a basketball hoop?
You might search for things like:
- How to slam dunk a basketball
- How to increase your vertical jump
- How to install a portable basketball hoop
Although these keywords are not exactly about basketball hoops, they are close enough to interweave your offering into the mix.
Besides, someone researching on basketball hoops will want to find related information on how to get the best out of his/her purchase.
This is the kind of traffic you should be targeting.
Researching your target market
Keyword research, in essence, is backward engineering your audiences search and discovery journey.
This involves finding out just exactly how your target market speaks.
Question and answer sites like Quora are great starting places for this kind of research. Utilizing services like Quora are great for getting inside the head of your audience. You can be sure to find people who have questions pertaining to your chosen product or service.
Another thing, using these kinds of platforms will give you an opportunity to connect with your target market. It will help you learn their behavior online, their concerns about the products or service and the associated sales cycles. It will also position you as an expert in your field; someone they can always come to for answers.
This is a process that takes a bit of time and requires some analytical ability but without it, you will be essentially shooting in the dark and trying to rank for keywords that are not that lucrative to your niche.
Worse still, you may spend a whole lot of your time trying to rank for highly competitive keywords that may never bear fruit because someone else already has that market locked in. If however, you spend some time getting creative, you can easily carve out a niche for yourself that can hold its own even in the most saturated markets.