What’s keyword research?
Keyword research can be defined as the activity you undertake in order to come up with an extensive list of keywords you would like to rank for. Keyword strategy can be defined as all the decisions you make on the base of that keyword research. Keyword research is the basis of all search marketing. It starts withexplaining what you do in the language your audience uses. Keyword research furthermore helps you to discover what you should be ranking for, or aiming to rank for.
Why is keyword research important?
Proper keyword research will make clear what search terms are used by your audience. And this is of great importance. At Yoast, we regularly encounter clients that have a specific set of words theyuse when referencing their products, while their users use a completely different set of words. Optimizing for words that peopledon’t use of course doesn’t make any sense. Doing good keyword research makes sure that you use the words your target audience uses, and therefore makes the whole effort of optimizing your website worthwhile.
Keywords and keyphrases
We tend to use the word keyword all the time, but we don’t necessarily mean it’s only one word. ‘WordPress SEO’ is a keyword, as is ‘Google Analytics plugin’. You can thus have keywords containing multiple words! We will refer to these keyphrases as keywords throughout this chapter
To consider: make sure keywords fit your site
Be aware that you should be found for terms that fit your site. If we get crazy and do our very best to let yoast.com rank for ballet shoes, people would be rather disappointed to find our site. They will probably instantly go back to Google. Ranking on ballet shoes will, in our case, lead to a massive bounce rate. And a high bounce rate tells Google that people do not find what they are looking for based on that search term. This will inevitably lead to a lower ranking on ballet shoes for our site (and totally justified, we know nothing about ballet or about shoes for that matter).
Repeat keyword research regularly!
Keyword research is an activity you undertake every now and then. If you have a clear definition about the product or service you want to ‘sell’ with your website, you should be able to come up with keywords, related keywords en even more related keywords to make your awesome website (more) findable. As your product and the market will evolve, your keyword strategy should do the same.
Resemble the vocabulary of your audience
The keywords you want to focus your SEO on, should closely resemble the vocabulary of your audience. In order to come up with the proper keywords you really have to get inside the heads of the people who search for your website. What terms will people use? How do people search? Which question does your website answer? You should create
a list of all search terms people could use and think of combinations and nuances within these search terms.
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Keyword research tools to use
Making a list remains hard. And up until a few years ago, doing your keyword research was much easier. You could simply check Google Analytics to see on which terms people found your website. That is no longer possible. So you’re pretty much left in the dark about the terms people use in search engines to end up at your website. Luckily, there
are some other tools which can make your keyword research a bit easier:
Google Adwords Keyword Planner
Use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner to find new and related keywords, but ignore the search volume data! The search volume data in the planner is really only useful for keywords that you’re actually spending money to advertise on. Otherwise, these volumes are not reliable. While not really helpful to decide which keyword is most used by your potential audience, Google Adwords Keyword Planner makes a useful tool in coming up with ideas for potential keywords!
Google Trends allows you to compare the traffic for sets of keywords. You can even see the difference for numerous geographical regions. It’s very important to check Google Trends if you expect that some of your keywords are seasonal, for instance due to regulations, holiday seasons etc.
Figure 1: compare traffic for sets of keywords in Google Trends
Your internal search engine
What are people looking for on your site? These terms are keywords in the vocabulary of your actual audience and should definitely be added to your keyword list. Do not forget to look at the keywords people filled in that didn’t get any results: this was stuff people were expecting but didn’t find. You can look into the results of your internal search engine with our Google Analytics by Yoast plugin.
These keyword research tools should make it easier to create a list of relevant search terms. You should make sure to create awesome landing pages for keywords you want to be found on. You should also think about cornerstone content articles and a great internal linking structure in order to make your SEO strategy complete.
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