What is keyword research and do I need it?

What is Keyword Research Google Screenshot

What is keyword research?

To put it simply, keyword research is the process of finding which words your ideal client is typing into Google when searching for your product or service. This may seem simple enough, but more often than not the best keywords are not what you would initially think of. Researching the right keywords that will work for your business and brand will direct your website copy and blog ideas so that you can create content that your ideal client is looking for.

Why keyword research is so important

The reason keyword research is so important is that it’s the first step to optimising your website. Finding and using the right keywords on your website can make the difference between your brand showing up as the first result on Google and it getting lost in the internet void. When your potential clients search for your product, keyword research is what will get them to click on you rather than your competitors. 

Three easy methods to do your own keyword research

Finding keywords is all about getting in the mind of your customers and discovering the words they would use to search for your products. There are of course plenty of paid websites that will help uncover keywords such as SEM Rush, but when you’re just starting out there are three tried and true methods to do your own keyword research at no cost.

1. A good old-fashioned brainstorm

The first thing to do when doing keyword research is to sit down and have a think. You know your brand, product, or service better than anyone, and you should have a good idea about who your ideal client is. Think about what they would search for when looking for your product and write it down. 

The only rules here is to try to make each term longer than two words so that you can settle into a keyword niche. One thing to note is that people will often type their problems into Google, searching for a solution. Think about the problems that your clients have and write them down as keyword phrases.

2. Free keyword generators

If you’re completely stuck trying to come up with a list, it’s ok to cheat a little bit. There are plenty of free keyword generators available such as Google Trends, Ubersuggest, and Answer The Public. Simply type in a basic term and they will come up will some great suggestions to search trough. Another great free keyword generator is to ask a friend. They can give some pretty out of the box answers that end up making brilliant keywords.

3. Check out the competition

Lastly, a tried and true method is to draw inspiration from others. Have a look at your competitors’ sites and take note of what keywords they’re using. Look for any frequently repeated phrases on their main pages and then search for those keywords in Google and see if your competitor shows up. Take a look at their blog post topics and do the same. If they are ranking for those search terms, chances are that you could too. 

Remember here that we are taking inspiration, not stealing, so don’t just copy and paste your competitor’s last dozen blog posts and upload them verbatim. Use them to get ideas and build your own list that is specific to your target audience’s needs.

How to test your keyword quality

Now that you have come up with a long and lovely list of keywords, it’s time to test them out. This step is important because, though one keyword or keyword phrase may appear perfect on paper, it could do next to nothing in practice. This is where you need to not only have a look at how many people are searching for those keywords but also how many websites are already targeting those words. Ideally what you want is a keyword that has the golden ratio of some traffic and low competition, because one without the other isn’t going to get you far.

A great way to see the search rate and competition of keywords is to download the free Chrome/Firefox browser tool Keywords Everywhere‘. Once installed, just type into Google the keywords you want to rank for and you will see the keyword data below the search bar. It also comes up with a list of keywords to the right of the search results which can be useful in the brainstorming phase.

Google screenshot showing 'keywords everywhere' tool

Remember that even keyword phrases that only get a few hits every month could still be worth focusing on. Those searchers are potential paying customers and their specific search means they are likely ready to buy. That combined with the low competition of the keywords puts you in the perfect position to gain all of those searchers as new clients or customers every month.

So, you have your keywords. What now?

Once you have had a look at which keywords hit the golden ratio of traffic vs competition, it’s time to optimise your copy. Instead of throwing in all your keywords throughout your website and blogs, choose one keyword phrase to focus on for each page and blog on your website. This will make that page more likely to pop up in the search results for your chosen keywords.

The most important thing to remember when doing keyword research is that it’s a process that doesn’t yield results overnight. Just because you follow all of these steps and start your keyword research today, doesn’t mean you’ll be ranking by tomorrow morning. Take the time to come up with a big list, then apply and test out your keywords. Don’t stress if you aren’t getting any traction, you can always adapt them down the line. SEO is a work in progress, so take it slow and and you will see results over time.

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