Keyword research is the process of identifying the keywords, or terms, used by potential customers to find your site and services or products. A keyword is the phrase that a person uses in an online search; they are the flags that search engines use to identify potentially relevant content to serve in response to searches. More specifically, search engines match keywords in the search queries with the keywords that they identify in web pages. When companies create online content based on keywords with high search volume and limited competition, their sites are more likely to appear in search results.
Keyword research is made up of both short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords are broad keywords with just a few words, such as “swimming pool” or “Mexican restaurant.” They are harder to rank and convert because they have so much volume and competition. Long-tail keywords are specific keyword terms that contain many words, such as “heated swimming pool with diving board” or “Mexican restaurant with tableside guacamole.” While they are easier to rank than short-tail keywords because they have less competition, they are harder to research because they are more nuanced. Long-tail keywords require more in-depth content because they are niche terms with limited, but substantive, search volume. Thus, you will have to produce a comprehensive keyword research report that includes all relevant short-tail and long-tail keywords, along with a lot of content, to get noticed and ranked by Google.
Research shows that, collectively, 70% of all search traffic comes from long-tail keywords because searchers are more detailed in their searches as they want specific results as quickly as possible.
Why Keyword Research Matters
Keyword research is the most important aspect of any digital marketing strategy and should be one of the first steps of a company’s digital marketing implementation. Keyword research is imperative to good business practices because it informs your content development. The top results in every search are the ones that are most likely to be clicked on, so you should utilize keyword research to incorporate the most relevant and achieve terms within your on-page content. This approach helps your site show up at the top of relevant search results. Research shows that 75% of internet users never look past the first page of search results, so it’s critical that your content is relevant so that it achieves a high ranking in order for prospective customers to learn about your site.
Thanks to keyword research, you can develop themes for your content based on the findings from keyword research. Keyword research allows your company to:
- Have the right kind of visitors access your site and successfully engage them with appropriate and relevant content.
- Pinpoint keywords with high search volume to guide content development.
- Offer unbiased statistics to determine and create new content.
- Identify content gaps on your site by comparing new keyword topics to your existing content topics.
- Utilize SEO difficulty metrics to identify wins and high impact opportunities.
- Utilize marketing trend insights by analyzing current marketing trends and consumer behavior. Keyword research illuminates what people are searching for, which will help you develop new opportunities based on emerging themes and trends.
- Include keywords in your URLs, develop a hierarchical system, and include appropriate language in meta descriptions.
- Increase conversion by providing meaningful content.
Common Misconceptions of Keyword Research
Keyword research can be misunderstood in SEO, so it’s important to acknowledge and address common misconceptions. First, while some believe that on-site exact match anchor text no longer works, this is not true. Anchor text can still work and lead to an increased rank—even without link building. It’s important to think about keywords within your site content. Anchor text still works.
A popular misconception is that keyword research is a waste of time, but this could not be further from the truth (see above). According to Brandwatch, there are 40,000 searches on Google every second. It is never a waste of time to conduct keyword research in order to understand what people are searching for and how you can target them. You must ensure that you integrate relevant and useful terms into your site content. Keyword research should be the foundation of your strategy as you learn how people search and increase the likelihood of connecting with them.
Do not use generic keywords, or too specific terms; instead, utilize keyword research to incorporate the actual terms that people are using to search in order to connect them to your products and services. Keyword research requires you to consider the questions that potential customers are asking that can lead them to your site; focus on keywords that will increase the conversion to help your business succeed. For example, many sites use industry language to describe their products or services. However, most novice customers do not search for specific industry terms, so incorporating more “plainspoken” words with search volume will improve your organic results.