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How to do Keyword Research for Search Engine Optimization

Sonal Panse,

What is Keyword Research

Keyword research and search engine optimization go hand in hand. Keyword research involves finding the specific words and phrases in your particular field that people are most likely to type in or voice in when they are using a search engine to look for information related to that field. If your website content includes the appropriate keywords, there is a good chance that your site's visibility will increase in the search engine rankings, and there may be a corresponding spike in the traffic to your site.

Attracting a relevant traffic is usually the main goal in search engine optimization – visitors that might convert to clients and thereby boost your business - and so it is necessary to think carefully about the kind of keywords you need to use. This is where SEO research comes handy. You must research potential customers and find out what they need, the questions they have, what they are looking for, and what they are likely to look for, and then you can use this information to set up your content marketing strategy.

How to do Keyword Research

There are different ways of carrying out keyword research. You must, of course, first have a clear idea about what you want for your business. Is your objective to simply rank higher in the search engine results, or are you seeking conversions? It is a common mistake to assume that the two are necessarily related. That may not be the case. You might get a lot of traffic from your higher ranking, but if it does not translate to your goal of attracting new customers, it is not really bringing you any concrete gain. So, as mentioned before, carry out some research from the customers' point of view, and come up with a list of core words and phrases that they might possibly use in their search engine queries. These will be your primary keywords. You can use these to dig up a more extensive list of secondary and tertiary keywords, which may be plurals, synonyms, and different permutations of the primary keywords, or otherwise related to them. There are several free and paid keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner (formerly Google Keyword Tool), Wordtracker, and Ubersuggest that you can use for this purpose.

You can also conduct research on social media sites by looking at the terms people are using in their conversations on the topics related to your business. This research can give you an idea of which terms are the most sought after and therefore are most likely to bring you positive results. But then again, the most popular – or competitive – keywords won't automatically take your site to the top, because other sites with more leverage will already be in that spot. Until you have established a similar influential online presence with an equally impressive following, you might be better off paying attention to long tail keywords to garner you an audience. What are long tail keywords? Well, to give an example, if 'illustrator' is your primary keyword, 'how to hire an illustrator' could be your long tail keyword. It is, as you see, more specific than the primary keyword, and can perhaps be more useful in gaining conversions, because people asking specific questions, the answers to which you are providing, will find your website.

How to use Keyword Research to Improve Your Website

Create a database of primary, secondary, tertiary, and long tail keywords, and categorize them according to how you would like them to work for you. Which keywords might perform well on which page? The keywords you would use on your Products page, for example, would be different from the keywords you would use on your About page. Giving this due consideration can certainly make a difference in your search engine optimization. This database will be a work in progress, because, depending on what your business is, there are likely to be plenty of changes and fluctuations in the field, and you will need to keep updating your content marketing strategy if you want to stay afloat. Which means you will need to keep your content evergreen by reviewing it regularly and by removing, adding, and improving the keywords as it becomes necessary.