Day 20: How to Do Keyword Research

Keywords are basically searcher queries – the phrases that people type into search boxes online.  Search engines render results based on that particular phrase that was typed in as a query.

Webopedia defines Keyword as

 A word used by a search engine in its search for relevant Web pages.

Searchers usually refine their search queries to get the most relevant results for the information they are seeking.  We do that all the time when we are on the hunt for data, a product, or a service.

Let me give you a real world example.  Suppose you are interested in hiring a tax consultant to get your tax papers in order.  You start off the search by typing in ‘Tax consultants‘ as the query in the search box.  But you quickly realize that this search gives too many irrelevant search results.  So now, you refine the search term to ‘small business tax consultants‘.  This gives you better results but they are still services from all over the world.  You refine your search yet again by adding your location (for example, Cochin) to limit your choices.  The final search query is ‘Small business tax consultants Cochin‘, and this yields the exact results you require.

This type of a long search query or phrase is termed Long Tail Keyword.  The search term you started out with is commonly referred to as Short Tail or Broad Keyword.  Long tail keywords have a low global search volume but have a high probability of getting people hooked to your site.  So apparently, the conversion rate is high for those keywords.

Long Tail Keyword Graph

What is Keyword Research?

Keywords research is the process of finding relevant broad and long tail keywords that your target audience actually searches for.  Gaining insight on how they search will reveal a lot about their intent, their language and what specific information and products they are looking for.

You might be wondering if this stuff is only for big corporates or if it is simply to manipulate search engines.  Absolutely not!  In my opinion, it is more important for small businesses to use keyword research to get an edge over the highly established competitors in their respective niche.

3 Benefits of Keyword Research

  1. Identify the most profitable keywords for your business
    Doing keyword analysis will give you an idea of what your most profitable search queries are.  You will gain insight into which search terms have the highest monthly search volume, which will translate to how much traffic you can expect.
  2. Know the language of your target market
    Yesterday, I mentioned that online marketing revolves around content.  Unless your content speaks their language, your target audience will never be able to connect with you or relate to what you are saying.  Incorporating the phrases that the people in your market use in your articles, videos, etc., will help you engage them very easily.
  3. Know the competitive landscape
    Keyword research will give you a clear picture of how much competition is there for your chosen topics.  Of course, more competition means more probability of succeeding online.  But it also signals the challenges you will have to face in order to reach your target audience.

Let me share with you the steps that I follow when I do my keyword research.

4 Steps to Perform Keyword Research

1. Make a seed list

A seed list is a list of primary, one or two word phrases that will describe your website, business, and the products or services you are selling.  It also has to be based on your business goals and target audience.

2. Select a keyword research tool

There are many tools available using which you can do keyword research.  The easiest and most preferred option is the free keyword tool provided by Google.  I very briefly mentioned about keyword research on Day 2 and how to use the Google keyword tool to find if a niche is profitable.  There are other free and paid tools available, I will list them out in the ‘Tools and Resources’ section below.

3. Build a big list of keywords

Plug the keywords in your initial seed list into the keyword tool chosen.  The keyword tool will provide you an expanded list of relevant keywords with search volume information and market competition.

4. Categorize and finalize the keywords to focus on

Download the big list and categorize it according to the monthly search volume and competition.  Identify a few long tail keywords and short tail keywords that you can focus on immediately.

Where to Use Keywords

Keywords should the foundation of all your online activities.  Using them will help you get the attention of prospective customers.  You should make keywords the basis of the following aspects of your online business:

  • Content Development
  • Site navigation
  • Social media sharing
  • Ad campaigns
  • Call to action buttons and banners
  • Other web promotion activities

Including the language of the customer in all the above aspects, will make it easy for them to find something in common with your business and build a rapport.  This will also reduce the page bounce rate (when people visit your website, but bounce away without finding whatever they came there for).

Tools and Resources

Google Keyword Tool

WordTracker (free and paid versions available)

WordStream (free and paid versions available)

Beginners Guide to Keyword Research by SEOmoz (now Moz)

Keyword Research: A Real-World Guide by Copyblogger (free signup required)

Keywords are vital to your online success.  I hope this article has given you an idea of keyword research and how you can apply it to build up your website traffic and revenue.

Today's Action Step: Identify a few long tail and short tail keywords using the keyword research process outlined above.

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