Keyword research is a crucial part of any SEO or PPC campaign. This means choosing the keywords that you are about to spend money and time targeting, to ensure that they will provide the very best ‘bang for your buck’ and be worth all of that investment.
A keyword or a key phrase, is the search term that a user will input into Google or Bing when they are searching for something. The aim of an SEO (search engine optimization) campaign is to ensure that the website lands at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant and specific terms.
So as a blogger, your aim is to help more people find your content by getting your site to show up at the top of the results when they search for relevant answers to questions on Google.
Keyword Research for SEO
If you run a website that sells hats online, then of course an ideal example of a keyword or keyphrase you could target would be ‘buy hats online’. The problem with this strategy however, is that by most people’s reckoning it is too ambitious. That is to say that competition is high and that it could be hard to fend that competition off.
On the other hand though, a phrase like ‘where to find the best hats to buy online’ could be too niche and not have enough search ‘volume’ meaning that no one is really looking for it!
So how do you know which keywords to target? Here are some of the best tips that generally work:
- Use Google’s keyword tool – This keyword tool is significantly underpowered from what it once was and no longer offers the full range of data that it once did. Why? Because the tool is aimed at people considering paying for AdWords campaigns. Google realized that if it made it too easy for SEOs to find the most high-volume search terms with the least competition, then users would no longer need to pay for ads! This is a somewhat anti-competitive move, but it is what it is.
- Use Google Trends – That said, Google has another powerful tool available for free that is ideal for the savvy SEO or PPC marketer: that is Google Trends! Google Trends is a tool that shows currently trending search terms so you can see what’s currently ‘hot. This is very useful for marketers, seeing as the best keywords are often the ones that are currently popular – but with other creators haven’t jumped on yet!
- Use Bing’s keyword tool – Bing also has a keyword tool! It’s actually less neutered than Google’s too and while fewer people use Bing, it is generally safe to say that the results here will roughly translate to Google searches too and can as such be extrapolated.
- Use 3rd party tools – Some great ones are http://www.semrush.com and http://www.spyfu.com
- Use some common sense – Ask yourself: what are people likely to search for that the competition might not have thought of yet? Do searches yourself and look for the gaps in the information. How can you fill the niche?
Keywords and More Considerations for PPC
Keyword research is not only crucial for SEO, but also for PPC advertising – or AdWords PPC to be more specific which shows ads on Google’s search pages along with chosen search terms. And this is something you need to consider in conjunction with other factors when you begin a PPC campaign.
PPC is a great way to market a website or a business and an even better way to bring yourself new customers and clients. By using PPC you can put your adverts right at the top of relevant searches/keywords, and drive huge amounts of traffic to your site. If you have an effective business model that reliably converts your traffic into paying customers, and if you have a scalable business that allows you to easily cope with increased demand, then using a good PPC campaign can be a simple and direct way to drive up your sales and make a lot of cash.
But don’t think for a minute that that makes it easy. While PPC can be easy money once you set it up, there are a lot of things you have to get right if it’s going to work for you. People do entire courses in PPC which should tell you that it’s a complex matter. Again, keyword research is key – along with several other considerations.
Using PPC as Keyword Research
Here’s an interesting idea: using PPC as keyword research.
For instance: pay to get an ad to the top of Google for a specific search term and then see how that performs. All the numbers in the world can only tell you so much, whereas actually being at the top of the SERP for a day can show you things like conversion rates for different terms.
Find what works for you and then invest more money into a bigger PPC campaign, or more time into a full SEO campaign!
Final Considerations: Nuance in Keyword Research
Finally, consider that keyword research won’t always mean just looking for a certain phrase and then repeating that over and over in your text.
These days, there is a little more nuance to successful use of keywords. That’s because Google has gotten smarter about the way it looks for keywords in your text. For instance, it is now able to understand synonyms and related terms. For instance, if you target the phrase ‘how to build stronger biceps’ then you might actually also be competing with the phrase ‘get bigger biceps’ because Google knows those mean the same thing.
So, just because there isn’t competition for your exact keyword, there might be competition still for similar phrases. Likewise, you should keep this in mind when inserting those keywords into your content by using ‘LSI’ – latent semantic indexing. Don’t just repeat the phrase itself, but also different variations of the phrase.
There’s a lot to consider, so don’t make this your sole focus. But thinking logically about what terms might be available for you to grab, while still bringing lots of traffic, can help to give you a significant edge over the competition.