Keyword research for search engine optimization isn’t something that you only do once. It’s an ongoing process that can have a major impact on the ways that you reach new leads and customers online. Integrating our keyword research tips into your digital marketing process will enable you to make smarter decisions about strategy, implementation, and budget.
But how can you get the most out of your SEO keyword research? Though you may already be using Google Keyword Planner to find some basic keyword results, we’ve put together some expert keyword research tips that will help you take your search engine optimization to the next level.
But before we jump into that, let’s review the basics.
What Is SEO Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of identifying popular search queries that are relevant to customers’ interests. Businesses utilize this process in order to determine which search phrases are used by their target audience the most so that they can rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) and reach more potential customers.
Why Is Keyword Research Important For SEO?
Keyword research is important for SEO because it helps promote your business to larger audiences with more qualified leads. The main focus of SEO is visibility, and by implementing high-traffic keywords into your website, you’ll be able to rise higher in SERP rankings and appear more easily to those searching for your services.
Market research shows that the majority of site clicks go to the first few organic listings, so it’s important that you aim for the top. And when your business gets more visibility, you increase your odds of converting potential leads into reliable customers. So in simple terms, investing in keyword research can help your business appear to more consumers, receive more engagement with your website, and generate more sales and revenue.
So now that you know why keyword research is important for your business, let’s go over some tips for making sure your keyword research process is thorough and effective.
7 Tips For Effective Keyword Research
1. Make use of negative keywords.
Using negative keywords in your targeting strategy is just one of the many keyword research tips that you can use to take your SEO strategy to the next level. Negative keywords are words that you do not want to target in your PPC campaign. This helps you narrow down the search engine users that you target to better reach those who are the right fit for your company.
For example, let’s say that you offer a service that is sometimes free, but your company aims to increase paid memberships or packages. You may want to add the word “free” as a negative keyword. This means that your ad won’t appear on the search engine results page for phrases that include the word “free” alongside keywords that describe your product or service.
You can add negative keywords in Google Keyword Planner. First, select “Keywords and Targeting” and then “Keywords, Negative.” Then, click on “add a negative keyword” and select the ad group or campaign. Enter the negative keyword in the edit panel, and you can then ensure that your ads won’t appear for search terms that include the words you’ve identified here.
2. Build a list of localized keywords.
One of the best keyword research tips to help small businesses rank higher on search engines is to focus on localized keywords and phrases. Many small businesses aim to target local buyers who are close to physical store locations. The best way to do this is to develop content that targets localized keywords that a nearby consumer might use when conducting their local search on Google.
Start by researching keywords that include your exact location. For instance, “San Diego plumbing” or “plumbers in San Diego.” Then, branch out to other areas that you serve in the nearby region. If your company regularly works with customers in surrounding cities then you should also do some keyword research for which keywords and phrases are used most often in these regions. That way, you can target consumers throughout your entire service area.
You may notice in performing keyword research for these localized keywords and phrases that keywords targeted to specific areas tend to get less overall traffic than more broad, generalized keywords. But don’t let this scare you off from targeting these words in your content. Though they may have less traffic than broader search terms, they allow you to put your brand in front of local consumers with a high intent to buy.
When developing a list of localized keywords and taking into account our keyword research tips, it’s important to remember that there will be variations in how local searchers look for products and services online. To use the previous example, a homeowner might look for “San Diego plumbers,” “plumbers in San Diego,” or “best Plumbers in San Diego.” Look at all of your options for reaching local searchers and don’t be afraid to include long-tail keywords that may help you reach new populations (like “San Diego plumbers with emergency services”).
3. Look at the keywords your competitors’ target.
Do you want your small business to rank #1 on Google? Then, you’re going to have to start looking at what your competitors are doing. Looking at the keywords that your competitors target is one of the simplest yet most underutilized keyword research tips. Knowing which keywords that your competitors are targeting can give your small business an edge on the competition and help you also work to target consumers who are looking for these keywords.
So how do you get started? First, you’ll need to log into Google Ads and choose “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category.” Then, instead of putting in your own URL to find potential keywords, you will enter the URL of your toughest competitors. Google will then provide you with a list of topics and keywords based on your competitor’s site.
Here, you can see a list of keywords for a competitor URL with important information such as average monthly searches and competition level.
Click on the “Ad group ideas” to see what keywords and phrases that your competitors are targeting on their own site. This list will provide you with a wealth of long-tail keyword ideas as well as the volume and search demand for each keyword and the competition levels.
And don’t assume that you should only go for keywords with high search volume because that’s not always the case. For instance, a keyword can have a high search volume but not necessarily get a high number of clicks. Examples of this are those queries that when searched will already have an “Answer Box”. Even when you rank high in SERPs, it will be pointless as the user will no longer bother clicking your link since the question has already been answered.
Look for keywords that have a rather low competition with at least 1,000 searches per month. These keywords and phrases are worth investing your time and resources in targeting.
4. Take advantage of Google Suggest.
As one of the most popular search engines out there, Google wants to provide the best search engine results to its users. So why not use Google to find out what relevant consumers are looking for when they search for brands like yours? Yet another one of the best keyword research tips for small businesses is to use Google Suggest to find additional keywords.
Google suggest pops up when you search for a certain keyword or phrase. As soon as you type in the search term, you’ll notice that Google supplies a list of similar and relevant search terms below it. This can provide a wealth of new keyword opportunities for your small business. All you need to do is start with a list of general keyword terms, type them into the Google search toolbar, and see what the search engine returns for potential similar keyword phrases.
Here you can see the other suggested search phrases that appear when typing in “women’s shoes.”
The reason that this tool is so valuable is that it allows you access to some of the insight that Google has picked up while learning searchers’ behaviors. For instance, Google starts to recognize when a search engine user has to type in several different phrases before finding the search results that they’ve been looking for. In an effort to provide better search results to users, Google offers relevant search suggestions to help the user find accurate search results quickly.
All you need to do to use this resource is visit Google and type in some of your most popular keyword search terms. As you type the word or phrase into the Google search bar, you’ll notice that Google suggests a list of additional keywords that you might be looking for. You can add these keywords and phrases to your list of potential keywords to target.
Google updates its list of suggestions every 2 to 3 weeks. This means that the list of suggestions that you see when you type in relevant keywords reflects the most up-to-date keywords and phrases that searchers are looking for on the search engine. To get even more suggestions, just scroll down to the bottom of the search engine results page and look at the “searches related” to whatever keyword you have entered. This will provide even more suggestions for potential keywords that search engine users are looking for in their product or service research.
And if you want to look for suggestions for keywords that are at the beginning or middle of a phrase, then it’s also possible. This is what you call wild cards. Simply use an underscore ( _ ) character anywhere in your key phrase to get suggestions. For instance, when you search: women’s _ shoes in Google, you’ll get suggestions like this.
5. Find common customer questions.
Find keyword research tips in the questions your customers have. One of the best ways to land higher SEO rankings is to create content centered around the questions or concerns that your target customers ask most frequently. By identifying the most frequently asked questions and developing content that works to answer these questions, you can improve your chances of reaching consumers who are looking for answers on the search engines.
There are a few different ways that you can start to discover what questions people are asking about your industry or products and services. One way is to go straight to the source. Ask your best customers what questions they had when they first started doing research for brands like yours. What were their concerns? What did they need to know before they made a purchase? Customer surveys or interviews are a great way to quickly get this information.
Another way to find out what questions your customers are asking is by asking your sales department. Your sales team deals directly with the customers and often has to field questions about your products or services. Ask your sales team what questions they get most often from new prospects.
After you’ve asked your current customers and gotten some insight from sales, it’s time to turn to tools that can help broaden your keyword research even further. One helpful (and free) tool that you can use to discover what questions people have about your industry is Answer the Public. This useful tool allows you to type in a general keyword that pertains to your business and then returns a list of questions that people are asking when they go to the search engines.
Here’s an example of some of the questions that appear in the search results for the term “chiropractic services.”
Once you have these keyword phrases, you can use Google Keyword Planner to look at keyword frequency and competition. Use this information to refine your list and identify the questions that are most worthwhile to target with your content.
6. Check out the “People also ask” section on Google.
In addition to finding common questions through customer research and other tools, you can also discover additional questions that you may have never thought of by looking through the “People also ask” section on the Google search engine results page. This section appears in the search engine results when you type a question into the search bar.
Here’s an example of the questions that appear after you type “What are chiropractic services?” into the Google search bar:
These results show the most commonly asked questions that relate to the question you have searched for.
This is one of our favorite keyword research tips because it allows you to find even more valuable questions that your leads and customers might be asking online. By building content around these common questions, you can work to reach new leads who may be looking for the answers online. Again, you’ll want to put some of these questions into Google Keyword Planner to determine which keyword phrases might be most worthwhile to target.
7. Try using an SEO toolbar.
There are a variety of search engine optimization tools and toolbars that you can use to up your SEO game. One of our favorites is MozBar. This industry-leading SEO toolbar enables you to access and compare important metrics instantly across website pages on the search engine results page. You can even look at page authority and domain authority rankings.
The SEO toolbar, MozBar allows you to see metrics instantly when you are looking at a site page or on the search engine results page.
MozBar makes SEO keyword research simple by helping you understand your visitors and what they look for when searching keywords online. You can track both local and national searches to better understand what search engine users are seeing when they search for certain terms on the search engines. This tool also crawls and audits your site to find certain issues that might be holding you back from getting the most out of your SEO efforts.
These keyword research tips will help you go above and beyond basic keyword research to discover a wealth of new keyword opportunities. But remember, keyword research is just one piece of the search engine optimization puzzle. There are many other factors that can affect SEO such as how you are using the keywords within your content and how you structure your site design.
That’s why many small businesses choose to partner with an SEO company that can provide them with the guidance they need to boost their visibility online and bring in more qualified leads. We have a team of SEO experts that help small businesses just like yours improve all areas of their search engine optimization to rank higher on the search engines.
Curious about what we do? Check out our SEO Services page to learn more about our approach to search engine optimization. Or learn more about how we helped one small business generate $96,664.98 worth of SEO results in just a 5-month period.
When you’re ready to get help with your SEO, contact us and we’d be happy to help!