The goal of any SEO strategy should be to rank as highly in Google as you can. The closer you can get to the top of search results, the better for you. Only around 2 to 3% of people visit the second page of any Google search. In total, most Google searches last less than 60 seconds.
When your page ranks in the top few search results organically, you’re more likely to get a click. Further, if you organically rank number one for a search result, you’re ten times more likely to get a click than a page that ranks 10th.
So how do you get to that coveted number one spot?
There are a lot of ranking factors used by Google, but the foundation of a lot of how well your site or content ranks relies on using the right keywords to guide your content.
Your keywords are typically actually phrases rather than single words, and they describe what’s on your page or post.
When people are searching for that phrase or keyword, then they’ll be guided to your content.
Using the right keywords serves as an indicator to Google as to what’s important, and it helps the search engine learn more about what your page is about.
At the same time, with your keywords, you can’t just think about Google. You also have to think about your targeted user, and what they’ll be looking for, and also what they’ll want to see after they click on a page.
You never want someone to come to your page expecting one thing and getting another because you didn’t use your keywords properly.
So how do you find the best keywords?
The following are a few key things to know about keyword research.
The Basics of Keyword Research
First, what is keyword research?
This is a term that refers to the process you’ll use to find and analyze terms people put into search engines.
Keyword research provides you with more specific details about what your targeted audience is looking for.
With keyword research, you can learn more about what people care about and what popular topics are at any given time that might relate to your industry or niche.
With keyword research, you need keywords that you want to rank for, but at the same time, that has to be balanced with the ones you should and actually can rank for.
If you’ve never done any keyword research before, one of the first steps is to brainstorm a list of relevant topics, questions, or important things related to your business or site. This can be very general. Think of it as a brain dump, and at this point, you don’t have to go in any particular direction.
You’ll use these big, general topics to get more specific with your keyword research when you’re ready.
If you really have no idea where to get started, do research on your competitors. Look at what they’re writing about and blogging about. That can give you a good starting point for your own SEO research and strategy.
During these initial phases of your research, you can create somewhat of a wish list for the keywords you’d like to rank for, and you don’t yet have to start thinking about how feasible that is.
Questions to ask include who your target audience is, what they’re searching for and how they’re searching for it.
Depending on the nature of your business, you might also want to think about location-based keywords.
If you’re going to do keyword research on your own, without the help of an agency or an SEO professional, you’re probably going to need a keyword tool.
Then, you can learn what the search volume is. The higher the search volume for a keyword or phrase, often the harder it will be to rank for because this means a lot of people are searching for it and it’s popular.
That’s not always the case, though.
The best keywords and phrases are the ones that have a high search volume but aren’t as competitive. When you can discover these, you’ve found a gem in terms of your SEO strategy.
What Does Longtail Mean?
Something important to know in keyword research is what longtail means.
Longtail keywords are actually phrases. They provide good opportunities because they tend to be phrased in a way that replicates natural language or the way people will really search for things. They’re also less competitive.
Even though a longtail keyword will have a lower search volume in most cases, it will also tend to have a higher conversion rate because it’s more specific and intentional.
The intent of the people searching for keywords and phrases is important to understand as you build out an SEO strategy.
There are a few main categories of intent.
One is informational. In these situations, someone just wants information or the answer to a question.
There are navigational searches that occur when someone wants to go to a specific site.
Transactional searches are used when someone wants to do a particular task, like buying something.
There are research searches when someone is comparing products or services to figure out the best option for their needs.
Then, there are local searches when someone needs a business close to their home.
Metrics to Analyze Keywords
Finally, we’ve touched on this a bit, but there are a few key metrics you can use to gauge the quality of a keyword and whether or not you should try to rank for it.
Search volume has already been discussed. Search volume is typically a measure of the average number of times a keyword is searched for in a month.
It’s the number of searches rather than a representation of the number of people who searched. It also doesn’t tell you how much traffic you’ll get if you rank. You’ll usually get no more than 30% of the volume, even if you rank number one. It’s also an annual average.
Finally, you can also look at the clicks that a search result gets. It tells you the average number of monthly clicks on any given result, and this can help you understand whether or not a keyword is worth trying to rank for compared to the volume. If the volume is much higher than the clicks, it might not be a great keyword for you.