In the world of digital marketing, keyword research is one of the most important parts of planning effective content with a high potential for rankings and traffic. You may have an innovative, well-designed website, but how successful you are in directing users there can depend significantly on whether or not you rank for the right keywords. That said, the goal of keyword research isn’t always about attracting the most visitors to your website—rather, it’s about attracting the right visitors.
To determine the value of a keyword, you must first understand your business goals and ideal audience. The tips listed below can help you develop a successful keyword strategy and create a list of useful, relevant terms you would like to rank for:
- Create a list of topics that are important to your business – This step can help you narrow down specific keywords and keyword categories later on.
- Identify keywords related to these important topics – Jot down a couple of phrases that coincide with the topics you want to target and believe your audience will search for. Base these on natural, common sense ways your customers refer to your products, services, etc.
- Set up a Google AdWords account if you haven’t already – Google AdWords offers a Keyword Planner tool, which provides you with both the traffic estimates and search volume for potential keyword phrases you may target.
- Assess each keyword’s value – Using the keyword phrases brainstormed above, use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to get suggestions for related phrases and to assess the value of each individual keyword. Using this data, you can determine which keywords (and versions of similar keywords) get the most searches with the least competition. From here you can identify the terms that will be most beneficial and realistic to target with your content.
- Use both short and long-tail keywords – Remember to have a mix of short and long-tail keywords that you’re trying to rank for. In general, short-tail keywords are more competitive than long-tail terms, which means they can be harder to rank for—targeting more specific long-tail keywords can be a great way to bring in relevant traffic with high-ranking content.
- Know what sites already rank for your targeted keyword – If you know what sites already rank for a particular phrase, you can gain much-needed insight about your competitors. What type of content do they have on high-ranking pages—and how can you deliver a better solution by comparison? Also keep in mind that trying to rank for keywords your competitor is ignoring can be an excellent opportunity to take control of a larger market share for terms that are important to your business.
Why Long-Tail Keywords Matter
Ranking for the number one keyword related to your business may seem like a great idea, but it’s likely not going to be as effective as you think. Popular short-tail search terms that get hundreds or thousands of searches per day—especially on a national or global level—really only make up a small portion of web searches (some estimate less than 30 percent). Long-tail searches make up the majority of keyword searches, and are going to be more targeted to your specific business, your products and services, and your geographic target market.
Long-tail keywords often lead to higher conversion rates because customers are caught later in the conversion/purchasing cycle. For example, a customer searching for the highly ranked term like “jeans” is probably not quite ready to make a purchase. However, if that customer is searching for “Levi’s boot cut jeans size 6,” it is much more likely that they have made a decision and are ready to buy.
Once you have determined which keywords will be the most beneficial for your business, you can begin creating content that is focused around these keywords and that will be relevant and helpful to your audience.