What Does Keyword Research Do?
If you choose the wrong keywords, you’re going to miss out on your intended customers. If you go with super long-tail keywords, you may miss out on traffic due to an overly narrow focus. And if you target competitive and high CPC keywords, you’re probably never going to rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs). Worse still, you might burn through the entirety of your marketing budget without garnering conversions.
Proper keyword research will help you to avoid all these common pitfalls in SEO whilst reaping significant rewards for your business in the long run. So always ask yourself this question: “What do my customers want to know about?” That is the key to producing results — getting in the mind of your potential customers. Doing so will help you greatly when it comes to conducting keyword research.
Step 1: Understand That There Are 3 Major Types of Keywords
There are 3 major types of keywords that belong to different stages of the sales funnel. The phrasing of your keywords should reflect the stage at which a potential customer is currently at. The 3 major types are:
- Top-of-Funnel Keywords: these are informational in nature (i.e. step by step, how to)
- Middle-of-Funnel Keywords: this is for those who are at a solution seeking stage in the buying process (i.e. that actually works, how to stop, ways to avoid, ways to fix)
- Bottom-of-Funnel Keywords: these target potential customers with high buyer intent (i.e. compare prices, affordable, best, order, where to buy)
The most fundamental difference between top and bottom-of-funnel keywords are that the former are informational in nature whereas the latter is transactional. This is a disparity that you should keep in mind coming up with keywords, and being cognizant of the different stages will help you identify which are the best keywords to use. Find your target keywords for each stage. Then, make the necessary on-page SEO changes to your website and landing pages. This will help significantly in boosting your brand’s SEO efforts.
Step 2: Decide What Type of Keywords to Focus On
Every business should do keyword research based on their business goals and objectives. However, different businesses have different businesses goals and objectives when it comes to conversions. Are you looking to build a long-term connection with your audience? Or are you only targeting potential customers that are ready to buy your products and services?
Create a mind map for your keywords. This will allow you to follow your prospects’ trail through your site. You want top-of-funnel keywords and pages to lead prospects to the next step of the funnel — middle-of-funnel pages. And after prospects land on this stage, you would then want your content to move them to the “buying stage” or the bottom of your funnel.
So, map out the keywords and compare the content you have to the content you need. This will help you determine which areas your website needs improvement in.
Step 3: “Hack” the Process by Setting Goals
Doing keyword research involves tons of data. Goals will help to define the content and why we’re even doing keyword research in the first place. Your business’ website goals will help to clarify what matters most about the site.
For example, if you’re in SEO, you must know Neil Patel. He wrote previously about how he built a 7-figure SEO agency. And how exactly did he grow his SEO agency? Referrals? Not exactly. He did so by blogging, speaking at conferences, and helping businesses to draw customers in.
But how was he able to convince business owners that they needed to hire him to work on their SEO? He focused on their goals. He didn’t sell SEO as a service, he sold the results they would get if they hired him. He began by saying that he could improve their SEO rankings for each keyword, which would drive x number of visitors a month to their site. Then, he talked about conversion rates. Finally, he emphasized how much more money he could make them every single month if they decided to hire him.
This gives you an idea as to the importance of goals. Having a clear purpose will help you to figure out where you want to be. So, set your traffic, conversions, and revenue goals. Focus on them when carrying out your SEO. This will give you a clearer vision of what you’re supposed to do next.
Step 4: Find the Competition
In just a few minutes, you can find out exactly which companies are ranking better on Google just by searching up the keywords associated with your business, product or service. Those companies are your competitors.
However, to effectively tackle the competition, you need to first determine your standing. If you’re starting from scratch, you may have to first analyse the smaller sites. There are a ton of great tools for one to do research on competitors. So, find the sites that are competing in your market and put them all on a list. Then, go through that list and analyse them using tools such as SEMrush. Find the websites’ traffic volume and make a note of it before putting that list in sequential traffic order.
Once that is done, you should go a step further and look into their links. Doing such in-depth research will help you identify what works and what doesn’t. Some of the things you should remember to take note of are:
- Your competitors’ links and anchor text profiles
- Which keywords are giving them the biggest spikes in traffic
- What kind of content drives that traffic
Once you have completed the “profiling” of your competitors, you should now have a clearer idea of how to proceed with your SEO efforts. Simply model what works the best for others – whilst still keeping in mind your business’ objectives – and significant results will be produced.
Step 5: Putting It All Together for Ranking Magic
Now that you have completed all of the above, it’s time to make some tangible changes to your SEO strategy. Some actions to take are:
- Set up your URL structure to match or beat that of your competitors
- Write content that utilises your carefully chosen keywords
- Put your plan into action and break it down into various projects and content groups
- Have enough content and link acquisition to ensure that you are on track
- Sit down monthly and make sure you’re progressing steadily towards your stipulated goals
- Realign lost initiatives
- Source for strategies to help you surpass the competition more quickly
This process is tedious and requires a lot of careful planning but the results are most definitely worth the effort.