As Google continues to update its search algorithms, it's important to stay on top of your keyword research to improve your search rank. Researching keywords is an essential part of any SEO strategy—if you want to place at the top of a search, you need to know how people are searching and what keywords will get you there.
Keyword research also will keep you informed on search trends, your competitors, and related content to bring into your content marketing. A keyword by itself is not essential to driving clicks, but identifying the intent behind people’s searches can drastically improve your organic traffic.
What makes a good Keyword?
For any given page of your website, you will want to find a healthy mix of keywords and search phrases. Healthy here means a balance of generic and specific, competitive searches and ones that are easy to rank in, and different amounts of traffic.
If someone is searching for a new skincare product, a generic or head keyword might be “skincare”, “face wash”, “cleanser”, “moisturizer”, “dry skin”, “oily skin”, or “get rid of acne”. These keywords will result in many searches, but because Google is saturated, it will be hard to rank at the top of the search. The more popular the search, the more competitive the ranking.
It’s good to get specific. Specific keywords for skincare might be “skincare with retinol”, “best acids for skincare”, “celebrity skincare routine”, or “organic skincare routine”. As you get more detailed, there will be fewer searches, but that’s a good thing. Less competition in a search makes it easier to end up on the top of the page, and can also target users with purchasing intent. You want to draw traffic of customers who are ready to buy or exploring their options.
Which brings us to search intent. Search engines have become advanced enough to show results not just for the literal search words, but by what people are trying to search for. A search for “skincare for dry skin” will bring up results about treating dry skin, video skincare routines, and product recommendations that address a person who experiences dry skin. “How to choose skincare products” will show results that inform novices, including easy guides.
It’s additionally important to research keywords that are how people search for what they want. Most commonly people search questions or phrases like they would speak, such as “What does retinol do for skin?” and “How do I get rid of blackheads?”
Long-tail keywords are important to include as well. They are very specific long search phrases that are rarely used. However, if you’re the top result for a specific search with buying intent, you can secure strong conversation rates.
How to Research Keywords
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of research.
Start with a list of 5-10 relevant topics for your business. These should be generic “buckets” you can fill with many keywords. Track the monthly search volume for each term.
Come up with keywords for each bucket. Place yourself in your audience’s shoes and imagine what you would search for, including phrases and queries. Look at related search terms as well—you might fall into a rabbit hole that brings you to unexpected but relevant content.
Use tools like Keyword Explorer or Google AdWords Keyword Planner and note the traffic volume and competitiveness for each keyword. See how your competitors rank on searches and what keywords they are using to get to the top of the page.
Now you should have a long list of keywords with traffic and competitiveness. Take out keywords that have way too little or way too much search volume, keeping a good mix of traffic levels and competitiveness. Plugin your keywords, and watch the results over the next weeks and months.
Lastly, this isn’t a one-time process. Search term language changes, as do trends in traffic and even the search algorithms. Check your keywords regularly and keep an eye out for related searches. With up-to-date keywords, you can bring in great organic traffic and improve your customer conversions.