When reading about digital marketing, you might have noticed the term keyword research being thrown around. Keyword research relates directly to the practice of search engine optimisation, or SEO for short. SEO is the process of optimising your website and content so that it can be featured in search results pages.
The practice of conducting keyword research is important because it forms the basis of your SEO strategy. If you want to get your web pages or site to rank highly on Google, you need to create a firm foundation for it to leverage from. At the core of that foundation is keyword research.
Let’s take a few steps back and understand more about the function of keyword research and how it adds value to your digital marketing efforts.
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is an investigative process that isolates the best suited keywords users might type into Google to find your product or service. Keyword selection is a major contributing factor to the success of your SEO. By identifying exactly what your users would type into Google to find your business, you are able to create a connecting point between them and your web content. This is done by making strategic use of these keywords in your web content.
Not optimising your website and content in line with these keywords is a missed opportunity. With billions of web pages in existence on the worldwide web, using keyword research to guide your SEO campaign will help you stand out from your competitors.
According to HubSpot’s 2021 marketing report, 61% of marketers say that improving their SEO and organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority. Marketers are spending more money on SEO, which includes keyword research.
The evolution of search
The way we search for products and services has evolved extensively over time. Think about voice assistant solutions such as Siri and home assistants such as Alexa. Whether you’ve considered it or not, these solutions run off highly evolved search queries. Google and other search engines have to deliver results based on a search query - regardless of how it’s received.
Keyword research makes it easier for brands to connect with prospective customers. By matching user keywords to website content, Google can deliver an exact match to queries without the user having to try multiple different iterations of a search. Businesses and search engines want to simplify the search process for users. This is best done by understanding user intent.
Matching keyword research to user intent
User intent takes the formality of keywords and makes them personal, relevant, and human-friendly. When we search in Google, we formulate questions in our minds, rarely typing a single word but rather expanding on it. We have an idea of what we’re looking for so we’ll type in the best possible match to that query in the hopes of receiving the most relevant results.
However, a user might not always start their journey knowing exactly how to search for what they need. Take for example a search for a rug for the home. A user might start their search very broadly with a query such as living room rug. During this phase of their journey they are in a stage of gaining awareness and gathering insight.
Their search doesn’t end there. Once they gather more information about the types of rugs available on the market, they might realise they favour Persian rugs. This will expand their search leading them onto a more refined search query such as Persian rugs for living room or Persian living room rugs. As they search further and gather more information, they start entering into the consideration phase of the research funnel. The search query is growing longer and more defined, and the intent behind it is more specific.
Finally, if they are serious about their search and finding the results that match their needs, they will enter into the transactional phase of keyword research whereby they look for a business that will best serve them. This is when the search query will contain transactional words such as buy or purchase, and possibly also near me or in [location]. For example: Persian living room rugs to buy near me or buy Persian living room rugs in [location].
Understanding each level of research behaviour - awareness, consideration, transactional - helps you understand how users search. This allows you to match their intent with content that can best serve their requirements.
The further you drill down into detail in your keyword research, the more likely you are to meet the intentions and needs of your very specific user who knows what he or she wants. Identifying the goal that each user has in mind when searching for what you have to offer is the key. Your user is out there, they know what they want, they simply need to find it. You can meet them in search results by matching their search query with your carefully researched and tailor-written content.
Keyword research tips
When conducting keyword research, it’s best to start with the basics. Think product names, services, and the nuts and bolts of what you offer. There are a number of keyword research tools out there that can help you expand on these search queries by offering up alternatives that you might not have thought about before.
You can also try out a few of these tips:
- Conduct search queries using your base keywords and see what comes up. If you find your competitors or websites delivering products similar to yours, you’re on the right track.
- While you are at it, check out your competitors and see what keywords they are optimising for.
- Think about location-specific information and how users will base searches around a place, your branch, or the city where you deliver your services.
- Start with broad terms. Broad terms are generally one to two words in length, sitting in the awareness phase where you are still getting to grips with your topic and navigating a way to better research it.
- Slowly work your way inwards to the more refined keywords that are 100% relevant to what it is you have to offer. These terms could include buy or purchase in the query and could be referred to as more transactional keywords. These can be shorter terms such as buy persian rug or longer longer terms as users are able to illustrate what they are searching for more specifically.
- Look for expert assistance to guide your process. If you’re targeting the wrong keywords, your keyword research, optimisation, and SEO process will be meaningless.
Keyword research is (still) important and always will be as businesses and search engines work hard to deliver on user expectations amid growing competition. The practice enables businesses to position their brands more effectively by gaining understanding about their audience, their pain points, and their emotive triggers.
Considering the above-mentioned phases of awareness, consideration, and transactional behaviour, it becomes evident that there can be many layers to keyword research.
It is often misunderstood as a simple process that guides website copywriting, which in turn helps websites rank in search engine results pages. At its most basic, this is true. But this is a thin layer of its full potential, the tip of the iceberg, if you will. In order to actually understand your users, to get into their way of thinking, and to understand their pain points, you need to dive much deeper into a more involved process.
Once you understand how to meet your users’ expectations online, you can turn your keyword research into a means to attract new business and awareness. It is the underlying basis of how users search and once understood, is the foundation of comprehensive strategy and decisive outputs that match those queries in each of the stages of research.
As always, we are here to support you throughout your own keyword research journey and all other processes related to your digital marketing campaigns and strategy. We have put many years of intense research, trial, error, and experience into defining the best possible way to use keyword research to fill out broader user needs.
Book a 15-minute business consultation to see just how important your keyword research is, and where it can take you when done right.