Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
We often get asked what the keyword research best practices like search intent and search volume for SEO are. Yesterday, you learned how Google crawls, indexes and ranks your website. Today, you will learn how to craft your website content by using keywords to both help Google and your target audience find you as used by many SEO professionals around the world.
Keywords are phrases that you choose to describe the content of a page on your website. They are matched to terms that people search for on Google. Selecting keywords that are closely related to the content of a particular page can help you reach target audience who is looking for that content.
Long-tail keywords are more specific with longer search terms e.g. “buy black sneakers in California” as opposed to “shoes” which is a head keyword that is broad and short.
Head keywords have more searches, higher traffic, and hence higher competition whereas long-tail keywords have fewer searches less traffic, and hence lower competition. However, popular search terms only make up about a small percentage of all searches on Google. Besides, head keywords indicate ambiguous intent and you may end up drawing in the wrong audience.
Therefore, focus on long-tail keywords to get higher conversions because searchers are getting more and more specific in search terms as Google improves its search engine algorithm. For example, those searching for “buy black sneakers in California” are likely to make a purchase than someone going after “shoes”.
Keyword research is the search engine optimization (SEO) process of finding and analyzing search terms that people use on Google.
For example, you sell sneakers in many stores throughout California and want more people to find your stores on Google. To find out what search intent your target audience may have, you need to find out the types of sneakers they are looking for, who the audience is, what search terms they use, where they are located, etc. This is the backbone of the keyword research best practices, and help you write content with keywords that better suit the search intent.
First, you need to find out what is the intent behind the search terms people use known as search intent. It is key to the keyword research best practices simply because a keyword can have many different meanings behind. For instance, if a searcher types the phrase “chocolate cake”, it is more likely that he/she wants to make a chocolate cake than buy a chocolate cake.
From Google Panda in 2011 to Google BERT in 2019, Google updates its search algorithm regularly to better match people’s search intent with webpages that best fit the search term. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that your webpage content matches your target audience’s search intent by understanding who your target audience is and what they are looking for.
Search intent can be categorized as follows.
As one of the keyword research best practices, if folks search for information on sneakers, you want to show them a blog page on sneakers with information-centric keywords e.g. “choose the right sneakers”. By the same token, if they want to buy a sneaker, you want to show them a product page with transaction-centric keywords relevant to the type of the sneakers they are looking for e.g. “buy black sneakers”
Besides search intent which tells you what topics folks are interested in, you should also look at how many people or how often people search for those topics. By researching a keyword for both of its search intent and search volume, your content can provide answers most of your target audience want.
As a rule of thumb in the keyword research best practices, the higher the search volume for a given keyword, the more will be the competition and hence effort required to rank higher. This is known as keyword difficulty. Big brands usually have many SERP features than startups so a keyword returns so many results that keyword difficulty will actually increase. However, very low search volume, which means lower competition, may have you end up drawing no audience to your website. So, you may want to zero in on long-tail keywords.
On the one hand, you may use high-volume keywords that your competition is not currently ranking for i.e. missed opportunities. On the other hand, you may use keywords that your competitors are currently ranking for i.e. direct competition.
Search volume may vary from season to season e.g. more people buy gifts a few weeks before Mother’s Day.
First, list out topics relevant to your business, say, selling sneakers in retail stores in California e.g. “shoes”, “sneakers”, “running shoes”, “gym shoes”, “sports shoes”, etc. They are called seed keywords.
Secondly, use Keyword Research Tools (see below) to come up with long-tail keywords and related search terms e.g. “men’s running shoes in California”, “buy women’s sneakers in California”, “durable and affordable sneakers”, “how to choose the right sneakers” etc. Below is a non-exhaustive list of free and paid Keyword Research Tools.
Thirdly, use Google search engine to find out about your competition and their ranking using your list of keywords. For instance, if your competitor is ranking high for some of your keywords, you may want to focus on those keywords.
Fourthly, nail down your list of keywords with those Keyword Research Tools which give quantitative data like search volume, cost per click (CPC), competition, etc. Single out keywords that have very low or very high search volume. On the one hand, higher search volume means more competition and hence effort required to rank higher. On the other, very low search volume, which means lower competition, may have you end up drawing no audience to your website. So, you may want to zero in on long-tail keywords.
As one of the keyword research best practices, if you sell only locally, you may want to use terminology that is specific to the region.
Lastly, re-evaluate your keywords bimonthly because your audience’s preferences change over time and so do their search terms. Besides, as you rank higher, and add new blog posts, webpages, and/or products, you want to add more keywords to your list.
Now you know what the keyword research best practices for SEO are. In the coming week, we will share with you On-Page SEO in our SEO series to help your SEO. Stay tuned.