Our Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research

Full name
11 Jan 2022
5 min read

Whether your primary digital marketing strategy focuses more on search engine optimization (organic traffic) or paid advertising (or even social media marketing), keyword research is the first step to executing successfully.

In this guide we’ll explain:

  1. What is keyword research?
  2. Why is keyword research so important?
  3. Keyword research strategies
  4. Building content around keyword research

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of identifying all relevant search queries that a user (consumer) might be using to try to find information or purchase something regarding that topic. There are many different strategies you can employ to achieve this successfully but the goal should always be to find keywords that are relevant to your content.

Ideally, you want to find phrases or queries that have high average monthly volume and low keyword difficulty or competition. That means that many users are searching for that term on a routine basis and it is also easier to “rank” for than other keywords which are more frequently targeted by competitors.

Keyword Search Intent

Within the wide lens that is keyword research, there are four main types of intent. Understanding these types of intent and utilizing them correctly in your content is crucial to success in digital marketing. The four types of search intent are:

  1. Informational: A user wants to know the answer to a specific question or learn more about a topic. Ex: [what is a hybrid vehicle]
  2. Navigational: A user wants to find a specific page, product, or service. Ex: [toyota SUV hybrid]
  3. Commercial: A user is comparing buying options and evaluating potential decisions. This is similar to transactional, however, the user is not as far along in their buying process. Ex: [best hybrid vehicles to buy in 2022]
  4. Transactional: A user is ready to purchase and is at the final stage of the sales funnel. Ex: [where to buy a used toyota rav4 near me]

Being able to work your content around these types of intent will ensure its comprehensiveness and allow you to focus pieces of content on different types of searchers. Not everyone is ready to become a customer when they find a page on your site. A properly optimized website will be able to guide all users through their search and sales journey, regardless of where they currently are in that process.

Why is Keyword Research so Important?

Effective keyword research will help you:

  • Learn and understand your audience
  • Create more effective content
  • Qualify sales leads
  • Identify new content topics and forms
  • Improve conversion rate
  • Improve SEO ranks and organic reach
  • Improve ad campaigns

This list could go on and on but the message is clear: successful keyword research leads to successful digital marketing. Keyword research takes away the guessing and mystique away from marketing and lights a path to how you should develop your overall strategy. Understanding your market is huge and understanding how they search online is a major part of that.

Keyword Research Strategies

Just as there are many types of keywords and audiences, there are many ways to find keywords and phrases that will attract them. First, you’ll need access to a few tools on the web. Some are free and some require subscriptions but regardless of your budget, you have many options. Our favorite tools for keyword research are:

  • Google Search Console (free)
  • Semrush (paid and free versions)
  • Ahrefs (paid)
  • Moz (paid)

Knowing these tools is one thing, understanding how to utilize them for your strategy is another (more important) thing. Here are four keyword research strategies to try today:

  1. Competitor Research: This one comes first because it is so often overlooked within the industry, despite being one of the most effective and efficient ways to identify keywords. Using tools like Ahrefs or simply looking up keywords you want to rank for, you can see which competitors are beating you and explore their content to see how they’re achieving it as well as find out how you can beat them.
  2. Brainstorming & Research: This is the tried and true method for identifying strong keywords. First make lists of different keywords for various topics relating to your content or business. Then use tools like the Semrush “Magic Keyword Tool” to find information such as search volume, keyword difficulty, search intent, and even different variations of those keywords that might be better for your content.
  3. Consider “Long Tail” Keywords: A “long tail keyword” is one that contains more words in the query and is more specific than a “short tail keyword”. For example, a short tail keyword would be “keyword research” while a long tail keyword would be “best keyword research tools in 2022”. Though these keywords typically have much lower volume, they will be easier to rank for and also have much higher conversion rates due to the higher intent of the query.
  4. Go to the Source: What better way to find statistics on keywords than from the most dominant search engine? Google offers free tools such as Search Console and Trends, where you can see how your pages are currently ranking and performing as well as look up topics and search terms that are on the rise in various fields so you can identify the strongest ones for your business.

Building Content Around Keyword Research

After you’ve completed all of the necessary steps in this process and identified strong and effective keywords for your content, it’s time to “put pen to paper” and actually develop the content so it’s optimized for the search terms.

One thing to keep in mind at the start is that you should avoid “keyword stuffing” as this is an outdated practice and can actually do more harm than good sometimes. Keywords should fit organically into your content and should never be forced. Google and other search engines have become highly advanced and favor content that is both easily digestible for the reader and highly informative. By fabricating shallow content around the same few keywords repeated dozens of times, this is neither enjoyable or informative and also counterproductive in optimization.

Using your keywords in title tags, descriptions, and headers instead of just the content is a great way to both inform search engines what the content is about as well as signal to users where the information they need is.

Remember to present your content naturally and with the consumer’s best interests in mind. As consumers, we’re constantly bombarded with shady marketing strategies and deceptive content. As a business, you should want to bring your customers the best experience possible and never try to deceive or trick them and the same should go for the search engines crawling your content. Always remember the “E.A.T” principles: expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness.

Contact Nxt Era Marketing Today

Effective keyword research can be both time-consuming and costly. The best way to assure your website or ad campaigns are optimized correctly with the strongest keywords is to partner with a highly experienced digital marketing agency. We have the skills and resources to not only identify the best keywords, but also create your campaigns and execute them with optimized content. Schedule your free digital marketing consultation today!

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