wooden tiles spelling out keywords

Keyword research is at the core of a well thought out SEO strategy. It may not be the most exciting process, however it’s extremely important because it informs a website’s entire SEO and content strategies. Understanding your audience and identifying relevant keywords will help create high-quality content that will rank your website in the search engine results page (SERP). It can become overwhelming at times, but let’s break down what keywords are, why they’re important and how to get started on effective research.

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of identifying words and phrases related to your website that people are searching for on search engines. Once keywords are identified, they’re strategically included in web page content and code so that it has a greater likelihood of appearing on the SERP.

Why is keyword research important?

Keywords are what connect your audience to your content, so it’s very important to ensure you’re creating content that they’re seeking. This will provide more insight into your target audience’s desires, needs, and pain points, and also help to identify content ideas to fulfill address these searches.

The information uncovered in your keyword research will inform every online marketing decision made in the future. Also, without keyword research, it’s very difficult to determine how you’re driving organic traffic and your ROI. At the end of the day, well thought out keywords will drive organic traffic to your website and you’ll be meeting your audience where they’re looking for you.

Getting started on your keyword research in 5 steps:

Step 1: Identify topics relevant to your organization and your audience.

Take a moment to reflect on your organization’s goals and your target audience’s needs. Based on this, identify a list of topics related to your organization that your target audience would be searching for online.

For example, a tour operator might identify topics based on tour types, such as walking tours, hop-on hop-off bus tours, or adventure tours.

Keep it broad, for now. As we move through the process, we’ll refine the list further and identify relevant keywords.

Step 2: Brainstorm keyword ideas related to the topics identified

Break out 5-10 of the main topics you identified, and use them as group headers. Based on these topic-groups you’ve identified, take some time to brainstorm potential keywords. Use a white board, create a mind map, or organize yourself in a spreadsheet – whatever works best for you. Just get your ideas down! These initial ideas will become seed keywords and are the foundation for our research. Plan on having about 5-10 seed keywords/phrases per group.

Step 3: Do your research!

Now it’s time to begin researching and building on your keyword ideas. While it may seem like a great idea to jump in here, steps 1 and 2 are foundational and will save time and energy moving forward – trust me! The goal is to develop and refine a list of possible keywords for your website. Look for more specific keyword phrases, or long-tail keywords, that indicate the user is closer to conversion.

To start, simply go to Google and start searching your seed keywords. Check out the “related searches” and “also asked” sections as both will provide additional ideas based on what people are actually searching. The questions in the “also asked” section can become great long-tail keywords and give you an idea of how to format your web page’s content.

screenshot of people also ask section on Google

People also ask results for “adventure tours” query

screenshot of related searches results on Google

Related searches results for “adventure tours” search query

A keyword research tool will help refine your keyword list and will provide data to help identify which keywords will be best for you to target. There are plenty of tools available, some free and others paid, that provide this information along with additional keyword ideas. Every SEO specialist has their preferred tool and at 1UP, we mostly use SEM Rush. Keep an eye on the keyword difficulty or competitiveness and monthly search volume data as this will help prioritize keywords in step 5.

Step 4: Check in on your competitors

It’s always great to know who your competitors are and what they’re up to. Learn what you’re up against by checking out who’s ranking for similar keywords and what keywords the competition is targeting. Keyword research tools will make this easier for you, although you can enter your keywords into Google and see who’s appearing in the results.

You might even learn something from your competitors! By investigating their strategy, you might be able to identify new keyword opportunities or content ideas that are relevant to your target audience.

Step 5: Prioritize your keywords

With your refined list of keywords, it’s time to prioritize. There is no universal method for choosing keywords as it often depends on industry competitiveness, your website’s goals, and the searcher’s intent. That being said, there are several metrics to consider when prioritizing to ensure you are successful.

  • Monthly Search Volume: it’s important to know whether keywords are actually being searched. Of course, it’s important to create content that people are looking for, though a high search volume is not the only metric to consider.
  • Keyword Difficulty: the competitiveness of a keyword is important because you have to know what you’re up against. Pro tip: long-tail keywords are more likely to have a low difficulty score.
  • SERP (search engine results page) features: while this is not necessarily a metric it does help inform content formatting further in your SEO journey. For example, if there is a featured snippet, it’s an opportunity to appear higher in the SERP than competitors.

Once you’ve prioritized your list, it’s time to get moving! These five steps will provide you with a basic foundation to your SEO strategy. Of course, there is always more to consider and it’s best to repeat these steps regularly to make sure your content is up to date.

Keyword research can be a time consuming task and it’s always worth it. Whether you’re running an e-Commerce website or a content focused website, it is important to have effective keyword research as you embark on your SEO journey.

Our team of digital pros are experts in keyword research and organic search optimization and would be happy to take keyword research and SEO management off your plate. Contact us if you’re ready to 1UP your digital marketing!