Keyword research is the first step in inbound marketing. Before you write your website content, you must understand which terms will give you the most relevant traffic and potential leads online. After all, it doesn’t make sense to optimize for words that people don’t use.
Now, while other facets of SEO have evolved, keyword research methods have generally stayed the same. Your typical SEO expert usually mentions Google Keyword Planner as a way for businesses to find out which related keywords are popular in a given industry.
So, let’s say you have a fitness center, and you want to write an article about weightlifting. You may see results like “weightlifting for women” or “weight loss.”
The usual approach is to choose a few keywords and place them on different pages on your site. This is enough to satisfy your target audience, right?
Well, this tactic may have worked in the past, but it won’t be as effective now. Google’s search bots and ranking algorithm have evolved through the years. The bots are no longer focused on finding exact keyword matches; now, they can interpret the semantic meaning of a keyword as it is used in the overall content.
This means that companies must revisit their keyword research and content strategy and update them accordingly.
Top Ways to Improve Keyword Research
When it comes to keyword research, there is no universal approach that gives you instant results. It varies based on your website, objectives, budget, and industry.
Of course, if you can implement a basic research framework, you can easily adjust according to your specific resources and end goals.
Here are some fundamental ways to strengthen your keyword research and boost SEO:
Look at search intent
Whenever someone enters a search item on Google or any other search engine, they are basically on a quest for something.
This is what search intent is all about. By focusing on what people want to find out on the web, you can determine which keywords will help you become visible on search pages.
There are several types of intent, which include:
- Informational – users are trying to find more information about a topic
- Navigational – users want to access a specific website by entering the term into the search engine
- Commercial – prior to making a purchase, users are researching about an item or a brand
- Transactional – those who have concluded their commercial searches are now looking to buy the item
Once you have decided on which intent/s apply to your content, you can then search for relevant keywords based on that. This increases your chances of giving people the content they are looking for.
If you’re having trouble determining specific topics, there are cases when two or more keywords can give you an indicator as to which topic is in demand. You could then search for a long tail keyword.
See what keywords your competitors use
For small and mid-sized businesses that may not have too much room for an SEO budget, it’s important to anchor such strategies on what works. And this means looking at the success of your competitors.
Think of it this way: your competitors have already done the tedious job of finding what keyword is able to reach your target audience. So why not research the keywords they rank for and use those on your own long-form content?
If you have no idea who your competitors are, type in your seed keywords on Google and see what sites rank on the first page.
Tools like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer or SEMrush can help you source organic keywords that your competitors ranked for. After cherry-picking which keywords you’re considering, sort these by URL. This allows you to understand which page Google has deemed topically relevant to the keywords.
Sometimes, just one competitor site can supply you with enough keyword ideas for months. Your team can do this process repeatedly to continue harvesting keywords.
Knowing what keywords enabled your competitors to rank on Google can guide you on how to further enhance your content. And since Google loves long-form, informative, and evergreen content, you can use the results to optimize your content assets.
Focus on user engagement
We know that using the right keywords is essential for blog posts, videos, images, and other content assets. But if your site is not optimized, it may still be hard for you to perform well on Google even with quality content.
Consider using the following tactics to boost user engagement:
Make content accessible
Optimizing your site entails making it conducive to your content marketing strategy. To establish your brand as an authority, you must make sure that your content is not only relevant but also accessible.
Remember, access is equally important both for individuals searching online and for Google search bots. If your content is buried in layers and layers of subcategories, chances are your site visitors (and the search bots) will just move on to another site to look for their content.
Now, we know that making some content exclusive can be a lead generation tactic for some businesses, but if you want more users to appreciate your content—and ultimately, your brand—then you must make such assets accessible.
Don’t forget internal links
All too often, sites neglect the potential of internal linking. If you’re guilty, then change your ways today! This is an easy way to drive new users to your most authoritative content. Not only that, internal linking also helps Google bots regard your page as legitimate and an authority in the topic.
Review your old and new content to find internal linking opportunities and showcase your well-written content.
SEO techniques have come a long way.
From simply pasting keywords onto articles, a more advanced search engine ranking system now necessitates a more informed approach on how to adjust content and site features to cater to both target audience and search bots.With a solid understanding of these keyword research techniques, businesses can craft a targeted strategy to maximize their resources and at the same time reach worthwhile leads.