Keyword Research – How it Works and Why It is Important?
by Jomer Gregorio on January 29, 2015
Many people look for information about products and services online just like what 61% of global Internet users do. In fact, as much as 44% of online shoppers start the buying process with the help of their favorite search engine – and the first thing they do is to type in a keyword phrase into the search box.
Connecting with prospected audiences using highly targeted keyword phrases and terms is central to digital marketing even in an evolved online world of semantic search. Even with algorithm changes like Hummingbird that aims to bring search results closer to search users’ intent, keyword research remains an important key to online success. Keywords are and continue to be the main bridge connecting digital marketers to the heart of their targeted audiences – their online motivations, purchasing behaviors, needs, wants and more.
The following discusses keyword research in greater detail to help readers get a full grasp of what keyword research is and how it is vital and important for the survival and success of your online presence.
What Keyword Research is All About
In its most technical sense, keyword research is the process performed by digital marketers and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) professionals to determine the actual terms used by search engine user to look for a particular piece of information about a product, service or anything else online. Keyword research is performed with the main intent of ranking high in the first pages of search results for a particular set of niche keywords the digital marketer has focused on in their campaigns.
Basically, keyword research is synonymous to market research from a search marketing perspective. It reveals the most logical set of terms that people will use to make a search query. It is indeed getting into the mind of your targeted audiences. Knowing what’s in their minds will quickly connect them to you and your website. From there, further engagement can take place that may convert site visitors into valuable leads or even paying customers.
The Importance of Keyword Research
As mentioned earlier, the main purpose of keyword research is to identify the most probable and most relevant search terms targeted audiences will use when looking for things related to your products or services. Knowing and identifying such relevant keywords will help business owners and digital marketers get the best results from their search engine optimization campaigns. Other attributes that make keyword research a vital and very important digital marketing activity are:
- Keyword research lets your targeted audiences search and find you through the actual words and terms they speak and use. From this initial contact springs opportunities for building relationships with potential customers
- Keyword research helps you identify relevant keyword phrases that is related to the overall theme of your site content, putting your website in good standing with search engines
- Keyword research helps you identify search terms that may be less likely included in your initial choices but would later turn out to be good traffic generators because of less competition. Good traffic means better and faster realization of your ROI
- Keyword research helps you save money by letting you focus only on good keywords that deliver results instead of spending time and valuable resources on keywords that you thought were good but deliver little or no stream of targeted traffic
- Keyword research helps you not only to establish targeted traffic for particular pages but also for particular categories as well as your homepage
- Keyword research helps you establish good internal navigation systems that establishes your authority in the industry niche or business markets. With keyword research, targeted audiences will mark you as a provider that understands their needs, speak the language they speak, and able to provide them with what they need
To get a deeper understanding of keyword research, it would be important that digital marketers understand the three main categories that identify keywords. These are:
- Short-tail Keywords – the most basic but also the broadest set of keywords that are usually only single-term keywords. Competition for this type is very high and chances for conversion is very slim because of the extremely huge amount of search volume
- Medium-tail Keywords – more specific than the short-tail keywords, medium-tail keywords are usually composed of 2 to 3 word phrases that generate a more moderate search volume and lesser competition
- Long-Tail Keywords – With more words and terms to form a 4-word phrase, long-tail keywords are very specific and gets less competition but also lesser search volume
The chart above from Moz.com indicate that popular search terms make up only 30% (or even less) of online searches. The bulk of search term volume, approximately 70% of total searches, is made from long-tail keywords. There may be few unique searches for each long-tail keywords individually, but when taken into consideration as a whole, the volume is astounding.
The Keyword Research Process
As mentioned earlier, keyword research is vital and fundamental to digital marketing. We have established before that high-quality, compelling and relevant content is what search engines like Google favor – but your keywords connect your content with your targeted audiences. That is why it is important for you to understand the keyword research process.
Backlinko.com released the “Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide” which include the flowchart that describes how most people perform the keyword research process, which usually begin with the use of Google’s Keyword Planner (GKP). While the GKP is a good tool for generating closely related keywords, it is not a good tool for generating new sets of keywords that is highly relevant and competitive in generating traffic from targeted audiences.
A more comprehensive keyword research process than the chart above is needed if you want to generate better results for your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Content Marketing, and Pay-Per-Click marketing efforts. The following shares such step-by-step process that can guide you in getting favorable results from your digital marketing efforts, starting with:
- Brainstorm for Your Seed Keyword
Great keywords are not just mere words anyone can pull out from the air because they sound good or the user “thinks” they are good seed keywords. The process involves a carefully executed brainstorming process that takes into consideration a critical analysis of your industry, the targeted audiences, your products and services, and other elements and attributes that may affect the search process. It is also at this point where you identify the head, body and long-tail terms that you will use for your seed keyword.
- Create a Comprehensive Keyword List
From the seed keyword, a comprehensive keyword list is generated using the Google Keyword Planner Tool or equivalent. Here, you can search and identify new keyword phrases and groups that may be relevant for your targeted audiences. Using the tool you can then gauge the relevancy of these terms by looking at certain indices that include the average monthly searches for that keyword among others. The list can then be exported as a CSV file.
- Use a Keyword Research Tool to Optimize Your Keywords
A keyword research tool is needed at this point to help you research and optimize your chosen keywords in your list. This step will also include the examination of your competition particularly valuable information about them such as traffic volume, where they are ranking and the keywords they are ranking for.
- Create Your Keywords Master List
Once optimized, you can then create a keywords master list where you can consolidate all the potential keyword choices generated by the different tools you are using. At this point, you should go through your master list and exclude entries that have poor metrics, duplicates, and terms that are not related to your seed keyword.
- Perform a Competitive Analysis
You can then perform a competitive analysis to determine the competitiveness of your keywords against your competitor’s metrics. These metrics that you should consider as part of the competitive analysis include page rank, page authority, domain authority, linked domains, total backlinks and more.
- Use Your Keywords for PPC or Content Marketing
Once you have identified optimized keyword phrases and performed a competitive analysis on them versus your competitors, you can now start using these sets of keywords in your materials that will be used eventually for PPC, content marketing and search engine optimization.
Keywords are basically the voice of your targeted audiences. It’s what they use for searching for something online and is basically a window to their psyche that you can harness later on for reaching out, connecting and engaging with them. That is why keyword research is a vital and highly important process step that holds the fate of your online success now and the periods to come.
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