SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one of the first things clients want to talk about with us. Without spending a lot, ranking for the right keyword is the key to clicks, conversions, and revenue. Detailed keyword research is one of the first things you need to do to set up your SEO campaigns for success.
The foundation of effective SEO is figuring out what prospective clients want to know (and read about), and consequently which words clients use to find this information. This is keyword research.
Business owners use different language than customers to describe the same concepts. At its heart, keyword research is understanding the ways different people communicate specific ideas. Tuning into the exact words customers use to describe your services and problems they face is critical. It ensures that the keywords in your content match the search terms they use in their searches. If you use industry terms or jargon, and they use more informal language, not only will they have trouble reading your content, but they might never find your page.
A good place to start is the written and spoken communications you and your team have with customers. Just by making people aware of the importance of words, they’ll be more likely to notice the specific words they use. Have conversations with your customers and larger market by asking good questions and then listening closely. Too often we’ll translate people’s phrases using our words to remember what they’re describing. This loses a key dimension of communication; it’s critical to note what they say verbatim. Capture these words in a central document for easy access.
A customer survey is a good idea to make sure you’re keeping up with your customers’ values and needs. For a couple of questions you might prompt them for the words they’d use to search for a core service. One useful resource for collecting data such as this is through Collect Chat, which provides your website with a 24/7 interactive chatbot to aid you in your analysis of keywords and visitor engagement.
Browsing forums and social media groups where your services are discussed by customers is another way to optimize web traffic. Looking at media and competitors’ content can also uncover valuable keywords. Finding and using the right keywords is critical for being found in searches. Effective marketing uses the language prospective clients use. If they’re not familiar with what you’re saying, they’re likely to discount your value or shop somewhere else. The words themselves make a difference in a prospect’s assessment. Much like how you lead with your strongest selling points to close a prospect, use the words most likely to trigger them to action.
Thorough keyword research can give you valuable insight into your entire marketing program, not just SEO. High value keywords are the ones that will help you meet your objectives most effectively. You want keywords that bring you the most searches (volume) and the right kind of traffic (intent) for the least amount of effort (competition).
Volume refers to the number of searches that are done in a certain time frame. As a general rule, you want high volume keywords because they tend to help increase traffic. When you compare different keywords, you won’t necessarily be able to determine the exact number of searches each one yields, but you can get a relative comparison between keywords and thus find out which ones are most effective.
Search intent of a particular keyword looks at what the users main objective for the search is. There are three forms of “intent” that potential customers might have when searching for your product. Informational intent means the searcher is looking to better understand their problem, considering the available solutions/substitutes. Comparative intent means they have a particular course of action in mind and they want to determine their best option moving forward. Informational intent and comparative intent can be useful keywords to target if you have a content marketing program to answer their initial concern and stay in touch with them until they’re ready to buy. Keywords with commercial intent means the prospective customer wants to buy right now. This intent is the most valuable (and usually competitive) because a sale is imminent.
The competitiveness of a keyword refers to how difficult it is to rank for it. If many websites have long been doing SEO for a specific keyword (with lots of backlinks), their positions will be stable and difficult to surpass. A lower competition keyword is more in play with fewer players with a well established position. When determining your competitiveness, look at your current rank for the keyword. A keyword you’re in spot 5 for is more promising than a keyword you’re ranking at 100 for – It will take less work.
In an ideal world, you’d only have high volume, commercial intent keywords that are low competition. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. A little judgement is necessary to select the optimal keyword to target your efforts. Usually it’s best to err on the side of lower volume but easier to rank for. Ideally the search term indicates someone actively solving their problem or ready to buy right now.
As noted above, the most basic, high volume keywords are generally highly competitive. Called head terms, these keywords are usually short keywords (2-3 words) and high volume. While they bring a lot of traffic to high ranking websites, these keywords lack specificity of a long-tail keyword. A long-tail keyword by definition is longer than a head term, usually 3-5 words long. More words means more detail with the user’s needs more spelled out. SEOPressor is a plugin for WordPress that optimizes your search engine results ranking so that you can receive more revenue for less effort.
The Right Keyword isn’t Just for Search Engines Anymore
Semantic SEO refers to a search engine’s tendency to use words other than the keywords to piece together exactly what a page is about establishing the context from the “support” words. By drilling down another level of meaning, search engines get more effective at providing relevant content for searches.
When writing content, it’s important to not just incorporate your focus keyword (i.e. the keyword you’re trying to rank for) several times, but also to use support words to make it clear what the subject of your blog is for both human readers and search engines. Start by providing details about your subject matter using words that add sufficient dimension.
Talking with and surveying your customers, as well as monitoring social conversations, are great places to start when it comes to identifying topics of importance and the words they use to find your services. This will lead you to expand your list of possible keywords and validate your list using existing data. To do this, there are a variety of SEO tools for conducting keyword research. Some examples of tools you can use include Adwords Keyword Planner, SEMRush, and KWFinder.
The process of SEO starts with plugging in one or more “seed” keywords. The software returns a sizable list of related keywords. For each suggested keyword, you’ll get search volume, keyword difficulty (competitiveness), and Cost per click (for paid search – relative price can imply desirability). It’s important to note that this data is quantitative information. It gives you a lot of what, but not much why. By starting with your customers you seed the tool with the most relevant keywords to start with. Additionally, you develop your customer intuition to better understand the implied meaning of each keyword to determine which search term corresponds to a desirable prospect.
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