If you’ve spent any time at all in the Digital Marketing world, you’ve heard a lot about keywords and keyword research.
And though, you’ve likely heard a lot about it – for many – understanding how to perform useful keyword research is a frustrating and elusive thing.
In this blog post, I’ll show you how to use keyword research to find and target your audience in order to improve your search engine rankings or plan ad campaigns.
Keyword Research Tools
There are several excellent keyword tools available and I recommend using at least three to research keywords. These tools perform general searches and may be more or less accurate, so if you use a few different tools, you’ll get more accurate data. The Google Adwords Keyword Planner is the most well-known research tool.
Experian, Wordtracker and Bing Ads all provide keyword data.
We’ll use the Google Adwords Keyword planner as our example. You’ll need to sign up or sign into your account. Choose the Keyword Planner and enter your chosen keyword. For this example, I’ve used the words ‘running shoes.’
You have multiple choices for sorting your results. For instance, you can sort by relevance, average monthly search volume or competition. You are searching for keywords that are relevant to your niche that have a relatively high search volume and low competition.
As you can see in the results for running shoes, many keywords have a high search volume, but they also have high competition. The easiest way to get around this problem is to focus on long-tail keywords.
Long – tail Keywords
If you are not familiar with the term, a long-tail keyword is a search term that is more specific and longer than a simple, one or two-word search terms. WordStream provides a Keyword Tool that will recommend long-tail keywords. The Google Adwords Keyword Planner will suggest ideas under the Keywords ideas tab.
Additionally, you can use Google Trends to see what search terms are growing in popularity.
You can also use social media tools like Twitter, Facebook Lexicon and YouTube’s Keyword Tool to find out how people are searching for your terms. The more tools you use, the more long-tail keywords you’ll discover. The benefit to long-tail keywords is that they are usually more affordable as advertising terms.
If you already have an established website, you can dig into the analytics of your own website to discover what keywords people are already using to find your website. This information can be very valuable, because you can use them to build specific content to draw in more traffic.
Look for keyword referrers within your website’s analytics reports. To find this in Google Analytics, go to: Traffic Sources, then Sources, Search and Organic.
Look at sites that already rank well like Wikipedia and eHow. These sites rank highly and their articles are built around keywords. For instance, the table of contents on a Wikipedia page is all long-tail keywords.
Read through articles on the pages to see how keywords are woven into the text.
Another good place to look is on your competitor’s website. You might not be able to beat them for short or medium keywords, but you can place well for related long-tail keywords.
In addition to long-tail keywords, it is worthwhile to look at negative keywords. Negative keywords are important for planning cost-effective ad campaigns. A negative keyword is a keyword in an ad campaign that will prevent an ad from showing up on that term.
We’ll use the example of our main search term ‘running shoes.’ If we were promoting our online shoe-store, but we had no pink running shoes, it would waste our advertising money to show our ads to people who are searching for ‘pink running shoes.’ To prevent this, we would list the term ‘pink running shoes’ as a negative search term.
You can research potential negative keywords using the following tools the Google Search Query Tool, the Google Adwords Keyword Planner and the Google Search Bar.
When you plan your ad campaign, you’ll be able to list your negative keywords to prevent your ads from being shown for those search terms. This ensures that you are targeting the right visitors and buyers for your site.
Paid Keyword Research Tools
It can be difficult to make sense of the keyword results displayed in many keyword planners, because there are so many variables to consider.
Market Samurai is a paid keyword research and analysis tool that interprets keyword data and helps you make informed decisions about keywords. The ‘SEO competition’ feature will take your selected term and displays the top ten results for Google.
Market Samurai will serve up a metrics graph that will give you a picture of how difficult it will be to rank for that term. Market Samurai saves time by providing multiple data points about the top ten ranking sites for a search term including how many external links point to it, the kinds of backlinks and how many pages on the site are indexed.
This information can be found manually, but it is very time-consuming.
Keyword Research Methods and Goals
Now I’m going to tell you a secret about keyword research. A lot of people hate it and they cut corners. If you apply yourself to learning in-depth keyword research, you’ll easily blow past your competition.
The best way to become an expert at keyword research is to dig in an experiment. Most people develop their own preferences. Some are only interested in keywords that have 10,000 or more searches per month, with low competition. Others will focus on keywords that have just 4,000 searches per month.
Choose a keyword that looks promising and devise a small ad campaign around it. Check your results, and make small changes until your ad is performing well.
Over time, you’ll develop your own strategies and preferences.
To review, you can use several free and paid keyword research tools such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Experian, Wordtracker and Bing Ads to research keywords, long-tail keywords and negative keywords.
Over time, with careful research and testing, you’ll become a keyword research expert!
See you soon,