Why is keyword research so important for SEO?

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Keyword research is a crucial process in helping you discover which keywords you should be targeting. Essentially, keyword research helps you identify keywords that not only target audience and business, but also to find “good” keywords. 

These are keywords going to bring you plenty of traffic and not too much stiff competition. In other words, keyword research helps you occupy the top spot for search terms that are searched often.

How do keywords work?

Part of optimizing your web pages to better rank on search results pages (SERPs) involves using keywords (words and phrases) that best describe what your content is. Google then uses them (keywords) to determine which content is relevant to a particular search query and how the page should rank in searches for a specific term. 

By choosing high quality, relevant keywords for your campaigns, you can reach the customers or prospects you want, when you want.

Reasons why is keyword research so important?

Here are some reasons why you should consider carrying out comprehensive keyword research:

1. Help you find keywords with high search volume

When you use keywords with high search volume, there is a possibility your website will be seen more, and you will see an increase in traffic. 

Let assume you offer SEO services, and you want to rank for these two terms “seo services” and “seo services pricing” After keyword research, you find “seo services” receives 22,000 searches/month, and “seo services pricing” receives 500 searches/month. 

Which one would you rank for? Of course, “SEO services.”  The first step is to know that there is demand for a keyword. While some search that has 0 volume might end up getting decent traffic and trends do change. You want to identify group of keywords to see just what to expect. 

See how crucial keyword research is? AdWord’s Keyword Planner can help you assess the search volume for each of your keywords.

google kw planner

2. Help you find keywords with low competition

Low competition keywords are those that can rank with little to no link building and little to no domain authority. Applied properly low competition keywords can provide quick traffic and long-tail rankings. Google Keyword Planner measure competition by the number of advertisers that showed on each keyword relative to all keywords across Google. 

Although Google Keyword Planner base the competition level for each keyword on the number of advertisers bidding on keywords, it can indicate how much general competition exists. Basically, the goal here is to find keywords with low to medium competition.

3. Help you assess the difficulty to rank

There isn’t much point in targeting keywords if the possibility of your website ranking high for those keywords is next to impossible. This is what is known as SEO or keyword difficulty. Tools like  KWFinder measures SEO difficulty based on three SEO factors belonging to the websites already ranking for those keywords:

  • Authority and Trust: The current authority and trust your domain and pages have amassed are key factors in defining Google search rankings.
  • Facebook shares: The number of Facebook shares for the URL targeting the same keyword.
  • Backlinks: The number of external links passing link juice to that website (links without the nofollow attribute)

Keywords with a difficulty rating of 0-9 are considered effortless, and those with a difficulty of 50 or more are categorized as hard or impossible. Basically, if you stumble onto keywords that are already being targeted by high-quality domains that get a lot of traffic, such as Amazon, Microsoft, or Wiki, I would suggest you opt for less competitive keywords.

keyword difficulty

Note that almost every keyword tool out there does provide the same type of results, we just happened to like KWFinder.

4. Help you find keywords with high conversion rates

Keyword difficulty can also indicate that a keyword is too broad. In essence, the shorter a keyword, the more difficult it will be to rank for, and the higher the competition. These keywords are known as ‘head’ keywords.

  • Main Keywords: Contain 1-2 words, are very broad, and normally have high competition, high keyword difficulty, and high monthly search volume.
  • Long-tail keywords: Contain 3 or more words. And because they are more specific, they have a higher rate of CTR and conversion.

The benefits of long-tail keywords include:

  • Less competition: Long-tail keywords are specific to the services and products you offer, which means there will be less competition.
  • Search intent: these keywords are much better at satisfying search intent and can, thus, attract extremely relevant traffic.
  • Better targeted: If they are too specific, these search terms will have a higher chance of targeting visitors. The much a phrase describes something, the more relevant it will be to your visitor.

5. Help you understand what you are competing against

When examining keyword difficulty, it also crucial to assess who appears in SERPs and in what format. Tools like KWFinder can help by examining page or URL rank, backlinks, and domain rank, even display the type of results that exists in SERPs. 

Here is an example with the search term “how to make strong coffee.” 

serp results kwfinder

As you can see, there is the top competing domains and how authoritative they are, and the amount of links they have for that specific page. It will be easier to know which keyword to target. 

For example, you will be able to avoid the most competitive keywords. Most keyword tools even make it easier for you to make a sound decision. I would recommend that if a keyword has low competition, moderate search volume, and low difficulty, you give it a shot as people generally trust organic searches.

6. Help you get ideas for your content strategy

As your keyword research, there is a high possibility you will stumble onto great keywords. Keep a record of such keywords and let them guide you when creating a content strategy.

7. Scope the competition

When researching keywords for customers, the first thing that I do is look at their competition. Eavesdropping on the competition allows for a better understanding of what keywords they are actually targeting, which further helps decipher who they are targeting and what they are offering. 

kwfinder competitors

Not to mention that their keywords can also lend you a valuable insight into their approach and the nature of content that they are producing. Therefore, use this knowledge to create your own content strategy. Avoid copying what they are doing, and look for ways to improve what they are offering.

8. Help you find new keywords

Yes, keyword research can help you find new keywords, especially when you have no idea of keywords to use. For example, when working on a website that is new to you. But how can you use keyword research to get new keywords? Here is how:

  • Use your own website: it is simple! Look at the services and products and use them as seed keywords. Type them into your preferred keyword tool to yield a list of related search terms. Google’s Keyword tool will even group suggestions AdWords group ideas.
  • Use a competitor’s website: You can also type in your rival’s URL to find search terms on their website.

As soon as you got your list of ideas, start cleaning your list by getting rid of keywords with high-competition and low monthly search volume.

Here's an example of examining your existing page. The page is about "coffee with alkaline". However, using SiteGurus keyword rankings report, you can see that some of the keywords should have its own content. Liven alkaline coffee seems to be really popular that my article does not mention that product. It would be better to write a dedicated article regarding that since I can see a demand for it:

siteguru keyword report

9. Understand trends

Having finer details of when people search for keywords is very useful for determining when to update your site or publish a blog. Leverage Google trends to get an overview of peak times. Use the information you gather to create a plan for making changes to your website or publishing content.

Going back to the liven alkaline coffee example, before I start writing an article about it, I can look at the trend to see if it's trending or consistent, or worse, its declining. 

google trends

How do I know if a keyword is one I should target?

It is simple! Begin with keywords that can naturally be part of your content. Don’t try to force them because even search engines will detect that. If a keyword can’t fit naturally, find another way to add it or just don’t insert it.

  • Start with a seed list

Jot down as many words and phrases as possible about your page. You will want to do this for your site overall and your individual post or page. This is actually your best guess at words that would describe the content on your page. This is an organic list and should continue to grow and change throughout the life of your site.

  • Ask these questions of each word/phrase of yourself:
  • Are people who get to my website from that search my target audience?
  • Do real people search for this word/phrase?
  • If people get to my website from searching for this word, will it be what they are really looking for?

If your keyword for the page fails to answer these questions, they need to be adjusted.

  • How hard will it be to rank for the word/phrase

You may have precisely what people are searching for on your website, but if no one can find you because the competition is too tight, then all of your SEO efforts could go down the drain. This is where keyword research comes in. It helps you answer these questions:

  • How many other websites are targeting the same word/phrase?
  • How many people are searching for the word/phrase?

Conclusion

Keyword research goes beyond finding words that your audience may be searching for. It seeks to find quality keywords that are going to make a positive impact on your site. So if your keywords aren’t converting more people or bringing more traffic, then it might be time to conduct some proper keyword research. It is your turn now. Good luck!