Before you can get going on any of the fun collation and analysis stuff, you need to start with a brainstorm. After all, the whole point of keyword research is your business – where it is now and where you want it to be going.
This is obviously a huge area that could be a whole module in itself, in terms of gaps and opportunities analysis, but keep your eye on the keyword prize and ask yourself:
- Where have we come from?
- Where are we now?
- What is our short-term future looking like?
- Where do we ideally want to be?
Try and think about these questions specifically in terms of your website and online presence.
Who’s Your Audience?
Keywords, like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder. To get the most out of them, you have to think like the people searching for your business – not the people running the business. Think about:
- Who will be searching for your site / product / service?
- What need are they looking to solve?
- What language might they use?
- What information might they already have about you?
- How would they summarise all of that to enter it into a search engine?
For fledgling companies, such keyword considerations may change the whole way you build your site or present your business. For instance, one of our clients wanted to promote their company around the concept of ‘recruitment coaching’, rather than ‘career coaching’, because within the industry there was a subtle – but significant – difference. However, very few members of the public knew that; they were just searching for ‘career coaches’. This knowledge gave the company a choice: did they want to be found by a handful of people across the UK – or a high volume of people within their 20 mile radius? This is valuable market intelligence.
The results will be different for every business. Some companies will already know their keywords; others may think they know them; some may even be targeting incorrect terms that are in fact holding them back.
If you have no keywords yet….
…then you can generate a simple first seed list by answering these questions, using as few words as possible:
1) What’s your core business?
2) What are your services / products?
3) Who is your target market?
4) What locations do you want to target?
5) Any widely-used jargon (not internal language; words visitors to your site might know)
Extrapolate from your answers a list of 10 or so keywords. This might be longer if you have multiple products to promote across a variety of customer groups. Don’t be afraid to get a bit creative and think outside the box – as long as you always have your ‘Mindreader’ function switched on!
If you already have keywords…
…then it’s time to look closer at whether they are working for you or not. When we sit down with a client, we look at:
- Search volumes for existing keywords
- Conversion rates
- Current analytics (if available)
- Goals – how many sales do they need to be making and how does that interact with their keywords
The relationship between volumes and outcomes will sometimes quality not quantity. For instance, the main keywords for one particular company were only yielding 50 searches a month. They were converting 35% of all leads and around 5% of visitors to their site called them. Normally you’d see little point targeting a key term with such low stats. However, with a monthly target of £100k and an average conversion value of £40k, this low volume was still enough to help them meet their goals.
For other businesses, the opposite will be true. If your goal is 100 leads a month, then you’ll need to be getting at least 1000 searches for your main terms.
This is why it is crucial for you, and your SEO team, to fully understand your unique context before starting any operation. There could be 1000s of keyphrases; there could be 10. Consider:
- What language is used internally and on the site vs what language are visitors using?
- Which keywords are working and which ones are not?
- What keywords are competitors are using?
- What is the competition bidding for in Adwords – what are the expensive ones?
- Competitive landscape of those terms
There are 4 main points to keep in mind when plotting out your keywords – something Market Samurai call ‘The 4 Golden Rules of Keyword Research’:
1. High Relevancy
This might sound obvious – don’t use keywords about ‘marshmallows’ if you’re trying to sell ‘timber’ – but it is important for several reasons. If your keywords aren’t extremely pertinent to your customers then they won’t stick around on your site. Not only is this bad for conversion purposes, Google penalises low visiting times, and you will find your SERP slipping lower down. You have to remember SEO is not just stats and being number one regardless.
2. High Commercial Intent
Some Internet users have low commercial intent. They are just looking for information. You don’t want all your keywords to appeal to people who aren’t looking to spend money. You need people finding you with high commercial intent – looking to buy something, looking to find out more about your services with a view to employing your company.
3. High Traffic
Simply, the more people visiting your site, the more conversions you will make, the more your business can grow. Talk to the people, and the people will come.
4. Low SEO Competition
Consider how realistic you keyword campaign is and be sure to go for keywords you have a chance of winning. Focus on either those terms with fewer webpages competing to rank for them, or those where the top 10 Google results could be realistically overtaken.
For all you need to know about Keyword Research, see the rest of our 7 part guide…
The Ethical SEO Guide To Keyword Research: Part 1
Keyword Research Part 3 – Become A Mindreader
Keyword Research Part 4: Building Personas
Keyword Research Part 5 – Putting (Key)Words In Your Mouth
Keyword Research Part 6: The Tools
Keyword Research Part 7 – The Final Measure