Understanding your target market and how they search for your information, services, or products is the power of keyword research. Every keyword search into search engines has an intent behind it. Understanding which keywords have the intent to buy point-of-sale or learn about your company can have a huge influence.
What is keyword research? Keyword research is a crucial step for SEO & PPC. Keyword research is the process of researching prominent search terms that people use in search engines like Google and strategically make sure your website appears for those terms in search engine results pages (SERP).
In this article, we will discuss keyword research and its process in more detail…
1. What Is Keyword Research?
Keywords are the words and phrases that people type into search engines like Google to find the information or answers they’re looking for. A keyword is anything typed into a search engine, whether it’s a single word or a phrase. For example, if you wanted to buy a new pair of trainers, you may type ‘women’s black trainers’ into Google.
As a website owner you want the keywords on your or your web pages to be relevant to what people are looking for so you may rank higher in the SERP results. The majority of individuals have a rough concept of the keywords they wish to rank for. However, it is impossible to know all that individuals look for. That is why doing some keyword research to identify more relevant terms is beneficial.
2. Why Is Keyword Research Important?
Keywords are crucial because they assist search engines find your website when visitors type them in. Keywords can disclose crucial information that can help you expand your business online. Keyword research may reveal what phrases people are actively searching for, as well as the competitiveness of those terms, and can aid in the development of a content marketing strategy to boost organic search exposure, rankings, and traffic.
3. Keyword Intent
We can learn about user intent by looking at the words users use when they query searches.
Transnational intent will often contain words like:
- product names
Informational searches often contain words like:
- how to
- best way to
It’s a good idea to optimise your product pages for commercially driven keywords. Even better if you can access them at point-of-sale. For example, if you sell dog vitamins, for example, you could want to optimise a product (category) page for the search term [purchase dog vitamins]. Perhaps you have a piece on how to administer vitamins. That post might be optimised for the search term [how to feed vitamins to my dog] and targeted at persons looking for information.
However, all industries don’t follow this pattern of behaviour. Some people might require more information to make a purchase. Informational based keywords also is a good opportunity to prove yourself in the market and build trust with your audience.
7. Assessing Keywords – General Performance
Through outlining the desirable keywords we wish to rank for we can also assess out of those words we wish to rank for to create the scope of the website. By scope we mean the size and you number of pages we wish to create to get our desired results.
Looking For Keyword Gaps
Gaps are keywords that generate low referral volume in potentially high volume industries. The size of the gap is determined in contrast to the total search volume of traffic associated to that keyword. It suggests that a keyword you currently rank for gets high impressions but a low click through rate. It could be that a keyword generates a low referral volume of traffic to your website, but once looking at the analytics, it becomes apparent there is a massive volume of people search that keyword.
This would mean that there is a massive gap and it would be considered high priority to leverage that keyword. Gaps are identified by having the content available on the website, but. To find click through rate (CTR) we need to find the percentage of the search volume to referrals. This is the percentage of the amount of traffic that has been directed to a desired page from a keyword.
To discover the Gap, we need to compare our search volume against the referrals. Using tools such as Google console or SEMrush we can measure how well we are doing against our competitors. Only after researching against our competitors will it become clear the predominant words we should be ranking for, which we may be slacking.
This is a great way to assess your current gaps in a visual way. When using this graph we will only use keywords that we consider relevant.
When looking for gaps we are always looking out for those quick wins. By going into Google search console it tells you what keywords you are ranking for and gives you the percentage of your impressions to click through rate. You can find how intense the competition is by using tools such as SEMrush and Neil Patel Uber Keyword Suggest and then you just plot them on the graph.
Looking For Opportunities
These are discovered after conducting a competitor keyword analysis and identifying words, which has substantial search volume for your relevant audiences. However, we get this information from referral traffic. This traffic has come from other websites and social media. It can be anything about the products or services your offering to the industry you are trying to concur. It is identified as an opportunity when you have no content support those keywords.
It is easy to tell, what keyword will be popular for you, using the keyword matrix. We use referral volume because it gives us factual data as the above information has been extracted from referral keywords, and the words that they are ranking for. These are important opportunities as you can see what keywords people are ranking for in the industry and so it is important to consider in the strategy.
If anything is in the bottom right corner then it may be a consideration to avoid as to much time could be spent for little results. The variable used for the opportunity matrix is search volume against competition, as is competition is vigorous it way be a SMART option to dig out other words that will take less time for gain a rank.
The variables used for the Keyword Gap Matrix are referrals over search volume.
4. Assessing Keywords – Towards Company Objectives
When it comes to keyword research, its easy to assume which keywords will work best. However, as some keywords maybe more obvious it beneficial to undergo detailed research. This can include things such as competition difficulty, volume of searches, cost per click and intent.
Not only do we want to know about the search terms but we also want to evaluate how much benefit these terms will add to our business. By going through the FIVE-STEP Process you cover everything from establishing how your website objectives align with your business objectives to planning and evaluating the website performance.
5. SEO Objectives Pyramid
The keywords you rank for also link directly to your business goals. It requires a lot of time, energy & money to ensure your website is appearing wherever necessary. So, you need to ensure your keyword strategy aligns directly into your marketing strategy. You need to remember that your website is a business.
To build ANY successful website that ranks well in Google you must have a clear direction. By direction, I mean… What is the purpose of your website? This is identifying your niche… your target audience… and putting a plan together how you intend to make money.
The direction of your website will determine what content you choose to write about and what products you aim to sell. This is very basic stuff but it is very important to outline and communicate to all parties that are involved in the website optimisation process.
This above image demonstrates how to form your SEO objectives that are purposeful to your business to ensure all areas of the business align.
The above model is obvious to most people. Nevertheless, it is so easy to silo your website objectives. When silos accrue, this leads to inconsistencies within the business. Not only can this be a minor root towards business rupture but can also affect brand image. This model ensures transparency through all business levels (corporate level, operational level and functional level). Transparency in a business is important as it guarantees the communication is consistent, towards delivering a coherent strategy across all areas of the business.
Every business should have a vision, no matter how small that business is. This vision outlines the best state of your business that is most relevant to your ideal customers. We capture the vision in a single statement. This statement is readily available, whereby it will provide symbolism to the big picture, under the construct of the statement roots.
The corporate Mission extends the corporate vision by explaining in brief how we intend to reach the corporate vision. Again, these brief statements capture target customers and industry niche and explain in brief what the customers want.
Corporate goals are set so the senior management can justify whether or not the corporate mission is succeeding. These can be revenue estimates, profit and market growth.
We leverage our marketing to support the corporate goals. We create marketing aims from the corporate goals, whereby sales tactics are broken down into a micro level.
What activities do we plan to leverage?
- How much revenue do we aim to make by selling products or services?
- How much brand loyalty do we aim to establish through building brand awareness?
- If you are building a new website, it can be the requirements of the final website (such as the amount of blog posts and functionality).
It is important to identify the different marketing aims so that we can create SEO objectives.
How will the website and the online visibility support the marketing aims? More specifically, the SEO objectives outline how we are going to get the results outlined in the marketing aims. The SEO objectives will includes the specific keywords with their estimated quantified clicks. To get the best quality keywords that are right for our business we need to conduct a competitor analysis (discussed in section 3) and a keyword analysis. Once we have our objectives we are ready to implement.
6. Competitive Analysis
To avoid risk wherever we can and get the best results we need to use a data driven strategy. To take less risk we need proven ways to do things.
Competitive Analysis Process Model
Furthermore, the insight we gain from assessing the competition will inform our business objectives above.
Who Is The Competition?
The first objective to for building any strategic direction is figuring out what is the competition is online and offline. Before we can assess the competition, we need to interpret who the competition is. These can be organised using porters five forces model.
Porters Five Forces Model
The aim here is to identify any potential threats to the future sales of your business and digital platforms that may lead customers away from our platform to theirs.
When examining these competitors, you should determine whether they are direct competitors, indirect/substitutes, potential new entrants or buyers and place them in a table like the one seen below. Direct competitors operate in the same space as you and offer a similar offering with their products and services. To find the direct competition you can use Google search but you are not looking for the people that occupy the top results. Rather, we want to look for those businesses that sell the same products as us and evaluate how these businesses operate both offline and online.
Indirect competitors are no directly similar but they could work to address similar needs for your customers. You can find the indirect competition by putting your keywords into Google search engine and check the top results. These will most likely be blogs. Potential new entrants are those who could potential pose a threat to your market and buyer power is assessing what is already available for them (how many blog posts are there on this topic already?).
6.5 Competitor Analysis
It is important to study the competition and see what they may be doing effectively to assess what we could do differently. In the competitor analysis we are looking assessing our competitors business model so we have a sense how they operate and who their customers are.
To get a real sense of the industry it is worthwhile to assess the competition. To do that, we need answers to the following questions:
- What features make your competitors remarkable online?
- Are there things that make yourself different from your competitors?
- What makes yourself remarkable, and perform better than your competitors perform?
- Why does it make them remarkable in the eyes of the customer?
The aim here is to evaluate what makes your competitors different and stand out by analysis their product features, highlighting what factors makes your audience want to visit your site instead of your competitors, repeatedly, and be excited to be a returning visitor.
Most importantly, it is to understand what makes your competitors magnetic and have customers stick to them.
6.6 How does the competition approach SEO?
Studying different aspects like what kind of content they publish and what kind of back-links they have can work to positively influence your SEO strategy in future and lead you to work your way up the rankings.
This is because you could be corporate business competing against a small blogger.
It may be difficult to go head to head with a blogger in the search ranking as they may have built a powerful presence online.
However, it could be useful to understand how even these small business operate online to help you win in other areas of the internet.
- What does the competitor have that we don’t?
- Do these attributes fulfil a desire in my target markets?
- Are we able to provide those features, and can we deliver the aim for those features in a more concise way (faster, easier and cheaper)?
- How active are the competitor’s social network channels and what engagement are they receiving?
- How does our competition promote their product/services/content?
- Does our competition have audience specific targeted landing pages?
- What call to actions do they provide and how do they lead customers to those call to actions?
- Are there any tools and resources that will gain repeat customer?
This section is broken down into the following sub-sections:
Content & Landing Pages
This includes going in and observing the pages for yourself and evaluating it (this can include things like: What the competition is writing about, what keywords are they trying to rank for, and how do they engaging their audience with the use terminologies and imagery)?
Resources, Widgets, Tools
This is getting a sense of the website as a whole. Websites that provide tools (like a calculator) have massive benefits for SEO. However, it could be there use of technology and plugin to aid their success.
Social Presence & promotion
This is looking into the social profiles they use and observing how they use them. What is the competitions objective for social is it for building brand awareness or leads to the website. On the other hand, do they have another game plan altogether?
6.7 How To Structure Your Competition Information
The whole idea for this step is to get a good feel of the competitive landscape, some recommendations and insight will be gained into forming our own architecture.
7.5 Scoping Your Website
In this stage, you need to make it clear everything your website has to be successful.
The SEO Plan has been broken down into list items for each section, predominantly for content purposes, each list item will have a dedicated web page and optimised keywords highlighting the highest priority by section.
The scope has been outlined based on the keywords we want to rank for, creating web pages that have clear aims for those keywords.
When creating a scope for a NEW website I would recommend creating anywhere between 20 to 50 high quality blog posts.
8. Designing & Optimising Content
Google’s aim is to provide the most relevant and best quality information to their users. Currently, Google hire 250 000 of the world’s best software engineers to develop and maintain the search engine. They have the ability to measure and squeeze out those website that offer little value. Furthermore, Google are only getting more aggressive in their pursuit to deliver high value to their users. This means we need to understand and establish the value we wish to deliver to our users, and do it better than our competition.
8.1 Designing Content
When designing any content with the purpose to rank for SEO, it is number one priority to provide the BEST user experience (UX) to your customer.
Those UX factors are derived from delivering as much value to the target customer as possible.
This means you need to know the customers you aim to target towards.
The main way to really provide value is firstly knowing who your audience is and understanding their pain points, wants, what needs are not currently being met.
It is also powerful to demonstrate slang and terms your audience use as this shows you are in touch with them.
The points we are interested in here is that:
- Understanding our audience pain points
- Understanding what their wants are
- What needs are not being met
- Slang and terminologies our audience use as reference
8.2 Target Customer Attributes For Content Writing
However, you decide to segment audience is down the marketer. You can segment the target audience by job title, pain points, interest’s age and many others. The four main types of segmenting can be one of the behavioural segmentation, demographic segmentation, and attitudinal segmentation.
Without any data, the place to start is by researching competitor websites that offer similar information. This includes analysing information our audience is interested in and establishing how competitors deliver this information to our audience and how our audience is led to that information.
More specifically this can be done by typing topics into Google that our business resonates and find those recurring websites that are in the top five results. These sites are the ones that are usually meeting our audience specific needs in the search results.
8.3 Website Optimisation Plan
Optimising content are massive sections of their own however, I will highlight what consideration you need to have and link out to other articles on these.
- Site optimisation – Optimising the website performance and automation
- Page optimisation – Ensuring keyword appears on the page and content is written to a high level
- Off-page optimisation – Building Traffic and Promotion
Here you need to highlight all the tasks you aim to achieve and set goals of what you want to have done for your website to be a finished product.
9. Review And Control
Under A/B testing and the use of analytical tools we can review the performance of the website, and produce conclusions for an increased user experience.
You need to assess which criteria best justifies the performance of your website:
- Leads from Search and social
- Average ranking
- Bounce rate
- Average click through rate
- Average Conversion rate
- Pogo rate
The biggest problem people face when conducting SEO is that they do not know where to start. The FIVE-STEP SEO Process makes approaching the development of your business easier because of its linear building blocks. This includes everything from forming a clear direction to acknowledging the activities for your desired ranking and the optimisation considerations to make sales online.
There is nothing worse than rework, or getting to a task a realising you cannot do it yet.
Both result of bad planning
These are two major factors for scope creep and time wasting.
Having an SEO process will significantly improve the performance of your work because it proves you the ability to focus.
This is because you more clearly know the scope of the project that means you can easily assess which tasks those are worth your attention.
Not only that, but you know which order the tasks.
An SEO process is a systematic method of structuring your workflow. This provides a clear scope of your project ahead for more accurate plan (reducing time and effort for completion).
Visitors coming onto the landing pages will have specific intentions (UI).
By following the SEO aims pyramid will provide a better customer experience because it ensures all levels of the strategy are consistent and focused all the way from through the website.
More importantly how you intend your website to be found.
To understand what is the best direction for your website and your business you have a plan and strategy.
The plan outlines what needs to be done to form the strategy. Whilst the strategy tells us how to approach the SEO.
Just like any strategy, we first need to outline what our aims, objectives and goals are.
Whenever we conduct any campaign, it should be used to support our SEO On-page aims. I have referred to any campaign as off-page aims as well as the general off-page activities.
Our SEO aims should support our marketing aims, and our marketing aims should support our corporate strategy.
By studying what makes a major influences standout in their market, highlights options for our strategy, by replicating this and adding some creative flair, aligned to our audience goals we can begin to conjure ways to beat the competition and deliver value to our niche even better than they can, by saturating our approach around our audiences aims.