Keyword research

5 Steps for Better Keyword Research

Effective keyword selection is at the heart of web content management, but many business owners struggle with this process. Using the right keywords makes it more likely that people will find your content and potential customers will discover your business. Just a few tips and tools can make your keyword research process more effective and ensure you get the best return on your investment.

Use your head

This might seem obvious, but sometimes people can be quick to search for the best online tool to a do a job for them and ignore the most obvious resource: your own mind. You know about your business and you know what you’re trying to convey in your content. Therefore, the best supply of keywords is already in your head.

That’s not to say there aren’t tools that can help you organize your brainstorming. If traditional pen and paper lists don’t inspire you, try MindMeister, which lets you create visual mind maps of your ideas. Start by putting a topic in the center — for example, gardening — and then add sub-topics that branch off from this idea. Sub-topics for gardening might be compost, garden tools, plants, landscaping and so on. Once you have a solid list of sub-topics, start to break those down further. So, if I focused on garden tools, further subtopics might be best garden tools for desert soil, or cheap garden tools.

Once you’ve filled out your mind map, you can save it online and refer back to it when you have a new idea.

Check reviews

Read reviews of your products and products like yours to see what kind of problems people are having and what solutions they’ve discovered, as well as what features or benefits are most important to them. Reviews will give you an idea of what language people are using to search for products in your niche, as well.

For example, let’s continue the gardening supplies analogy. When you search for reviews of gardening supplies, you might discover many people value sturdiness in their garden tools. “Sturdy” could be a new keyword for your niche.

Also on Tips for Link Building

Don’t forget Google!

Google can be your best friend when it comes to finding effective keywords. Search some of the broad ideas from your mind map and find out what pages are performing best. You might learn some new phrases or industry terms that will be useful as keywords.

Also look at the bottom of your Google pages for the “related searches.” These are popular searches similar to what you are looking at. These suggestions can provide a wealth of new keywords and phrases to pursue.

Another trick is to search for forums about your broad topics. Forums within your industry represent a community of people who might need your product. Find out what words and phrases they are using to discuss similar products and add those to your keyword arsenal. You can also search for “Q&As” for similar results. Once you find a keyword-rich forum or Q&A, make sure you save the link so you can return to it. You can even save the links in your MindMeister map.

Consider buyer intent

While all the tips thus far could provide you with a massive keyword list, the hot-button words aren’t everything. There might be a lot of people searching about a topic, but not all of them have buyer intent, or plans to actually purchase something. Buyer intent is an important factor that many people overlook when doing keyword research.

Certain words and phrases obviously show that a searcher is looking to spend money: “buy,” “price” and “sale” are some of the most common buyer intent-related keywords. Include these on your keyword list to increase the likelihood that your content will be directed to paying customers.

Narrow it down

With brainstorming, reviews, forums and Q&As, you can generate an enormous keyword list. This is good because you have a wide variety of keywords — but you can’t use them all, and you wouldn’t want to! Now it’s time to find the highest quality keywords that will give you the best results.

The best way to narrow down your big keyword list is to cut out the high-competition words. High competition makes it unlikely your site will rank high enough to ever benefit from using that keyword. General words (like “garden tools”) will have higher competition, and therefore will be less useful for you. A great tool for figuring out the competition level for your chosen keywords is Traffic Travis. It will give you levels of difficulty for each keyword you enter. Naturally, “high difficulty” keywords are best avoided.

For a beginning site, shoot for a list of 30 to 40 keywords, after you have cut out the high-competition ones. Remember to put a greater value on the buyer intent keywords, as those are more likely to generate leads that will turn a profit. A larger site will need a larger keyword list.

There is no denying that this approach to keyword research is a lot of work. It would be easier to just select your favorite 30 to 40 keywords, but you won’t see the same results. Quality matters in keyword research. The list you generate can help you with all your future content marketing, but don’t think you can just stuff keywords all over your website and magically climb the ranks in Google. You’re better off limiting each page to five keywords maximum, always used in a natural way. (Search engines, and readers, will be irritated by spammy keyword insertions). This also ensures your content is highly relevant to the keywords you are targeting.

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