Keywords are the words and phrases that potential customers use when searching for services or products. They expose and give insight regarding important information about your targeted audience.
They impact your business, your content, and are used to boost search engine ranking and used with general content strategy.
In fact, 50% of the global population is consistently using the internet today. That means that if you use keywords and other SEO methods your business has the chance to reach over 3 billion people!
Starting the SEO journey may seem like a giant undertaking. But with the right guidance, you can get your business ranking in SERPs using professional digital marketing techniques that actually work.
This step-by-step beginner’s guide will explore the right steps to take to master keyword research, explain why it’s important, and teach you everything else you need to know about keywords. Let’s jump in!
What Are the Steps to Perform Keyword Research?
Keyword research has two main goals; it helps target the right audience, and it improves ranking in SEO. Every part of your website needs keywords. This includes PPC, CPC, and Google Adwords advertising, blog posts, and any other content. Understanding the steps can boost your traffic and your conversion rate.
The number of users searching online for different products and services has grown substantially in the past few years.
After learning those statistics, you can see how important ranking, keyword research, and website optimization is, and why your business needs a professional SEO content marketing strategy. So, let’s start with discussing the keyword research process with these helpful steps:
Step 1 – Start by brainstorming
Start by trying to think of keywords that people might use to find your business online. Try and put yourself in the shoes of your potential audience. If you were them, what words would you use to type into Google and what are the related searches?
Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself to get your creativity flowing:
- What phrases would you type in if you were looking for your products?
- What categories do your products or services fit into?
- What problems do your products or services solve?
- What type of people do your products or services serve?
- What questions do your customers ask before they buy?
You can also get more ideas by typing your keywords into Google.
As you type, Google will suggest other possible keyword phrases that might be relevant.
After you complete the search, Google will also display related keywords at the bottom of the search results page. Make note of any keywords that might be relevant to your content.
Step 2 – Use competitor websites for ideas
Another great way to generate ideas is to take a look at your search competitors’ websites.
“Search competitors” are different than your normal competitors, because they are looking for websites that rank for your target key phrases. It would be best if you were to model them since they are already ranking well. Don’t plagiarize, just look at what is working for them, and then do it better yourself.
You can find these sites by just typing in your main keyword to Google and finding the URLs of the top-ranking positions.
Then, you can use a tool like our own SEO rankings checker to see what your competitors are ranking for!
Analyze title tags and other metadata to see what keyword phrases they are intentionally targeting. Title tags will give you clues about what keywords your competitors think are important.
Step 3 – Use keyword research tools
Keyword research tools will help you decide which new keyword phrases to target by revealing keyword phrases that you may not have thought of as well as estimated search volume.
The HOTH Keyword Research Tool is a good place to start when doing keyword research! It’s free and it will show you everything you need to know and give the right keywords to help grow your target audience and your marketing strategy.
Here is a list of the other best keyword research tools for SEO:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Keywords Everywhere
- Google Trends
When performing a keyword search, type in a keyword phrase, then click the “View Keyword Research” button.
The results will display a list of keywords, a range for estimated traffic, and what people are paying on Google Ads to get paid traffic for those keywords.
If you want to get serious about keyword research, then you should consider investing in other keyword tools so that you can get more data on the best keywords.
By checking the monthly search volume of the terms you’ve chosen to use, you can then create an SEO strategy based on your keyword list.
Step 4 – Consider search intent
Before you create content, make sure you understand what content typically ranks in Google when searching for that keyword – you may be surprised!
Search intent or user intent is used to describe the reason for a search. When a user types a question or service into Google, they are looking for something. For example, 46% of searches are users with local intent.
Another thing you may notice is that Google prefers ranking long-form how-to guides, tools, or lists. SEO keyword research is so valuable when creating high-quality content. Your website, landing pages, and content need keywords so Google and other search engines can show it to its users.
You’ll want to try to model the content that is ranking if you want to rank highly!
Step 5 – Consider trends and seasonality
When optimizing for SEO traffic, you also need to consider seasonality and trends.
Google Trends is a tool that you can use to view a keyword phrase’s popularity over time.
Google Trends is an effective tool. It uses the best data collected by Google’s user searches to show interest for a search term over time. You can use previous data from past years to predict future Google user trends.
Some keywords or topics can trend up or down over time.
For example, “salsa dancing” seemed popular in 2004, but appears to be declining in popularity.
A seasonality index is a forecasting tool. It basically just determines the demand for services or products. It’s a fantastic tool to use when finding what products your audience is searching for. Search terms in any market over the course of a year is a good starting point for finding the metrics you need for your niche.
Some keyword phrases can also experience seasonal fluctuations.
For example, “easter chocolate” sees a spike in search interest every Easter.
Before investing in SEO, you should consider trends and seasonality to determine if your marketing efforts will be worthwhile over the long term.
Step 6 – Select your target keywords
Select a primary keyword phrase to target. This phrase will likely be the highest volume phrase that is most relevant to your web page.
You can use this as your primary keyword for creating and optimizing your content.
Additionally, you can create a list of long-tail keywords that you can add to your page content.
Although these keywords won’t drive a lot of traffic individually, the cumulative traffic that they send to your site can add up quickly.
Some super helpful tips include performing an on-page SEO audit to make sure that your on-page is up to par with your competitors. Try mapping your keywords, and lastly, avoid keyword stuffing.
Step 7 – Create your content and optimize it for SEO
Once you know what keywords you will be using, then you can create your content!
Keyword optimization is a way to make sure that your content and your keywords are driving the right kind of traffic to your website. Ranking high in your niche is also a major goal for any business.
Keywords need to allow search engine algorithms such as Googlebot and Bingbot that your content is worthy of being a top result for search queries.
Keyword optimization may also turn into a never-ending process where you are always updating and adjusting old content to meet the criteria for an ever-evolving SEO strategy.
Here are a few ways to begin the process of keyword optimization:
- Use keywords in title tags
- Use keywords in your links
- Use keywords in your content
- Use keywords in your alt text images
- Use keywords inside of your site structure
Your main targeted keywords should be included in your title tag. This is a really important part of your content and your website both off-page and on.
Be sure to do on-page SEO (and possibly some link building) to optimize your web pages to rank in the search engines. Inbound links and internal links should have your target keywords optimized within them.
After you have selected your keywords, add them to your web pages, and completed SEO marketing activities like link building. Checking your metrics is also a good practice to keep track of your progress.
It may take several months or longer before you rank for the keywords that you are targeting, especially if they are competitive.
Ranking well and connecting with your key audience is vital for business and traffic. Not only do you need to create the best content for your niche, but you need to optimize keywords for every piece of content you create.
Optimizing your meta descriptions, your alt text, image size and file name is a great way to start optimizing your images for SEO. It’s important to incorporate your target keywords into your images. That will allow search engine crawlers to do their job.
Keyword optimization is important regarding how you structure your website. Not only do you need the best keywords for your niche, but you need to group by relevancy, and categorizing them into corresponding pages is a good place to start on website optimization structure for SEO.
Or get done fast and efficiently with web copy by using our product HOTH Web Copy.
Step 8 – Measure your results
Not only does Google Trends have a huge amount of information about search demand, but Google Search Console is a fantastic addition to your strategy. Combining the two and figuring out the data history and using it to your advantage can greatly increase your traffic.
You can use tools these helpful tools to analyze your SEO results and improve them.
Here are the primary factors you should measure for SEO:
- Keyword ranking
- Organic Traffic
- Bounce back rate
- Click-through rate
- Website authority
- Website and page speed
The best way to track your targeted keyword ranking is to do a quick for your services or products. The results will give you an idea of where your website ranks for competitive keywords. The goal is to get on the first page and preferably as close to the first result as possible.
Organic search traffic is important for your business because it is targeted. The user is specifically searching a solution your product or service can help them with. It’s also one of the best ways to get a new customer. By improving organic search results, your website can get more visibility.
A good way to understand your keyword’s rank and find new relevant searches is to conduct a keyword analysis.
Search engine visibility is important because it measures how many potential customers can view your website in search results. To have authority in SERPs is the goal here. This metric gives you a huge insight into your SEO progress and your digital marketing strategy as a whole.
A bounce-back rate is the percentage of people who view your website without actually buying or doing anything else on it. Google Analytics counts these as a visit and counts more than one click as an interaction.
The click-through rate is the percentage of people who click on your site that were guided there from the SERPs. You can use this metric to optimize your title tags are. Inserting targeted keywords into your website pages and URLs can boost this metric.
If your click-through rate is lower than expected then it’s a good idea to optimize your meta description and other on-page SEO.
Your site’s authority score is basically just a prediction regarding how good a domain will rank. A lower number can cause traffic to decrease and ranking; whereas, a higher number can boost traffic and provide a better ranking.
Look at your domain authority scores and compare your business to your competitors. This is a great place to adjust your strategy if your score is not as high as you would like it to be.
Backlinks are a major factor in SEO and monitoring link-building is an important step in ranking. Another thing it would be best to keep an eye on is your web page speed. Optimizing images for mobile and desktop is a good place to begin.
Pay attention to which keywords are driving traffic to your site, which keywords are driving sales and conversions, and make decisions based on the data if you decide to adjust which keywords to target!
Why is Keyword Research Important?
Keyword research is vital to search engine optimization efforts because it helps business owners discover valuable phrases, terms, and keywords that people are actively searching for. Without these keywords, you will miss out on opportunities for search traffic.
If you don’t do proper research, you’ll waste time on search terms that are either too competitive or have a low-volume search rate. And your rankings can suffer, meaning you’ll miss out on potential customers.
By performing relevant keyword research, you could definitely learn a lot about what topics people are interested in and care about. Using the right SEO and keyword researching tool is an important part of learning what keywords work for your niche, and which don’t.
By researching specific keywords that are getting high-volume searchers, you can figure out your content stream and deliver high-quality content for your targeted audience.
You can then narrow down your topics, pick and choose the right keywords for your blogs, articles, and other related content. By doing so, your organic traffic will increase and so will your conversion rate.
What Are The Best Kinds of Keywords to Use?
Different kinds of keywords help you design an informed and strategic marketing method that best matches your business or niche.
When you understand all of the available options to you, then you can find the best keyword to help you connect with your audience, boost traffic, and maximize your conversion rate.
If you are experiencing keyword difficulty, it may be because you aren’t using the right keywords for your business.
Here are some great places to start when finding the best kinds of keywords:
Short-tail, head, or high-volume keywords are basically just generic keywords that are broad and usually popular such as “computers.”
These keywords are only about one or two words and are extremely competitive, hard to rank, can boost traffic but likely won’t increase your qualified lead conversion rate. Head keywords should be used as a base, but not as the only keyword.
Mid-tail keywords waver somewhere in, between head keywords, and long-tail keywords. They are usually two to three words long. For example, “the best computers” would be considered a medium-tail keyword.
They have smaller traffic that head keywords but more than long-tail. These keywords can be helpful when used in any content.
Long-tail keywords are a fantastic SEO method. They’re keywords or phrases that are more specific to a topic and are usually much longer than head keywords and even medium-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords get less search traffic but have a much higher conversion rate because users are specifically searching for them. They let you gradually get more traffic to your site and be discovered by your targeted audience.
On-site keywords are used for SEO optimization for a website or landing page. These keywords are used within your website and used inside your on-page content. This helps search engine crawlers understand the topic of your website and helps you rank better in search engines like Google or Bing.
A primary keyword is the main keyword of your content on your page. Each SEO page of content should have a primary keyword.
The website or page should use optimization practices to send search engine crawlers clear signals that the page is about the main keyword.
Relevant or LSI (latent semantic) keywords
LSI keywords are used as a support to primary keywords. Each piece of content or webpage should have the main keyword and three to four relevant keywords that give extra context.
That often helps search engines rank a page and understand the information more.
Google Ads Keywords
Google Ad keywords are an important part of keyword research if you’re marketing PCP or CPC SEO or coming up with a great local SEO strategy. A keyword option allows your ad to show up when a user searches for that particular keyword.
There are a few different types of Google Ad keywords such as broad, phrase, exact, and negative. The following sections will explore these types of keywords in more detail to help you understand how keywords affect your Google Ads and SEO in general.
Broad match keywords
Broad match is the main match type and the one that reaches your targeted audience. When you use a broad match, your ad can appear whenever someone searches your key phrase in any order. For example, if you use the keyword “photography,” your ad might display variations of that keyword phrase such as, “photographer needed” or “best types of photography.”
Google might also match up your ad to searches using related words such as, “picture artwork,” or “black and white photos.” Your broad keyword may not target these exact keywords, however, Google may think that users who search those related terms would like your ad.
Phrase match keywords
Phrase match keywords offer a bit more versatility than a broad match but with way more control over who sees your ad under what search query. Your ad will appear when a user searches for your key phrase using your keywords in the same order you choose them. However, there might be some other words before or after your chosen keyword.
Exact match keywords
Exact match is the most restrictive keyword match type. More recently Google has changed the way exact match keywords work. In previous years, exact match keyword phrases would only match your exact keyword and that’s it. Thankfully, Google now shows a little more inclusive keywords in its exact match category.
Negative keywords sound like they may be bad for business; however, all they do is prevent your ad from being accidentally triggered by a certain phrase or keyword. You have control over where your ads show up and who they are shown to. This process is known as a negative match and they can help your control your audience through ads.
Buyer keywords are search phrases, terms, and keywords that people use when searching to buy a service or a product. When users use buyer keywords in search engines like Google, it signals that they are interested in buying a product or service. They indicate that they are definitely ready to make a purchase.
There are a few different types of buyer keywords that businesses can utilize when advertising a product or service. These include, informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional.
Informational keywords start with the how’s, the what’s, the why’s, and the where’s. They can also include guides, ideas, best, or tips. This indicates that the users are searching for information.
These keywords have a low buyer intent because they are searching for how to do things. An example of this would be, “best art tutorials” or “how to build a landing page.”
These keywords don’t get potential customers to buy, they only provide great content on how to make something or how to solve a problem.
Navigational keywords are used by users who are looking for a particular page or website. Customers will be using keywords that include product names, brands, or other specific services to find the exact page or content they are looking for. For example, “Sony earbuds” would be a navigational keyword.
Transaction or “buy now” keywords are phrases that have the most intent to buy something. The customer is willing and ready to complete a purchase and are only trying to figure out from where.
Your goal as a business owner is to find keywords matching each step of the buyer keyword process and then create the best content to incorporate these keywords into. By using this strategy you can bring in your targeted audience in all forms of the buying phase.
Customers also like to buy from someone they know or a business that they feel they can trust. That is why reviews, answering potential customers‘ questions and concerns is an important part of this keyword research process.
By adding intentional keyword buyer keywords into your product ads, you can guide them towards your service or product.
Commercial keywords are used by people who are looking to find products, services, or a specific brand name. These usually have an intent for action or intend to buy something now or in the near future.
What is Keyword Stuffing (and How to Avoid It)
Keyword stuffing is unnecessarily repeating keywords or phrases. That also includes adding words that aren’t relevant to the content of the page and repetitive keywords or phrases that don’t match the information.
The reason keyword stuffing isn’t good for your content is because it’s a bad experience for users and because Google crawlers understand that’s a tactic for ranking, and won’t bite the bait.
Website content should try to serve and engage readers. Provide helpful information and help guide users towards a goal. Content stuffing your pages with keywords isn’t doing any of these things.
It not only creates a poor experience and takes away from your audience, but it will send users away from your content and drive leads away from your business. It may also lead to a search engine penalty and your content may be banned from crawlers.
Here are some great tips to avoid keyword stuffing:
- Pick a primary keyword for each piece of content
- Write more than 300 words (preferably longer than 2,000 words based on SEO)
- Use the right primary keyword density
- Add secondary keywords, related phrases, and long-tail keywords
- Double-check your on-page SEO for optimization
One of the most important steps is choosing one target keyword for your webpage or content. This primary phrase should connect your content with your audience. The phrase should be popular, yet low-competition. This improves your ranking and conversion rate.
Search engines rank higher word count content more than lower word count pages. It’s best to write more than 2,000 words, but in order to avoid keyword-stuffed content, your page needs to have more than 300 words. In fact, a high rank is usually correlated with a higher word count.
Writing and webbing your target keyword throughout your content is important. Don’t overuse it though, put it where it feels natural and appropriate. Keyword density should be below 2% to stay within SEO guidelines.
Having a great primary keyword is important for SEO success; however, choosing a good secondary keyword is a great idea. Search engine crawlers use other keywords and phrases to find relevant content for their users.
Your content should use synonyms, long-tail keywords, secondary keywords along with your target term. That helps you rank and reinforces your content for crawlers.
Ranking and keyword research have so many different factors, it can be a bit overwhelming. It’s not enough to pick the right keywords, it would be best to optimize your on-page keywords for SEO. You need to research strategy along with keywords and give your pages what crawlers want. That will help you compete with competitors and boost your business.
Summing Up Keyword Research
Keyword research is such a big part of SEO optimization. It takes practice, and you may need to readjust your keywords many times before getting it right.
SEO is an ever-evolving process, you might need to measure your traffic and other metrics for months before understanding what you can improve on and what you know works.
If you want to skip the hard stuff and work with a trained professional, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our SEO experts and schedule a call now!