Let's talk... SEO
Why keyword research is so important
Keyword research is often cited as one of the most crucial pieces of research informing your digital marketing strategy.
It identifies keywords and search topics that are both relevant to your business whilst also aligning with what your ideal customers are actually searching on Google as part of their purchasing decisions.
Keyword research empowers many components of your marketing activity. By conducting it effectively, you will draw the right leads to your brand website. This has knock-on effects on engagement, conversion rates and brand awareness.
If you aren’t actively conducting keyword research regularly, then let’s get started. This guide explores why keyword research drives significant results, making it a vital tool for your marketing strategy.
The reasons why keyword research is so important
It empowers SEO
Keyword research is integral to SEO. It allows you to uncover the specific terms and phrases that people are actually using when searching for products and services like yours, which can drive traffic toward your website.
By conducting effective keyword research, you will be able to build an SEO strategy that allows you to implement the best and most relevant words and phrases into your website content. This raises your position on Google, helping you to rank highly for terms customers are searching to find businesses like yours.
The more relevant the terms are, the warmer the leads are, actively looking for your support.
SEO has been proven to drive over 1000% more traffic than organic social media, with the lion’s share of clicks going to results on the first page of Google. You can therefore access significant results by optimising your content, starting with knowing your keywords.
It inspires great content
What people search for reflects what they’re interested in. We use Google as a doctor, advisor, entertainer, and confidante. People’s searches dictate their opinions, desires, likes, queries, and pain points.
Using keyword data enables you to create content that quenches your target audience’s needs and answers their questions.
Keyword research empowers a user-focused content strategy that engages and nurtures your audience, so you become a trusted thought leader with content that consistently adds value and builds relationships.
It also allows you to provide the knowledge they need to move forward in the customer journey – ideally, to then make an informed purchase with your brand.
It fuels website performance
92.96% of global traffic comes from Google search, Google Images or Google Maps. Further, 68% of online experiences start with a search engine. If you really want website traffic, then you need the power of search.
The amount of traffic you receive depends on how popular your keywords are. 0.16% of the most popular keywords are responsible for 60.67% of searches. Keyword research is essential in identifying those popular keywords to your market that will win over as many potential customers as possible.
You stand a better chance of converting leads into customers with more traffic. Better yet, by using ‘relevant’ keywords, the people you attract should be more engaged because they have a genuine interest – which will boost bounce rates, session times and any other website metrics you’re monitoring.
It improves customer understanding
Understanding your customers and their needs is inherent towards doing good business and gaining loyalty. Making the effort allows you to deliver tailored and value-added experiences that drive engagement and achieve your desired outcome.
A person’s search history provides qualitative data about their lives. As we’ve already mentioned, Google is often used to ask our most private questions – things we wouldn’t even ask our friends. By utilising keyword research, you will gain a sense of what the public is searching for and, as a result, what they’re interested in or worried about.
With this understanding, you can focus on providing support that meets their requirements. It could be educating them on a topic they’re confused about or showcasing a product that overcomes a barrier in their lives.
Whatever they’re looking for, your job is to fill the gap and assist. If you do this well, they’re likely to leave with a better opinion of your brand and more inclined to purchase from you.
It builds out your value proposition
Your value proposition is at the very heart of your business. It’s why a customer should choose you over any other company.
If you are trying to carve out your value proposition or improve it, keyword research will help. It highlights what people want based on the topics they’re searching for and questions they ask.
You can create an offering that aligns with customer needs with this insight which means creating sufficient demand to drive revenue and other financial rewards.
It puts you above the competition
All your competitors are pursuing the same customers as you. Your mission is to stand out from them, and rank higher, for the right reasons.
Keyword research enables you to implement the correct terms into your content, ranking you highly on Google. Using keywords effectively increases the likelihood of securing the top spot where over 25% of traffic goes.
Further, by using the keywords you uncover, you can determine what competitor content is ranking. Review the content and aim to offer added value which will again help you appear above other websites and encourage leads to come to you rather than someone else.
It refines cross-channel copy
While keyword research usually focuses on the channels associated with SEO, specifically website and content, it helps refine copy across all your platforms.
One of the advantages of keyword research is understanding the language your customers are using, such as terminology. You can then reflect this across your communications to create synchronicity.
By uncovering what users are interested in or specific information they want to know, you will embed suitable themes and topics into your content on social media, email, video and so on. This will enable you to maximise engagement across these channels and align with your audience better.
5 easy tips for keyword research
Keyword research is simple to conduct if you know where to start. We’ve listed five quick tips below. For an in-depth dive, read our guide to doing keyword research in 2022.
Start with broad topics
The easiest way to begin research is to identify generic terms related to your business. Examples include product types, service types or information about what you do.
If I ran a car repair shop, terms would include:
- Car parts
- Car repair
- Mechanics in [location]
List as many as possible, as these will give you the categories needed to further brainstorm your keywords in more detail.
Filter down into the detail
Once you have your broad topics, you can drill into the detail with long-tail keywords. These tend to be more specific and detailed.
Sticking with the car repair shop, examples of longer-tail keywords are:
- Car engine making weird noise
- Car oil leak
- Engine parts for [car model]
These longer phrases are helpful as they enable you to uncover what your potential customers are asking. You can use them to provide the nuance for your broader topics, so you answer any possible questions. They’re also helpful in inspiring content titles that explore the queries in even finer detail.
It’s not enough to brainstorm your own keywords, i.e those that are specific to your products and services. You must reconcile that the terminology and words are representative of what your customers are actually searching for. This is where data comes in to play.
Plenty of tools are available to help with functionality to unbury keyword volumes to see how often terms are searched or inspire more keywords. We’ve listed some of our favourites below.
- SEMrush/Ahrefs – comprehensive SEO tools, allowing you to verify the search volume of any keyword or give recommendations for popular keywords based on similar topics
- Google autocomplete – start typing in a word into Google, and you will get a list of potential searches Google thinks you might be looking at – these tend to be popular searches for inspiring your content
- Answer the Public – a tool where you can type in broad keywords you are hoping to target and generate lists of long-tail searches you might wish to use
- ‘People also ask’ – when you complete a search on Google, scroll to the bottom of the page, and you’ll likely find a ‘People also ask’ box, which includes related popular searches
Confirm volume and difficulty
Tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs will show the monthly search volumes behind different keywords. The higher the volume, the more traffic you can expect.
However, it’s not always that simple. Some keywords are very competitive, with well-known websites already ranking in the top spot. If you’re a small business, it’s tough to outrank them, especially if they’re a highly authoritative website and a business with far deeper pockets than you!
That is why it’s vital to check the difficulty of your keywords (also shown in most SEO tools). This metric indicates how easy it would be to rank for a particular word. You want to uncover sufficient volume terms which are possible for your business to rank for – a difficulty of around 50% or lower is usually a good sign.
Intent is used to describe the purpose of an online search. You need to understand a user’s intent so that you can ensure that your content can actively help to fulfil their needs.
For example, if a person searched ‘how to fix a tyre puncture’, we can assume they’re looking to do it themselves and need help in undertaking this task. A car mechanic business might still want to rank for the term and present themselves as an expert in the field.
Whilst the user may not come to your business for a service, you can still build a relationship by offering valuable content such as a ‘how to do it yourself guide’, and, if they do decide to get support in the future, your business will hopefully be the ones they approach because you were helpful. It’s a useful activity for building very early-stage relationships that have the potential to convert at a later date.
If you get the intent wrong, you’re unlikely to get significant results, even if you rank well, as you aren’t providing what searchers are looking for. Therefore, a conversion is unlikely.
There are many rewards associated with excellent keyword research. It’s crucial to generate traffic through search, streamlining your content strategy and giving you a deep understanding of your customers, so that you are best placed to fulfil their needs.
You absolutely must include keyword research in your marketing strategy. You should also aim to revisit your research regularly in order to maximise results and keep ranking highly for the right terms. This will offer the consistent results every business wants.