This guide is intended to teach you how to do in-depth and meaningful keyword research.
Good keyword research allows you to uncover the terms, phrases, questions, and answers that are important to your users or customers AND important to achieving your goals, whether they are getting more pageviews, capturing leads, or selling products and services. Keyword research sets you up for building effective strategies for improving or expanding your content to acquire higher rankings, and to rank on a wider variety of terms, to ultimately drive more relevant organic traffic to your site.
1. What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of finding all of the possible search engine queries which may be relevant to your business and your customers. Keyword research includes not only finding these keywords but also sorting and prioritizing them into logical, related groups, which can then inform how you might change existing pages on your site or create new content.
Why Keyword Research Is (Still) Important for SEO
While some SEOs may argue that keywords are no longer important or won’t be essential in the future, they are still crucial not only for search engine rankings but for understanding the search intent behind a given query. As long as people search using the search engines by typing a query into a search box or making a voice query on an “assistant”, it will be crucial to understand the following:
- What those queries are.
- How important they are to your business.
- How you might create the best content to answer the intent of the query.
Even as search trends change, if people are looking for an answer to “something”, keywords will continue to matter.
Old school “individual” keywords and optimizing a single page for a single keyword has certainly gone by the wayside. However, using groups of related keywords, and examining their relative popularity, can not only give you insights into opportunities to drive more organic traffic to your site but can also help you understand the overall intent of your potential users. This information can help you better satisfy those intents not only through optimizing your website but potentially optimizing your product selection, navigation, UI, etc.
Understanding Keyword Themes (Groups of Related Keywords)
Some may refer to groups of related keywords as topics or themes, but at heart, they are groups of individual keywords that signal a similar need or intent by a searcher. As such, keyword research should never be left as simply a list of keywords, but rather used to form various segments of interrelated keywords.
A single topic or theme might lend itself to a single piece of content that can answer all of the needs within that topic, and thus a single page is “optimized” for the entire group of keywords. Or, the topic may be broad enough to signal that you should have an entire section of your website with many pieces of content targeted at answering the user intents.
For example, if you were writing a post about “how to fry an egg”, one single article might satisfy the intent for all the keywords around that “theme”. Example:
- How to fry an egg
- How to cook a sunny side up egg
- How to cook an egg over medium
- How to fry an egg for a sandwich
- How to fry an egg in the microwave
- How to fry an egg over easy
- How to fry an egg over hard
- How to fry an egg over medium
- How to fry an egg sunny side up
- How to fry an egg with oil
- How to fry an egg without oil
If you had a group of keywords or a theme around “what caused the decline and fall of the Roman Empire,” all of the intents around that theme of keywords are unlikely to be satisfied by a single piece of content and would likely require a much larger body of content.
Some SEOs argue that individual “head” keywords aren’t going to matter anymore because of voice search —which leads to long, natural language search queries. Search queries, in general, are becoming much longer, in part due to voice search.
But, that doesn’t mean that shorter “head” keywords can’t form the basis for starting your keyword research and helping to uncover many longer-tail keyword variants.
This is partly because, at least for now, there really is no separate voice search results or database.
Google, for instance, simply returns essentially the same results for a voice query as if you had typed that exact query into the search box on the Google web interface or search app. For many of these long longtail queries, Google is simply going to parse out the most important terms in the query and return the results for that.
For instance, someone may search for “Hey Google, what are the best running shoes for a person who has flat feet?”. Looking at Google search results, it is easy to see that Google returns the exact same result set for that query as it does for “best running shoes flat feet.” – Read more