If you have a website, then chances are you have heard of the phrase ‘Keyword Research’. SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimisation, is an essential part of creating a website. This is because it is what helps you to rank on Google and other search engines. Keyword research is a component of SEO as it helps your audience find your site. So, there is no time to waste! Let’s get learning about how to do keyword research and most importantly, how to do keyword research for free!
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research describes the process of finding the words used by your target audience to reach your products and services. The keywords are the words that you would like to rank for on Google. These can be individual words or a combination of words strung together to form a long-tail keyword. To create this list, website owners must deep dive into the mindset of the consumer. Think about what search terms are likely to be used by your audience. Then, think about what result the target customer expects to find once they have used a specific search query. Once a group of keywords has been collected, the website owner can create high-quality, useful content for their audience. But, don’t forget that Google is constantly updating. And, search trends also change. Because of this, keyword research is never finished. Spend time every three months finding keywords that fit your brand.
Keyword research allows you to get inside the mind of your target audience and discover the words they use to find you on search engines. These search phrases are the keywords you need to incorporate into your keyword strategy.
Why is SEO Writing Important?
Without in-depth keyword research, you could be missing out on golden sales opportunities. Or, if you are not selling something, you could be missing out on brand awareness and influence. The idea behind keyword research is to optimize your content for search phrases that a.) people use and b.) you have a chance to rank highly for. There is no point in ranking top position for a search term nobody uses as this will generate little traffic for your site. Likewise, trying to compete for a common search phrase such as: ‘interior decor trends’ will also be a waste of efforts since that keyword is saturated with competition. A quick keyword search will guide you to the best keywords for your niche. Writing for SEO is vital for your marketing strategy, however, don’t get hung up on writing to please Google – your content needs to sound human!
How do I Use Keywords in my Writing?
As a copywriter, keyword research is the first step I take when creating content for the web. But, before I explain how to do keyword research for SEO, it is important to understand some essential concepts.
What is a Focus Keyword?
When writing an SEO blog post or webpage you will need to allocate a focus keyword or keyphrase. Simply put, this is the keyword that you feel best reflects the page content. It will be the keyword that you want to rank for on Google.
– What is a Long-Tail Keyword?
Long-tail keywords are the less common, niche keywords that combine a set of keywords. The longer the search term, the easier it is to rank for providing that it is specific. Long-tail keywords are great because they tend to drive more serious leads to your page.
– What is Search Intent?
Search intent describes the goal the user aims to achieve by searching for a specific term. For example, someone that searches for ‘All-inclusive holidays in Tenerife’ is interested in booking an all-inclusive holiday in Tenerife. The aim is to understand what your target customer wants to know, do or buy and then provide them with the content they want to see. Good content provides answers or solutions to their customer’s problems.
– Do I need a Keyword Strategy?
Once you have collected a list of valuable keywords, you will need to work out the best way to use them across your website. How will you present your content and what keywords will be best used where? These questions are answered by creating a keyword strategy. But first, let’s learn how to do keyword research for free!
How to do Keyword Research for SEO
As a copywriter, I have had to discover how to do keyword research for free. Most SEO resources are very expensive and if you are prepared to dedicate time, it is possible to find good quality keywords without the need for fancy tools. Here are my top tips for getting the most out of your keyword research experience.
1. Understand Your Brand
Before you begin your keyword research, it is essential to have a clear understanding of who your brand is, what it offers, and why. To do this, reflect on the following questions:
- What are the brand goals? What is it you are trying to achieve?
- Who is your target audience?
- What makes your brand unique? Why should your target demographic choose you?
- What are the promises that you are making to your customer?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you will be able to better understand your place within your market. In some markets such as tourism, there are many competitors. So, if this is your case, look for a niche and dominate a small area of the chosen market.
2. Make a List of Your Keyword Ideas
Use a tool like Google Sheets or Excel to make a list of keywords that you think your audience will use. Base your ideas on your findings from step 1. Jot down as many ideas that you can think of and be sure to get into the mindset of your target audience. The end result? A list of all the search terms that you want to rank for.
- What words will your audience use to find your product or service?
- What problems does your product or service solve?
- Do you want to appear in local searches?
3. Research Your Chosen Keywords
Now that you have your list, it is time to test these keywords in action. Open Google in a new tab and begin typing in your keyword into the search bar. Take notice of the suggested searches that appear as you type and make a note of anything that sparks your interest. It is also worth looking at the ‘People Also Search For’ section of Google to get an idea of alternative ways to search for the same keyword. Be sure to take a look a the search volumes for each keyword to give you an idea of the competition. Here are some of my favourite free keyword research tools:
Don’t forget to add long-tail keywords to your list. While there are fewer search results, these keywords are more specific and will generate traffic interested in your niche. The more long-tail the keyword is, the lower down it should be placed on your blog post or landing page.
4. How to do Keyword Research on Your Competition
It’s time to become a spy! Using your newly updated keyword list, begin searching your most important keywords. Look at the top-ranking results, are these people like you? Or, do businesses top the rankings for your chosen search term? If your search term is dominated by ‘big fish’, the chances are that your content will struggle to rank highly for this keyword. It is also worth looking to see if there are any Ads using this search phrase as Google will place this result at the top of the page. If your competition has poor content, there is a small chance that you will be able to outrank them. It is also worth considering what other keywords they rank for to see if there are any missed opportunities for you to rank.
5. It Is All About Search Intent
Deciding what keywords to use is as much to do with finding the correct wording as it is understanding search intent. All content produced should be useful to your target audience. By searching for your chosen keyword, your audience is looking for an answer.
- Does their search have informational intent? (Want to find out a specific fact)
- Does it have navigational intent? (Are they trying to reach a certain page)
- Is there commercial intent? (The target audience is searching for information about a product)
- Or, is there a transactional intent? (Does the customer want to buy something now?)
Understanding the search intent of the keyword will allow you to create the content that your audience wants to read. For example, if the top part of Google is filled with in-depth blog articles explaining the ins and outs of a chosen topic then you know that the search intent is informational. Alternatively, if the results show lots of product pages, it is clear that that search term is used by interested buyers. Take notes on this and update your spreadsheet so that you can clearly identify when to use your keywords.
6. Create a Keyword Strategy For Your Website
Now that you have an annotated spreadsheet full of information about your chosen keywords, it is time to put it to good use. First, begin to look at the competition your keywords had. Are you able to compete with the websites listed at the top of the page? If not, it is time to enlist the help of your long-tail keywords. Look at the search intent for these keywords and start to map out what content your user wants to see. Once you begin to rank for the long-tail keywords, you can expand out and target the main keywords.
- Think about the search intent for your keywords
- What is the ‘problem’ that my audience needs addressing?
- Is there content that hasn’t been produced yet?
- How can my content make my audience’s life easier?
Once you have planned out how you will use your keywords, you can create your SEO landing pages. But, if you feel overwhelmed or daunted by the process, you can always outsource your copywriting to an experienced copywriter.