Winning SEO With Keyword Research
An SEO campaign usually involves three processes: the research, the execution and the management. In this blog, I will discuss and highlight just one of the many tasks within the research process for SEO: keyword research. So – what is keyword research, how does it help your SEO campaign and how can you do it for your own website? Read on to find out!
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is, as the name suggests, the process of actually researching which keywords you should be targeting for SEO (or PPC!) based on your industry, business, goals and objectives. If you fail to properly research your keywords for an SEO campaign, you carry a huge risk of simply optimising for the wrong keywords which will have an impact on your traffic, conversions and general return on investment from your marketing. In this blog we will discuss the main parts of keyword research and how to find the best SEO keywords to use for your business.
Seed keywords are the most generic form of keyword you can think of. For example, if you sell mobile phones as an eCommerce website then your seed keyword would be “phone.” The seed keyword is NOT the keyword you are trying to target! The seed keyword will allow you to find long-tail and more topical keywords and phrases in which would be better to target. For example, “phone” seed can return phrases such as “second hand mobile phones”, “mobile phone reviews”, “what is the latest iOS?” etc. Here we have a good range of different search intents (more on that later!) that fall under the same seed keyword. In our example, “second hand mobile phones” would be a keyword to target for the eCommerce website as opposed to reviews or questions.
Long-tail keywords are search terms that are – you guessed it: long! They generally include more words and are much more specific. Because of this, long-tail keywords are usually much more easier to compete and optimise your pages for, with the trade-off that not as many people will search for long-tail keywords. The idea being that although the search volume will be much more lower than other keywords, the small amount that do search for it will have a much higher conversion rate and therefore you will be able to achieve a much higher return on investment.
Search intent is realising what the aim, or intent, is behind a search term. There are four main types of search intents an SEO should be considering during their keyword research: informational, navigational, transactional and commercial.
- Informational: The user wants to research and find more information about a topic. Examples include who is xyz, where is xyz, directions to xyz etc.
- Navigational: The user is looking for a specific website and using brand names.
- Transactional: The user is looking to purchase a product or service. Examples include cheap xyx, xyz for sale, buy xyz online etc.
- Commercial: The user is looking for information about a product but has yet to convinced of converting. An example of commercial search terms include reviews, best of xyz, comparison blogs etc.
In many cases it is rather simple and easy to organise keywords and phrases into these four categories – however many high volume search terms and generic keywords are much harder to organise on the keyword alone.
An example for this can be “iPhone 7.” They aren’t asking a question, they aren’t looking for reviews or comparisons, they haven’t shown they are looking to buy it and they haven’t included a specific website. So how do we understand the search intent behind such as generic search? The best thing we can do is ask Google.
After searching for “iPhone 7” we can find 9 organic listings. 5/9 of these listings are transactional pages. The remaining 4 are split between commercial (reviews and comparison) and informational (Wikipedia and an article about the phone specs.) Although Google is trying to cater towards all the intents, it is clearly favouring the transactional intent much more than the others.
Search volume is how many times a keyword is searched, usually on a monthly average. The obvious case for search volume in keyword research is to ensure the keywords you are targeting are actually able to increase your website traffic: being number one for a keyword without any search volume isn’t going to give you any traffic.
Third party SEO tools such as Moz, SEMRush and Ahrefs all have tools available for you to check the search volume of keywords – or you can go straight to the source and find data with search engine-provided tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner.