Chapter 3: Keyword Research Understand what your audience wants to find. Keyword research provides you with specific search data that can help you answer questions like: What are people searching for? While you definitely want to target terms that your audience is searching for, in some cases, it may be more advantageous to target terms with lower search volume because they're far less competitive. Understanding the long tail It would be great to rank #1 for the keyword "shoes"... or would it? Long tail keywords with lower search volume often convert better, because searchers are more specific and intentional in their searches. Getting strategic with search volume Now that you’ve discovered relevant search terms for your site and their corresponding search volumes, you can get even more strategic by looking at your competitors and figuring out how searches might differ by season or location. In Chapter 2, we learned about SERP features. If the query is ambiguous, Google will also sometimes include the “refine by” feature to help searchers specify what they’re looking for further. Google Trends - Google’s keyword trend tool is great for finding seasonal keyword fluctuations. AnswerThePublic - This free tool populates commonly searched for questions around a specific keyword.
Welcome to the draft of Chapter Three of the new and improved Beginner’s Guide to SEO! So far you’ve been generous and energizing with your feedback for our outline, Chapter One, and Chapter Two. We’re asking for a little more of your time as we debut the our third chapter on keyword research. Please let us know what you think in the comments!
Chapter 3: Keyword Research
Understand what your audience wants to find.
Now that you’ve learned how to show up in search results, let’s determine which strategic keywords to target in your website’s content, and how to craft that content to satisfy both users and search engines.
The power of keyword research lies in better understanding your target market and how they are searching for your content, services, or products.
Keyword research provides you with specific search data that can help you answer questions like:
- What are people searching for?
- How many people are searching for it?
- In what format do they want that information?
In this chapter, you’ll get tools and strategies for uncovering that information, as well as learn tactics that’ll help you avoid keyword research foibles and build strong content. Once you uncover how your target audience is searching for your content, you begin to uncover a whole new world of strategic SEO!
What terms are people searching for?
You may know what you do, but how do people search for the product, service, or information you provide? Answering this question is a crucial first step in the keyword research process.
You likely have a few keywords in mind that you would like to rank for. These will be things like your products, services, or other topics your website addresses, and they are great seed keywords for your research, so start there! You can enter those keywords into a keyword research tool to discover average monthly search volume and similar keywords. We’ll get into search volume in greater depth in the next section, but during the discovery phase, it can help you determine which variations of your keywords are most popular amongst searchers.
Once you enter in your seed keywords into a keyword research tool, you will begin to discover other keywords, common questions, and topics for your content that you might have otherwise missed.
Let’s use the example of a florist that specializes in weddings.
Typing “wedding” and “florist” into a keyword research tool, you may discover highly relevant, highly searched for related terms such as:
- Wedding bouquets
- Bridal flowers
- Wedding flower shop
In the process of discovering relevant keywords for your content, you will likely notice that the search volume of those keywords varies greatly. While you definitely want to target terms that your audience is searching for, in some cases, it may be more advantageous to target terms with lower search volume because they’re far less competitive.
Since both high- and low-competition keywords can be advantageous for your website, learning more about search volume can help you prioritize keywords and pick the ones that will give your website the biggest strategic advantage.
Pro tip: Diversify!
It’s important to note that entire websites don’t rank for keywords, pages do. With big brands, we often see the homepage ranking for many keywords, but for most websites, this isn’t usually the case. Many websites receive more organic traffic to pages other than the homepage, which is why it’s so important to diversify your website’s pages by optimizing each for uniquely valuable keywords.
How often are those terms searched?
Uncovering search volume
The higher the search volume for a given keyword or keyword phrase, the more work is typically required to achieve higher rankings. This is often referred to as keyword difficulty and occasionally incorporates SERP features; for example, if many SERP features (like featured snippets, knowledge graph, carousels, etc) are clogging up a keyword’s result page, difficulty will increase. Big brands often take up the top 10 results for high-volume keywords, so if you’re just starting out on the web and going after the same keywords, the uphill battle for ranking can take years of effort.
Typically, the higher the search volume, the greater the competition and effort required to achieve organic ranking success. Go too low, though, and you risk not drawing any searchers to your site. In many cases, it may be most advantageous to target highly specific, lower competition search terms. In SEO, we call those long-tail keywords.
Understanding the long tail
It would be great to rank #1 for the keyword “shoes”… or would it?
It’s wonderful to deal with keywords that have 50,000 searches a…