How Important is Keyword Research in SEO
Keyword research is still vital to your search engine optimization (SEO) process and your overall victories with the search engine rankings. Without proper keyword research, you could be choosing the wrong search terms, which is likely to result in little to no organic traffic coming to your pages; you might even attract unwanted traffic. Check out how finding the right keywords will aid in your SEO.
Over the years, there have been many changes to the algorithms that govern the internet and the rules that determine which pages should be shown at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). While some fads have come and gone—some of which going from must-do maneuvers to penalty-inducing problems (we’re looking at you, keyword stuffers!)—good keyword research has always been (and remains) an imperative part of the overall optimization puzzle. In fact, any great SEO professional you talk to—no matter their level—will likely tell you keyword research continues to be one of the first things they do, particularly when they’re building out a new site or specifically working on improving and expanding the search rankings of existing sites.
This is all to say that if you’re asking yourself, “How important is keyword research to SEO?” we’ve got a lot to teach you!
What is Keyword Research?
Okay, so before we can dive further into the importance of keyword research as it relates to your SEO practices, we should probably back up and explain what keyword research actually is.
Keyword research is a process by which you discover and determine which words and phrases matter most to your site’s objectives. In other words, you don’t choose keywords based on the ones you wish to rank for solely; you also need to examine the keywords you should rank for. By this, we mean understanding which terms people are actually searching for as they relate to your business and industry.
When performed correctly, keyword research also tends to lend you the topics you should be writing on your blog, social media posts, landing pages, and the like.
Competitive research is a marketing function that’s closely related to keyword research. When you analyze the content your competitors are putting out into the world, you can often uncover what they’re ranking for (or not ranking for, as the case may be), which can guide you toward the topics and keywords you need to integrate into your own keyword strategies.
While the world of SEO is vast and ever-changing, this blog will help you build the beginnings of a well-devised search engine optimization foundation.
Why is Keyword Research Important?
Keyword research gives you the ability to better understand your audience’s needs and wants because it offers you insights into their behaviors based on the phrases they search for. It’s not just about the words themselves—it’s about the context that lies behind the actual terms being searched. This notion is vital because if you have misunderstandings or incorrect assumptions about what your customers need, you’ll likely miss your target when you’re creating your marketing materials. This, obviously, can be a huge waste of time and money, resulting in few qualified leads when all is said and done.
What Does the Keyword Research Process Look Like?
You won’t likely find the best keywords out in the wild willy nilly; you’re better off creating an orderly process that’s created around a particular set of steps that are intended to help accomplish your content-creation goals. However, bear in mind that keyword research doesn’t provide you with a set-it-and-forget-it option; because the rules and algorithms are constantly changing, you have to stay on top of your keyword research and make sure your content adheres to best practices all the time.
Not only are the algorithms and rules changing, but so, too, are your audience’s needs, wants, and behaviors. If your content isn’t aligned with these moving targets, you may lose your existing and potential customers to new competitors as they enter the market.
With the importance of keywords now better understood, let’s talk a little bit about what the keyword research process actually looks like.
1. Analyze Current Keywords
Unless you’re building out a brand new website that doesn’t currently have any existing data to analyze, your first step should be to check in with the keywords you’ve already been trying to rank for. What’s working and what’s not? (Hint: There are tons of online tools available in both free and paid versions, but if you’re working with an overwhelming amount of data for a large company, you’re probably going to find that the bells and whistles offered with the paid versions might be essential in cutting through the clutter and getting you what you need.) If your site is pretty basic, start with a free rank-tracking tool so you can get your feet wet; you might find that’s all you need.
After you’ve checked into which keywords you want to rank for, use Google Console to examine which keywords you are ranking for already. In doing so, you’ll be able to establish a baseline of keyword performance from which to work moving forward. Armed with this data, you can separate well-performing keywords from those that aren’t great but still have some opportunities built into them. The latter can be referred to as poor-but-worthwhile keywords; simply put, they have sufficient search volume and impressions, but their click-through rates (CTRs) leave a lot to be desired.
2. Formulate Your Goals
No strategy works well without well-formulated goals to drive the decisions along the way. What is your business trying to accomplish with your newfound keyword research? Once you know the answer to this question, you can better formulate a direction for your future content so you actually attract visitors whose needs you can meet with your brand’s solutions.
You should be able to answer the following questions:
- Who makes up my target audience? What kind of people buy what we sell, and why are they online looking for companies like ours?
- What is our unique value proposition? (This can be an incredibly difficult—yet super vital—question that needs to be answered.)
- What are the top needs and desires of people who convert into customers of our company?
3. Implement Your Keyword Strategy
Okay, it’s not actually quite that simple; there are several steps in between, but once you’ve gathered your data, concocted a plan, and figured out your strategy, it’s time to get to work. Using what you’ve learned during the keyword research process, you can soon create content that helps you get clicks, increase your average search volume, and improve impressions.
Alyssa Anderson is the Content Manager at Zero Gravity Marketing (ZGM), a digital marketing agency in Madison, CT. ZGM is known for developing overarching marketing strategies and specializes in Pay-Per-Click, SEO, content marketing, social media, development, design, and eCommerce services.