Although SEO is constantly changing, one thing that has changed very little is the need for solid keyword research and analysis at the start of any campaign.
Solid keyword research and analysis remains as important as it always has been, and it is something you cannot afford to ignore. If you are starting out in SEO and don’t know how to carry out effective keyword analysis, here is a detailed guide to get you started.
Whether you’re in the process of building a new website for your brand or perhaps starting a blog for the company, proper keyword research is the foundation of it all. So, here are some guidelines for your next SEO campaign!
Start Off with Some Brainstorming
The first thing that you want to do is simply sit down with a pen and some paper and brainstorm. Forget about using any specialist tools for this stage, and instead focus on coming up with as many ideas as you can. You may want to do this on your own or along with your team.
However you go about it, your aim is to list down the most relevant topics related to your business. Be generic at this stage and aim to create a few broad groups of keywords, into which you can add more specific keywords later on.
Think about the services you provide, the products you sell, the topics you blog about the most, the topics you discuss with your customers, and anything else. Think about your customers: What would they search for in order to find your company?
List More Detailed Keywords for Each Group
After this stage, you should have a list of broad keyword groups. Now the aim is to start filling in each group with more specific keywords. Take a sheet of paper for each group and start listing more specific keywords for each one. Think about the types of phrases people might use when searching for these particular groups.
For example, a company providing accounting services may have one keyword group on ‘401(k).’ They could then fill that group in with keywords like ‘401k retirement plans for small business.’ Write down everything that comes to mind, and remember that this is not your final keyword list.
Expand Your List Further
Once you have written down all the keywords you can think of, you may want to take advantage of a few methods to find even more keywords.
One option is to visit Google and type in one of your keywords into the search bar. You will see that Google automatically starts making suggestions, and this may suggest some new keywords for your list.
When you search for a keyword, scroll to the bottom of the search results and you will see some related searches. This can give you even more ideas to add to your list.
Also check that your keywords are not on the 100 most expensive keywords on Google list. If they are they will be highly competitive and you will have to refine your list.
This is also a good time to find out which keywords you are already ranking for. Use Google Analytics or another tool to find out which keywords people are currently using to find your website, and these can help you to come up with other similar keywords that you should be focusing on.
Focus on Long-Tail Keywords
A short keyword like ‘web design’ is very competitive to rank for. It receives more searches, but the people searching that term will want very different things. It is therefore better to focus on long-tail keywords.
The above example is often referred to as a ‘head term,’ which is a generic and highly-competitive keyword. A long-tail variation could be ‘affordable web design in New York.’ Fewer people will search for this, but the keyword will be easier to rank for, and the traffic will be more targeted.
So use the head terms to build your long-tail keywords around. You will rank for them quicker, and then over time you will also start to rank better for the head terms as well.
Use Keyword Tools to Help You
There are many SEO tools you can use to get more from your keyword research, so now is the time to start experimenting with these.
SEMrush is a good one to try out. Use this to get reports on the main keywords being targeted by your competitors, and this can provide you with ideas for more keywords that you may want to be targeting.
Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a useful free tool that you can use. Type in a keyword that you have got from your research, and you will get ideas for more keywords along with the search volume and the traffic estimates.
All of these tools are slightly different, and it is worth playing around with them to work out which is the most useful for you.
Get Your SEO Campaign Off to a Great Start
Every successful SEO campaign relies on effective keyword research at the start. But while this guide will help you to start finding the right keywords to target, don’t put aside your keyword research once you have completed the initial stage. Instead, see it as an activity that you perform on a regular basis to ensure that you are constantly targeting the most important keywords for your SEO campaign.
Jonathan Leger has been practicing search engine optimization since the web was born. He is the creator of a number of popular tools and services in the SEO and Internet Marketing sectors and is the author of “Geek-Free SEO”, a well-received and easy to understand guide to understanding how to rank in Google.