Keyword research is essential for successful Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Identifying terms used by customers and making smart keyword choices in your content has the potential to attract valuable organic search traffic. On the other hand, if you pick the wrong keywords, your content will only pull in low-value traffic or none at all.
Let’s dive into how to optimise your website for search engines with effective keyword research. Learn how to find keywords for SEO and increase your visibility online.
Understanding the Importance of Keyword Research
Choosing the right keywords and keyword phrases is one of the most essential steps for SEO success. Keyword research is the process of finding and analysing search terms that people enter into search engines with the intention of using it for SEO purposes or general digital marketing. Keyword research can uncover queries to target, how popular these queries are as well as their ranking difficulty.
Keyword research helps you to determine which keywords are best to target and provides valuable insight into the questions that your target audience is asking in Google. The insight that you can get into these search terms can help to inform your content strategy as well as your larger marketing strategy.
Additionally, looking at the keywords people use in their searches lets us know what they want to discover. Instead of creating content around what we want to tell people, we can use this knowledge to answer their questions in our content. This is known as the inbound methodology and as a result, your audience comes to you.
Identifying Your Target Audience and Their Search Intent
You’re probably familiar with your target audience – the specific group of consumers that are most likely to want your product or service. This group may be segmented by age, gender, income, location, interests and many other factors. But what does their Search Intent refer to?
Search Intent is the main goal a user has when typing a query into search engines. Common types of Search Intent include informational, commercial, navigational and transactional. Intent behind keywords should be considered, indicating different levels of interest and readiness to make a purchase.
Types of Keywords and How to Use Them
To build your SEO strategy around intent, you’ll need to start with the keyword research process that considers the different types of keywords. When researching to discover a user’s intentions behind making a search, we can classify all keywords into four main categories of intent: commercial, transactional, informational and navigational.
Searchers looking for an answer to a specific question or general information will use informational keywords. These types of keywords don’t really bring website conversions as people are simply searching for information or answers.
Informational keyword examples:
- how many calories in coffee
- national coffee day
- difference between cold brew and iced coffee
You can sometimes distinguish this type of keyword by “question words” as they usually contain clues like “what is,” “how” and so on. These searches carry less intent to take any real action; however, they can be valuable in building brand awareness and educating your audience.
Searchers intending to find a specific site or page will input navigational keywords. When someone types in a company or brand name into a search engine, they perform a navigational search.
Navigational keyword examples:
- where is Cariad Marketing located
- Hubspot blog
People behind these searches already know the company and want to find the correct website or physical location to get to their products or services. These keywords can be useful sources of organic traffic when the brand or site is popular.
Commercial keywords are included in searches looking to investigate brands or services. These occur when a person wants to know more about a particular product or service – they want to support their idea to purchase, compare the product or look for discounts.
Commercial keywords examples:
- free SEO audit
- iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 pro
- Starbucks frappe flavours
Since these searches reveal a person’s intention to buy or take some form of action, they can be valuable opportunities to reach an audience and convert them into customers.
Searchers intending to complete an action or purchase will use transactional keywords. These can be targeted with paid ads and highly optimised purchase pages or pages where users can take some form of action on a site.
Transactional keyword examples:
- pizza place near me delivery
- couch for sale
- buy sneakers online
These searches can happen after someone has already searched for information, made a decision and is now ready to take action or make a purchase. This could also be where local SEO comes into play – when people search for places and add “near me.”
The intent type assigned to a keyword can tell you where the searcher is in the buying process, whether they’re looking to buy something soon, shop around, or find information.
Utilising Keyword Research Tools
You now know the importance of SEO keyword research and the types of keywords, so, how do you actually go about conducting keyword research? Luckily, you aren’t totally left to your own devices.
There are many free and paid keyword research tools you can use to quickly and easily identify strong long-tail keyword ideas. The paid tools will usually tell you the keyword difficulty and search volumes.
Focusing on long-tail keywords is key to successful SEO. Long-tail keywords are effective for small businesses competing in crowded markets. Although these keywords get less traffic than more generic terms, they’re linked to more qualified traffic.
Here are three free keyword tools you can use for your SEO campaign:
Google Keyword Planner
Google has a few tools that make it simple to conduct keyword research and their free AdWords tool called Google Keyword Planner is super useful and easy to use. When you insert one keyword, multiple keywords or even your website address into it, Google will give you a list of related and relevant keywords as well as simple metrics to determine how fierce the competition is around each one. You’ll also be able to see how many searches it gets on a global and local search level.
Google Trends lets you enter multiple keywords and filter by location, search history and category. It’ll give you results that show how much web interest there is around a particular keyword, what caused the interest (e.g. current trends) and where the traffic is coming from, along with similar keywords. Google Trends gives you colourful and interactive graphs that you can play around with and it’ll also give you dynamic insight into the best keywords with information like popularity of a search term over time.
Google Trends is useful to use if you’re trying to decide between two keyword variations for your latest blog post title.
Keyword Tool is a basic online keyword research tool, however, if you’re just looking for a list of long-tail keyword suggestions related to one you already have then it can be quite handy. This tool uses Google Autocomplete to generate a list of relevant keyword suggestions based on a few different factors like how often users were searching for a particular term previously. You’ll have to upgrade your free version to receive other information like keyword difficulty scores and search volume.
Keyword Tool can help you understand what people are searching for around your topics so you can incorporate these terms in your website or content to rank higher on Google.
Measuring Keyword Performance
Now that you’ve utilised keyword research tools and incorporated your newly found search terms into your content, it’s time to see whether they’re actually making a difference.
Measuring keyword performance means tracking which words and terms on your website help bring in the most traffic. To do that, you monitor which search terms or queries your audience used that led them to the site. Performing an SEO audit is a proven method for identifying issues that are affecting your site’s performance and visibility in the search engine results page.
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