If you're here, you may already have an idea of how powerful SEO keyword research can be. You may already know that keyword research is the foundation of winning SEO.
Many would outright say it's necessary for the majority of SEO campaigns.
SEO can do its magic because, when you know what people are searching for, you can make the answer appear the exact moment they search for it.
On the other hand, if you don't know what people are searching for — and/or you don't create content for it — then you don't know if there is any demand for what you publish.
Most of the time, if taken as a gamble this endeavour is doomed to fail.
The good news is, when done right — and combined with other solid SEO processes (including Link Building) — keyword research helps you to produce a repeatable content process that consistently earns traffic over time and increase lead generation.
Keyword research benefits
Ultimately, keyword research helps you understand exactly what content to create to best help your business goals and target relevant traffic.
There are literally billions of possible keyword combinations out there, and in every language too. Even if you tried, it would be impossible to target them all.
Fortunately, people tend to search for the same things — or often very similar things — for which you can group keywords together. When done right, keyword research helps you find the best clusters of keywords for your website.
"Winning" keyword research helps you to find phrases and topics which:
- Are most relevant to your business
- Have sufficiently high search volume
- Have low-competition keywords (e.g. are rankable)
Discover valuable keyword phrases and topics
You think you know what you want to rank for, but are you certain of it? Do you know all the ways people are searching that might lead to your website?
For example, if you sell "pet subscription services" this might be a good term to target. Keyword suggestions can help you uncover other relevant terms such as:
- Monthly pet gifts
- Dog subscription toys
- Cat food variety pack
- Etc., etc
If you run a business in this field, how valuable would ranking on the first page of Google be for each of these terms?
You might have been able to guess some of these, but a smart keyword research strategy can help you uncover thousands of these keyword opportunities at scale.
Find keywords with sufficient search volume
While there are billions of possibly relevant keyword combinations out there, not all of them are worth going after, and that’s the truth.
In the example above, would it be worth it to create content for each of these varied and possibly discordant keywords? To find out, it helps if we attach a search volume to each keyword phrase.
We'll cover this in greater detail later, but "search volume" is roughly the number of times these phrases are searched for in Google each month.
You can use Google’s very own search tools to search for specific sets of keywords that might be relevant to your product and see how often they turn up, as search volume can vary wildly from one phrase to the next.
We may even find that our original search phrase, "pet subscription services", has decent search volume, but the same research may turn up a different set of keywords far more relevant to our goals.
Related popular search terms may highlight a specific need from your prospective clientele, which in turn may warrant a specific marketing campaign or the creation of a new dedicated landing page on your website to cater to them.
Long Tail Keyword and the 80/20 Rule
This is a very good time to talk about the "long tail" of keyword research, and the 80/20 rule. Only about 20% of the keywords people search for will be popular "head" terms. The majority of keyword phrases will be less-frequent, long-tail keywords.
The long tail of search can be a mysterious place to explore, often lacking the volume data that we usually rely on to guide us. But the keyword phrases you can uncover there are worth their weight in gold, often driving highly valuable traffic to your site.
Find keywords you can actually rank for
Finding popular keywords is great, but it's a double-edged sword. That's because the more popular and valuable a keyword is, the more competition there is to rank #1.
The key is finding the sweet spot of keywords that are valuable to your business, but not so competitive that you don't have a chance of ranking for them.
"Monthly Pet Services" may be a great keyword phrase, but because it has such a high monthly search volume, it's likely lots of established and popular sites are also trying to rank for it.
If you're a smaller site just starting out, this can make it difficult to rank for your most desirable keywords.
The trick is to find those keywords with high demand and low competition. Based upon your keyword research, add a column to your table for “Keyword Difficulty” as shown in your Google keyword suggestions results page.
Crafting a complete content strategy from keyword research
Once you have a list of relevant keywords to target, you can create a plan for building content around those keywords. This is your content strategy or content roadmap.
With keyword research, you can start to answer questions like:
- What are my main topics, and what are my child-topics?
- When can I target multiple keywords on a single page, and when should I split them into separate pages?
- What kind of content do users expect when searching for each phrase?
- Where does each phrase fall in my visitor's journey (i.e. awareness > interest > purchase)?
So far, we've touched on finding keywords for a single topic or page. Using this guide, you’ll be able to walk your way through a process you can use to discover hundreds or thousands of relevant, potential topics.
Via Keyword Analysis, you can uncover all the valuable keywords that every one of your competitors ranks for, allowing you to craft a completely dominating content strategy.