Keyword research is one of the most vital areas of SEO. Without proper keyword research, you’ll likely struggle to rank on search engines with your content, no matter how good it is; you simply won’t be able to lead the search engine’s crawler to believe that your content is relevant if you aren’t using the proper terms. That’s why you should make sure that every piece of content you craft, as well as every page on your site, has had thorough keyword research implementation.
However, if you’re completely new to the world of SEO or you haven’t optimised your site for a while, it can be difficult to know where to begin when it comes to keyword research. Which keywords should you include in content? How would you even know where to begin on this front? While it can be tricky, learning how to do proper keyword research is far from impossible, and you’re going to need to do it if you want to be successful. Here’s how to find the right keywords to target for your site.
Use Google Trends
The first tool you need to be familiar with is Google Trends. This invaluable site from Google shows you what kinds of keywords are trending if you input a main search term. For instance, let’s say you run a gaming website and you want to know what kind of content is trending around an upcoming release. Inputting the name of that game into Trends will give you a list of other keywords associated with your term (as long as it’s popular enough, of course). Trends is a hugely useful resource if you’re looking to do keyword research, so you should bookmark it ASAP.
Check out your competitors
There is absolutely no shame in looking at what your competitors are doing and trying to find a way to implement that approach yourself. Of course, you should make sure you’re not directly copying their content for obvious reasons, but you can see what sorts of keywords they’re identifying as important and try to build your approach around that. In fact, it might be a good idea to steer clear of keywords your competitors are aiming for; if you can corner an underserved niche rather than simply targeting the same words everyone else is, you may perform better in the long run.
One of the earliest steps you should enact when thinking about proper keyword research is to think about what kind of words are related to your business. Let’s take our hypothetical gaming business above. If you’re an Xbox-focused website, for instance, you should think about keywords like “Xbox”, “Microsoft”, “Xbox Series X/S”, or “Xbox One”, then move from there. Of course, those keywords are also going to be hugely powerful, which is why you need to think about…
Use those keywords as seeds
…using those keywords as seeds rather than simply implementing them into your content. Try to get more specific. For instance, see if your competitors are writing articles about the best Xbox Series X/S peripherals or the best Xbox Series X/S JRPGs. If they’re not, then you can use those keywords and focus your content around them. In this area, it helps immensely to have a thorough knowledge of your area; you can combine your existing expertise with your new understanding of your “seed” keywords in order to build an SEO approach that works for you.
Try Google Keyword Planner
Another invaluable Google tool for keyword research is Google Keyword Planner, which is free for business users. When you input a keyword into Google Keyword Planner, it will show you keywords it thinks you could target which are related to your original term. They won’t always contain the term, either, which can be useful if you want to think outside the box. Sometimes, it may not give you appropriate results; for instance, an Xbox-focused website wouldn’t want to create any PlayStation-themed content, even though Keyword Planner may well think of them as related.
Use keyword research software
Naturally, there are also lots of software solutions out there you can use if you want to do proper keyword research. Some are better than others; it’s worth downloading the free trials of several different keyword research apps so you can see which ones work best for you. If you’re a smaller business, then some of the less fully-featured apps may work well, but if you want a wider reach and a more specific focus for your keywords, then you’ll likely want to plump for one that’s more expensive and more well-regarded in the SEO community.
Think about “uniqueness”
Another important factor in keyword research relates to how unique your keyword is. If your keyword is one that could be easily confused for something else in search, for instance, then you may struggle to rank with that keyword. A good example might be Inside, a video game released in 2015. That’s a fairly generic word, so searching for it might be difficult for the average user, and targeting it for content may also be difficult because it’s not a “unique” keyword. That’s likely one of the reasons that so many businesses choose seemingly made-up or nonsense words for their names.
Try to think outside the box
When you’ve identified a keyword with potential, you might be tempted simply to construct the first piece of content that springs to mind. This, however, might be a mistake, because you may have misunderstood why people are searching for that term. Look around and see what other terms people are searching for that are related to your keyword. You may find that it’s best to take a different approach to your content based on your subsequent research.