SEO Keyword Research Best Practices
Keyword research…the key to SEO.
Let’s be honest, how often do you scroll to the bottom of a search engine result page when you google something? Probably, not very often. Many times, we click the links closer to the top of the page when we’re looking for fast answers. This is where SEO keyword research comes into play.
The links on pages 2 and beyond don’t stand a chance, which is why keyword research is so tremendously important. It’s one of the most valuable aspects of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and could be the reason a user finds your business.
What is SEO keyword research?
Keyword research for SEO requires analyzing specific search terms that are alternative but relevant to your brand, terms your potential clients could be searching for and categories a brand wants to show up in when searched. This research informs the content and marketing strategy by ensuring the website content and blog content aligns with the keywords a company is trying to rank for.
Let’s dive into some best practices for keyword research that you can use right away to begin ranking for important keywords and increase your conversion rate.
Focus on your audience
Before you do any keyword research, take some time to identify and understand who your key audience is. Who is your audience? What terms do they use when talking about your industry? Products? Services? The idea here is to think as if you were your own customer. Know the culture and language around your industry.
Think about what your customer would search when looking for your products. Additionally, know the complimentary products of your brand. For instance, If you sell glasses then the complimentary products would be things like glasses cases, glasses cleaner, glasses repair kits, etc. Your keyword list should be based on your understanding of your audience and how they use your product.
Building Your List
Start with a list of seed words that are generated from an evaluation of your brand, business, and website. Seed words are typically short-tail keywords which are more general, like “Glasses.” Target words and phrases associated with what you offer. For instance, if you offer eye exams, glasses, and contacts add those words to your seed list. Start with a list of 5-10 of these seed words, which will act as the main groups.
Now, come up with 5-10 general topics within each group that are more specific. Then, put the seed words and general topic terms into the keyword research tool of your choice and it will provide you with the long-tail, more specific words.
Here’s an example: if your seed word is “Women’s Glasses,” one of your general topics under that seed word could be “Women’s Prescription Glasses.” You will put both of those words into the keyword research tool and it will generate a large list of possible search terms for you to use. One of those terms could be “Affordable Women’s Prescription Glasses.” The more specific keywords are typically long-tail keywords, like the “Affordable Women’s Prescription Glasses” example. Luckily, there are many great SEO programs out there that find short and longtail keywords for you:
The ones we use are:
These tools will identify specific search terms and their data associated with them. This is your list!
Latent Semantic Indexing keywords are keywords semantically related to your target keyword. They’re the words and phrases that appear when you search a keyword and the search engine anticipates what you will search and offers suggestions. They’re also the words at the bottom of the search engine result page.
Using these semantics words and phrases allows you to further understand searching behavior and add to your keyword list, as well as incorporate these words into your webpage for greater SEO optimization and readability. Using this method can offer greater insight into which keywords are more relevant for your business and what your customers are searching.
Refine Your List
Once you have a healthy keyword list it’s a good idea to refine it. How, you ask? By using the data associated with each keyword you can narrow down which keywords will benefit your goals more. The analytics you should pay attention to are search volume, competition, and difficulty.
Small businesses should go after “low-hanging fruit” keywords” or keywords with low keyword difficulty (0-60%), low competition (0-.5), with a higher search volume. In this scenario, the higher the search volume the better because that means that more people are searching for those keywords with little competition.
Optimizing for SEO
Search engines have bots that crawl your site for keywords and index them accordingly. For example, if you optimize a page for the keyword “women’s glasses” and write body copy with LSI keywords like “glasses online,” “women’s fashion” and “affordable frames”, search engines will index your page relating to searches for buying glasses online with hundreds of other websites indexed for the same keyword. The trick to moving up in the search engine result pages is in how well you optimize your page for your keyword.
The first rule is to optimize each page for only one keyword. Be sure you use your keyword in page titles, meta-descriptions, the H1 and H2, and throughout the body. Don’t use the keyword more than 3-4 times per page or you risk committing an SEO no-no, keyword stuffing. Instead, you can throw in the semantic keywords when necessary. That’s a little SEO keyword research hack.
Regularly check in on how you’re ranking for keywords using SEMrush, MOZ, and Google Search Console. Daily, weekly, and monthly audits are going to allow you to evaluate the performance of your targeted keywords.
If a keyword isn’t ranking as high as you thought, it’s a great idea to revisit that page/blog and make sure the content is providing value, the keywords are used properly, and work to see what you can do better. Checking which keywords you’re ranking for allows you to make sure you’re not competing with yourself for the same keywords.
Optimizing your website to rank for specific keywords is important, but it will all be for nothing if you only focus on your SEO. The first priority should be to provide your target audience with meaningful and valuable content. This is where the strategy comes in. Think about what your audience needs and wants and work from there. Your keyword research for SEO starts here!
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