WHAT IS KEYWORD RESEARCH?
Keyword research is a critical search engine optimization (SEO) task that includes identifying popular words and phrases people enter into search engines. As marketers research keywords, they gain a better understanding of how high the demand is for certain keywords and how big the competition would be for those terms in organic search results. Keyword research also gives direction for optimization efforts on your website, blog posts and advertisements.
Researching keywords isn’t just about checking how many searches a particular keyword has, though. It’s a central element to content marketing overall. Keyword research explores the variety of ways people use language to research an idea or topic. These ideas will help you to find subjects for your next blog post, stay updated on the jargon of the search engine arena and learn more about the needs of your audience. This research will help you to create targeted content that will drive high-quality traffic to your website and, ultimately, increase conversions.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO KEYWORD RESEARCH?
Keyword research can’t be done only once. Every part of your digital marketing strategy is built on keywords: your website, blog posts, social media and more. The foundation of these elements need routine evaluation and maintenance so that your marketing strategy can have stability. User language shifts constantly in search, so new keywords are developed all the time. Your audience’s needs also develop and grow as quickly as their language does, so it’s worth the time it takes to do keyword research as you add new content to your website.
Whether you’re building a new website, writing a blog post or promoting a particular service or product, your website content should serve to fulfill the needs of your audience. As you regularly assess users’ search methods, identify the specific ways they search for content within your niche in addition to the most popular searches. This ways you can continue to create content your audience will enjoy and share.
HOW TO DO KEYWORD RESEARCH
At the beginning of your keyword research, you want to start with what’s known as a “seed.” This can be any topic, idea or head keyword that comes from your industry knowledge or products and services you provide. Create a spreadsheet of terms and variations related to your seed as you mine through websites, online forums and social networks. After you’ve developed a healthy list, determine the popularity and potential ranking for each keyword with the use of a keyword research tool.
Here at Starnes Digital, we use Google Keyword Planner for our keyword research. Let’s dive deeper into how it works.
WHAT IS GOOGLE KEYWORD PLANNER?
The Google Keyword Planner (GKP) has three roles: helps you discover new keywords, conduct keyword research and share your keyword plan with others.
The newest version of the keyword tool adds a more structured and integrated workflow as well as fresh features. The focus of GKP is to make it easier for advertisers to work through the process of creating new ad groups and campaigns. In turn, these will help get your pay-per-click accounts started with a good foundation. While the previous version of the tool was useful for keyword research in SEO, today’s form is more of a workshop for building campaigns in Google Ads.
HOW TO USE GOOGLE KEYWORD PLANNER TOOL
First, log in to your Google Ads account. Then click the wrench icon and select the “Keyword Planner”:
You’ll be presented with two different tools within GKP: find new keywords and get search volume and forecasts. Between these two tools, there will be enough potential keyword generation to help your SEO-focused research.
Finding new keywords
There are three different approaches you can take when you use this method, each suggested in the prompt.
As you can see, the field for this tool says: “Enter words, phrases, or a URL related to your business”. Remember, the value you get from the planner is largely based on the information that you enter in this section. Be strategic about what you type in this field.
Words: These are the single, common words that describe your business (for example, “digital marketing” or “dermatology”). This grants you access to Google’s internal database of keywords for different industries. You can sometimes find keywords here that you might have missed if you use either of the other options.
Phrases: Enter your “seed” keywords here to get a list of closely-related terms. Trying typing in 1-3 keywords, each for a slightly different niche market. If you run an ice cream shop, for example, you could put terms like “chocolate ice cream” or “dairy-free dessert” here.
URL related to your business: This approach is used primarily by Google Ads users. Sometimes you can find a few keywords here from your website’s homepage or a blog post on your site.
Once you’ve entered one option (or all three), click “Get Started.”
GET SEARCH VOLUME AND FORECASTS
While this feature won’t help you generate new keyword ideas, it’s useful if you want to check the search volume of a keyword list you already have. Simply copy and paste your list into the search field and press “Get Started.”
Both of these methods will take you to a Keywords Results Page, but this tool only show data for the keywords you entered into the field. Google will also estimate how many impressions and clicks each of these keywords will get.
KEYWORD RESULTS PAGE
The results page is where you’ll finally find the keywords that will help optimize your content and boost your rankings.
Before you can pick your keywords, though, you have to know what you’re looking for and how to filter it. Let’s take a look at a few of the filtering capabilities:
- Keyword text: the tool shows you only the keywords that contain a certain word or phrase.
- Average cost per click: include or exclude keywords based on whether they fall above or below a certain cost per click.
- Average monthly searches: narrow the field of popular keywords by eliminating searches that fall above or below a specific average monthly search. For example, you may want to exclude keywords that don’t get more than 1,000 searches a month.
- Keyword competition: some keywords are very competitive amongst advertisers. Choose keywords that rank with “High,” “Medium,” “Low” competition.
- Exclude keywords: GKP can automatically exclude keywords that you are already using in your Google Ads account.
- Top of page bid: this filter helps determine commercial intent of a keyword. The “high range” and “low range” are the specific dollar amount that targets potential buyers.
Setting parameters for your keyword research is also pertinent to receive relevant information. The language, country and search network settings at the top of the page can be changed to fit your target audience, although in the U.S., it’s automatically set to English-United States-Google.
YOUR KEYWORD PLAN
Once you have discovered several terms that you want to use for a campaign, add them to your plan. Your Keyword Plan is a temporary storage area where you can save keywords or keyword groupings that you’re interested in for later. Keywords stay in the plan during your entire session.
UPDATE ON GOOGLE KEYWORD PLANNER
As of July 2018, Google made a few updates to the Keyword Planner in order to provide a more user-friendly dashboard and additional helpful features. Here are three of the newest additions:
VISUALIZE SEARCH VOLUME TRENDS
Previously, keyword volume data was jammed into a column and was hard to decipher. However, now, there’s a chart illustrating the volume trends from each month for the past 12 months. This can be especially useful for businesses with seasonally trending products or services, such as “gift wrap.”
CURRENT VS. PREVIOUS PERIOD COMPARISON
The ability to compare keyword volume against a previous time period will give insight into how search volume for a certain term changes.
VISUALIZE MOBILE TRENDS
As we live in a more connected world every day, GKP is responding by showing the distribution of mobile vs. desktop searches. Certain keywords have a much higher mobile search than others, like “NFL,” who’s majority searchers used mobile to find this term.
BREAKDOWN BY LOCATION
You can now get information on users based on their location (down to the state level in the U.S.) – look at these results for “pizza”: