One of the main pillars of a successful SEO campaign is keyword research. Keyword research helps you understand specific search data and your target market. You will be able to figure out what people are searching for, how many people are searching for a particular product or service, and the format through which they search for their interests. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the strategies and tools that you can use to perform keyword research.
Finding the right keywords
The first few keywords will always be obvious – your products, services, and location, and they are a good place to start. You can use a keyword research tool, such as Moz’ Keyword Explorer and find related search terms along with their average monthly search volume. This can help you find the keywords that are currently the most popular.
Starting from those initial seed keywords you will be able to branch out into a variety of search terms, topics and common questions related to your offer. Let’s take a florist for example. By typing “wedding florist” into the keyword research tool, you might find related keywords such as “wedding flower shop”, “bridal flowers” or “wedding bouquets”. The tool will also display the search volume for each of these terms, and while you want to target keywords with high volume (because it means there is a lot of interest surrounding them), you should also go for terms with lower volumes since there is less competition.
Higher volume keywords attract more competition – it makes sense, right? Ranking high for one of these keywords typically requires more work. This is known as keyword difficulty, and this difficulty increases as SERP features such as carousels, knowledge graphs and featured snippets clog up the front page and push out a portion of the results. On top of that, the top 10 results for some of these keywords are already taken by big brands, so if you are just starting your campaign, it may take you years to reach a favorable position on the front page for one of them.
On the other hand, you have low-volume keywords, where there is a lot less competition, but also a lot less traffic. Which do you choose for your campaign? The answer is a little bit of both mixed with long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are highly specific search terms that have a lower competition with a decent amount of volume.
Keywords that get 50,000 searches a month may seem very appealing at first, but they are not always the best option, even if the competition were not so fierce. First, there is the issue of ambiguous intent. A big volume volume keyword is usually something generic like “shoes” or “pizza”. What exactly is a person searching for when they enter those keywords? It could be anything related to the term. On top of that, high volume keywords make up only a fraction of the searches online. In fact, 70% of searches fall into the long-tail keyword category.
The main draw of long-tail keywords is their specificity, which helps them convert at higher rates. For example, if someone is searching for “shoes” they may just be browsing. However, if a user is searching for “best value black mens shoes size 10” they are looking to make a purchase.
Search volume strategy
So now that you have a mix of high-volume, low-volume and long-tail keywords, it’s time to strategize. First, take a look at your competitors and how they rank for various high-volume keywords. You have two approaches here – attack keywords where your competitors are not ranking high, or attack keywords where they are strong. With the first approach you are going for the weak spots of your competitors, and with the second approach, you start contesting keywords right away so that you will see results for them sooner.
You then want to take seasonality into account, depending on your business. Certain keywords will have spikes during certain months or periods. For example, Christmas-related terms will start to pick up around October all the way through December. You also have regionality. If your business operates in a certain area, you can localize your keywords and attract users from that region. You should also check how certain products/services are searched for in different regions using the “interest by subregion” tab in Google Trends. For example, New Yorkers will search for “tractor trailer,” while Texans will use the term “big rig” when searching for a large truck.
Would you like to find out more about keyword planning?
If you would like to launch an SEO campaign, or find out more information about keyword research and planning, contact us today.