Keywords drive customers to your website, but it can take time and research to find the exact keywords that your customers are searching for. A recent study found that 92.42% of keywords only receive ten or fewer searches every month. If you’re looking for more than ten searches per month, we’ve outlined how to begin your initial keyword research, how to continue ongoing keyword research, and finally, how to ensure your ongoing content is SEO optimized.
Why should you invest your time and resources into keyword research?
- Targeted Traffic: By ranking in search engine results for your specific keyword or phrase, you will be exactly where your target audience expects to find you. Your customers are searching for your services, your job is to make sure your links rank high enough to receive clicks. The higher rate of targeted traffic you receive, the higher conversion rates you will see.
- Search trend awareness: If you take the time to analyze keyword search trends, you will find other related trends before your competitors. The earlier you are to a trend, the more time you will have to build authority under that specific keyword. This is vital since your search engine results page (SERP) rank is dependent on authority.
- Increased Conversation Rates: You can further increase your conversion rates by identifying which keywords have commercial intent.
Initial Keyword Research
Before you start using tools to analyze your keywords, you’ll need to brainstorm some first! Jump into the mind of your buyer personas. What are they searching for? Your initial keywords and phrases shouldn’t be too specific. If your business is local, add your city or state to the keyword. For example: “Original design manufacturing Chicago” or “repairing manufacturing equipment Milwaukee.”
Once you have your list of keywords, it’s time to search for them. When conducting your searches, you need to keep three things in mind:
- How many results appear when you search for your keyword? More on this later, but how many results appear reflects how competitive - or expensive - your keyword or phrase is.
- What are other people searching for? Check out the “People also ask” block on Google. This will tell you what other phrases or questions your target audience is searching for.
- What are some related searches? Explore the “Searches related to” block on Google for more related queries that may inspire other keywords or phrases.
Now that you have a list of specific keywords and phrases that your target audience is searching for, it’s time to compare them using key metrics for SEO. Key metrics help answer the question, “What makes a keyword valuable?”
Key Metrics for SEO
It’s important to compare many forms of data to decide if your keywords and key phrases are relevant or worth the expense to compete with your competitors. You can find this data using the following key metrics:
Before you commit to any keyword, make sure it’s worth pursuing by checking its search volume. Search volume measures how many times a keyword or phrase is searched for. If you find that your keyword has a low search volume, there may be no market or you may be using the wrong keyword. While this preliminary search is helpful, the next step will be to look at search trends for a better understanding in context.
To find the trends surrounding your keyword or phrase, you will use Google Trends to gather data. Google Trends gives you helpful information in determining popularity, location, and longevity. For each keyword, you will want to look for the following trends:
- Interest over time
- Interest by region
- Related queries
In this example, you can see the keyword has been trending positive over the past three months. Regionally, this keyword is most searched for in Wisconsin, Indiana, Connecticut, Utah, and Kansas. A related topic you may want to consider is “continuous production.”
Trends and search volume will narrow your keywords and phrases, but there is still more to the equation. Next, use search volume over time to add more depth to your understanding of the trends related to your keywords or phrases.
Search volume over time
In the previous step, you saw that “lean manufacturing” has been trending positively for the past few months, but what does it look like over the past few years? Does it spike seasonally or annually? Is it a more recent trend or has it been trending for many years?
It appears that “lean manufacturing” drops seasonally in fall and winter and spikes in spring and summer. In this context, you can also see that it is predicted to continue to trend positive.
So far you have narrowed your keywords or phrases by compiling data about how many people are searching for them, where they are searching and determining whether or not they are currently trending. The next step is to find out if your website will be able to rank amongst current search engine results.
When a keyword is popular or trending, it means a lot of other sources are creating content using that same keyword. Keyword difficulty is a key metric that will tell you how difficult it will be for your content to rank amongst the other sites in top SERP positions.
Most tools have their own methods for determining keyword difficulty, but there are three factors typically used in the calculation:
- Domain authority of competitors
- Number of strong links held by the top pages
- How often the top positions change
If your keyword or phrase results in high keyword difficulty, it means that it will be difficult - and expensive - to outrank your competitors. Other sites may be well-aged, busy, or contain a lot of high-quality content. Over time, you too will build this credibility with search engines, but in the beginning it's best to choose keywords that will allow your content to rank highly in searches.
CPC tells you the monetary value of your keyword. This is a necessary metric even if you aren’t running ads because it reflects how much money advertisers are willing to spend to rank above organic searches.
If you find that your keyword has a high CPC that means you are on the right track but need to narrow it down to something more specific to your business’ niche or services. For example, if your keyword is “contract manufacturing” you might find more success with “rotary die cutting contract manufacturing.”
Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Features
When a customer searches for something, the results page may look different depending on what they searched for. This is because Google now focuses on the search intent of each keyword.
Certain keywords and phrases may result in ads above the organic search results, a map of nearby businesses, Q&A’s, shopping results or other features. Take note of what features appear in your keyword search because you will have to compete for those features on top of the organic search results.
Ongoing Keyword Research
Once you have found your keyword and start to rank in search results, you’ll need to keep up with industry trends to remain at the top.
- Opt-in to industry related emails: There’s no easier way to keep an eye on trends and industry knowledge than having content sent right to your inbox!
- Inbound marketing: Using an inbound marketing plan, you are ensuring your business is receptive, responsive, and able to meet the needs of your customers.
- Watch your competitors: If you are noticing a trend in your industry, so are your competitors. Keep an eye on your competitors to see what trends they’ve incorporated into their content. You can decide what may or may not work based on the success - or failure - you see.
- Customer feedback: Speak with your customers! If they aren’t a fan of the changes you’re making or you see a spike in interest after trying something different, ask for their opinions.
Ongoing Content Strategy For SEO
Trends change which means your content should, too! Ensure your content stays relevant and valuable by updating it regularly and often.
- Revisit your content every 12-18 months. This can include changing a few items on your page or overhauling your entire website.
- Update your website with new SEO-friendly content. Optimizing your content can help increase your website traffic as well as your search engine result rank. You can add SEO-friendly content to the following: blogs, article pages, infographics, and any other pages you think your customers enjoy.
- Optimize your previously uploaded content. Each month, take some time to update older blog posts with new information to continue ranking highly in SERPs. Additionally, you can take this time to apply SEO best practices that may have been overlooked the first time like headers or missing image alt text.
- Keep and eye out for trending keywords and new search intent. Analyze how well your blogs are ranking in search engine results and what keywords your blogs are ranking for. Then, change your subheadings and copy to utilize the new search intent of your target audience.
- Add more value to your old content. Sometimes altering subheadings or adding updated information isn’t enough. When you find a blog post that is completely out-of-date, go beyond a facelift and give it a full makeover. You can go about this by updating information and statistics, adding new sections for depth, or adding a quote or data from your own business to attract more referral traffic.
Here at Keystone Click, we want you to be informed about SEO best practices and any tools available for you to use. However, you don’t have to do keyword research or SEO on your own! We are here to help. Reach out to us today to discuss what SEO services we can provide for your business.