A beginner’s guide to keyword research

Keywords form the cornerstone of any SEO strategy. So whether you’re writing a blog post, or putting together your homepage text, identifying the right keyword to optimise a page is an essential part of attracting the right types of visitors to your website. Get it wrong and you risk driving visitors to your website that don’t represent your target audience or languishing in the depths of the search engine results, failing to be found. But get it right, and you create a channel for attracting and engaging with your ideal audience and generating a steady stream of new business opportunities. If this sounds good, the next step is choosing the keywords you are going to optimise your site for. But how do you know which ones are right for you, your business or organisation? With this beginners guide, we’ve outlined a very simple 4 step process for identifying the best keywords for your website.

Step 1: Brainstorming

The first thing to do before you start your research is to brainstorm some ideas.  What are your customers looking for? Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think of the first words that come to mind when you think of your product/ service. You could ask friends and family for their input. Don’t forget your clients and customers. Once you have some key themes, you can then come up with keywords associated with each category.

Now that you’ve got a few keywords in mind, try and think of some similar terms or possible longer phrases, otherwise known as ‘long tail keywords’ (niche terms that are more specific and have less traffic), which people may also use to search for your product/ service; these will give you even more variety. Even misspellings can make great keywords!

Step 2: Check out your competitors

It’s also a good idea to find out what terms your competitors are optimising their sites for. Visit their website and right click view source to discover how a particular page has been optimised. This will give you a clear idea of what keywords they think are important. Bear in mind that they might not be the best or right terms for you; however, it will give you some ideas.

You can also type your keyword ideas into a search engine and take note of the websites that are ranking highly for them. Again, take a look at how they have optimised their sites via right clicking on a page on their site and viewing source. If you’d like to invest some money in SEO, you can also use a paid for tool, such as SEMrush, to see what keywords your competitors are using. It costs money but can save time.

Step 3: Search for trends on oogle Trends

It’s also a good idea to see what’s currently trending in and around your industry. This could give you further ideas for keywords, or possibly help you narrow down your choices. Google Trends allows you to break your analysis down by region and also shows you related terms rising in popularity. Bear these in mind for potential keywords.

Step 4: Use Google AdWords Keywords Planner

This step is the most crucial, as this tool will help you understand how the keywords you’ve come up with are performing, how competitive they are and how much they’ll cost you if you were to undertake a PPC campaign.  Be sure to refine your search so that it includes the relevant search terms for your location. As well as showing you how the keywords you’ve chosen perform, it will also give you recommendations and help you come to a final decision about the most relevant keywords for your website.

And you’re done!

Now that you’ve got your initial keywords, you’ll need to implement the optimisation of your website for them. Be sure to review how your site is performing for your chosen keywords on a regular basis. Also, remember to keep researching those keywords; searching habits are constantly changing so don’t rest on your laurels!

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