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The importance of Keyword Research in your SEO strategy

We must be able to anticipate a user's search intention and guess what they want to find in their search results.

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Published 30 Jul, 2020 6 minutes of reading

At the end of last year, Google's web trend analyst, John Mueller, said that keywords in titles were no longer important to help positioning, leaving almost all SEO experts on the edges of their seats during his "Google Webmaster Central" hangout. What John meant was not that you stop putting keywords in your H1's, but that this action, by itself, will not be useful if not accompanied by others, such as adding a structured data scheme, uploading content to your Youtube channel in relation to your business, or doing an excellent job of local SEO according to your geographical location, to give some examples.
We must be able to anticipate a user's search intention and guess what they want to find in the results. How do we do this? Simple: through good keyword research.

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is done in order to find words or phrases that the target audience of our product uses and searches in search engines. Subsequently, these keywords will serve us both to optimize and create the content of our digital products, using keywords in our titles, texts, call-to-actions, metadata, etc.. In short, keyword research allows us to find out which keywords are relevant in order to position our product. Sometimes the immensity of this process can be overwhelming, here are some ways to approach it.

The basis of keyword research

A good way to get started with keyword research is to make a list of topics related to your product or business that may be of interest to your target audience. Note that these topics are not directly related your keywords, they are just the starting point for finding them. For example, if you sell yoga courses that are taught at your local center, your topics could be the different types of yoga that are taught in those courses. In this case, if you search for "yoga" in Wikipedia, in the table of contents you will find good ideas of more specific subtopics from which good keywords can be derived.

Wikipedia Index ExampleGoogle related searches example

If you search for those more specific subtopics in Google now and go directly to the bottom of the first page, you'll find that it already gives you a clue as to some related searches that users have done before. You must take these searches into account if you want to add them to your keyword list.

Another trick is to search for some of your keywords and key phrases by adding the word "forum", to see which queries users make most frequently; don't forget that we want to be positioned by those words that users really search for, not by those that we think they should search in relation to our business.

Other Helpful Tips  

Some other free websites and non-Google extensions that offer extensive keyword listings and keyword data are KWFinder, Keywords Everywhere, Keyword Shitter (I didn't name it), Keyword IO, or Ubersuggest, which you can consult and use as you see fit, until you find one that suits you best. I won't go into detail about each of these because this article would be too long, but all of the aforementioned are a few tools used daily by SEO experts around the world.

It is also worth mentioning that to measure the performance of these words, you can use free Google tools such as the Keyword Planner or Google Trends

If you have a budget, among the most recommended paid tools that offer an exhaustive analysis and study in relation to keywords is SEMRush. This platform saves you time because it allows you to see very detailed and extensive information about your competitors and their paid campaigns, which can be crucial in generating your keyword strategy both for organic positioning of your site and for your possible marketing campaigns. 

ahrefs dashboard

As a paid alternative, Ahrefs also has a good keyword search section with detailed information on each word, not just a generic listing.

And how do you know if you're making the right choice?

You have your words, now how do you know what the right ones are? There is no magic formula, but a combination of factors and keyword characteristics that will indicate their quality and relevance to your business or product, which you must know perfectly.

1. Long tail vs. short tail

Keywords are often not just one or two words (or they don't have to be), but rather phrases or search expressions of varying length. There are short tail keywords (or head keywords), which can bring traffic to your site, but the competition to get into the bidding for positioning them is much tighter and they have a lower conversion; and long tail keywords, which are longer and more descriptive keywords, aimed at more specific searches, so the search volume will not be so high, but the probability of conversion will increase.

search volume vs competition graph applied to the structure on a keyword


2. Intention to buy

Depending on the step in which the user is within their purchase decision, also known as conversion funnel, they will search for certain keywords. That is why we must know how nwwe want to position keywords according to whether the user is in the discovery or awareness phase (shorter and more informative keywords), in the consideration or interest phase (longer keywords that already include a brand plus the product we are looking for, for example), or in the decision or purchase phase (these are transactional keywords that are close to the final purchase decision, related to the action).

3. LSI

Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI keywords are those that are within the same semantic field that our keywords and search engines use to understand our content in more detail and depth. Therefore, it is appropriate to add them to our content as they will help us to position it better. There are tools such as LSIGraph, which help us find LSIs according to the subject we indicate.

4. Local keywords

Due to the increase in voice searches, mobile SEO and the importance of geolocation, it is increasingly important to use good local keywords. These keywords are characterized by a high level of conversion, since they are searches with immediate effects and are linked to a very specific purchase intention. Following the example of yoga, it is much more likely that someone will search for "hatha yoga courses in Chicago" than just "hatha yoga courses".

5. Search volume and difficulty

These are 2 specific aspects that we will have to pay attention to when selecting keywords through tools, whether they are free or paid (Google's Keyword Planner is the best option). 

It will always be more complex to compete for words with a high volume of search, since the leading role will normally be taken by the large web pages, so it is always appropriate to select words with a medium volume of search and difficulty. If you find within your relevant keywords a high search volume and low difficulty, you have a golden nugget worth taking advantage of. 

Some final tips

Doing a keyword study is not something static. You should carry out this process periodically to update and optimize your positioning strategy. If you find two or three keywords for which your product is obtaining very good results, you can promote them even more, creating content, for example, on your Youtube channel on that subject, to take advantage of the authority of a platform like YouTube and achieve even a better ranking position.

It is also advisable to create content on your site using keywords that you have observed in your Google Search Console account that get a high number of impressions, but not as many clicks. Thus, we will take advantage of the potential that Google is showing us for that search.

How do we apply keyword research at Modyo?

At Modyo, keyword research is done in the initial stage of product creation, called "inception", as part of the content strategy declared by the Content Manager, and is integrated in the "delivery" stage, both in the creation of content for On-Page SEO (metadata, texts, titles, categories, buttons, etc.), and in the post-business recommendations for future content creation on landing page or marketing campaigns, if necessary. 

Cover photo by Elena Mozhvilo at Unsplash

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