A critical foundation of any SEO campaign is conducting robust keyword research. Keyword research determines the future SEO strategy and influences the direction of analysis, especially with regards to vertical analysis and competitor analysis.
That said, with the changes and updates to search engines, keyword research must take into account much more than words users type into their search bars.
Voice search is fast becoming among the top preferred way through with people interact with search engines. It, therefore, has become an essential consideration to keep in mind when developing your keyword research strategy.
Now the question arises, how do you get keyword research right? Herein we cover some of the top essential and best-advanced tips.
Basic: Understanding Search Volume Data
Search volume is a crucial metric to consider when deciding which keywords to target. It is a critical component of any keyword research decision-making process.There are several sources for search volume data. Getting the data is not difficult. However, for the data to be useful, one needs actually to appreciate and understand the data handling.
Historically, professional SEOs used Google’s Keyword Planner search volume data as well as discover additional keywords. That said, the Keyword Planner tool was never intended for SEO but paid advertisers. As such, today, the tool has been limited for people with little ad spend
The data isn’t a purely organic figure and is more indicative of the number of searches in which a paid ad appears. Additionally, the data is not generated purely from organic traffic. The data indicates the traffic that an ad potentially get. Google’s search terms and AdWords are, in fact, separate.
Understanding this fact is very useful in understanding the limitations of Keyword Planner when conducting keyword research.
For search traffic, it does not reveal the exact numbers. Moreover, while it gives you associated phrases and terms, it does not provide long-tail queries. Very few advertisers bid on long-tail terms. As such, there is minimal search volume data for long tail keywords.
Make use of Keyword Planner as a guesstimation tool. If a search term is shown to have high search volumes, assume the term is popular. However, you do not want to choose keywords based on search volumes.
Basic: Understanding Search Intent
Search engines have developed immensely in the last ten years to the point they can understand search intent in far better ways than ever before. As such, we must understand and appreciate search intend and how it affects and impacts our keywords strategy.
That said, explaining to clients why targeting keywords with a search volume not exceeding 4,000 is far more effective than targeting search volumes with 50,000 is not easy at all. However, the real purpose of SEO is to generate more money in the form of more leads, sales and brochure inquiries, and not just traffic. Search intent comes in handy in this regard.
It is also essential to understand that Google does change search intent over time. Sometimes, the search intent can change almost instantaneously owing to current world events. Given that the mainstream media drive the audience’s interest and search, Google changed its search to accommodate the less technical audience.
To understand the research intent behind the keywords you are interested in, search the keywords in the search engines and explore the type of content populating the first page of the SERPs and the featured snippets, the knowledge panels, and the exclusive content therein.
In case of an ambiguous intent, Google tends to provide a wide range of results for terms to provide a broad scope for searchers to choose. Additionally, they intend to cover multiple interpretations of the keywords.
You should also note that the same query can be personalized differently for a wide variety of users, depending on their search history and location.
Keyword Competition Analysis
It is important to note that Google does not rank keywords linearly from 1 to 10 based on a particular ranking factor such as backlink or the number of times you mention the keywords you have incorporated into your page.
Google uses a rather complex ranking system that takes account of a wide variety of factors including personalization of its users – that is, the location and the history of the user. Whenever you look at a page that is already ranking for the keywords you are targeting, you should consider:
Is the SERP populated with a mixture of content? Does it have long-form, commercial, non-commercial, tables, and short-form?
Are there brands associated with the keywords or topics?
Are the domains focused on informational or commercial?
Do the domains represent brands?
Does the content therein lead to any supporting content?
Do the brands actively market their brand (and not just by backlink acquisitions)?
With the understanding derived from this top-level analysis, you can build a quality campaign for clients targeting these keywords.
Local SEO Does Not Always Need A Local Modifier
It is an oversimplification that all local intent queries need to contain a location name and or a stop word such as “near” or “in” forming phrases such as “near me.”
Google has a way of making associations to produce SERPs that are localized.
In a nutshell, it is not just a matter if keyword volumes. In today’s SEO world, keyword intent, and the value of the keywords to the business is far more critical.
Moreover, there is no one-size-fits-all SEO strategy. Instead, there are good practices that can provide consistent results.
With that in mind, it is critical to educate and inform clients about smart keyword strategy and explain things in intricate details.
Grace Lee has been practicing in the field of digital marketing for several years now. She has already brought numerous sites in search engines’ first pages in search results. In her spare time, she loves listening to podcasts about Google algorithm updates and other matters related to SEO.