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The Ultimate Guide to Developing a Keyword Strategy 2021

Keyword research is a vital part of any SEO campaign, whether it is used to mould on-page copy, or to develop brand or product positioning it is imperative that it is not only done, but done thoroughly and well


As latent semantic indexing has improved with the advent of 2013 Google algorithm update Hummingbird and the new levels of query relevance determination offered by RankBrain, a lot of brands and agencies have begun to place less importance on the role of keywords in SEO. Yet, though it frees our writers to express themselves with fluency and style un-reliant on keyword anchoring, it cannot be overlooked from the perspective of a potential consumer.

For example – if someone is looking to make a purchase for a new hobby, in which they are interested, but about which they lack a degree of knowledge of key terms, then they are going to be searching for more general, longtail keywords and are going to rely on strategies that account for this.

In addition, good keyword research will reveal gaps – areas your competitors are not competing in, or competing only marginally. If your brand is new to a marketplace, the chances are that competitors will be well established for trophy keywords, whereas there may be appropriate, industry specific longtail gaps that can be exploited for early gains.

This is a good time to start thinking about your buyer personas, what are they looking for, what will they want to know and at what stage in the buying cycle will they want to know it? Think about how you search on a phone as opposed to on a laptop. Are there differences in your own search types from one device to another? What are your intentions across devices?

Think about levels of interest and expertise of your buyer personas – are people looking for brand specific items, using specific industry jargon more likely to want to buy or to need information than those searching for generic, non-specific terms? How can your keyword targeting nurture the buyer journey by delivering the right content at the right time?

Once you have assembled lists of key terms and questions, use online tools (such as Google’s Keyword Planner) to quantify density and, therefore, which of these should be the focus of your efforts. Ideally you’re looking for the golden ration of low competition and high volume. Also, use Analytics to monitor in-site searches – those customers are searching while on your page – as well as popular landing pages and seek to consolidate these terms externally.

What is Keyword Strategy?

A ‘keyword’ is a word or phrase that people use to find answers to questions, goods or services, or anything else they want to find out from a search engine. As an eCommerce marketer, digging into the keywords your target audience is vital to:

  • Get insight into what your customers want
  • Identify the phrases and topics to target in your categories, page titles and content

Why is keyword research so important? 

Keyword research will inform your entire SEO strategy, from content optimisation, to technical on-page optimisation, to site architecture. This will allow you to increase your visibility, improve the relevance of your traffic, reduce irrelevant traffic or leads, and enhance user experience.

For eCommerce, you should concentrate on:

  • Product pages
  • Category pages

The majority of an eCommerce’s site’s keywords will need to be tailored around long tail product searches, for example: “king size bed frames on sale” as opposed to the informational search “choosing bedroom furniture”: the second shows a higher intention to actually make a purchase

Keyword research and analysis are two of the most important, valuable and high return activities in search. Targeting the right keywords is vital to your organic search (SEO) visibility and strategy.

A ‘keyword’, as the term is used in search marketing, is a word or phrase that is used as a search query by searchers in order to find answers to questions, find goods or services or address any other search requirement.

You need to carry out research to identify the phrases and topics to target to create high quality content that meets your target customers’ needs.

As well as helping your site to rank, thorough keyword research will give you a much greater insight into what your customers want.

This will allow you to increase your visibility, improve the relevance of your traffic, reduce irrelevant traffic or leads, and enhance user experience.

Bear in mind that targeting keywords just because they have high search volumes won’t help you increase your ROI (return on investment) if the people using those search terms aren’t looking for what you offer. Relevance is key.

How do you determine the type of keywords that are the most suitable for your business, and for which you want to be found? This will depend on the overall objectives of your business and your website.

What do you want people to do when they get to your website? Do you want visitors to sign up for a newsletter, or download an app? Are you selling a product or service?

How to Develop Your Keyword Strategy

Keyword research is a vital part of any SEO campaign, whether it is used to mould on-page copy, or to develop brand or product positioning, it is imperative that it is not only done, but done thoroughly and well.

As language parsing has improved with the advent of 2013 Google algorithm update Hummingbird and the new levels of query relevancy determination offered by RankBrain, a lot of brands and agencies have begun to place less importance on the role of keywords in SEO.

Though this change allows writers to express themselves with fluency and without being reliant on keyword anchoring, it cannot be overlooked from the perspective of a potential consumer.

For example – if someone is looking to make a purchase for a new hobby, in which they are interested, but about which they lack a degree of knowledge of key terms, then they are going to be searching more generally and are going to rely on strategies that account for this. In addition, good keyword research will reveal gaps – areas your competitors are not competing in, or competing only marginally. If your brand is new to a marketplace, the chances are that competitors will be well established for trophy keywords, whereas there may be appropriate, industry specific long tail gaps that can be exploited for early gains.

This is a good time to start thinking about your buyer personas, what are they looking for, what will they want to know and at what stage in the buying cycle will they want to know it? Think about how you search on a phone as opposed to on a laptop. Are there differences in your own search types from one device to another? What are your intentions across devices?

Think about levels of interest and expertise of your buyer personas – are people looking for brand specific items, using specific industry jargon more likely to want to buy or to need information than those searching for generic, non-specific terms? How can your keyword targeting nurture the buyer journey by delivering the right content at the right time? Once you have assembled lists of key terms and questions, use online tools (such as Google’s Keyword Planner) to quantify density and, therefore, which of these should be the focus of your efforts. Ideally you’re looking for the golden ration of low competition and high volume. Also, use Analytics to monitor in-site searches – those customers are searching while on your page – as well as popular landing pages and seek to consolidate these terms externally. 

Generating keywords

Get brainstorming

When researching your keywords, the first step is to identify the audience you’re targeting. A quick brainstorming session on likely keywords is a good place to start. Think about who, what and where your target audience will be searching for when trying to connect with sites like yours.

Make the most of Google’s Keyword Planner

This AdWords tool is essential when creating keyword lists. Firstly, it gives you the option to search for keywords by volume using a generic or specific topic. You can then narrow this down by location, product category, language and network. This makes the suggested keywords as specific to your business as possible. Your landing page can also be added to the search, which will improve the Quality Score of the keywords fed back because of their relevancy to your landing page.

You can use as little or as many of these options as you like, but the more you use, the more specific the results will be to your business. Use your brainstorm ideas to expand your Keyword Planner research further. To exhaust all possible variations, the Multiply Keyword Lists tool within the Keyword Planner is extremely useful. This gives you the option to combine multiple keyword lists, for example, combining ‘Remote Control Helicopter’ and a list of colour variations. This can be a great time saver but the tool also provides forecasting information that can be used during the planning process.

Google your keywords

Google is making searching the internet easier all the time. Potential customers are using predictive technology such as Google Suggest and Google Instant, so research in this area is a must. Test your keywords in Google Search and see what suggestions it comes up with – these are the same suggestions potential customers will be seeing when they make similar searches, making this information extremely valuable to your keyword research.

Creating keywords for PPC campaigns

Now you have a raw list of keywords, you’ll need to group these under common themes to form your campaigns. These ad groups will form your specific matches with keywords of these five main types:

Broad match

Broad match modified keywords by definition will “include misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations”.

These keywords are useful to ensure a higher flow of traffic. With more possibilities of matching to other keywords, these are sure to have the highest impression counts in your account. However, you’ll need to carefully review how relevant the traffic is that is attracted, alongside the cost of having so many matches.

Broad match modified

Broad match modified keywords by definition will “contain the modified term (or close variations, but not synonyms), in any order”.

These modified terms should form the base of your keyword strategy, matching to anything they can in direct relation to the original keyword. They’re important to ensure that you pick up queries that fall outside your generic keyword terms. One thing to note when using generic keywords with broad match modified is that they can be very costly, especially if used over a large target area, they will match with a very broad range of queries, not all of which will be relevant to your business.

Phrase match

Phrase match keywords by definition “are a phrase, and close variations of that phrase”.

These keywords are important because they match with the most important part of the search query. Phrase match keywords are good for capturing the themes of searches. For example if someone searches “where can I buy remote control helicopters online?” or “places to buy remote control helicopters on the internet”, surmising that these are not built in then the theme ‘buy remote control helicopters’ will match the same phrase match keyword.

Phrase match keywords are good for capturing the themes of searches. They allow close variations and also additional words before and after the phrase match keyword, for example, the phrase match keyword ‘Remote Helicopters’ would match to both ‘Fast Remote Helicopters’ and ‘Remote Helicopters Sale’ queries. This allows you to target your keywords to long search queries without covering every potential keyword entry. You also have much more control than with the previous two match types.

Exact match

Exact match keywords include by definition “exact term and close variations of that exact term”.

These keywords are a must-have because they give you specific control of what you which search terms you want to match. This helps with budgeting within your Account and results in high relevancy. To ensure that your traffic is not too restricted, exact match should be used alongside the previous three match types.

Negative keywords

Negative keywords can be of any type. They follow the same rules as mentioned above, so ensure you’re fully aware of the restrictions that associated with these keywords.

Negative keywords are important as they improve nearly all metrics and budget when utilised correctly. Relevancy is key and this is a great way to keep your account as relevant as possible. They can be added at campaign or Account level so you can wisely plan your negatives to work as effectively as they need to.

Keyword Research Checklist 

Below are the four key points we feel that you should consider when it comes to developing your keyword strategy.

Think like a customer – pick long short and long tail keywords likely to be searched by your buyer personas.

Look for gaps – in a crowded marketplace it can be difficult for newcomers to compete against established companies. So don’t compete, find where they aren’t present.

Rank for priority – it is counterproductive to spread yourself too thin, so choose your targets wisely and look for the golden ratio of high volume, low competition.

Consolidate gains – if you begin to rank for certain terms, don’t rest on your laurels but continue to target these keywords as you expand your target list.

Final thoughts

Some marketers still think of SEO and PPC strategies as completely separate entities. This is especially common at an entry level, where marketing campaigns often have unclear goals.

When running both organic and ad campaigns simultaneously, you have more data to collect and analyse. You may discover more unexpected details about your target audience, and use that information to refine your SEO and PPC strategies accordingly.

Keep in mind that both SEO and PPC are constantly adapting to changes in the Google algorithms. That is how they help websites meet the new requirements and maintain their high positions. So keep an eye on the most significant changes, and do not forget to update your SEO and PPC strategies on a regular basis.


There’s always a lot going on in search and digital marketing – and 2021 is already guaranteed to be one of the fastest moving yet. Keep up to date with our monthly news blogs – or stay ahead and contact us today!

  • Category: SEO


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