Keyword Research for SEO [GUIDE]

man with magnifyer researchingSearch engines such as Google strive to meet their users’ search demands by providing them with the most up-to-date relevant information available.

Adding regular, unique, useful and informative content to your website in the form of informational blurbs, articles, videos, blog posts, etc. can help differentiate your site enough to rank above your competitors.

However, more often than not, content alone is not sufficient to achieve your business goals. You need a keyword strategy.

What are Keywords?

Keywords are words or phrases used throughout your website to identify or describe what you sell or do. For a web surfer to arrive at your site, the words they type into a search box will need to match with words you have on your website.  To discover what words to use on your site you will need to undergo keyword research.

Consider these 4 important concepts when researching keywords for your site:

1. Short-tail (Head) Keywords

Short-tail (or head) keywords are single or maximum 2-word phrases  used throughout your pages. For instance, if you sell sofas, you might include the words “sofa”, “couch”, or “brown sofa”, “leather couch” in your web copy. These are all short-tail keywords.   The screenshot below is from Google’s Adwords keyword tool.  This tool shows predicted search volumes for the selected keywords.

While it’s important to use such keywords in your web copy, they are notoriously diffcult  to rank for unless your site is an established authority.  Moreover, these keywords will generate traffic that is often un-targeted to generate the sale as users searching using the short tail are often at an early stage in the purchase cycle.

Take-out: While it’s important to use short tail keywords in your web copy,  they’re very difficult to rank for and traffic generated from such keywords can often be unprofitable.

2. Long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are more specific groupings of words used to describe products or services. These might include product brand names, descriptions and features. A web surfer will find your website more easily when the long-tail phrases they use match what you have on your site. In the case of selling sofas,  if a surfer types in the specific words: “leather sectional sofa”,or “red leather sectional sofa”, and these keyword phrases are used on your website, there is a greater chance your website appearing in top position for these search queries where competition is less fierce.

The screenshot below is also taken from Google’s keyword volumes tool and clearly shows that the these longer-tailed keywords have much less volume but are likely to generate much more targeted traffic to your site.

Takeout: Combine commonly used chains of words throughout your site in order to set it apart and capture the long tail.  This traffic (while less than short tail keyword traffic) can be very targeted  and profitable for your business.

3. Niche Market Terms

Consider niche markets to tap into with your product or service. Think about the types of shoppers you’d like to attract, and use keyword terms that would draw them to your site. Using the same example, a sofa company might attract  interior decorators “home design”, elite shoppers “stylish sofa”, or the budget-conscious family “cheap sofa” by using phrasing common to each.

Takeout: Research your customers demographics and psychographics to discover more profitable niche market keywords.

4. Trending Keywords

Trending Keywords are words or groupings of words that are more often searched for.  As trends change regularly, trending keywords are usually governed by a set time frame.  Going back to our sofas example, the graph below (taken from Google’s insights for search) shows that red sofas are more popular than brown sofas and less popular than black ones.  Blue sofas are the least popular.

Google also provides search volumes and future breakout trends. In the screenshot below, Google says that a “red sectional” sofa is trending.  Capitalise on this trend by incorporating it into your web copy, content  strategy or (if applicable) in your new product development plans (NPD).

Incorporate these trends into your keyword research and content strategy if applicable.

Takeout:  The content on your site should reflect industry trends and your future plans can incorporate the forecasted trends provided by search engines such as Google.

In a nutshell..

Getting to the top of search results and staying there is no easy task.  To get there you need to start with a keyword strategy. Ensure that your strategy incorporates the following takeouts.

  1. While it’s important to use short tail keywords in your web copy,  they’re notoriously difficult to rank for and traffic generated from such keywords can often be un-targeted to generate positive ROI.
  2. Combine commonly used chains of words throughout your site in order to set it apart and capture the long tail.  This traffic (while less than short tail keyword traffic) can be very targeted  and profitable for your business.
  3. Research your customers demographics and psychographics to discover more profitable niche market keywords.
  4. Incorporate trends into your keyword research and content strategy.

Over to you…

How much time do you spend on keyword research for your site? What techniques do you use? Do you have any further tips to add? Share your wisdom…

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Omar is MD & Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

1 comments
Pamela Grady
Pamela Grady

I read this article fully about the difference of latest and previous technologies, it's awesome article.

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