Keyword research is cool.
It allows you to gaze directly into people’s minds.
Being able to take a look at the words and phrases people use when looking for things online is invaluable. Rather than listening to people say what they think they might do, you get to observe what they actually did. And when aggregated, you get a nice view of the words people most often use when thinking about and searching for a certain topic.
Once armed with keyword intelligence that’s relevant to your niche, you have the unique ability to create highly-relevant content that aids your site visitors and enhances your credibility. You’re speaking the language of the audience after all, and satisfying their needs.
And if you get it right, you’ll likely rank well in the search engines too, after promoting the content in a strategic way. It may seem strange to view search traffic as a secondary benefit in a Google-driven world, but that’s exactly how you should view it. Google won’t treat you as relevant until someone else does first.
The counterintuitive rule of search engine keyword research is to try to forget that search engines can send you traffic. View the data as free or low-cost market research and you’ll have the proper mindset to formulate a content strategy that has a shot at ranking well. People need to like your content before Google will.
Here are the five essential things to cover when it comes to keyword research:
1. Research Tools
Some will tell you that Google’s Keyword Tool is all you need for research. Another free option is Aaron Wall’s SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool, which incorporates Yahoo! Search data and other useful metrics. Paid tools may be superior choices to those provided by search engines since the proprietors are not motivated to sell you search advertising, and include Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery.
2. Get Specific
“Keyword” is the term that gets tossed around, but what you’re really after in most cases are keyword phrases. For example, a real estate attorney in Austin, Texas would gain very little actual benefit from ranking highly for the single word “attorney” (and good luck anyway), but specific keyword phrases based on geography and specialty would yield highly targeted traffic (“Austin real estate lawyer”). And don’t forget synonyms.
3. Strength in Numbers
Don’t take as gospel truth the reported number of monthly searches provided by any particular tool. But do pay attention to relative popularity among search terms. You want to make sure enough people use that phrase when thinking of your niche to make it worth your while, especially if this is one of the primary search terms you want to target for your site overall. At the same time, be realistic. If you are trying to rank in a very competitive sector, aim for something attainable first, or make sure that a certain keyword combination can rank for an easier phrase if the more competitive term ends up out of reach.
4. Highly Relevant
Make sure that the search terms you are considering are highly relevant to your ultimate goal. If you are a service provider or selling specific products, keyword relevancy may be easier to determine—you ultimately want someone to purchase the product or service. Other goals may require more careful consideration, such as subscriptions to content publications and contributions to charities, for example.
5. Develop a Resource
Here’s the key element. Can a particular keyword phrase support the development of content that is a valuable resource to readers?
- Satisfies the preliminary needs of the site visitor
- Acts as the first step in your sales or action cycle
- Is worth linking to
Steps 1-4 are basic operating procedure, at least in webmaster circles.
Step 5 is what makes the difference, and that’s what explore next.
This is an excerpt from a free 28-page report called How to Create Content that Ranks Well in Search Engines. To get the whole story, head over to the SEO Copywriting Made Simple page to instantly download the full updated PDF.