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SEO Basics Pt. 6: What is Keyword Research?


Missed a part? Catch up with the rest of our SEO Basics series:

Welcome back to the SEO basics series on our digital marketing blog. Today I’ll be taking a look at the very essence of SEO, keyword research, and why you need to get this right above everything else. Right, no time to dilly dally – let’s crack on!

So what is keyword research?

Knowing which keywords to get your site to rank for is the first and most important step of SEO. This is because by targeting the right keywords you will receive the right kind of traffic to your website – traffic that will result in brand interest, leads and ultimately sales. In order to do this effectively, you will want to spend a healthy amount of time doing thorough keyword research.

In a nutshell, keyword research is the means of finding out what people are typing into a search engine when they have a query or request. Once you gain this insight, you can not only see which the most popular search phrases are, but also shifts in demand and gaps in your market.

The other major benefit of keyword research is that it reveals a lot about a user’s profile and intent, which in itself opens up a world of marketing possibilities. Rand Fishkin, cofounder of Moz, neatly puts it:

[tweetable alt=””]“In the history of marketing, there has never been such a low barrier to entry in understanding the motivations of consumers in virtually every niche.”[/tweetable]

To this effect, keywords can be used not just to push a sale, but also in various forms of content marketing which can foster brand interest and loyalty.

Judging the value of a keyword

The question you should always be asking yourself is: how valuable is this keyword to my website? A lot of this depends on the content of your site, as you will want your landing pages to be as relevant to a user’s search request as possible. This also depends on what the users’ intent is – they may be trying to gain information, share/connect with other people or buy/sell a product online.

Let’s take an example – a searcher who types in ‘Madagascan grey parrot’ into Google will most likely be after some sort information on this bird species, whereas a user who types ‘parrot for sale clapham’ clearly wants to make a purchase. As a keyword research service, we need to make sure that your webpage is ranking in the right place at the right time for that user – and that they are happy with what they find when come across your page.

Chase that tail!

Remember that you will be competing against the rest of the internet for your keywords, so they need to be not just relevant but realistic as well. If you’ve just set up a letting agency it’ll be nigh on impossible to rank well for a keyword as generic and competitive as ‘estate agents’. Your hope here is that the keywords which are searched for the most actually make up less than 30% of the amount of total searched keywords:

As you can see, these highly competitive keywords, some of which may be searched for millions of times per month, make up the fat head and chunky middle of the search demand graph. But ignore the long tail keywords at your peril! Even though these may be searched for only a handful of times per month, they are usually much more specific to a request, my previous example ‘parrot for sale clapham’ falling into this category. The long tail also contains an incredibly vast range of keyword combinations, due to the fact we, as searchers, use a wide variety of phrases to search for similar things. Keep track of as many of these combinations as realistically possible…change in market demands mean new and different keywords are being produced every day.

[tweetable alt=””]“Knowing which keywords to get your site to rank for is the first and most important step of SEO”[/tweetable]

Hopefully that has given you more of a clear overview as to what keyword research is and why it’s so vital to your online business. In my next blog I’ll go through the steps of performing effective keyword research, so stay tuned!