The Importance of Keyword Research in SEO
One of the fundamental parts of SEO is doing keyword research and doing it correctly. It is perhaps an area that is more complex than many people think and doesn’t just involve selecting the most popular keywords but choosing the right keywords. It is about finding your niche, keywords that suit that niche and ones that can rank highly for your given your budget.
As SEO experts in Bangkok, we know that if you are creating content without conducting keyword research is futile. You may write excellent content, but if it hasn’t been properly optimised, it is unlikely to yield results and traffic will be low. Keywords are what will ultimately drive traffic to your website.
How to find keywords
There are no hard and fast rules regarding how you should find keywords as there are many effective ways. The most common method of starting your search is to identify some “seed keywords”. From here you will then be able to get some other related phrases which you can use in your content. So, if you were running a bridal shop, terms such as “wedding dresses”, bridesmaid dresses” or “dress fitting” would all be appropriate.
As discussed in the previous section, It may seem obvious, but typing a couple of words into Google’s search box and seeing what autocomplete suggests or using “People Also Ask” or “Related Searches” will give you a good indication of what users are searching for. It is a quick process and can provide you with several ideas for keywords as well as titles for blogs.
There are numerous free keyword tools available that can all give you hundreds of keywords based on the seed keyword. Although primarily designed for PPC, Google Keyword Planner is an excellent tool as is AnswerThePublic, although you are limited to the number of daily searches that you can submit. Free keyword tools for most people are sufficient, but if you have hundreds of potential keywords, you may need something more substantial.
Keyword tools that you need to subscribe to offer far more information and give you greater insights into the keywords, helping you to decide which ones you wish to use. Although they can be quite costly, they will save you literally hours and, if used correctly, can give you a significant competitive advantage.
What are your competitors doing?
Whatever industry you operate in, knowing what your competitors are doing is essential. When it comes to SEO, you must recognise the keywords that are performing for them. In order to achieve this, you may have to invest in a high-quality keyword tool, but over the forthcoming weeks and months, it will prove to be a worthwhile expense.
Other popular search platforms
Most of you will be aware that YouTube is regarded as the second most popular search tool, even if technically, it isn’t a search engine. It is a fantastic way to find out what questions people are asking about your niche and will give you ideas regarding content as well as keywords. Other useful platforms for keyword research include:
- Industry forums or forums connected to your niche
Gone are the days when those writing content focused solely on the keywords that had the highest search volumes. It would be best if you concentrated on the keywords that you want to rank highly for as they will be more relevant to your products, services or niche. You may rank highly for a commonly searched term, but if in reality, it has little relevance to what you offer, it will serve little purpose and Google may recognise this and ultimately penalise you.
What is Google RankBrain?
RankBrain has been one of the main features of Google’s algorithm since mid-2015 and is a component-based on artificial intelligence and as such, helps the search engine to understand the intent behind the query. It means that Google’s SERP should be more relevant, and this is all down to a machine-learning system.
Long-tail keywords will inevitably have lower search volumes, but this represents an opportunity rather than a challenge. These long and even middle tail keywords are likely to have more relevance, and those visitors that do visit your site are more likely to engage with you. As a result, conversion rates will be higher, and, of course, this is what you are looking to achieve. Ranking top in relevant results is far more important from a conversion point of view than ranking highly for frequently searched keywords.
Finding the balance between the number of searches per month, and relevance can be a challenge, and this is where the metric keyword difficulty comes into play.
When choosing keywords, you need to be realistic about how easy it will be to rank highly for them. Of course, for very generic terms it is incredibly tricky to firstly rank highly and secondly, continually rank high. Using the metric keyword difficulty will help you to evaluate the likelihood of achieving first page rankings. Each tool will give its own score of Keyword Difficulty, Ahrefs will give a ranking from between 0 to 100 and the higher the score, the harder it is to rank number one on the SERP for that keyword.
Unfortunately, one of the downsides with tools that give you this type of information is consistency. You could use three different tools and the same keyword, and you would be given different scores in each case (sometimes with differences as much as 50%). The reason for this is because the tools themselves use different algorithms and will almost certainly work to a different set of calculations. So, when you are doing your SEO, we strongly advise that you stick with one tool so that you are comparing “apples with apples”.
Search intent is playing a more prominent role
One of the most critical parts of any keyword research is doing SERPs analysis. It will help you to establish two crucial bits of information:
- You will be able to find who is ranking number one on the SERP and therefore build a strategy to challenge them
- You will be able to gain an understanding of the intent behind the search – search intent
Establishing the search intent is vital so that you don’t optimise the wrong words. For instance, if you were to search for “chocolate cake recipe”, it is unlikely that you intend to buy a cake from a shop – you want to bake one yourself.
As we identified in chapter two, there are different search intent variations. In these circumstances, we would consider these four types of search variation:
- Navigational – the user searches for a specific website or brand such as “Nike”
- Informational – the user is looking for specific information such as “how to bake a cake”
- Transactional – the user wishes to make a purchase such as “buy Nike Air”
- Commercial – the user is researching a product before making a purchase such as “review of Samsung S20”
For your website’s SEO, you must keep a sense of perspective on things. For example, if you had a blog about gourmet burgers, there would be little point investing all your time and money in ranking number one for “burgers”. You would be competing directly with the likes of McDonald’s and Burger King, while actually offering something very different. Very few people search for the phrase “burgers” alone, it usually forms part of long-tail phrases such as “where can I get a great burger in Bangkok?” which would probably be more relevant.
What NOT to do when doing keyword research!
Novices or those who are desperate for quick results often choose keywords with high search volumes without taking any of the metrics into account. As we have repeatedly stressed above, being successful at keyword research means not focusing on search volumes.
Another common problem is that information is misinterpreted. For instance, as we mentioned earlier in this chapter, Google’s Keyword Planner is designed for Google AdWords, so when it says “competition” it is referring to competition for that AdWord. It does not relate to how difficult it is to rank for that keyword organically.
Keyword stuffing is another trap that many inexperienced content writers fall into. This is repeatedly using the same keyword in your article to the extent to which it is very evident to the reader what the keyword is. Ideally, you will select one focus keyword and where possible, use it in:
- The title/heading
- The title tag and meta description
- One of the first two paragraphs
- Up to another couple of times in the main body of your text
Google focuses on the quality of the content, and this means that it is user-friendly, well-written and insightful. It has even been suggested that you may rank for keywords that haven’t been included in your text! Rather than repeatedly using the same keyword, we recommend using Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords.
As the name would suggest, these are keywords that are semantically connected to the seed keyword. They usually alter depending on current trends but add substance to your text. One of the best free tools available for this is LSI Graph.
Keyword Mapping is the process of identifying which keywords should be targeted to which page. This is a crucial step in any SEO campaign as you want to ensure the keywords are not conflicting causing ‘Keyword Cannibalisation”. This where there is more then one page that is relevant for the same keyword, which can confuse Google and ultimately result in poor rankings. We discuss Keyword Mapping in more detail here.
For more information about keyword research or anything else connected to SEO or digital marketing, contact us on 02 038 5400.