Keyword Research Best Practices For SEO & Inbound Marketing
SEO can drive a highly targeted traffic, which means you will be getting visits from people that have the intent to use your service or to buy your product.
For informational webpages you will be getting traffic of people already interested in what your website is all about.
You need to follow the SEO best practices including the Keyword Research, Content Marketing and Backlink Building to rank for your targeted topics and get traffic that convert.
While you practicing SEO for your website or your client’s, you are mainly focusing on one of these goals :
1- Branding ( Visibility and getting known )
When your consumers search for a certain product or service term and they get your brand website pops up in the first positions they will automatically link your brand to that product or service they have been looking for subconsciously.
Showing up in the first position for a certain industry term makes your brand looks like the best in that industry already, I mean if google trust your brand to have it in the first position in the search result then logically you’re the best in the industry too, makes sense ?
Well, dominating the first position in search engine result for a certain industry doesn’t actually mean that you are the best in that field in real life, but it’s how your consumers most likely think, so SEO should be a major channel in your marketing plan and it must be treated as an ongoing process more than a one time project.
2. Driving traffic
When SEO is applied right on your website it can significantly drive traffic interested in your niche, to convert that traffic into customers you will have to rely on your website’s structure, page conversion, marketing structure and your business model.
That type of traffic will be landing on your website at pages that’s not supposed to pitch directly to the client.
Like a blog post for example, which should be optimized to convert that traffic and direct it to the next stage in the buyer journey.
3. Marketing channel with high ROI (Return on investment)
SEO is one of the major channel of marketing with a high ROI, however SEO is an ongoing process more than a project as I mentioned before.
Keeping your content fresh and provide quality information to your website’s visitors plus keeping your website structure friendly and callable while making good relations and getting your website linked back by others will definitely results in a highly profitable marketing channel.
Why content is king ? And why every SEO strategy must have a content marketing plan ?
Well, let me break it down to you like this, if your website is a bunch of spammy pages a with a low quality content on them, why would someone be interested in a website like this ?
I mean ask yourself, “how many websites that I always visit ?” Or “Why do I keep on following a certain blog ?” Or even “Why am I sticking with a certain newsletter’s website when it comes to my favorite team news ?”
I bet you probably answering your own questions now or at least you know where am I heading with that type of questions, right ?
The ultimate answer for all that questions is one thing and one thing only, it’s the content !
Yes, I know some of you will be taking into consideration the website’s design and usability, well, it’s a big factor too, but the entire website was built for what ?
If you think a bit deeper about it you will get to the same conclusion every time, the entire website’s design, Programming and usability were meant for one thing and one thing only, which is delivering the content to you, the consumer.
And when I’m talking about content I don’t mean a specific type of content, as a fair amount of people might think that content means the text that we read.
Well, content is whatever way or format you use to deliver a message or information.
Content can be a video, image, infographics, text, audio, tutorials and the list goes on down the valley of the endless virtual world.
Now that’s you understand the nature of the word “Content”, then let’s relate that to our real life, didn’t you recommend a restaurant to a friend before ? Most of us always do that especially and it comes to food ( I do that all the time myself as I’m a bit picky when it comes to food, lol ).
The main reason you would recommend a restaurant to your friends is the quality and experience you had there.
Think of your website the same way, yes it’s a virtual world but at the end it will be used by us, by humans.
The main purpose of your website is delivering a message to the consumer and once someone lands on your website through a search result, your website should deliver and answer what that user was looking for.
Think of the searcher as Google’s client and consider the way that Google is ordering the SERP is how it would recommend these website to the searcher.
So the more quality content you deliver to your website’s visitors the more traffic you will get from Google.
Definitely there is some other factors beside content for Google to rank your website, but for instance, if we talking about the backlinks your website has which is a major ranking factor, then think about “why would a website link to another with low quality content website ?”
Having a quality content will result in more beneficial profits like getting links from authoritative website, getting bookmarked, building up a loyal community for your brand and the list is endless.
When we get to the link building strategies you will figure out that having a quality backlinks requires high quality content that really adds value to the consumer eventually.
Also keep in mind the nature of your website’s content as that will definitely affect your content marketing strategies.
For example, news related content must be timed correctly, publishing news after a while of exact news date loses the value delivered to your audience, publishing news just on time regularly will be a good favor for your website ranking and authority.
News content is not the only type that’s affected by the publishing time, but outdated content won’t really work for you, I mean publishing any updates from years ago won’t make any sense, instead you should be publishing the current updates of the subject you covering, makes sense ?
And don’t get me wrong sometimes I do myself talk about old news and updates for historical reasons or for using it as a proof or something, but I never deliver that to my audience as news, got it ?
You can also make use of timeless content that can really rank well which called “Evergreen Content” which is that type of articles with no time relation or restrictions at all, it’s the type of content which provide information independent of time and can be published and delivered to your audience at any time.
Facts, educational and “How To” articles are mostly considered evergreen content and they are the most popular too.
Writing content online have a little bit of rules different from the normal writings we used to do, online content writing is mostly called Blogging.
To write a compelling content and publish it online needs to be done right to fit the way your audience will be reading it.
Most of today’s website visitors are using mobiles or tablets to browse the web, so you have to keep that in mind while publishing your content.
Now that you have a clear idea why we going down the road of content creation, you need to follow a set of simple steps with each piece of your content to rank for your targeted topic, The first step in your content creation process is defining the targeted keyword then crafting the title of your post and finally working on the actual content.
Keyword research process
Basically, keywords research is the process of looking for a set of keywords or phrases that you expect your targeted audience to use while searching on Google to find what you want to provide.
Researching keywords is a major process in your SEO marketing process, it will be done as an ongoing process as well not just the beginning.
Keywords planning and research is really helpful in getting insights about the current demand, shifts in markets, the changes in trends and the demand for a product or service.
It’s not easy to predict how a user will be looking for a certain term or keyword, as people typically search using their own way and language.
For example, if someone looking for buying a LED TV, then might write something like “ LED TV “ or can be more specific and write “ Smart LED TV “ or even “ Smart TV “ and the possibilities are endless.
Also the user location, language, previous search history pattern and the user demographics will be changing how Google will return the results of the query “SERP“.
What is long tail keywords, Why it matters ?
The long tail keywords is a bit longer search query that the searcher uses on Google to get what he/she is looking for.
For instance, here is a 2 examples of short and long tail keywords :
Short version : “content marketing”.
Long tail : “successful content marketing strategy”.
Long tail keywords matters mainly because it mostly has lower completion to target and maintain, It’s also obvious that it’s more specific and searchers mostly use it when they have a very specific topic or need they need an answer for.
However, the number of monthly searches on the long tail keywords is mostly way lower than it’s short version.
Targeting a long tail keywords mean you might target a 100 ~ 10,000 monthly searched phrases.
The expected traffic looks so low even if you ranked page one on that specific keyword, however that’s not the full picture here.
Ranking for long tail keywords is obviously way easier than doing it for the short version of the keyword, however ranking for it will possibly leads to ranking for the short version too on the long term.
Plus the fact that ranking for a long tail keywords will include ranking for a set of other keywords included in the main keyword itself.
After the Google’s “Hummingbird” update at 2013, we are no longer targeting the keyword itself, but we are currently targeting the intent of the searcher’s query.
After that update which was a whole rewrite of how Google responds to the query and comes up with the results, Your content is the most important factor that will be built upon your research result.
Back in time I was using a set of keywords to rank my client’s website regardless the the searcher’s intent, plus keyword stuffing was working like a charm back then.
Google keeps improving its core search engine algorithm and you have to keep up with that, however delivering a high quality content and following the “White Hat SEO Strategies” will protect you from any future Google’s update.
You might find some claims that the keyword research process is no longer important for your search engine marketing anymore, but it’s not true.
Well, It’s important process still but in indirect way now, as if you target a certain user’s intent by targeting his query that will lead to targeting the user himself correctly once he search for that keyword.
The more your content is answering the searcher query and satisfying the user with provide quality value the higher Google will be ranking your website for that specific keywords.
As you can see in the above search query example of “Desktop resolution“, none of the websites ranking page one has the specific keyword in the page title, but they all relatively answering the the searcher question and need.
Again, your content is answering the searcher’s intent not targeting the specific keyword itself, so focus your research on the true meaning behind the user’s query more than the terms being used.
Co-occurrence of words can help google to better understand what is your page talking about or meant to offer to the user.
If your web page is selling footwear products to the website’s visitors then the product’s page will have some common words like “shopping”, “cart”, “order”, “buy” associated with the name of the product, even the fact that it’s not necessary to have a phrase like “ Buy Nike Sneakers “.
If your page is not mentioning any of the related common words or synonyms of that product name then it will have lower probability to rank as a page for selling that footwear product, as google will have a hard time relating that page to your targeted product to sell.
however Keep in mind that google can also detect the keywords stuffing if you over adding related words in your page and will penalize you for it.
Google now analyze what words are the most commonly appear on the webpage and how they were wrote together plus the occurrences of their synonyms.
Google won’t be counting how many times the keywords were solely mentioned and rank for it, in fact if you do so then your website will be considered as spammy site and will definitely get penalized for keywords stuffing as I mentioned before, however you might also find that each different niche has a different nature of keywords density.
To perform a keywords research for your website you need to follow these 2 steps :
- Get seed keywords for your targeted long tail keywords
- Research using your seed keywords to get the final list of keywords you will acctually use
Brainstorming the seeds of your targeted keywords
Before jumping into using the keywords research tools take your time to brainstorm with your team or company’s departments if possible, and follow these steps to come up with enough information as seeds list for the final research process :
- Create a list of words that can describe you product, service or your brand ( mostly from one to 3 words ).
- List a set of synonyms for the list you created in the previous step, you can use Thesaurus for doing so.
- Add the broader terms / categories of the terms in your seeds list.
- Add the terms already used by your website / brand for mentioning your product or service.
- Add the terms that the media typically use to describe what’s similar to what your website is offering.
- Add the terms used by the organic traffic coming to your website or how your website is typically linked if possible.
- Add the list of terms that you or your team would use if you would search for what your brand is offering.
- Guess what your customers might write in the search box if they are looking for similar products or services like yours.
After finishing the above steps, analyze your competitors websites and list the following :
- Add the terms they typically use to describe their product or services.
- How industry related media mention them.
- How they describe their product or service on their website.
- How they mention the industry itself without promoting their brand.
After all if you think you still need more ideas for keywords then you can use keywords generator tool that can help you with that process too, The more keywords you add in the boxes the more long tail keywords it will generate for you, however some of them won’t make any logical sense and you will need to filter out the results.
Also this Keywordin tool provides some options to come up with a list of generated long tail keywords that can help a lot to build up your seed list.
You can also use Google Correlate Tool to get more information from google itself about what set of keywords gets searched along with your main keyword, as the tool gives you a general idea about other keywords that’s correlated with your main keyword which can be really beneficial to get long tail keywords list.
If your website is providing a local service or product then you can use Bulk Keyword Generator by “IMforSMB” to get more long tail keyword according to your input to the tool.
To quickly have an idea of the most mentioned keywords at your competitor’s website you can use WordTracker as it’s a chrome extension that offers a bit of help to analyze competitor keywords within few seconds.
Suggestion Keyword Finder Tool Helps you to generate more long tail keywords up to 3 levels, I prefer to use level 3 as it’s the most relevant to what I mostly need.
UberSuggest Tool is also pretty much similar to Google keywords planner but in some cases it can show what the keyword planner doesn’t show.
Soolve Keywords Tool generates a list of keywords related to your seed keywords on multiple search engines and websites, it generates that suggestions like the autocomplete features “instant search” at Google.
After coming up with the seeds list, you can now use that as a seed for the keywords research tools to get an accurate results about your targeted keywords.
You had to go through all the above hard work as these tools can answer accurately according to the seeds your offer to them, and you need that before deciding which keywords your will optimize for.
Research and analysis of your targeted keywords level of competition
Since you now have a list of targeted keywords that you are willing to rank for then let’s check the competition you will face to rank your website for it.
One of the most famous tool that I do personally use is Google Keyword planner tool, that tool brings you the information based on the data Google collects from the queries it receives by the searchers.
That tool also provide you with information collected from the advertisers when they use Google Adwords for search ads.
Obviously it’s the most relevant tool to use as the information coming from the source itself by a huge database built up with data collected by Google itself.
Here is the full set of steps to follow to use the keywords planner tool :
- Login to your Google Adwords account or create one for free if you don’t have one already using just your Gmail account.
- From tools choose the keywords planned tool.
- From the 3 options offered choose the first one as we will be analyzing each of the keywords the seed list you made previously.
- Now you need to adjust the tool’s options for better targeting so edit the following :
- The location : choose your target audience locations / countries.
- The language : choose your target audience country.
- Negative keywords : insert the set of keywords that you don’t want to have in the research result.
- Keywords to include : insert the set of keywords that must be included in each of the results.
- Keyword filter : adjust the range of monthly searches, cost per click for the keywords generated, impressions and advertisers competition.
- You can also set more options like the interval you want the result to be based on and more options like whether or not to include adult keywords.
- Now insert your list of keywords each one in a line or separate them with commas into the first box with label of “ your product or service “
- Now the tool will respond with a set of results based on your seed keywords and how you configured the tool options in the previous steps
- The first 2 taps at the top are
- Ad group ideas : that will combine the related keywords into one group.
- Keyboards ideas : that lists down each keywords data in a separate row and this is the one you will mostly use.
- Each row will have these information about the keyword ;
- Keyword : the keyword itself
- Average Monthly searches : average searches done on this specific keyword
- Competition : the competition by the advertisers to bid on this keyword
- Suggested bid (CPC) : the estimated cost if you want to perform a search ads on this keyword
- Now you will list the long tail keywords that has the biggest monthly searches with the lowest competition.
The keywords planner tool can be a good sign to start on targeting and optimize for a keyword, however in many cases you will need more confirmation about the competition you will face to rank for a keyword.
There is many other research tools that offer a difficulty check for keywords some of them are paid with trial periods to give it a shot and there is also many free tools that can also help.
To have a quick look at your competitor’s ranking for your targeted keyword you can use Moz chrome/firefox extension that can show you each competitor page authority, domain authority and number of backlinks for the ranked page and domain.
The Kwfinder Keyword Research Tool can also help you to analyzing the difficulty of the keywords and it also offers more suggestions.
The list of that type tools is way longer than this, but I have just mentioned some of them in this article so you can legitimately get going and get used to the keywords research process.
At the end it doesn’t matter what tool are you using as you only do that to get sharp signs and clear view of what competition you will face, the bottom line here is the quality of the content you will deliver to your audience.
SEO is a major marketing channel to implement into your inbound marketing plan, it can bring you a highly targeted traffic with the intent to use your service, buy your product or reading your blog.
Delivering quality content to your consumers is a major factor that will lead Google to rank your website for your targeted topics.
Take your time conducting your keywords research as all your content plan will be built according to what you came up with from this process.
Your content should be answering the searcher’s need and questions so focus on the consumer intent and how your website will be answering that instead of focusing on the keywords itself.
The bottom line here is that fact that you are dealing with humans even all Google’s bots and algorithms were built to serve that, so focus your effort on your customers and make them your first priority.