If you are developing a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, you are probably already aware of the complexity of components involved. One of the primary elements of content optimization is the use of keywords. 

These words and phrases are what people type into search engines when they are looking for products and services, as well as general information about particular topics. When you include these words in your website content, search engines may recognize your web pages as useful and relevant to those performing searches.

If you perform research on the keywords your target demographics are using, these words and phrases may work for you in the form of clues. The data you find can tell you quite a lot about what your potential customers really need and want. In fact, keywords can help you to build a customer persona, so you are able to make better decisions when marketing your goods/services. How do you determine which keywords your target customer base is using when searching online? Keyword research is the secret.

What is Keyword Research?

First, you need to understand exactly what keyword research entails. This process is the exploration of the aforementioned words and phrases that people enter in search engines. The objective is to learn what people are searching for, which will then enable you to optimize your content based on that information. If you’re working with a local marketing company, they can do this for you. But if not, you need to know the ins and outs of keyword research and implementation.

Once you know the terms that your customers are using, you can learn more about what they truly seek from your company. You can maximize this data by tailoring your content to pique the interest of your website visitors. In some cases, you might consider modifying your products/services to match the customer needs revealed in search engine entries.

Additionally, when you include these words in your content, search engines are more likely to lead online users to your web pages. This is an integral aspect of content optimization. The point is not to overuse certain keywords, which can actually work against you. This is often called keyword stuffing, and it can lead to a penalty inflicted by Google. However, a moderate, organic use of keywords can help search engines to recognize your content as relevant and useful to various searches.

What are the Best Keyword Research Tools?

You may choose from an assortment of tools to perform your research, and several of them are available free of charge. You might want to start with one of the most obvious ones, which is found in virtually any search engine. This is the autocomplete section located in the drop-down box below the search bar. When you enter a keyword, such as “dental,” you should see several suggestions in the drop-down box below your entry. These might be phrases such as “dental insurance,” “dental hygienist,” etc. These suggestions are hints as to what other people may be typing when they are looking for goods/services related to your industry. This autocomplete feature is known as Google Suggest and YouTube Suggest for those respective search engines.

Another great option is checking the search entries on your own website. After all, what better place is there to explore the queries of your customers than right on your website? You can do this by employing the Site Search feature in Google Analytics. This will allow you to view various searches conducted during specific time periods.

SEO expert Brian Dean discusses some excellent choices on his website, Backlinko.com. If you are looking for keywords/phrases to include in your content, don’t forget to go where people gather online. That means visiting forums and other social media sites that your potential customers may frequent. Reddit is another great place to start because it offers a vast network of sub-forums. You can type a word or phrase in the search bar on Reddit’s home page, and the result page will typically offer a list of other entries people have made that relate to that term. Other social media sites and should have similar features that are perfect for keyword research.

Mr. Dean also mentions Ubersuggest. This tool provides not only keyword ideas, but also offers useful data about each keyword, such as information on search volume.

Google’s Keyword Planner is another important tool when performing this kind of research. Since Google provides such a widely used search engine, it makes sense to utilize their keyword tool. It displays statistics that can help you narrow down the options for your content. Google also offers a feature called Google Trends, which offers analytics based on the popularity of top search queries.

Another of the best websites worth browsing for keywords is called Answer the Public. As described at Ahrefs.com, this site can provide a wealth of information based on different query formats.

What to Look for in a Good Keyword?

Now that you have an idea of some of the tools that can help you, the next step in your research is to identify relevant keywords. A good keyword involves multiple elements:

1. Search Volume: Search volume is crucial to your campaign because it indicates how much people are actually searching for certain terms. Although it is logical to conclude that you should use keywords with the highest search volume, using terms that are less competitive can be advantageous, as well. This is largely due to the fact that the top-name brands in your field are more likely to dominate searches with high-volume keywords. As detailed at Moz.com, however, you should avoid using keywords with search volume that is too low. That can lead to wasting your resources in terms of curating content. It may generally be best to Include key phrases that are long, very specific, and that are apt to have relatively lower search volume. These are typically referred to as long-tail keywords.

2. Keyword Difficulty: Keyword difficulty is a metric term used to describe the level of difficulty in terms of ranking for a specific search query. Be sure not to confuse this term with “Competition” when you use the Google Keyword Planner. The term “Competition” is used in reference to paid search results. Keyword difficulty is used in association with organic search results. You should use a keyword difficulty checker to make this determination during your keyword selection process. You can find a variety of keyword difficulty checkers online. The level of difficulty in ranking can have an impact on your content optimization, but remember to balance this factor with the others detailed in this post.

3. User Intent: User intent, which is also commonly called searcher intent, is another essential consideration when doing this type of research. As Brian Dean illustrates at Backlinko, It’s important that you think about the intent a person has when searching online. What is an individual hoping to find as a result of performing a search? Does the person seek a specific kind of service or product, or does the individual simply require instructional information? Identifying the user intent of various keywords and phrases can help you to avoid using keywords that won’t ultimately lead to conversions.

4. Business Relevance: Naturally, it’s vital that you include keywords that are relevant to your business. If you don’t, then Google and other search engines will not likely direct much organic traffic your way. While keywords are a useful tool overall, using keywords that aren’t relevant to your content is not appreciated by search engine algorithms. In other words, if you use high-volume keywords that don’t make sense in your content, the search engines will eventually detect this practice and ignore you. Instead, you should use keywords that relate to your business in at least a general sense, and preferably, in a more specific way. Also, remember to insert local keywords in your key phrases, such as the state, city, or even the neighborhoods where you do business.

5. Informational vs. Conversion Based Keyword: The keywords you choose may be either informational or conversion based, and it is crucial that you know the difference between the two. When people use informational words for their queries, they may not have a purchase in mind. They might seek a tutorial for a project they can do at home, for example. There is still a chance that you may experience conversions from such queries. If you sell lawn care supplies, a tutorial on DIY leaf removal could sell multiple leaf blowers. However, conversion keywords, which are also called transactional keywords, may lead to higher conversions. These keywords and phrases generally sustain lower search volumes, such as the long-tail keywords mentioned above in the search volume section. Because they are so specific though, they can indicate intent to purchase on the part of the searcher.

Final Thoughts on the Importance of Keyword Research in 2019

Clearly, keyword research is an important part of the optimization process. Although the protocols around keyword usage have evolved, researching the right keywords for your web pages is still a major aspect of creating and optimizing content. You need to know what your target audience is searching for, and you need to know which terms are searched for the most. This is an ongoing process, and it should be a part of your routine. The more you know about the keywords your key demographics are employing, the easier it is to find the right ones for your website. The right keywords are always the ones that yield more page visits and more conversions. These should be your focus as you perform keyword research for your web pages in 2019 and 2020.