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Keyword Research: Why is it so important for SEO?

What is keyword research?

Simply put, it’s the process of determining which words and phrases people search the most and optimizing content around those terms.

Keyword research directly impacts every facet of SEO, including on-page optimization, identifying content topics, links, and promotions. Most would agree that keyword research should be the first step of any SEO campaign.

Keyword research is personal; you’ll gain a lot of insight into what people are searching for, down to the exact words they use. Keywords are like a compass pointing you in the right direction and telling you if you’re making progress or not.

So, what keywords are right for you, and how can you be sure you’ve covered them all?

You want your website to speak the same language as your potential visitors, and a website that is well-optimized will do just that. Same goes for any marketing campaign.

This WordStream post lists a few common rookie mistakes when it comes to SEO research:

  1. Doing SEO keyword research once.
  2. Never updating or expanding your SEO keyword list.
  3. Choosing keywords that are too popular, and therefore too competitive – makes it easy to get lost in the mix.

There are several keyword research tools you can use when getting started, but here’s a list of the top 5 tools most commonly recommended by experts:

  1. Google Keyword Planner
  2. WordStream
  3. KWFinder
  4. Moz’s Keyword Explorer
  5. SEMrush

Each tool may slightly vary from the next in what features are included and how in-depth their searches go. All things considered, you really can’t go wrong with any of these tools – especially if you’re just checking them out.

Finding the right keywords to optimize can be time consuming and not as clear-cut as you’d think, which is ultimately why many turn to the professionals. When you hire a company to implement SEO strategies for you, make sure they understand you, your business, and your goals, to ensure the right keywords are optimized.

Once the best keywords are found, it’s time to make them work for you! We typically see keywords included in high-attention areas on a website, like page titles, URLs, and even meta tags and image files. However, well-optimized websites are often filled with keywords in an organized and thoughtful way beyond those high-attention areas.

With keyword grouping, you can divide your keywords into small, more manageable groups of related keywords. Doing this allows you to optimize a single page which can greatly improve your ranking potential. You now have a website that is filled with keywords working for you in a smart, effective way. Plus, your website won’t look as spammy with well-thought-out keyword organization.

Another very effective strategy related to keywords is the inclusion of long tail keywords, which are search phrases with longer word counts. Due to their longer length, these search phrases are much more specific than searches with fewer words. Let’s use the word “clothing” as an example of a short keyword; its long tail counterpart might be “high end clothing for women”. As you can probably tell, the word “clothing” is very broad and doesn’t really have any obvious targets. On the other hand, someone searching for “high end clothing for women” will get much more targeted results. Long tail keywords cater to a very specific audience.

According to Neil Patel, implementing long tail keywords is how you’ll outrank the competition. Experts agree that Google ranks long tail keywords much higher than single word search terms, although implementing both is important!

The bread and butter of SEO, and often the first step in building a website, is keyword research. We encourage you to do your own research on keywords using one of the tools listed above and learn for yourself how strategizing around them can help position you in front of your competitors. By doing your own initial research, you’ll be able to see how big of a demand there is for what you offer. You want to make sure you’re looking at keywords that perform well on all search engines, not just one.

When working with a professional marketing company, you’ll have guidance in selecting the right keywords for your business. They will then help build quality content around those keywords. The next step: watch yourself rise in the rankings!

SEO and keyword research is complex and quite a big undertaking to take on yourself. That’s where we come in! If you have any questions or wonder if digital marketing is right for you, give us a call! We offer free consultations.