If you’re a business owner who’s serious about online growth, then you’ve most likely dipped your toe into keyword research.
But perhaps you feel out of your depth, or as though you’re wading through treacle trying to make headway.
We’ve put together a guide on how to do keyword research effectively, so you can begin to make progress and see success with your website’s growth.
Remember, guidance is constantly changing, as is Google’s closely guarded algorithm, but there are some basic principles that all websites should adopt if they want to gain traction.
What are keywords?
Keywords are the cornerstone of search engine optimisation (SEO).
Put simply, they are the words people put into a search engine when they want to find something.
Therefore, logic dictates that if your website doesn’t contain keywords people are searching for, you won’t be getting any traffic from search engines.
This means you need to spend some time hunting out the keywords related to your industry that are getting the most searches per month, then include them across your website.
Each page should have a primary keyword, but there’s no reason you can’t pepper each page with various keywords related to your industry.
So, how do you do keyword research effectively?
Keyword research step by step
It can be hard to know where to start – how on earth can you get inside people’s heads and know what they’re searching for?
We haven’t quite developed that kind of technology yet, but you can use your common sense, to begin with, to start generating keywords related to your business.
After that, there are some great keyword research tools to back up your findings.
First of all, come up with some keyword ‘buckets’ related to your business.
These should be quite broad and, for this reason, these aren’t the keywords you’ll be trying to rank for.
After this, we’ll begin breaking the buckets down so don’t spend a huge amount of time thinking about these.
Aim to come up with between 5 and 10 buckets. For example, if you were a gardener your buckets may include:
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to imagine what they’d be searching for if they wanted to find your product/service.
If we continue with the gardening theme, underneath your plant’s bucket, people may be searching for ‘plants for summer’ or ‘best evergreen plants’.
If you have a physical location that customers need to visit to buy your product, then you’ll also want to consider adding this to your keyword.
For example, ‘buy plants Barnstaple’ or ‘buy plants Newquay’, depending on where your business is based.
Try to come up with 3-5 suggestions for each bucket.
If you’ve struggled with the above, try looking at your competitors to see what keywords they’re ranking for.
Do a simple Google search for one of your keywords and see if your competitor(s) pop up – if they do, you’re on the right track.
And if they don’t? Well, that could be good too! So long as the keyword you’ve chosen is something your potential customers are searching for (we’ll come on to that next) then you could be on to a winner if you rank for it and your competitors don’t.
It goes without saying here that if Amazon or eBay come up in your search results, it’s not really worth trying to compete with them – unless of course, you’re aiming for world domination (and have a huge budget), in which case go for it!
Next, you’ll want to use a keyword research tool to establish the search volume of all the keywords you’ve brainstormed.
Search volume is the most basic tool in keyword research and simply refers to the number of times a keyword is being searched for each month.
In addition, keyword research tools will help you find some keywords related to your industry which you might not have thought of, but which are getting good search results.
Google Keyword Planner is one of the best-known research tools, and it’s free, but it does require you to have a Google Ad account.
Another good free tool is the HOTH’s keyword research function. Simply plug in the keyword you want to find stats for, and it will give you a breakdown of how that keyword is performing.
For example, having looked at ‘plants for summer’ the results are as follows:
Search volume: 1,900 searches per month
Keyword difficulty index: 84
Results: more than two billion!
If you’re just starting out, trying to rank for a keyword with almost 2,000 searches per month may be a bit of a stretch.
By all means, optimise your homepage for your primary keyword, even if it has a high search volume – your primary keyword is your primary keyword, so don’t try to be too clever here.
But what you can do instead is use other pages on your website, plus blog posts, to generate traffic from other keywords with a slightly lower search volume.
Try low-hanging fruit by looking for keywords that have 500 searches or less per month – these should be niches related to your industry, and tools like the HOTH will suggest some other keywords related to the one you’ve searched for.
By having a catalogue of pages and blog posts optimised for these kinds of keywords, you’re covering a lot more bases and generating traffic from lots of different people interested in topics broadly concerned with your industry.
Next you want to consider search intent.
For example, you might think ‘plants for summer’ means people are looking for an article all about the best types of plants to opt for during the summer season.
However, a quick Google search for that keyword suggests that’s not all people are after – there are lots of results from websites that are actually selling summer plants.
Therefore, you may want to consider both a blog post listing the best types of plants to use in summer, but also optimising your shop page with the keyword ‘plants for summer’ too (if of course, you’re selling plants).
The easiest way to find out a web user’s search intent is to simply put your keyword into Google and look at the kinds of results that come up.
It’s not enough just to know that people are searching for a certain keyword – you need to be providing the kind of information they want too.
Google is clever enough to only give a high ranking to pages that are serving up what their users want, so always bear this in mind.
How to do keyword research
That’s a whistle-stop tour of keyword research, and we hope you’ve found it useful.
If you’re still feeling a bit overwhelmed and aren’t sure where to turn next, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.