How To Do Effective Keyword Research

By Robert Edmonds | Apr 26, 2016
More Articles by Robert

In the digital world we live in today, there is constantly an influx of content that is being created and distributed throughout the Internet. As marketers, our goal is to drive the most relevant traffic to sites, whether it be through organic results, pay-per-click advertisements or other means. That’s why it’s critically important, no matter what industry you may be in, to do effective keyword research so that your content is ranking for the most relevant search terms.

Keyword research provides up-to-date information on search terms that are currently popular in your industry and can help exploit avenues for potential traffic. From an SEO perspective, you may be thinking, “Great! Let’s go ahead and find more ways to get that free organic traffic to my site.” But if you are working with PPC, your reaction may be, “Well, we are already spending over budget for our current campaigns; I’m not sure if expanding them would be the best decision.” Whether you are doing keyword research from an SEO or PPC perspective, the benefits remain the same. Through effective keyword research, you can reduce costs, drive revenue, create new opportunities for leads or sales, and positively affect your bottom line.

So now that you are chomping at the bit to get going on your keyword research, I will lay out a few steps that you can take to do effective keyword research.

Keyword Planning Phase

Through this phase of your keyword research, you should brainstorm on a few main points.

  • Think about how your business provides value to your customers, and create a list of topics that relate to what you do. For example, if you have an ice cream shop, you may go after topics like “local desserts” or “gelato shop.”
  • After you have a list of topics, come up with some keywords under each topic that you think people may search for. So if “local desserts” is our topic, you may put keywords such as “where to get mint chocolate chip ice cream” or “best waffle cones in town.”

Keyword Research Phase

Keyword Planner and Horizontal Relevance

The Google Keyword Planner will most likely become your best friend when doing keyword research. This tool allows you to explore search terms to see the monthly search volume around your desired terms. A great feature of this tool is that it will show related search terms so that you can compare your idea to suggestions that Google has, and who wouldn’t want to do that? Now even though the keyword planner may suggest higher search volume terms, that doesn’t always mean that they are best for your site. For example, if you have a small market that sells fresh seafood to consumers and the keyword planner suggests “seafood restaurant,” you obviously don’t want to make that a keyword as you would be targeting the wrong audience. There is substantial horizontal relevance with the term “fresh seafood,” as you could be talking about buying it at a market, looking for the best restaurant in town, or searching for information about types of fresh seafood. This goes to show the importance of creating a multi-keyword phrase, such as “buy local fresh seafood.” This is much more descriptive and will help get you quality visitors and remove the horizontal relevance that may be present.

effective keyword research


Check Out the Competition

A great way to get some strategic insight into keywords is to check out what your competitors are ranking for. Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to copy their keywords, because yours are going to be better, obviously. However, this is a good opportunity to do some real comparison and see how others are targeting your same audience. You may also discover areas where your competition is slacking, and these can be great opportunities for you to exploit and gain search market share.

I’ve Done My Research, What To Do Now?

Now that you have a list of topics with relevant keywords that you have researched, test them out and keep track of click-through rate and conversions to see how these keywords impact your campaigns. If you find that certain keywords are not producing the results you expected, then phase them out, and do some further keyword research. If you find some keywords that are hitting it out of the park, then dig deeper and see if there are other variations that have search potential. You may also find that you need to make some content changes on your website to match the current trends in your industry. Keyword research is an ongoing project, and ideally it should be done every quarter. Trends change, what people search for changes, and that means more opportunity for you to capture new visitors. So stay up to date with current search terms in your industry by following these steps, and be sure to treat yourself to some fresh seafood and/or ice cream afterwards.

effective keyword research

I hope this article gave you a better understanding on how to do effective keyword research and ways that you can improve your current keyword lists. If you have any further questions, feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me on Twitter! @_robedmonds

If you would like some additional help with keyword research, or if you would simply like to know where you stand from an SEO standpoint, check out our SEO audit services, as well as other SEO services we offer.

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