Updated: January 16, 2021
Keyword research is one of the most important and valuable activities in marketing. Many people believe that keywords are just for search engine optimization or pay-per-click marketing campaigns.
Despite its common association with these activities, having a list of relevant keywords is important to all marketing activities. In fact, being successful in search is a cornerstone for inbound marketing.
Why is keyword research important?
Keyword research helps you create a solid content strategy that will help you gain visibility in search engine results. It gives you valuable insight into what people are actually searching for and how often, so you can tailor your content creation efforts to what’s important to your target audience. Creating content without knowing what people are searching for is a waste of time.
How people search
We know that people are doing more and more of their research online to determine what they want to buy and who they want to buy from. Consider keyword research as a component of market research that helps us better understand what our potential customers are interested in and what terms they use to find what they need.
With Google placing more emphasis on semantic search, we need to change the way we have traditionally thought of keywords. Semantic search allows users to search entire sentences or phrases to find what they are looking for. For example users will speak or enter “best plumber near me” rather than typing in “plumber Boston”.
Understand what your customers are looking for
Developing the keyword list begins by clearly understanding your target market:
- What problem they are trying to solve
- How do they search for those solutions
Once you understand your target market, then start analyzing various types of information you should have available such as:
- Web statistics via Google Analytics or Search Console to see how people currently find your site
- Information from competitor and top rank sites
- Keyword analysis tools to determine the relevance and popularity of each keyword
Use your judgement on whether the keywords or phrases you’ve compiled are relevant to your specific business. Then prioritize your list. When you are writing materials, you can’t use all the words. Know which ones are critical to your content marketing.
For example, a keyword phrase that could relate to my business is “marketing campaign”. Is that a keyword I want to include in all of my marketing activities? Probably not. Just because it may be related to what I do, it may not be as important as other keyword phrases.
Keyword discovery tools
We can intuitively select a few keywords and keyword phrases that are important to our businesses, but in order to ensure you are using the right keywords, you should spend a little time doing keyword research to help you get a better, more effective list.
The goal of keyword research is to not only find suitable keyword phrases for your business, but also to understand how questions are being asked by your target prospects. There are many tools you can use to help you with your search, but for small businesses, let’s keep it simple.
Google Suggest is the name for Google’s autocomplete function. It provides the autocomplete function to help searchers find information more quickly.
Take your keyword idea and start typing it into the Google search box to get up to ten suggested search phrases related to your keyword. These more targeted suggestions reflect the search activity of users and the content of web page ideas.
Keywords Everywhere and Ubersuggest
There are many products that can give you related keywords and search related data. Plus there are many free tools if you are just getting started to help you discover more long tail keywords.
Keywords Everywhere and Ubersuggest, for example, use Google Autocomplete to generate hundreds of relevant long-tail keywords for any topic. Both have Chrome extensions, and Keywords Everywhere has a Firefox extension.
Not only do you get a great list of keywords to work from, but these can also point you to some content ideas. Ubersuggest provides search volume, cost per click and competition for each keyword phrase. For a few dollars, you can get the same information from Keywords Everywhere.
The results of your search will give you a number of keywords that you can then evaluate for relevance to your business. When I searched for “digital marketing”, the results gave me hundreds of keywords to review. I can select only those that I want or select them all.
Once you get the list of keywords from either tool, you can copy and paste them into a spreadsheet to organize and edit.
Sort, prioritize and refine keyword phrases
Now that you have a spreadsheet of keyword phrases and the average monthly searches and competition for each, it’s time to prioritize the list. Use your judgement based on the relevance of the word or phrase to your specific business. Remove those that are not important and look for those low monthly search but highly specific long tail keywords that are more likely to attract the right audience to your business.
Don’t limit your use of keywords to search engine optimization of your web pages. Whether you are writing a press release, an article, a blog post, updating web content or creating your social media profile, use your keywords effectively to help you be found by those who want and need your services.
Understanding how your ideal client searches for the products or services you offer can help you refine your content marketing strategy that helps you get found more readily. As you develop your marketing plan, be sure to start with a solid keyword list. It will help you make your marketing activities more effective.
Use your keywords consistently
The key to success, however, is that once you have completed your keyword research and compiled a list that works for your business, you need to consistently work it into all of your online marketing activities. Whether you are writing a press release, an article, updating web content or building your social media profile, using your keywords effectively can help you be found by those who want and need your services.
Use your keywords in your:
- Social media profiles
- Web content
- Directory listings
- Press releases and other marketing materials, and
- Website to optimize page titles, navigational links and other SEO critical areas of the web page.
As you develop your marketing plan for the next 90 days, start by developing or reviewing this keyword list. It will help you make your marketing activities more effective.
For small businesses who want to improve their online presence, understand how your target audience searches for what they wish to buy. This will help you provide the right content to attract them to you rather than your competition.