Keyword Research for Digital Marketing

February, 01, 2017

You know you have to find just the right keywords for your digital marketing campaign, but what are they? It’s a big question, as well as an overwhelming one.

To help you get a grasp on your keyword research, we’re sharing a few ways that other businesses unearth the right keywords to drive consumers to their sites. Best of all, you can get started with many of them right away!

Why is keyword research so important?

Keywords are the crux of an internet marketing campaign, but just why are they so important? Keywords are crucial to just about every Internet marketing strategy out there – without them, you won’t be able to target the customers that are most highly-qualified to make a purchase on your website.

If your goal is to increase the number of conversions on your website, increase website traffic, and even increase your company’s revenue, keyword research is critical. Here’s why:

1. Keywords are what users search for

Think about the last time you performed a Google search. You likely typed in a word or phrase related to what you were looking for. The results that showed up when you made the search for that keyword are websites that are all purposely targeting that keyword so that interested people like yourself will visit their website and hopefully purchase their products.

If those websites hadn’t been targeting the keyword you typed in, there’s not a chance that they would have shown up highly in search engine results – they may not even show up at all.

That being said, if you want your content to show up highly in search engine results pages, one of the most important items on your checklist is to target keywords.

2. Without them, Google won’t know what your content is about

Google’s algorithm is what delivers results to users when they insert a search query. Their job is to serve the most relevant results to searchers on any given topic. With that in mind, how will Google know the topic of your content if you don’t include keywords?

Google relies heavily on the keywords that they see on your page in places like your title tag your headings and your meta descriptions. Only when there’s a keyword targeted on your page will Google understand what your content is about and be able to rank you for that keyword.

3. Your competitors will beat you in search engine results

Without doing keyword research, there’s no way to know what users are searching for in terms of products and services. Your competitors that are performing keyword research will have a much better idea of exactly what they need to target to get to the top of search engine results pages.

4. You’ll better understand user intent

When you do keyword research, it gives you many different versions of the same keyword or keyword phrase. This can help to open your eyes to all the different terms that your target audience might be searching.

For example, you may simply target one of your products, but what you don’t know prior to keyword research is that they really want to know how to use your product. By doing keyword research, you can do a deep dive into what customers actually want to know about your products and services, and then target those questions with your content.

5. It gives you topics for content

Without performing keyword research, you will be writing content that may or may not perform well in search results. It’s a gamble to write content prior to doing keyword research because you’ll be writing content blindly – with no idea of user intent or what the readers actually want to know.

This can also have a negative impact because Google won’t rank content that doesn’t answer users’ questions or that doesn’t act as a great resource for potential clients.

What digital marketing strategies require keyword research

Here are three digital marketing strategies that require keyword research to thrive.

1. SEO (search engine optimization)

SEO can’t possibly work without keyword research. SEO is the process of improving your website so that it can rank higher in search engine results pages, and your pages can’t be improved unless they target the right audience with the right keywords. This strategy employ techniques like adding keywords to your title tags and meta descriptions, adding keywords to your navigation bars, and more.

2. PPC (pay-per-click advertising)

PPC is another digital marketing strategy that relies heavily on keyword research. PPC is a strategy in which you pay to place ads in search engine results, but you only pay when your ad is clicked. Your ads target customers by utilizing target keywords – and the competition level of keywords is what determines how much you pay. For example, if a keyword is extremely popular, and all of your competitors are also trying to target it, you’ll pay more every time that ad is clicked.

Without keyword research, you won’t know what keywords to target with your ads, which can make for an unsuccessful campaign.

3. Content marketing

Content marketing depends on keyword research to be successful. You’ll need to do keyword research prior to creating content so that you know exactly what to talk about. Without researching what your potential clients are looking for, there’s no way you’ll be able to rank in search results.

How to find the best keywords for your content

Here are a few of our favorite ways to find beneficial keywords for your content.

Be Nosy

Step one is easy. Go to your top three competitors’ websites and click “CTRL” and “U” at the same time. You’ll be awarded the source code for the page. Now, click “CTRL” and “F” to see the “find” search box. Type in “keyword” and see what you get.

If your competitors are trying to boost ranks for keywords, they’ll probably have them listed in the meta tags toward the top of the source code. Write these down. You don’t necessarily have to use them verbatim, but they’re a great starting point.

Review Your Analytics

For the sake of argument, we’ll assume you’re tracking the analytics of your site. Most analytics packages, whether free or paid, are going to have a keyword component. This gives you a better understanding of how people are discovering you online.

Sometimes, the keywords won’t make sense. But other times, you’ll start to see patterns emerging. Pay special attention to the language that people are using. If you’re not mimicking their verbiage in your keywords, you’re not going to have a high rank when they search.

For instance, if you’re a restaurant in Indianapolis, use the word “restaurant” as a keyword, not eatery. Most people don’t type the words “eatery Indianapolis” into their browsers.

Try Google’s Keyword Tool

Google has a nifty free piece of software called the Google Keyword Tool. As soon as you set it up, you can start inputting keywords. The tool will then help you determine which variations of them will work best for your needs.

You can also input your website into the Google Keyword Tool. Google will run a cursory search and send back ideas on keywords.

Of course, there are other ways to find the best keywords, too:

  • Ask your customers how they found you.
  • Conduct A/B split tests on different keywords.
  • Go into incognito mode and input the keywords you think your customers would.

After you have your keywords, it’s time for some actionable steps.

Keyword Research Best Practices

You may have a list of a dozen, a hundred or thousands of keywords. Obviously, you can’t and shouldn’t try to rank for all of them. That’s why you need to focus on some keyword research best practices:

  • Start with low-hanging fruit, then branch out. Low-hanging keywords are basic, such as “best organic cat food” and “buy cheap used car online.” Organize some of the top low-hanging keywords, and then start to add to them to make them long-tail. “Best organic cat food” may turn into “buy best organic cat food online for older cats.” You’ll still get the value of the original keyword, but you’ll have the benefits of the long tail.
  • When writing content and using your keywords, aim for readability. Keyword stuffing is never a smart idea. Typically, it backfires from a user experience (UX) standpoint, as well as a search engine ranking one. If you’re new to content development and aren’t working with a professional web marketing team, start by only emphasizing two or three keywords on a page. A two to five percent optimization amount should get you a little traction.
  • Recognize that keywords are going to change. You won’t be keeping the same keywords forever, and that means you’ll have to change your on-page optimization. As an example, does anyone say “telephone” anymore? Nope. We say “cell phone,” “mobile phone,” “Android,” “iPhone,” and maybe “smartphone.” That will no doubt change in the future, too. Stay on top of trends, and you won’t get left behind.

It’s time to do a little keyword research. Just 30 minutes will get you to a better place than you are now — and will show you how effective simple keyword researching measures can be.

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