Despite an AI-powered algorithm that uses over 200 factors to determine SERP rankings, keywords are still one of the most important factors for identifying the context and relevance of digital content. This is why effective keyword research remains an important skill for marketers. Using the right SEO keyword planning tool, you can hand-select the right blog topics and search phrases to improve keyword rankings and attract more organic traffic to your site. This guide will walk you through how to do keyword research effectively, broken down into five easy-to-follow steps.
Start off by brainstorming ideas for blog topics related to your business/niche. The subjects relevant to your brand, and those you want to rank for, should help you compile a list of generic content topics.
For instance, if you’re a marketing agency starting a blog, your content buckets would most likely be the services you provide, i.e. social media marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing, and the like. You should then determine the search volume of each of these generic, so you know how relevant these topics are to your audience. Doing so will help you prioritize your topics in order of search significance, thereby increasing your chances of obtaining a higher SEO ranking.
As TechCrunch notes, the goal is to meet the intent of your target audience by answering questions that they would have in mind, even if their search terms are vague.
Once you’ve identified your broad topics, you can then dive in further and identify the countless search queries related to each of these broad categories. For example, for a generic topic like, “search engine optimization,” we can use keywords like “search engine optimization tools” and “tricks for search engine optimizations” to create blog posts around.
Use a keyword tool like SEM Rush’s Keyword Magic Tool or Google Keyword Planner to help you generate thousands of related search terms. Take note of search volume and competition when selecting the keywords you want to go after; the trick is to look for keywords with high search volume and low competition. Newer brands with smaller audiences have the best chance of ranking for highly-searched, under-the-radar keywords, as opposed to generic terms like “Search Engine Marketing.”
If you want to compose an article that is fully SEO-optimized, consider the search terms related to your target keyword. Naturally integrate these related terms throughout your post—in the image alt tags, the sub-headers, and the body copy. That way, your article has a chance of ranking for a variety of relevant search terms instead of just your one focus keyword. This also tells Google that your content is informative, well-researched, and therefore highly relevant to the user.
The shorter terms we discussed above are known as head terms in the world of SEO, while long tail keywords are the related phrases that have more than three words. It is generally a good idea to use a combination of both long tail keywords and head terms in your blog posts. Long tail keywords typically have a lower competition than head terms, giving you a higher chance of ranking for them in the SERPs. People typically use long tail keywords on Google when they know exactly what they’re looking for, meaning they’re ready to purchase.
For example, someone searching for “inexpensive SEO tool for marketers” has a clear idea of what they’re looking for and is further down the purchasing funnel than someone searching for just “SEO tools.” So, if you can rank near the top of the SERPs for these long tail keywords, you can cash in on that user intent.
Finally, keeping an eye out on your rivals is an important part of any marketer’s job, and the same holds true for keyword research. You need to identify the keywords that your top competitors are ranking for and, if it’s an relevant topic to your brand, write more engaging, informative content around those terms to compete. To make this process easier, there are various tools—both paid and free—that you can use to look up terms your competitor’s keywords.
This basic guide on how to do keyword research effectively should help you get a head start. As you practice, you’ll learn more about the world of SEO and how to rank higher on the SERPs.
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