Get better results with keyword research
I’m sure by now you’ve learned that SEO is all about keywords and content. Just like content, keywords vary in quality and effectiveness. Today, we’re going to learn how to write better keywords for SEO and CPC (cost per click) advertising. We’ll cover long-tail keywords, keyword research, and keyword groups.
Keywords don’t just appear out of thin air – great SEO involves great keyword research. Keywords are the foundation of an SEO or online marketing campaign. Good keywords capture the essence of your business: they target exactly who you want to sell to, what you’re selling, and how you sell it. Let’s dig into what good keyword research looks like.
Step One: Who are you talking to?
The first thing you need to identify is your target audience. Have you ever thought about who is buying your products? Are they often of a similar age or gender, or come from a certain region of the world? You need to ask yourself these questions, and build out a ‘persona’, an ideal customer that represents your target demographic in broad strokes.
For example, let’s say you sold organic, fresh-pressed juice through a local delivery service. In this case, you’d be targeting someone local, likely with an interest in healthy living, with a reasonably high income level to afford the goods you’re selling. It’s also a trendy product, so your persona might skew younger. Your persona might end up being an upper-middle class professional woman between 20 and 35, who lives in Kelowna. Use personas as a creative exercise to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Keywords are what users search for, after all.
Step Two: What (exactly) are you selling?
Now that you’ve figured out who you’re selling to, you need to identify what you’re selling. How would you describe your product in three words? In our juice delivery example, you don’t want to just target ‘juice’. That’s a ridiculously broad keyword that will be nearly impossible to rank for, and expensive to buy ad space for. It’s also just not effective – too many kinds of people search for juice, and might not be in your target demographic.
Now is the time to start listing keywords. Open a document or jot down notes in a notepad. Remember that specific terms get a small volume of highly valuable traffic, whereas broad terms get a ton of low value traffic. In our example, ‘organic juice delivery’ might be a good keyword. It doesn’t have a lot of competitors, and gets a fairly small amount of presumably high value traffic. Nobody is searching that term by accident. ‘Organic juice kelowna’ is another good one, because it’s localized. For some products, you may want to appear for less exact searches. Imagine you own a carpet cleaning company. You probably want to rank for ‘carpet cleaning’, but you should also try to rank for longer keywords, like ‘how to get red wine out of carpet’. This sort of search isn’t targeting a carpet cleaning service, but the people who search it need a carpet cleaner.
Step Three: Bringing it all together.
As you start building personas and listing your potential keywords, it’s time to start researching. There are paid tools available to help you with this, but the basics are free – they just require a little work. Keyword research is about identifying opportunities. The best keywords to target are ones you can rank well for without facing too much competition. To start researching, just type your keyword into Google. See who comes up – evaluate how difficult you think it will be to dethrone the top 10 websites, based on how well established and authoritative they seem. Big brands are hard to topple, so it may not be worth the effort to target a keyword with a lot of major competition. Local keywords are often a good place to start (if you sell from a physical storefront) as they’re easier to win than broad, global keywords.
Long Tail Keywords
Long tail keywords are keywords that consist of more than two words. ‘Keyword’ is a misleading term. They can be any length – questions or statements often make good keywords. A recent content creation trend is to pose a question in the heading of an article, and answer it in detail in the body. It’s effective because people increasingly search by asking Google questions. This is a trend that should continue to grow with the rise of voice search (more on that soon!) so it’s never a bad idea to detailed Q&As on topics relevant to your business. You might even get a coveted featured snippet!
Keyword groups are a way to more efficiently run your SEO or SEM campaign. By creating targeted groups of your master list of keywords that target each product or service you provide, you’ll be able to better monitor your progress in the various areas of your business, and fine-tune your approach to content creation. Simply divide your keywords into several groups that target one selling feature or product lineup each. It will help you stay organized and make your SEO campaign that much more accurate.
So there’s a little intro to keyword research. It’s a big topic with a million articles available online, if you want to continue your education. We’ll leave you with some closing thoughts on keywords in general.
As much as research is critical for successful marketing, creativity and instinct are important, too. Thinking outside the box can help you target keywords few others have thought of, making it a little easier to rank in the top 10 for that search. Don’t confine yourself to literal and obvious choices. Even in the analytical world of online marketing, creativity is an advantage.