Keyword Research: A Beginner’s Guide

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Keyword Research

Thanks to Google, your best chance of getting anyone to notice your website is with the use of keywords. This is why keywords are the most crucial element of any SEO strategy. But how do you choose the right keywords to attract the audience you seek? That takes a bit of research. In this article, we will explain that process to help you get an edge on your online competitors.

Keyword research is a process. First, you identify the search terms online users employ when using search engines for specific types of searches. Then you analyze those terms in order to create a content strategy that targets those keywords. If you know the most commonly used keywords, visitors use it. When looking for the product or service you offer and match those to your website niche, you will see a jump in traffic to your website. With more visitors, you can create a marketing strategy that targets those who find your website when using the keywords you researched and incorporated into your website.

Sounds simple, right?

Let’s look at a few of the steps used to research keywords.

1 – Make a List

No one knows your business better than you. With that first-hand knowledge, get a notepad and a pen and make a list of what you consider to be essential and relevant topics that relate to your business.

Aim for somewhere between five and ten topics. Think of these as general headings that you will later break down into more detail. As an example, if your business is a retail outlet of some kind, the topic list should read like a rundown of the different departments or product categories you sell.

2 – Add Lists to Those Topics

Now that you have a set of topics directly related to your business, it is time to get a little more detailed. Here you will list items that fall under the general terms you used in the first step.  Consider short phrases that could be effective in searching for the topics.

As an example, if a topic is Power Tools, the list under will include all the different power tools sold under that heading in your business. Short phrases to add can be as simple as “(brand name) drills” or “how to use a power drill.”

3 – Research Related Terms

This is where you will discover additional terms that can relate to the ones you already listed—an easy way to see. What we mean is to visit Google.com, enter one of your keywords, and see what search suggestions are provided.

These Google-generated suggestions are keywords and phrases that online users have entered when searching for something that relates to your keywords. It provides you with real data you can use and to fill out your topic lists.

4 – Aim for a Combination of Head Terms and Long-Tail Keywords

Short, three words or less generic keyword phrases are called head terms. Longer keyword phrases of more than three stories are known as long-tail keywords. Under each of your main topic categories, you should try to have a mixture of both.

The idea here is that with a combination of head terms and long-tail keywords, you can create a balanced keyword strategy. It is harder to rank with head terms because they are frequently used, but long-tail keywords will assist with page ranking.

What is Page Ranking?

When you perform any search with Google, you receive pages of suggested websites related to the search terms you used. These are SERPs (search engine result pages). The better a page ranks in SEO, the higher it sits on a SERP. So you can see why keywords are such an essential part of any SEO strategy.

5 – Check Your Competition’s Ranking for Your Keywords

Even if you have the best set of keywords in perfect balance with long-tail and head terms, you will want to keep an eye on what your competition is doing. If you were in business before the internet, you would have been watching competitors, too.  This is simply a different way of following them.

You can manually search keywords to see where your competition shows up in SERPs. Or you could use one of the many different ranking tools found online that will give you reports. And tons of data to show you where you and your competition rank.

6 – Whittle Down Your List

In this step, you will create a final list of keywords for your website. Several online resources can assist with this task.  Google AdWords Keyword Planner is one of the top choices for this job.

The keyword planner will give you a fair amount of data that will be crucial when deciding which of your keywords will stay. Armed with a final list of keywords, you are now ready to build your SEO strategy.

7 – Update Your Keywords Frequently

One way to keep ahead of your competition is to revisit your keywords regularly. A quarterly check should be sufficient. This way, if some aspects of your business change, you can alter your keyword list to reflect that.

You may find that a few of the head terms or long-tail keywords you shaved off your list last time are starting to rank well. So, consider seasonal updates for your keywords. Once you get into a routine, you will discover how to move continuous traffic to your website.

In Conclusion

A successful website is the result of useful keyword research. It isn’t a difficult task, but it does involve multiple steps and careful thinking. Using relevant terms for your website niche market increases web traffic. Keywords are not just part of an effective SEO strategy, but they also form the foundation of that plan.

W. George Elliott works as a freelance writer for Digital Authority Partners.

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