Google gets millions of searches a day, and behind every search is a real person with real questions, goals and problems that they're looking to solve. When it comes to SEO and showing up in top search results, keywords pack a big punch. But having just any keyword won’t get you high on the list.
In order for your website to have a chance of showing up to one of these millions of potential customers, you’ll have to start taking keyword research seriously.
What Is Keyword Research?
Keywords are the words or phrases that make your website more visible to search engines. They help you distinguish your website against competitors and help search engines refer the right visitors to your site.
When deciding which keywords you’d like to target, it’s best to avoid a blind approach. Keyword research is the process of researching and finding the most likely verbiage that your users search for when looking for your services, products, and business.
For example, if your business is in the restaurant industry, it's important to understand what your customers are searching for when they're looking for a place to eat. Finding the difference in search volume in keywords like restaurants in Fargo vs. places to eat in Fargo allows you to see which keywords have higher search volume, allowing you to plug those into your content so you're more easily found.
Meet Your Customers Where They Are
Always think about your audience first. Don’t assume that the terms you use for your business, services or products are what your audience searches for. Study your audience and then target your efforts to meet them where they are. You can do this by:
Find a Happy Medium
Once you have a good grip on how your audience talks, you’ll want to dig a little deeper and use professional keyword research tools to find where your audience’s voice intersects with search volumes and cost.
You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to search for a specific keyword and find its average monthly searches, competition levels and average Cost per Click (CPC). You'll also be given a big list of similar keyword ideas. Be sure to rule out anything that isn't relevant to your products, services, or goals.
For example, if you sell cars, you want to take a close look at your research when you look for keywords relating to car sales or cars for sale. When the Keyword Planner tool spits out keyword ideas, you'll be able to see average searches and competition scores. While car sales may have a slightly higher search volume than cars for sale, the competition score may be quite a bit higher in the highly searched keyword - so you'll want to take this into consideration when choosing what keywords fit best into your content.
The Keyword Planner tool also allows you to see what keywords aren't relevant to your business. For example, if you're focused on car sales in North Dakota, you don't want to use keywords like cars for sale in Texas - even though the Keyword Planner will give you some of these keywords as ideas to use in your content.
Implement into Strategy
Finally, implement your new research into your content marketing strategy. Make a list so you can easily refer to your keyword strategy when creating new content and making website updates. Consistently use the new keywords while writing new content for your blog or website. Your new keywords will help you improve the quality of the visitors brought to your site and, ultimately, the quality of engagement.
For example, if you're in the healthcare industry, it's important to look at how people are searching for the word healthcare. Are there more searches for healthcare (as one word) or health care (as two words)? Once you find out and select your keyword, make sure to use whichever one you choose consistently throughout your content.
Keyword research and implementation are only a part of having good SEO practices on your site. Keywords alone won't put your business on the #1 search result spot. Additionally, you’ll have to implement best practices with on-page content and back-end SEO.
If you need some help with a keyword strategy or SEO, let us know. We’d love to talk with you about how we can help you meet your business and marketing goals.
This blog was written by Camila Stadum, former Digital Marketing Specialist at Onsharp.