What is keyword research?
Keyword research is a core SEO task that involves identifying popular words and phrases people enter into search engines -make in an attempt to figure out what to rank for. Researching keywords gives marketers a better understanding of how high the demand is for certain keywords and how hard it would be to compete for those terms in the organic search results, offering some direction to optimization efforts.
Keyword research is not just about verifying how many searches a particular keyword has — it’s also about exploring the many varied ways that people use language to research an idea or topic. As such, researching popular keywords isn’t just a big part of search engine optimization, it’s also a major element of content marketing as a whole. Why? Because it can help you find ideas for your next blog post, learn more about the needs of your audience, and keep up to date with the lingo of the ever-changing search landscape. Ultimately, by researching the words people type into search engines and using this research to create targeted content, you can drive the right traffic to your site — traffic that is more likely to convert.
How often should I do keyword research?
Keyword research isn’t just a one-off task. Your website’s foundation is built on keywords, so precisely what building blocks you use requires regular re-evaluation and maintenance. Search language shifts constantly, new keywords are being formed all the time, and your audience’s needs develop and grow. As a result, keyword research is a job worth doing whenever you’re looking to create new website content. This includes when you’re looking at starting a new website, if you’re writing a new blog post for an existing site, when you’re deciding whether to promote a particular product or service, and beyond. It’s also rather handy if you’re restructuring your existing site and consolidating your content.
Your website content should serve to fulfill the needs of your audience. By regularly assessing the ways in which people search and by identifying not just the most popular searches but also the specific and ever-changing ways that people search for content within your niche of the internet, you can continue to create content your audience will enjoy and share.
How to do keyword research
All keyword research starts with a topic, idea, or head keyword, also called a “seed.” This seed can come from your industry knowledge, from being an active member in related online forums and groups, or from the products and services you provide. Make sure you have a spreadsheet or notepad where you can jot these terms down as you journey through the labyrinth of websites and social networks to discover variations on those keywords.
Once you’ve got a good list, you’ll want to determine how popular each keyword is and how difficult it would be to rank for them on search engine results pages (SERPs). This is where a keyword tool comes in handy. Start by entering a seed into a research tool like Keyword Explorer. You’ll be presented with details on how popular the search is and how difficult it is to rank well for that keyword.
Seed terms don’t just lead to metrics like search volume; they also open the door to the bounty of related keyword suggestions that you may not have thought of yet. You can see how a simple seed word you picked up through a Facebook group or from a conversation with a customer can grow into a useful tree of keywords brimming with ideas for your pages or next blog post.
If you want to learn more about how to do keyword research, check out chapter five of the Beginner’s Guide to SEO.