No matter your experience with content, search engines, and the World Wide Web, keyword research is essential. To put it simply, your website won’t rank without it. Keyword research is the act of locating keywords and topics that relate to your website and user base. The right keywords result in the right audience, making a conversion more likely.
But where do you start? There’s no need to worry, as we’re going to provide helpful tips that put you on the right track. But first, some essential information. It’s important to think like your audience when researching keywords. What would they search to find your products? Without an insight into your community, you’re going to struggle.
We often get asked, 'How many keywords should I have?', and the answer depends on your website. You shouldn’t stuff it with keywords, as that will negatively impact your rankings. The keywords should match your content, meaning a broad keyword for the homepage alongside specific keywords for category pages and blog articles. You could place them in your URL, title tag, meta description, H1, and within your content. As long as it's not forced or stuffed to the brim, you should be fine.
Keyword research is also an ongoing process, not a one-and-done deal. You should do this regularly to find new content, generate ideas, and improve your rankings for new areas. With that in mind, we have several tips that may be useful for your research. It’s time to get our thinking caps on.
Top Tip 1 - Look for Long-Tail Keywords
What’s a long-tail keyword, I hear you cry? These little (or large) treasures are extremely useful, especially if you’re trying to make your mark in the ultra-competitive search engine advertising landscape.
A short keyword could be something like 'books'. While this will have a large volume, it probably doesn’t have a high conversion rate. People that search 'books' could be looking for information, rather than specific products. Think of them as window shoppers.
'Books' would also have heavy competition. Big hitters like Amazon, Google, and The Guardian dominate the Google results for this keyword, so it’s difficult to compete. That’s where long-tail keywords come in.
Examples include 'Books by Terry Pratchett', 'The best books of 2017', or 'Great romantic novels for teenagers'. These keywords, especially the latter, contain extra tidbits of information, which shows genuine interest in the search term. Long-tail keywords tend to have a lower volume, but a higher conversion rate. They practically have the book in their hand already.
As a by-product of their low volume, they’ll also have lower competition. This makes them a great entry point for new websites. Research long-tail keywords first, and work your way up from there.
Top Tip 2 - Get Help from Google or Bing
You’re not alone in your search for the perfect keyword. There are millions of websites on Google and Bing. In fact, there were more than 170 million active websites in 2016. According to the Worldometers' algorithm, there are currently more than 1.9 billion live websites in total, which is an incomprehensible amount. (It’s more than the number of sheep in the world!)
As a result of this, Google and Bing have tools that are invaluable to those conducting keyword research. The first is the Keyword Planner, which allows you to look at the search volume for potential keywords. You can filter by area, look at projected cost-per-click statistics, and compare multiple keywords. A Google Ads account is required, but there’s no financial cost for its use.
Google Trends is another tool that may prove useful to you. You can see the current popularity of a keyword, view how it performs over time, and compare it to other keywords. You could then plan content around these keywords, and publish a timely article that reflects current trends.
The trusty Google Search Console is also great for keyword research. You can examine your search traffic to see what people are looking for before they reach your website. This way, your audience is coming up with ideas for you.
If you’re planning to list your website on Bing, and you should, then you’ll need specific tools for that platform. Bing Ads Intelligence uses the Microsoft Excel interface, allowing you to analyse keyword performance on Bing. It works in a similar way to the Google Keyword Planner, but it’s seen as an in-depth option that allows you to create keyword lists.
Top Tip 3 - Turn to Your Community
If you’re struggling to think of keywords, and we’ve all been there, you may want to look at your target audience for inspiration. What are people talking about and why are they talking about it? Browse forums that relate to your industry and look for topics that keep popping up. You could also look at your favourite social networks for trending topics and article ideas.
You may be thinking, I don’t have time for this, but it’s actually quite simple! Just pop your keyword into Twitter, Instagram, or Youtube to see content that others have created, and take inspiration.
At the time of writing, typing 'Books' into YouTube provides a whole host of ideas. There are currently videos about The Witcher series of books, which is getting a Netflix series soon. As such, it may be good to feature an article, blog post, or advert about these books.
It also provides other ideas, such as comparing books to their film counterparts and creating a reading list that’s sorted by genre. All that from a simple Youtube search!
If you’re struggling for ideas, don’t forget about why you’re looking in the first place. Your audience matters, and they often have the answers that you’re looking for.
Top Tip 4 - Check Your Competition
Your competition is an important source of information, as they’re probably looking for similar keywords and writing content that would fit your goals. In that regard, you might want to check on your major competitors every now and then. Boot up an incognito window and search for your keywords. This allows you to see where your competitors are ranking, and what they’re ranking for.
You can then see what Google prioritises and gear your content towards it. In addition, you can examine your competition to discover what they’re writing about. You may want to take inspiration from their articles for your own content, but don’t copy them.
If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, or if your competition is getting the best of you, you may want to seek advice from elsewhere. Certain organisations, such as SEMRush and Moz, provide keyword research tools that may help, though they do cost money. You could always use Answer the Public as well if you’re short on ideas.
Top Tip 5 - Call on Colewood
As always, we’re happy to provide assistance too. We provide SEO, PPC, CRO, and Email Marketing services to clients throughout the UK. Our teams also regularly create helpful content, that covers How to Improve Sales Using PPC and Why Technical SEO Matters. We’re simply here to help!