What is Keyword Research and Why Is it Important?
If you are just starting out with your website and brand, you may wonder why you need keyword research. After all, you know your target audience and may feel like the necessary keywords are a virtual no-brainer. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as it might seem. SEO keywords matter more than you know, and keyword research is the first step—perhaps even one of the most important SEO factors for getting the results you want and need.
The bottom line is that the difference between a website that gets few organic searches versus a website that gets lots of organic searches, is, in a nutshell, keywords. If you haven’t done the necessary keyword research (or had it done), you could find you have targeted an overserved market with far too much competition, or you have missed the mark completely.
Keyword research is so much more than a list of words. Keyword research identifies factors such as click-through rates, overall traffic, the best search engine result “spots” on your pages, and conversion, while never losing sight of your business goals and your target audience.
Two Types of Keywords: Simple and Longtail
You may have heard of “simple” keywords and “longtail keywords.” Both are crucial to the success of your website and your brand. A simple keyword is any word or short phrase a user might type into a search engine to reap the desired result.
A longtail keyword contains three or more words that are much more targeted to your specific audience and your product or service. For example, if your business is selling tomatoes, then “tomato” is, of course, your simple keyword. Depending on your business goals, your longtail keyword could be something like “best tomatoes for making salsa.”
Your content must sound natural and should never be keyword “stuffed.” The keywords should appear throughout the content in a completely natural way to make the biggest impact on search engine results. As you might imagine, simple keywords have been targeted by hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of other sites, which is why longtail keyword phrases are so important.
Consider this example: Maybe your site is about how the lycopene in your tomatoes builds good health, or maybe you sell spaghetti sauce and want to highlight the importance of using the best tomatoes for the best sauce. When you target relevant longtail keywords, your searchers can quickly find what they are looking for—and are more likely to remain on your page and read your content because it is relevant to them.
Your Keyword Research
Write a page of content for your website that talks about your product or service. Now, go back over the page, and note which keywords appear naturally throughout your content. Make a list of these keywords, then ask yourself whether “real” people would search for this word or phrase to find your business. If they landed on your page would they be where they intended to be? Make sure you have a deep understanding of your target audience while engaging in this task.
Now that you have a list of keywords, go a step further. Maybe your keywords are strong, and you are entirely happy with the results you believe they will garner. Even if this is true, if your competition is using the same keywords, then all your SEO efforts could go to waste. By using SEO research tools, you can determine how many people are searching for the words on your list—and how many other sites are also using the same keywords/phrases.
The bottom line is that when you really know your keywords you will have a much deeper understanding of your business and your brand. Further, you will truly know what people are searching for—as opposed to what you think they are searching for. While keyword research is the starting point for your digital marketing campaign, don’t forget that keyword research is not a “one and done,” rather it’s an ongoing process.