Updated: Aug 1
Research is important, even outside the four walls of a classroom. We use research more often than we think in our everyday lives, whether we’re reading up on a particular topic, looking to purchase a new product, or searching for the most reputable services in our area. Research also extends to your company’s website in the form of understanding and using the keywords relevant to your industry. As you continue your web design and development journey in understanding search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing, consider our latest blog post as your guide to another important practice: keyword research.
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is a crucial element of SEO that focuses on discovering and analyzing the most common language used to find the online content relevant to your business’ field. As the name suggests, keyword research involves finding the keywords that your target customers or clients enter in search engines (like Google or Bing) when they are looking for your products or services. Your target market is essentially using keywords to do their own research on your company and your competitors, and in response, you research what words and phrases they happen to be using most often.
Why is keyword research important for your business?
As your company works to understand the common search terms most relevant to your industry, you harness the ability to have more control over your website’s traffic, create more compelling and discoverable ad campaigns, and above all else, reach your market quicker. Keyword research fundamentally enables companies to create content that aligns with popular online queries and avoid creating content that is not easily found on the web. The query insights unveiled by keyword research have the potential to lead future content and marketing strategies, which gives your company the edge to achieve a higher rank in search engine results and increase website interaction.
Like any form of research, keyword research seeks to collect data. The data, of course, is the specific search terms being used to find your company, and this data can be used to acquire and retain several long-lasting benefits. Increased website traffic is perhaps the most obvious benefit from careful keyword research since more people will be able to discover your online content, but increased relevance and authority in your industry are also significant benefits and key pillars in the overarching practices of SEO (as outlined in Google’s Search Quality Guidelines). Google ranks its content according to relevance and whether a website will meet a user’s query’s needs, so strategic keywords show Google (and any other search engine) that your content is worth showing on the page of results. Websites that appear more authoritative are further recognized by Google as ideal matches for a search query. If your site contains enriching, reputable content that uses industry-specific keywords, with appropriate internal links and backlinks, and is regularly updated, you take another step up the search engine ladder towards better optimization. (Above image courtesy of Mangools.com)
How do you start doing keyword research?
One of the first steps of conducting keyword research is asking questions. Before you begin the intense process of finding the keywords relevant to your industry, take a step back and ask questions like the following:
Who is searching for my products or services? Who is my target audience?
When are they searching? Are there any quarterly or seasonal trends?
How are they searching? What words and phrases are they using?
Are they searching on mobile devices more than on a desktop computer?
Why are they searching? What needs or desires are they looking to fulfill?
Where are my customers or clients located? Are they local, national, international, or a combination?
With the above information on hand, you can more easily pinpoint your market and understand how to best capture their search queries, as well as record useful information for future brand identity development.
Next, you might consider making a list of the words relevant to your business or industry. A mix of specific and generic terms is a good approach since it will allow your site to match both basic and complex search queries, as well as meet the needs of your client or customer over the course of their journey. For example, with our CodeMasters Inc. website, we alternate between simple search terms like “web design” or “web development” and industry-specific terms like “Wix Velo integrations.” Strings of three or more words still count as a key search term, but they are categorized a bit differently as a long-tail keyword. Shorter buzz terms of one or two words should be your priority with early keyword research, but these longer terms of three or more words can also complement your website’s broader online presence.
Finally, you can continue this early stage of keyword research by exploring your industry (and even your competition) to see what search terms are commonly used and which ones you can add to your own site. Wix Blog specifically suggests using a search engine like Google to conduct keyword research through auto-complete searches, the “People Also Ask” section, as well as the related searches to a query. These simple engagements with a search engine are incredibly helpful in seeing realistic search queries and understanding the keyword edits and rephrasing you can incorporate into your business’ website.
Are there any keyword research tools to help beginners?
While keyword research might appear to be an independent task for a business, there are in fact a number of online and professional resources that can assist you throughout the process. Google Keyword Planner (pictured right; courtesy of Ahrefs.com) is one of the more well-known, free keyword tools currently available, and though it is mainly used by advertisers, it is also helpful for finding keywords for SEO. The platform provides the average number of monthly searches for any keyword you input, and even recommends other relevant words; however, it should be noted that the “high” versus “low” competition feature is only relevant for advertisers and not helpful for SEO and keyword research. Professional keyword research tools are also an option. Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer is one of the more in-depth tools that provides increased functionality via phrase matching, volume counts, and global clicks.
At the same time, electronic tools can’t compete with a real-time conversation with an expert. CodeMasters Inc. is committed to helping our clients establish and maintain a successful online presence, and our services extend to SEO and keyword research in addition to website design and development. Get a free page audit now or contact us to set up a consultation, and we will work with you to improve your search engine rankings and discoverability.