Your website content is what attracts search engines and readers to your site, but how do you know what search terms people use to find your site? Keyword research helps you find phrases to target search terms used by search engine users.
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What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of finding search terms, search volume and competition and using this data to create new website content. You should always write naturally and avoid targeting bots, but keyword research can help you find topics and phrases for content that increases search impressions and traffic. Keyword research is time consuming and tedious, but it can greatly improve your SEO efforts.
Video Tutorial | How to Find the “Pockets” Using Long Tail Keywords for SEO
Start with Vague Phrases
You know your business better than anyone else, so you have some idea of what phrases should be used for your website content. Start with some vague phrases for a general search.
For instance, suppose you sell real estate in Las Vegas. You could start your research with the term Las Vegas Real Estate to start off. Come up with about 10-20 phrases and write them down. The more phrases you come up with, the better your chances of finding additional phrases for your site.
Another phrase to use might be Las Vegas Homes or Las Vegas Condos or Las Vegas Luxury. You could drop the local and find general search terms such as real estate, real estate listings, real estate market and add your local into your keyword phrases after you have determined the phrases.
Use Vague Phrases to Find More Specific Phrases
Below is an example of the keyword phrase “home value”.
These phrases are called “long-tail phrases.” The reason you don’t want to keep the vague phrases for content ideas is because they are extremely competitive. Most vague, simple phrases have millions and even billions of pages indexed. All of these indexed pages are your competitors.
Long-tail phrases are targeted by fewer site owners, so they aren’t as competitive. Phrases with fewer competitors make it easier for you to get seen in search engine results.
Type your vague ideas into the research tool of your choice. These keyword research tools display other phrases similar to what you’ve typed. Notice that they are more specific, but you get several dozen variances of the vague term.
With the Google Keyword Planner, a list of numeric values is shown to the right of the search term. This value is the search volume. Search volume is important when you want to figure out how many impressions you’ll get from a specific term and how much traffic it can give you.
You should choose a term that has at least 500 search impressions. Some SEO experts suggest finding phrases that have at least 1000 search impressions. You can experiment with different search volumes to figure out which minimum to stick with.
Google Keyword Planner for Adwords gives you ideas for phrases and search volume, but it does not tell you what kind of organic competition you have, only paid search.
For organic research, we like SEMrushes Keyword Difficulty score. Adwords shows a list of prices next to a search phrase. These phrases indicate how much you pay for each ad click. You can assume that phrases with high-priced clicks are probably competitive for organic search as well. I like low and medium competition long-tail phrases when I’m focusing on a target marketed niche. Best way to get on Google fast is through a hyperlocal or niche focus.
Moz is another go-to tool for identifying low competition phrases. Moz has a percentage assigned to each phrase. You type your phrase into Moz’s keyword research tool, and it gives you a competition percentage. You should find phrases that aren’t higher than 60% in competition. The Moz tool isn’t perfect, but it can help you filter out phrases that have good search volume but are too much competition for a new site owner.
If you have a strong organic search presence already, you might be able to use more competitive terms. However, if you’re a new site owner, highly competitive terms with strong websites already in the search engines will bury you and leave you without traffic.
Search the Phrase Yourself
Even with high competition in the Moz tool, some phrases are still useful when determining target keywords. Open a Chrome window in incognito mode.
Use Google to search your phrase. Take note of the sites that already rank for those phrases.
- Do they look like strong, well-written pages?
- Do they have plenty of content that draws you in and gives you the information you’re looking for?
If the answer is yes, then you should probably look for another phrase.
Be objective when searching for competitors. Instead of asking yourself why you should rank for terms, ask yourself if the sites that already rank give users what they are searching for. If they do, then it will be very difficult to bump your competitors down the ranks. For difficult terms, you might need to use Adwords ads instead.
Look at the bottom of the Google SERP as well and find the suggested terms there.
Keywords are an important part of any content-marketing strategy. The goal of content-marketing is to gain rank in search engines, making it easier for people to find your product or service when they conduct a search. But implementing keyword strategies isn’t as simple as plucking words out of thin air. Instead, know how to do keyword research for your real estate website to make the most of your content-marketing efforts.