In this series, I’m creating a beginner’s guide to SEO content writing. I’ll be covering everything from choosing topics to SEO content for lead generation. No matter where you are in your content marketing journey, I hope you can find something helpful here. This time, I’m talking about all things keyword research. It’s a huge topic, so for now let’s begin with the basics.
What is keyword research?
If you’ve worked anywhere near content or digital marketing, you will have heard the term keyword research. But what does keyword research actually mean?
Essentially, keyword research is the process of determining which keywords and phrases you have the opportunity to rank for on the first page of Google.
What is keyword research used for?
I promise the image choice will make sense in a minute
Keyword research is used to help you target your content more clearly to your target audience. Say for example you run an independent hotel. This research will likely result in focus keywords or phrases following this structure:
“Type” hotel in “location”.
For example “4 star hotel in London”.
Now, in a city as big as London, you’ll have a lot of competition for this term. This is where the keyword research really kicks in and helps you to get more specific
There are various ways you can drill down and create what’s called long-tail keywords. For example you can add amenities that your hotel has to this keyword. This could look like:
“4 star hotel in London with spa and gym”
You can also add location into this to create:
“4 star hotel in West London with spa and gym”
Why bother with keyword research if you can follow this sort of logic?
Well, it’s not that linear in every industry and the research can provide you with synonyms of terms you’ve never considered and keywords you never would have thought of.
How does keyword research work?
I would generally recommend a spreadsheet over a word doc for this kind of work, but we do what we can with stock imagery
The research will show you which long tail keywords are your best opportunities. This is calculated by various keyword research tools by measuring and comparing a number of metrics.
The metrics they look at changes per tool you use, but it will be some combination of:
- Search volume (the number of people who search for this term each month)
- Search volume by location (the above, filtered by location e.g. UK, USA, etc.)
- Search intent (the reason someone searches for something)
- Click-through rate (the percentage of people who see the links and click on them)
- Competition (the higher the number, the more web pages are fighting for the top spot on that term)
- Semantic keywords (the number of related keywords)
This isn’t an extensive list, but gives you an idea of where it all starts.
What tools can I use for keyword research?
There are a group of primary keyword research tools, such as:
These are the tools that will allow you to get a hold of the types of metrics listed above. They will help you to determine the keyword opportunities for your brand and/or your products and services.
There are additional tools, which can be absolute life savers when it comes to conversion, that help you to understand how people are using Google (or Bing. You know, I feel like I have to say it).
These secondary tools often revolve around questions. These include:
- Answer the public
- Also asked (my personal favourite for FAQs and long-form content)
Where do I even start with keyword research?
This could be you. Manically chewing on a pencil and becoming a search result for the word “confused” on Unsplash. If you don’t take the time to learn the ropes before diving in.
I said at the start that this isn’t a comprehensive guide. I’ve conducted keyword research a number of times in different industries but in all honesty, I’m not an expert.
Prepare yourself, keyword research can take a long time and it’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole.
If you want to work with a freelancer on your content, it’s always worth checking if this is something they can do for you or if you need to come prepared to your content project.
How often should I do keyword research?
I’d recommend conducting keyword research ahead of any sort of brand repositioning, website refresh, or if you are changing/adding to your product offering. Any considerable change to your online presence should be accompanied with keyword research.
It’s also worth refreshing your keyword research every six months or so, especially if you are branching out into new areas for your content production. It’s common practice to run quarterly content campaigns so be sure to stay up to date with the best keyword opportunities for each topic or theme you want to cover.
Why are you asking all these questions?
Well, because I did my research. And these are the kinds of questions people ask about keyword research when they don’t know where to start. So, hopefully I’ve reached the right people and you found this useful.