SEO is the art and science of reaching the people online that matter the most to your business. While Google does not precisely reveal what they use to rank websites and pages in response to a specific query, there are some ways to reverse engineer the algorithm to get an idea of what matters when it comes to SEO. Of all the necessary things to rank your website in the search results related to you, keywords are the single most important thing. There are many other things, too, but the very foundation of SEO is solid and technically sound keyword research.
In the simplest terms, keyword research is establishing a list of search terms, aka keywords, that potential customers use to search for businesses or websites like yours. It seems a very straightforward process on the surface, but it is not.
For example, if you run a cryptocurrency lending platform, using ‘cryptocurrency lending’ as a keyword just won’t cut it. There is a lot that goes into making a proper keyword strategy for successful organic ranking.
Before we dive into the reasons for keyword research being the heart of a successful SEO campaign, it needs to be made clear that keywords, no matter how important, are not the totality of SEO. From backlinking to establishing authority in a field, a lot goes into a complete SEO campaign.
Before we get started with keyword research, one thing needs to be made clear. Not all keywords are the same. They are divided into eight main categories as follows:
Short-tail keywords are the ones that are made up of three or fewer words. They generally refer to an extensive category, like ‘cryptocurrency.’
Long-tail keywords are composed of more than three words and are more specific than short-tail ones. These get considerably lesser traffic than general keywords but have a higher conversion rate. These are also usually easier to get ranked for. An example of long-tail keywords can be ‘best Cryptocurrency for short-term investment.’
These are long-tail keywords that are time-specific. For example, ‘Bitcoin value 2020.’ These keywords appear in the search trends for a short time and then fade away.
Long-term keywords are the ones that stay in consistent search ranks for a long time. For example, ‘how does cryptocurrency work?’
These are the keywords that describe your product or service in the best way possible. People using these keywords know what they are looking for and are usually ready to make a purchase decision. For example, “Bitcoin.”
These are the keywords that identify a specific subset of customers. The searchers using these keywords use specific words or phrases to tell about themselves. For example, “best cryptocurrency for investment for retired people..”
These keywords are the ones that help identify a business based on where it is located. These are also known as local keywords. For example, ‘‘where to buy crypto mining rigs in Sydney.’
These keywords define what the searcher is looking for. For example, ‘buy Bitcoin.’
Adding random content on a website or blog is not the way to get ranked. Luck doesn’t exist in SEO. You need to be on point with the content if getting organic traffic is what you want. But how do you know what content to upload? Well, that’s made clear by keyword research.
Keyword research is the foundation of content planning. The process is typically started by a seed keyword or a list of them. You take the seed keyword(s) and enter them into a keyword research tool. The list of related keywords that appears gives you an idea of what you need to construct the content around.
Once you get an idea of the content, you can expand on that and search for more keywords. It is an iterative process. You start with a keyword, find related keywords, shortlist and select the most viable ones based on the criteria you set, research the selected keywords, and make a content plan.
In this way, you get closer to your organic SEO goals and add more relevant, useful, and valuable content on your website/blog for your readers.
In short, keyword research opens the doors for adding content to your website that will get you traffic and be relevant and valuable to your readers.
To make search more valuable and relevant for the users, Google keeps on revising the algorithms that rank web pages. You cannot get ranked easily for a short keyword like ‘cryptocurrency exchange,’ or ‘Borrow cryptocurrency.’’ Google tends to favor established websites for such keywords and the chances of getting ranked, especially for new entrants, are slim to none.
The solution? Long-term keywords. Long-tail keywords are specific, targeted niche searches that are not very frequently looked up by users. These are usually used by an audience that knows what they want and is typically ready to make a purchase.
There are two clear benefits of going for long-tail keywords:
The important question is, how do I get long-tail keywords that are related to me? Well, that’s where keyword research helps you. A good keyword research tool will uncover lucrative long-tail keywords that are relevant to you.
For example, if you are a crypto exchange and you have a Dogecoin for sale, what you need to do is to use ‘Dogecoin’ as a seed keyword to see the popular long-tail keywords, you might get a result like ‘Buy dogecoin at the best rates,’ or ‘is dogecoin good for investment?’
The important thing is if you try and rank for ‘Dogecoin,’ it is next to impossible to get a higher rank than the already established big players of the field. Plus, a large proportion of the users searching for ‘Dogecoin’ would only be interested in knowing its price over the last few years rather than buying it. On the other hand, using the long-term keyword will not only make it easier for you to get ranked but will also get you traffic that is more valuable for your website/business.
Using the language that your target audience uses is essential for SEO and for sounding authentic to your audience. The easiest way to get into the target niche language, or slang, is through proper keyword research.
It is keyword research that uncovers the words, terms, phrases, and figures of speech used frequently by the people you want to reach out to. This can help you make your website compatible with the audience and SEO-friendly at the same time.
Though primarily a tool for SEO, keyword research is also beneficial for your other marketing efforts. Keyword research can uncover the alternative terms used for your products or services in the industry, providing you with direction to aim your marketing efforts at.
Keyword research can also be a valuable tool for market research. It reveals which of the products and services offered by you are being searched more. In this way, you can direct your marketing, SEO, and even production efforts in the direction that produces the best business results for you.
Most keyword research tools will also tell you of the frequently asked questions related to your industry. Not only that, but they can also sort the questions according to their tone, i.e., how, what, why, when, making it easy for you to select a topic to write on.
You can write blog posts and how-tos regarding them and funnel visitors to your products and services from there.
Probably the most significant benefit of keyword research, other than SEO, is that it introduces you to your competition. Indeed, you can search in Google and see who else is providing the services you are, but that is not enough information.
When you use a good keyword research tool, it shows you the SERP data. This contains the details of the competitors ranking for a specific keyword, including everything from their domain authority to the number of backlinks they have. This strategic data is the baseline for your on-page and off-page SEO efforts. This is what measures the strengths of the competitors and what you must do to compete with them. Making and implementing a successful SEO strategy without this data is nonsensical.
Last but by no means the least, search engines still heavily rely on keywords to rank pages in response to a search. Indeed, backlinks, domain authority, age of the page, and many other things play a part in determining where a page will (or will not) be ranked, but when a search engine crawls a page, it gives significant importance to the keywords to determine its relevance for the user’s search query.
Now that we have established that keywords are crucial for SEO, the question is, how to do effective keyword research. Well, that is a topic to be addressed in a whole other blog post, but for now, here are the top keyword research tips that can take your research to another level:
We’ve mentioned keyword research tools a lot in this article and even shared a screenshot. You might be wondering which tool we use. Our favorite tool here at Aloha Digital is Ahrefs because it offers a lot of neat features that we use to carry out keyword research at a professional level. We like it because:
Keyword research is a long and complicated process. You start with a seed keyword and enter it into a keyword research tool. It will typically give you a number of related keywords and show their stats. From there, you can establish criteria for keyword selection and choose the ones that fit those criteria.
That depends on many factors. Mainly, you set criteria of stats, including search volume, ranking difficulty, and competing for web pages, and choose the keywords based on that. The criteria vary from campaign to campaign.
There is no rule on how many keywords you can target for a single blog or web page. The recommended practice is to select one primary keyword for a page and five to seven secondary ones. The primary keyword is what you aim to rank for, and the content is shaped around the secondary ones.
The most important thing is to use the keywords naturally. Try to incorporate them into the natural flow of the content, never force them. The best practice to achieve a balance of not forcing the keywords while optimizing the content for SEO is to create a content outline based on keyword research and decide beforehand which keyword should be used in which section of the content.
Use the primary keyword 3-5 times in the content. Try using at least once in the first 100 words. Plus, distribute all the keywords evenly in the content, do not concentrate them in one spot.
A content marketing strategy is a plan of content designed to attract, engage, and retain an audience by creating relevant articles, videos, and other media types. The core of content marketing is keyword research. This is where you get to know what the target audience is looking for. The content is then designed according to the needs of the audience.
The simplest way to finding long-tail keywords is to start writing the query in Google search and looking for its suggestions. You can also look at the end of the Google search results page for the related terms people search to get an idea.
You can use free keywords research tools for this. The best free tools for this include Google’s keywords planner and a service by Google called Google Trends, which can give you an insight into the keywords you need to target.