As a marketer, your sole focus is getting your company’s products, services, and content in front of your target audience. One major aspect of your overall digital marketing strategy will be content marketing, and SEO keyword research is foundational to improving your site’s visibility.
The problem? Finding the best keywords for SEO purposes is easier said than done. If you’ve spent any amount of time in a keyword research tool, you’ve probably found that many keywords are too competitive or too low of a search volume. Sometimes what seems like a great keyword has the wrong search intent or will bring up the wrong sort of content in search results. Finding keywords that build valuable copy is challenging, but following these best practices for SEO keyword research can dramatically improve the results of your marketing campaign.
Why Do Keywords Matter?
SEO is critical to driving visitors to your website and boosting your domain authority. In fact, about 53 percent of all web traffic comes from organic searches—more than paid search, social media, and direct search combined. Making sure that you’re conducting proper SEO keyword research will help you tap into the power of organic search.
But not all keywords are valuable. For example, a pet store targeting the keyword “cats” won’t have much success. That term is too broad and too popular. On the other hand, if your keywords aren’t popular enough, you’re unlikely to generate meaningful new traffic on that particular page. The trick is finding quality keywords that connect users with your content.
What Is a “Quality” Keyword?
SEO keyword research is what determines the difference between content that ranks and content that never sees the light of day. Over 25% of users will click on the first website that appears on a search engine results page (SERP). This number gradually decreases with each consecutive website, reaching the single digits by only the fourth search result on the first page. Getting to the top of SERPs is of the utmost importance, and choosing the right keyword plays a role in your success.
Here are some major considerations that will help you narrow in on the right keywords.
It’s SEO keyword research, not guesswork.
It’s vital that you’re not simply plugging in keywords that you believe are going to help you rank. Not only is this ineffective, but this will continue to set you back as you work on generating content that’s never properly indexed by Google. Use a range of tools like Moz and Ahrefs to find valuable keywords for your website.
Do a test run. If you search for a particular keyword in a search engine, does it bring up pages similar to yours? For example, if you’re trying to sell a product, but none of the search results are product pages, you probably have the wrong keyword.
Check the competitiveness of your keywords.
Most keyword tools will give a numerical indication of a term’s competitiveness—relative to other search terms, how many businesses bid on this phrase? If your site has a relatively low domain authority (DA) or your business is just starting out, you’re unlikely to outrank more established and higher authority sites on competitive terms.
For example, “new laptop” might describe a product you’re selling, but unless you’re a major retailer, you won’t stand much of a chance of appearing as the first result in Google on this term.
Consider long-tail vs. short-tail keywords.
The best keywords for SEO purposes when you’re just starting a website are often long-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords (those consisting of only one or two words) often drive the most traffic, which is why some marketers might choose to employ them when they’re conducting SEO keyword research. That said, they’re often much harder to rank for, and you’ll be up against high DA websites that are dominating SERPs.
The solution? Long-tail keywords make for greater success. Often a phrase or a question, long-tail keywords are much more specific, easier to rank for, and easy to incorporate into your content campaigns. For example, “women’s blue and white chevron scarf” is a long-tail keyword that will better direct traffic to your page than the short-tail “women’s scarf.”
Monitor search intent.
Finding quality keywords during SEO keyword research needs to also take into account the user’s intent. Is a keyword transactional—meaning users are looking to buy something—or is it more informational? Google’s knowledge panel and featured snippets are important to note, too. For example, “What’s the capital of California?” is a long-tail, informational-intent keyword with decently high search volume. But this would be a poor choice for a blog topic. It has a quick, easy answer, and users will find the information they’re looking for without needing to click through to a site.
In this case, we could expand on ‘informational intent’ and call it informational intent wanting a quick answer. Likewise, transactional intent might be different for ecommerce or a local storefront. Someone searching for ‘pizza deals’ likely wants to make a purchase, but it’s unlikely that they want to browse an ecommerce store. Remembering the user’s intent is an important—and often overlooked—face of SEO keyword research.
Consider the average monthly traffic.
Finally, finding the best keywords for SEO often means finding keywords that offer the most traffic. Quality keywords need to not only be a good match for your industry and the type of content that you’re creating, but they need real people who are searching for those terms.
What’s a “good” number for average monthly traffic? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s helpful to consider traffic in relation to other keywords for a topic. For instance, if you’re selling carbonated beverages nationally, would it make more sense to call them “soda” or “pop?” If you’re deciding between variations of a long-tail keyword and you see that one consistently sees double the search volume of another, that may be your best choice.
Make sure that you follow up with high-quality content creation around your quality keywords with link-building strategies and to ensure that your pages have a greater chance of success in ranking on SERPs. If you only find quality keywords but fail to create compelling, optimized content and copy or enforce your authority through backlinks, you aren’t going to see the results that you want.
Prioritizing Quality Keywords: Tips for Finding the Right Keywords and Making the Most of Them
SEO keyword research can be daunting. As demonstrated above, there are many factors that go into finding the best keywords for SEO. Fortunately, there’s an equal amount of helpful advice out there to ensure that you’re able to find and incorporate high-quality keywords into your content marketing strategies. Here are some tips for finding and employing the right keywords for your business.
- Conduct Competitor Research: Conducting SEO keyword research doesn’t happen inside a vacuum. After all, you need to be inspired in order to find the right ideas surrounding keywords and the various types of content and copy that you can create around them. Start by looking at your competitors, especially those with a similar DA or slightly higher DA. Pay attention to the keywords that they’re trying to rank for, content trends that they’re participating in, and other important factors surrounding their content marketing strategy. It’s important not to copy them outright, but they can serve as an example of what terms to target.
- Establish Goals for Your Content Marketing Campaign: The best keywords for SEO are those that help you connect with the right users. Of course, you can only do this if you have goals for your content marketing campaign. Are you trying to drive more readers to your blog? Or, alternatively, are you trying to drive people to your landing page and drive conversions? As you conduct SEO keyword research, think about what your goals are and how the right keywords can help you reach them.
- Offer the Most Engaging Content and Copy on the Web: It’s not enough to have high-quality keywords that will help you connect with a specific audience and drive traffic to your website. The content or copy that you produce will ultimately determine whether or not you rank. But what does this look like? Blog content should be properly formatted, highly informative and engaging, and offer more than other resources on the web. Meanwhile, copy should be compelling, concise, and drive a user to a specific action. While SEO keyword research is important, so too is making sure that you’re using your quality keywords properly.
- Don’t Stop at Primary Keywords: Finding the best keywords for SEO often entails making sure that you have primary focus keywords for your content. However, you should also have secondary keywords. Secondary keywords serve to help you fine-tune your content and make it more specific to user intent, helping you reach your target audience with greater ease. As you conduct SEO keyword research and find your main keywords for content production, make sure to take note of related long-tail keywords. Then, incorporate these keywords regularly throughout your content to help you tap into the right audience and create content or copy that is better tailored to their search queries.
- Monitor and Adjust Your Content Marketing Strategy Over Time: Like most things in your business, a content marketing strategy is not something that you can set and forget. After you’ve done SEO keyword research to find the right keywords, created high-quality content around them, and published your hard work, keep tabs on your pages to see where they’re ranking and how much traffic they’re driving. Is there anything about these pages you could improve? Over time, you’ll learn more about what goes into successful content and copy. More importantly, you’ll be able to use short-tail keywords to drive even more traffic. After all, this is the end goal. 70.87 percent of keywords that have 10,000 or more searches each month only have one or two words in them!
As long as you follow the advice above, you should have no problem finding the best keywords for SEO and getting the most out of what they have to offer.
SEO Keyword Research Plays a Major Role in Your Business’s Success
Keywords are an integral part of your content marketing strategy. With all of the information provided above, you’ll be able to find the best keywords for SEO, implement them with ease, and make sure that you’re adjusting your strategy over time to target more effective keywords.
That being said, this is not something that you have to do alone. If you’re trying to get more out of your content marketing strategy, you can always enlist the help of SEO services companies to help you find better keywords and develop stronger content and copy to drive the results your business needs. The more support you have, the smoother your digital marketing endeavors will go.