Keyword Research and Analysis for Superior SEO
Keyword research and analysis is rightfully known as one of the biggest high-return activities done as part of any Search Engine Marketing strategy. It not only helps with identifying words and phrases for SEM purposes, but also aids in understanding your customers.
Knowing what your customers are searching for gives you great power but knowing EXACTLY what they are looking for is key. Getting the right kind of traffic to your website is a pivotal benefit of keyword research.
Also, with keyword research and analysis it is easier to match your offerings with what people are actually looking for. For one of our restaurant clients, we identified keywords like ‘restaurant on xxxx Avenue, LA’ and ‘restaurants with buffet on xxxx avenue, LA’. It is true that people do search for restaurants in specific areas but with location services available on phones, people have also started looking for ‘restaurants around me’ and ‘buffet near me’. Without keyword research we would have missed out on a large part of our audience.
Types of Keywords
Before we even begin with keyword research, it is important to learn about the different types of keywords. Understanding the difference between these will help you connect with the right audience and provide the right content for your users.
With long-tail keywords, you will receive less visitors to your website as they are very specific keywords, but, you’re likely to get a conversion since these visitors are searching with a higher intent to purchase. These keywords are not very expensive due to the lower search volume and are at least three words long. Long-tail keywords are also more likely to rank than say, the other more popular terms.
For e.g. if you are trying to rank for something like ‘digital marketing’ it will take a really long time,whereas phrases like ‘digital marketing for software companies’ will help your website rank faster.
Short-tail keywords on the other hand, are more generic and expensive as they are more popular. It also takes a much longer time to rank for these keywords, but it’s not impossible. Competition for these keywords are also much higher than for the long-tail ones.
Mid-tail keywords are the ones between the highly competitive short-tail keywords and the more conversion driven long-tail ones. These keywords are used by visitors who want more information but are not necessarily ready to convert.
Search intent tells us why people are searching for something. They could be looking for more information, want to buy something or visit a certain website.
Based on intent, you can create content to answer user’s queries. Without knowing search intent you may very well be providing wrong information to your users or targeting the wrong keyword.
There are three types of search intent
Informational – Users are looking for answers to questions like ‘How to’, ‘Why’ etc. They are looking for information and want to learn something specific and are typically researching for something. This presents an opportunity to have great SEO content on your website. It is said that more than half of search queries are informational in nature.
Navigational – Users know exactly what they are looking for and want to navigate to a particular website. Many brand names fall under this category. For example, ‘Amazon’, ‘Netflix’, ‘CNN’ etc.
Transactional – Users here want to perform a certain activity and more often than not, there is a high commercial intent. People here are in the last stage and are ready to make a choice. Keywords like ’Buy’, ‘Download’, ‘Signup’ etc. will be used in these search queries.
B2C companies are more likely to focus on transactional search queries with short tailed keywords as users are more likely to make a transaction on their website. The life cycle is short and people search with a high commercial intent.
B2B companies on the other hand, have longer cycles. This is where long tailed keywords will be more useful as they are more targeted.
Now that you know about the types of keyword and search intent, we can move on to keyword research and analysis.
1)The first step will be to identify various topics on your website. If these are niche topics then even better. What are you offering your users?
2)Make a list of keywords for each topic. What do you want to be found for?
3)Research related search terms. Start with a main keyword in Google search and scroll down to bottom for related searches. This is based on what users are actually searching for.
In the above example, related search terms like ‘best children’s books by age’ and ‘best selling children’s books of all time’ are excellent keywords.
4)Use keyword tools to figure out how competitors are faring for the same keywords. Tools like SEMrush allows you to enter a competitor’s domain and see all the keywords they are ranking for. This is a great way to find more keywords.
5)Look for a mix of long and short tailed keywords for each bucket. Long tailed keywords as mentioned above have low competition and are generally easier to rank for, while short tailed keyword can bring in traffic to your website.
6)Use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner (or Ahrefs) to identify search volume, keyword difficulty and other metrics. An ideal keyword is one which has a relatively high search volume with low competition.
7)Eliminate keywords and create a final list. Tools like Keyword Planner allow you to easily export the keywords into spreadsheets.
8)Implement a strategy to implement these keywords on your website.
Keyword Analysis Tools available
In the next section we will look at some of the most popular keyword research tools out there. Some of them are free while others are not.
Google Keyword Planner Tool
A great tool which is integrated with AdWords. It is ideal for initial keyword research as it will provide valuable foundational keywords to build keyword lists from. This is the most popular keyword tool which gives you the largest range of related keywords.
With keyword planner you can plug in live URLs to filter out keywords that the webpage is ranking for or trying to rank for.
This tool displays a huge number of related keywords. It is a great starting point for data mining. This tool is free for the first 750 keyword suggestions.
Another great feature of this tool is that you can find LSI keywords for Google, Youtube, Bing, Amazon and eBay.
This tool can be used in conjunction with other tools as it showcases search trends over a period of time. It comes in handy when you want to identify the interest in the topic/keyword. Multiple keywords can be added for comparison based on popularity.
It also gives you a list of related queries which can help in further research.
This tool gives you the largest amount of keyword suggestions, especially long-tail variations. You can also filter the keyword suggestions based on keyword difficulty and search volume.
The tool also contains unique metrics no other keyword tool has like clicks and clicks per search. Data like search volume and other metrics are more accurate with this tool due to clickstream data processing. It also presents search volume trends.
SEMRush is another great tool when it comes to keyword research. There is a free keyword search on the home page but for multiple keyword searches, it is a paid tool providing a number of subscriptions.
It is one of the first competitor-based keyword research tools to emerge. You can pull keyword suggestions based on competitors rankings. It also provides the top performing pages report which tells you what content is working well. Based on a seed URL, it provides a huge list of similar competitors.
Moz Keyword Explorer
It is a comprehensive tool since it gives out an impressive list of raw results, but unless you upgrade to Moz Pro, you are limited to 300 keywords in a week. With this tool, when you enter keywords it gives you volume, competition, difficulty and opportunity scores.
Keyword Explorer will also give you a list of recommended terms based on similar searches. It is also good for competitor analysis since you can have a closer look at how you fare against your competitors.
Microsoft Excel is a powerful yet underrated tool when it comes to keyword analysis. Once you have a list of keywords using one of the tools mentioned above, Excel comes in handy for analysis.
You can remove duplicates since you may have used multiple tools for keyword research, apply text filters to filter keywords and remove unwanted ones or even concatenate to generate more keywords. The concatenate function helps to put together different cells or different pieces of text and this, in turn gives rise to many more keywords.
Applications of Keyword Research and Analysis
Building Website Architecture
Keyword research and analysis should be done before the site architecture is built. This is to make sure that users find you at the research stage of the funnel. First, group keywords into units or topics. Each unit should then have sub units(sub topics) based on the keywords. Keyword research needs to play a role in URL naming,
When it comes to content strategy, keyword research is the foundation. Knowing what users are searching for and creating content based on that will help drive traffic to your website. It is important to know who you are writing to as well and keyword research and analysis helps you do that. With this research, you can also come up with valuable metadata(title and description) for your pages.
Now that you have an understanding of keyword research and analysis, it’s time to get started. Keyword research is the very first step when it comes to content and it needs to be done right. It is also a continuous process and needs to be re evaluated every 3-6 months. Setting aside some time periodically to identify what’s working and optimizing content based on that will help you rank higher and stay ahead of your competitors.