Keyword research is a part of the search engine optimization process. It is the act of coming up with a list of keywords through research that reaches your target audience and drives traffic to your site from the keywords people are searching for.
If you own a website and you want search traffic, then you need to know the search terms, potential customers use to find sites such as yours. This process is called keyword research. There are various keyword research tools that can be used to help you with this process, but we'll dig into the steps to complete successful keyword research for your website.
Brainstorming Initial Keyword List
The first thing to do is to find the seed keywords. What are the specific topics you will be covering in your website when you create content? Once you have your seed keyword begin brainstorming the keywords that are variations of that keywords. You should come up with keyword phrases that include anywhere from 2 to 6 words.
If you're struggling you can do a simple Google Search and it will show you in the auto-fill some of the keywords that are related to your seed keyword. Additionally, you will likely find some of the common questions people ask about the topic and the bottom of the page shows you similar searches related to your search. That's a good starting point.
Short Tail & Long Tail Keywords
As discussed above, you will have keyword variations that are 2-6 words long. The shorter keyword phrases are referred to as the short-tail keywords and the longer keyword phrases are called long-tail keywords. The short tail and long tail come from the selling cycle, with the short tail being broader but further away from the conversion. Short tail keywords usually get more traffic and are further up the funnel then long-tail keywords. Now with long-tail keywords they are usually searched less, but more specific, further down the buying cycle and more likely to convert.
Once you know that, you can use tools like Google Trends which will help you to research the popularity of the keyword or topic. Seeing whether a keyword is trending upwards or downwards over time is a good place to start.
Often times I see website owners utilizing search terms that are only used by professionals within a specific industry. These terms are fine if you are targeting a B2B audience. However, if you are a business who is trying to reach a B2C audience, then you have to use keywords that your users will actually type in when searching for your product or service.
Over time, the trend for specific search terms or phrases may increase or decrease. It's good to know this before you begin working on specific keywords or phrases. Making sure that you are not targeting terms that are losing their popularity, or making sure that your taking advantage of terms that are rising or becoming "breakout terms" can help you take advantage of potentially less competitive terms.
Once you understand more about the trends it is good to begin understanding the keyword monthly search volume, just how difficult it will be to rank for those terms as well as expanding your keyword list.
Keyword Search Volume & Difficulty
While you're in the process of identifying keywords that you can use to target for rankings in the major search engines then you have to understand two things, the volume which is how often that keyword is used in searches each month and just how difficult it will be to rank for that keywords.
In general, the more popular a keyword is, the broader it is the more it is likely to be searched. Keywords that are searched more often are likely targeted by many of your competitors making the keyword difficulty higher. Does that mean you can't rank for that specific keyword? No, it means its harder, it will take more work and more content that surrounds and supports that keyword to increase your chances of gaining traction for that term.
You can use the Google Keyword Planner which will provide you with this information. There are other tools such as SEMRush which is one of my favorites, as well as UberSuggest from Niel Patel. These tools will help you to find keywords and keyword ideas for your website content or blog posts.
Good keyword research will help you to select keywords that users are searching for and help you when you are in the content creation process. It can help you when creating a content marketing strategy, giving direction to copywriters of the content needs for your site. It can also help you with creating a robust website that your customers will love. Keyword research is just one step in the SEO process but it is a great first step in helping to gain visibility in the major search engines.