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 relevancy 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 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.
Four simple steps
- 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 ration 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.
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