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The Importance of Keyword Research

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Shannon Valentine

Keyword research used to be the backbone of informed SEO practice and essential to the general running of your website.

However, with regular Google updates, including the latest one on AI and discoverability (find out more later on in this post), keyword research isn’t as necessary as it once was. Regardless of this, it still has to be done. 

So, before getting started with your keyword research, you must ask the following questions:

  • What is the primary focus of your website and of your content?
  • Would your target audience expect to find that piece of content on your site?
  • Does the content relate to what you do rather and ‘fit’ with your offering?

It is a lot easier to determine what keywords you will need to use on a specific page when there is a clear idea on the topics and what information you want to include.

How to get started with keyword research

Before you can even think about adding content to your website, you need to conduct in-depth keyword research. This will help you to discover which keywords will work best to attract your target audience and ensure you are writing with a purpose.  Keyword research will provide an insight on what your target audiences are looking for, by showing up the terms they are putting into search engines.

 

Gain a better understanding of keywords

Although keyword research seems like the first step, your journey really begins with understanding the concept of why you need keywords in the first place.

The two main reasons are:

  • Traffic volumes: The number of people who search for a particular keyword or phrase on a daily or monthly basis.
  • Competition:  How many other websites are using that keyword in their marketing activities. These are categorised by low, medium and high.

Vanity metrics & keyword research

When you see high numbers, you may feel compelled to choose those keywords as they will result more traffic and sales right?

Not necessarily.

There is usually a reason why so many people are searching under this keyword or phrase. Reasons include:

  • Broad topic – Under these circumstances, you may direct a lot of irrelevant users to your site. This will negatively impact on your bounce rate and ranking.
  • Seasonal – Are you doing research at a time when this word would naturally be searched for a lot?
  • Branded – You will never beat a brand when it comes to rankings. So, it’s best not to even try. It is also a reasonably underhand tactic to attract traffic too.

Highly searched terms may be relevant to your business. But, before you implement them, take a step back and think about the person who is searching and what content they intend to find.  We actually recommend looking at longer tailed phrases with smaller search numbers and lower competition. Start small at the top, rather than all guns blazing at the bottom!

Ranking for long-tail keywords

A keyword would be something simple such as, “marketing”. A long-tail keyword is much more specific, such as “ marketing company Hampshire”, which would be relevant to the team here at The Typeface Group.  Long-tail keywords are much easier to rank for as the search volumes are lower, relevancy is higher and click-through rates are greater. These are all important ranking factors.

With the new Google updates in place, search engines are aiming to provide audiences with the best possible response to their queries using AI. This is where the way in which business conduct keyword research has changed. It is no longer a prominent factor how well optimised your website pages are to a particular keyword or phrase. It will be based on the content within that optimised page to how well suited it is to the searcher’s ‘intent’.

Keyword research is still relevant, but you need to be more specific. Writing optimised content just for the sake of having new content for your site is no longer going to serve the purpose it once did. You must write with your customer’s expectations in mind and focus on what they are already searching for.

Keyword placement density

Once you’ve found those relevant keywords, you can make a start on optimising your content and see your organic traffic increase – as well as those conversions.

You have to ensure you are putting keywords in the correct place. Ensuring it is mentioned in Heading 1 (H1), the first paragraph, perhaps a subheading (H3, H4) and throughout the text where necessary, ensuring you do not go overboard.

When Google and other search engine robots go through your webpage, they aim to find which keywords your page should rank. This is based on keyword density. Whilst it’s important to target through keywords, keyword stuffing is a definite no-go. This is the overuse of keywords on a page. It is very frowned upon. In fact, you will receive a Google penalty for doing so. Yoast, one of the most popular SEO plugins for blog post analysis, suggests keyword density should be between 0.5% and 2.5% in each article.

Keyword research provides an insight into how users search and what content may be needed on your site. We use Web CEO to conduct keyword analysis for ourselves and our clients.  Keywords are still relevant, and the right mixture of keywords makes you visible in the online world. Without them, you could be wasting time creating content, whether it is good quality or not. 

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