Search engine optimization can seem like a complex topic. Its many variables, from on-page optimization to responsive design, can quickly become overwhelming. But ultimately, it’s important to remember that SEO boils down to a simple concept: if you can create relevant content for the words and phrases your audience wants to see, your website will rank highly on search engines like Google and Bing.
Considering that simple underlying concept makes it clear just how important keyword research is to your SEO efforts. Every strategy has to begin with finding the words and phrases that your audience actually searches for. If you can find these phrases, you’re on your way to successful search engine optimization and high rankings.
Understanding SEO “Keywords”
If you’re not familiar with SEO, the term keyword can be misleading. It does not describe a single word; in fact, a keyword can be as long as an entire sentence. Keywords that are longer than one or two words are generally referred to as long-tail keywords.
In essence, an SEO keyword is the word or phrase that your audience types into a search bar. They may, for example, search for “best software to stream music” or “fashion outlet like risque bikinis in [city]”. Both of these examples are what digital marketers refer to as Keywords.
Finding the Right Keywords For Your Audience
Naturally, there are an infinite number of potential keywords you might want to rank for. But you cannot build a search engine optimization strategy without putting some focus to your efforts first, which is where keyword research comes into play.
It starts with a guess. What do you think members of your target audience would search for when looking for a service like yours? Once you have come up with a few potential phrases, plug them into a keyword research tool to evaluate their potential success.
SEMRush has compiled a list of some of the most common keyword research tools. They typically give you three key data points:
- Search volume, or the number of people that search for this specific keyword in a given time.
- Competitiveness, describing just how difficult it would be to rank highly for this keyword given the other available search results.
- Alternatives, showing you other, similar keywords that may perform better for your purposes.
Picking the right keywords for your website and business ultimately comes down to finding the right balance between the first two datapoint. You need to find words or phrases with a relatively high monthly search volume, but a difficulty level around 60 or less. Using the alternative options as well, try to nail down about 10 keywords that are both relevant your business and fit that criteria.
Tracking Your Success Over Time
Once you find the keywords with the highest chance of success, it’s time to build your SEO strategy. Of course, predictions are not always accurate, so it’s crucial to evaluate just how successful your keyword research actually was over time.
That evaluation can be as simple as typing in the keyword(s) in question into Google, and seeing where you rank. But of course, you can also be more strategic.
Google Analytics, for example, allows you to determine just how many visitors you got from specific search keywords. If the keywords you had researched don’t show up on that report, it may be time to go through the process again and find new keywords to rank for.
Keyword research is not the only component of a successful search engine optimization strategy. At the same time, it’s the crucial first step you need to take before any of your other efforts can be successful.
Through the variety of tips and tools mentioned above, you can get started in your keyword research and building an effective SEO strategy. And if you need help in the process, we’re here for you. Contact us to learn about our services and let us help you improve your website for optimal search rankings.