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How to do keyword research in 2022
A crucial part of creating compelling content and web copy for your business is using the right words. These words can showcase who you are, what you are offering, and by extension, what sort of customers should be interested in your products and services.
By using strategically selected keywords that relate to your offering, you will also ensure that any leads you attract are warm – with a reason to be already interested in your business. This brings better conversion rates and sales.
However, to reap the rewards, you need to use the right keywords. There’s a reason 71% of marketers say using strategic words is their number one strategy for search marketing. This starts with effective research.
Our step-by-step guide explains how to do keyword research in 2022 for maximum results.
Understand your business topics
The first step of keyword research is understanding the various topics and phrases related to your business. From here, you can refine the keywords you will target, so that they connect to your offering and attract the appropriate people.
Start by considering the different services and products you offer and how they might be grouped. Another way to think about it is by asking, “what would a customer come to me for?”.
- Example one: a financial broker. Topics could include ‘business finance’, ‘personal finance’, ‘asset management’, ‘debt management’ and ‘financial planning’.
- Example two: a sporting goods retailer. Topics could include ‘sportswear’, ‘sporting shoes’, ‘sports equipment’ and ‘at home gym equipment’.
If your business has strong values as part of its proposition, you may wish to include these. For example, an eco-friendly brand might have a topic on sustainability or the environment.
You can list as many topics as you can come up with but remember that relevancy is crucial. These topics will become your content pillars or buckets – also known as the categories your other keywords fit into to create a well-rounded content plan.
Dive deeper into the detail
Once you have identified your main topics, it’s time to fill each bucket with related words and phrases that address the specific things a customer may be looking for.
If we take the sporting goods retailer example from above, it might look something like this.
CONTENT PILLAR TOPIC: SPORTING SHOES
Keywords: tennis shoes, football boots, golf shoes, running shoes, hiking boots, fitness shoes, ski boots
Each of the keywords represents a product type within the overall category of sporting shoes but more directly addresses a customer’s need.
Using your various topics as inspiration, seek to develop as many keywords as you can. It may also be worth including different variations of keywords, even if they have the same meaning, as this will allow you to cover the different ways users may search.
You may also choose to drill down into even further detail with longer tail phrases that offer extra detail, such as ‘running shoes for women’ or ‘black hiking boots’
Again, remember to focus only on the words that link to your products and services. There’s no point targeting a keyword if you can’t provide any value to a person searching it – and it’ll likely amount to a poor experience.
If you’re struggling with ideas, there are tools to help, such as Answer the Public.
Back it up with data
By now, you should have a list of content topics and associated keywords for your business.
However, you need to verify whether anyone is using those keywords, as this will impact your ability to generate traffic.
To check if your assumptions are accurate, you need data. This is where a keyword research tool is valuable. Fortunately, there are many on the market to help you, with options for every budget and requirement. We’ve listed some of our favourites below.
This paid tool supports comprehensive keyword research, allowing you to search a term to determine the monthly volume of searches, how difficult it is to rank for and how many results it already returns in Google. It can also help you develop new ideas using the related keywords or Keyword Magic functions. This alongside many other services that will drive your SEO efforts.
Google Keyword Planner
Keyword Planner is used to create and monitor paid ads on Google. However, when you make your ad, it will allow you to review the volume of different keywords to determine those that will generate the most traffic and be more likely to be seen amongst your competition.
This is an extension for your internet browser, with free and paid versions available. Once you have it, you just need to search your chosen word or phrase into Google and information about search volumes, and related keywords will show up to the side of your screen.
This is a free tool that tells you how frequently a term has been searched over a set period – which can range from a day up to anytime since 2004! It doesn’t give you a total volume as SEMrush does, but you can hover over data points to see how many searches were compiled for that specific date/week/month.
A benefit of Google Trends that the other tools listed do not have is seeing how search volumes fluctuate over time. You can even compare multiple searches to see which ones are most popular and when. This is helpful for content planning as it allows you to know if you should target a topic at a particular point and monitor changing search behaviour.
If you’re looking for a simple and free way to access search data, look no further than Google itself. While you won’t be able to access specific numbers about how many searches a term has, you will see what is popularly searched. There are two ways to do this.
Firstly, through Google autofill. Start typing a query into Google’s search bar and suggestions will appear based on other popular searches with the same starting letters or words.
Alternatively, you can search a term and see what appears in the ‘People also ask’ or ‘Related searches’ area. This can help you come up with more keywords to target and indicate what questions real people are asking around a particular topic to validate your research.
Confirm volume and difficulty
When validating whether the keywords you’ve brainstormed are worthy, you need to look at two factors: search volume and keyword difficulty.
Search volume tells you how many times that specific query is searched monthly in the way you have worded it. Some tools can also show you the volumes in different countries or regions.
The larger the search volume, the more frequently that term is put into Google. This means you’ll have exposure to more search traffic, which can drive hits to your website. Data shows that 0.16% of the most popular keywords lead to 60.67% of all searches.
However, don’t be alarmed if the volume seems low – it can still generate leads if you provide value and target the niche.
A keyword difficulty score refers to how hard it would be to rank for that search term. It’s given as a percentage between 1 and 100, with 1% being very easy and 100% being extremely difficult. This is determined by how many results are already available, plus what calibre they are (with websites with high domain authority more challenging to compete with).
If a search volume has a very high keyword difficulty, it’s unlikely that you will be able to rank in the first few pages of Google. With the vast majority of traffic clicking on the first page of results and dropping thereafter, it’s essential to achieve a high spot. A lower keyword difficulty means you’re more likely to rank on that first page.
You need to balance a reasonable volume and low keyword difficulty. Using this theory across your keyword research, you should be able to identify words and phrases that bring enough interest while still allowing you to rank well, which should maximise your traffic potential.
Once you have identified the terms you will target, you need to think about how. This means understanding the intent – what the searchers want to find out.
Let’s take the term ‘factory cleaning’. Looking at SEMrush, I can see it has a good search volume of 170 and low keyword difficulty – great!
However, what isn’t clear is what the searchers want. Are they looking to find out how to clean a factory (in which case they would need a step-by-step guide), or do they want to find factory cleaning services to employ? If they want one and get the other, it’s likely to minimise how many clicks I receive and prevent conversions.
The best way to uncover this is to go into Google, search that term and see what the highest-ranking results suggest. If most refer to cleaning services, it’s a sign that’s the term’s primary intent. It doesn’t mean some people won’t want a guide – however, you might see lower traffic than expected.
By taking the time to verify search intent, you can ensure that you are not only targeting the right words but handle them in a way that addresses the needs of the searcher. This will allow you to create great experiences, rank more highly, get more clicks and improve your conversion rates.
Outrank your competitors
At this point, you should have a bank of keywords with traffic and ranking potential, grouped by topics that relate to your business. It’s now time to use them to create content as part of a carefully orchestrated strategy.
You should aim to use these in the appropriate places, such as webpage copy related to specific services or products or blogs covering relevant topics.
However, it’s not as easy as just using the right words and skyrocketing to the top of Google. You need to look at the existing results for those keywords and ask what they offer – and how you can provide extra value.
It’s essential to think from the mind of the average searcher when doing this. Ensure your content answers all their questions and provides any information they might need. You also need to focus on engaging them, such as explaining points clearly or using infographics and other interactive features to make them easier to digest.
By ensuring that you meet the users’ needs, while featuring the appropriate keywords, you can stand a much better chance at beating your competitors and securing the top spots on Google – which can fuel your website traffic and conversion rates.
Search engine optimisation plays a crucial role in your marketing strategy, driving traffic to your website and warming up leads you can later convert into paying customers.
However, the foundation of great SEO is keyword research that enables you to uncover people’s questions concerning your business and value proposition. If you do your research well, you stand a much better chance at ranking in Google and securing traffic.
By understanding how to do keyword research, including the tools available to help and the process to follow, you can build a bank of strategic keywords that bring you the results you desire.