It is essential to do keyword research for your website and most businesses are well aware of this. However, the vast majority write and build their websites first and research their keywords second.
Keyword research should be done before writing your website’s pages or producing blog content, as it allows you to find low competition phrases with high search volume on search engines like Google. These are the types of phrases (also known as long-tail keywords) that can drive traffic organically through effective search engine optimization (SEO). It’s better to write your content correctly the first time than to rework the content with proper keyword usage at a later date.
Keywords can also be used for pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaigns on Google AdWords and other search engines. PPC ads are an effective way to begin driving traffic immediately, as organic SEO can take a considerable amount of time to gain traction.
How to do Keyword Research for SEO
You will find that most SEO software comes with keyword research tools. This is true for SEO Moz and many of the other big brands in the industry. There are also lesser-known tools created by independent software developers (just Google “keyword research tools” and you’ll see a bunch). Using a specified keyword tool can be a much faster and more effective way to check competition and find the best keywords. The free method below is a great place to start.
The Free Google Keyword Planner
Google’s Keyword Planner is intended for AdWords users (PPC campaigns), which means the competition rating you’ll see applies to paid ads on their network. If you’re interested in PPC, Google’s tool provides all the data you need right out of the gate. You can sort by competition ratings, bid range, relevancy by location, etc., and begin setting up PPC campaigns immediately. To find SEO competition, you will have to dig deeper.
To use the Google Keyword Planner, simply enter an initial keyword that is relevant to your products or services and click “You can then click the “Keyword ideas” tab to view keywords that might be good for you to consider for your optimization strategy.
Here is some information to consider when you kick the tires on the Keyword Planner, and for doing research beyond the tool.
- The most important metric is search volume. When using the Google Keyword Planner for initial keyword research, search volume is a good place to start because it tells you how popular a certain keyword is (how many times it was searched in past months). This is important to consider especially when it comes to sizing up competition.
- Search the keyword in quotations on Google. By doing a quick search for the keyword in quotations, you can find how many results there are on the web for that exact phrase. At the top, you will see “About * results” and a number will be placed where the asterisk is. This shows you how many competing pages there are for that phrase. Keywords with a higher number here are obviously more competitive.
- View and add related searches. At the bottom of the Google search results, you will see a section that says “searches related to *” with your keyword where the asterisk is. You can use this area to find additional keyword phrases that may be worth targeting. Plug these keywords into the Google Keyword Planner and click “Get search volume” instead of “Get ideas.” That will give you the monthly search volume for those specific phrases.
- Compare the top 10 results. Sort your keywords by phrases with lower competing pages and examine those first. Compare the top 10 results and check their domain authority, page authority, social presence and other factors. You can use SEO browser extensions (for Chrome, Firefox, IE or whatever browser you use) to do this quickly. Sites with higher authority will be more difficult to outrank.
Keyword research is very important to the web development process. For both SEO and PPC marketing, keyword research helps you find the keywords that are worth targeting with your campaign.
If your organization needs help with keyword research or digital marketing strategy, we can help. Contact us.