People want information. And many times, they don’t know where to get it. So they use a search engine to find the best source of information they want. Google, the world’s largest search engine, runs about 3.5 billion searches daily.
This is a big source of traffic that your website can’t afford to miss out. If you miss out on search engine traffic, you might fail to achieve your traffic or lead generation goals.
But how do you get as much traffic from search engines as possible?
Well, by ranking for the keywords that your potential visitors use in the search. It is crucial to rank because according to Outbrain Report, Search Engine is the number 1 driver of traffic to content sites, outperforming social media by more than 300%.
It’s possible to have great content on your website and still fail to rank on search engines if you fail to optimize your content.
When it comes to gaining the most search visibility, you have to rank on the first page.
Sometimes, the first page results could be top 10 organic listings or less depending on the number of ads. You should be on the first page for the keyword you’re trying to ranks for because 75% of clicks go to the search results on the first page.
Search Traffic is targeted
The beauty of search engine traffic is that it’s usually targeted and easier to convert. Why? Because a reader searching for a term is hungry to find more information about the term. Or more open to buying a product.
How do you use the right keywords that will bring the traffic you want and help you meet your sales target? You can achieve this mainly through keyword research.
For instance, if you love the topic “brands in sales” and use it for your post but your readers are searching for “best brands in sales,” you could lose a lot of potential traffic.
Keyword research is so important that marketers rate it as their second most effective SEO tactic used.
When it comes to keyword research, your methodology determines the level of insights you gain.
Here are some important factors to consider in keyword research
i). Volume: The volume of your keyword is the number of users searching for the keyword monthly. If your website is not an authority website, you want to avoid search terms with high volume. Because those search terms tend to be very competitive.
ii). Competition: it’s usually correlated to volume but not always. Some keywords are competitive, and it’s advisable not to spend your efforts and resources on such keywords. Because there are many authority websites with deeper pockets than you trying to rank for such keywords.
The ideal situation you want is a keyword with high volume but low competition.
In this post, I’m going to show you 9 proven research tactics you can use to find keywords that will improve your visibility in the search engines.
1). Make a list of topics you want to rank for
The first thing you have to do in your keyword research is to list the topics you want to rank for. This is usually the groups your website’s content belong to.
Let’s look at an example of a website that is about content marketing, its list of topics will include:
- How to convert
- Email marketing
- Marketing Automation
After listing these topics, then you pick a particular topic and list keywords or phrases that your potential readers may search for. Let’s say I’m going for the topic ‘email marketing,’ then I’ll consider keywords like:
- How to improve email open rate
- Increase email click-through rate (CTR)
- Email content that converts
- How to improve email conversion
- Email software providers
- How to automate email marketing
…And so on.
There are many keywords you can find under each topic. And the thing is you don’t even have to brainstorm that much to get effective keywords.
There are effective keyword tools you can use that will give you as many keywords suggestion as you can use. We’ll get into that later in the post.
Except your website is brand new, you’re already getting search traffic. What are the keywords you’re already ranking for? It’s a good strategy to consolidate a narrow niche that you’re already ranking for.
If your aim is to rank for every keyword in your industry, you’re doing your SEO wrong. Because it will lead to waste of time and resources and you’ll still fail to achieve that, due to fierce competition.
A better strategy is to narrow down your niche so that you can get more results for your efforts. If you’re ranking for some keywords in a niche, then you should optimize those posts to rank higher and create more comprehensive content to rank for more keywords in the same niche.
After optimizing relevant keywords on their posts, Skilled Up increased organic traffic to their website by 343%.
2). Use Google Keyword Planner
The Google Keyword Planner is the most popular tool when doing keyword research — but that doesn’t make it less effective. Google has the largest database of searches and most of the SEO tools get their information from Google. So this is a tool you can’t neglect.
One thing you have to note is that a tool is only as good as you knowing how to use it. Google Keyword Planner was initially Google Keyword Tool.
To use the keyword planner now, you have to register for the AdWords account — although you don’t have to create ads.
Simply input your target keyword (e.g., digital photography) or your competitor’s website URL (e.g., improvephotography.com), and click on “Get ideas.” Then pick your favorite keywords from the list.
By using keyword planner as part of its content analysis, Body Applicator Wraps increased its organic traffic by 18,867.14% in 6 months.
Additionally, you can use Google Trends to find keyword popularity. Google Trends gives you important information about the keyword you’re trying to rank for.
Sometimes, the volume of search for a keyword may give us the picture of how popular it is — but that may not be the case. It may be competitive during the festive season, assuming you’re targeting specific product keywords such as Halloween costumes.
What if the search volume for the keyword has been falling for the past year? It may still have a large volume today but Google Trends will show you that volume is bound to fall. You don’t want to rank for such a keyword.
However, another keyword may have a relatively low volume today while having an upward trend. You want to rank for such keywords before the volume becomes large and the competition gets tougher.
- Utilize long-tail keywords
The long tail is one of the beauties of the Internet. In a post on the Wired (that now has a book) , The Long Tail, Chris Anderson talks about how the Internet has allowed less popular items to survive.
More than half of Amazon’s book sales come outside its top 100,000 titles. Its recommendation engine ensures that even the low volume books that are related to high volume books get sold.
This scenario also plays out for keywords. HubSpot’s study showed that up to 50% of search queries are 4 words or longer.
You have the head that pulls a lot of search volume. The head keywords usually have between 1 and 3 words. But these keywords most times are too vague and shows no intent on the part of the person searching.
The worst part is that it’s very difficult to rank for these keywords because of high competition. Consider these two keywords:
Buy cheap men shoes for winter
It’s obvious that the first keyword will have more search volume. But the first keyword shows no intent. Someone could search for shoes for any reason that may be irrelevant to your website.
But the second keyword shows intent and is more profitable to you if you want to sell shoes. The second keyword will also have a lower competition which means you can rank faster for this term without wasting too much of your resources.
Gary Beal doubled CTR and lowered the cost of his million-dollar AdWords campaign by $90,000 when he used specific long-tail search phrases instead of generic terms.
Making a list of long-tail keywords is a better strategy for you, especially if you don’t have an authoritative or trusted website that will rank for any keyword.
- Adapt your keywords to user intent
Most of your keyword research is trying to predict how your potential readers will behave. Essentially, you want to know the words and terms they will use when searching online.
This usually depends on why they’re searching and what they’re aiming to achieve.
If you’re selling drinking water, for example, you have to determine why people would need water. This can inform your keywords, which may be different from the general keywords but related.
For instance, ‘how to cure thirst’ is related to selling water but doesn’t have the word ‘water’ itself.
Using Google Keywords Planner, Emil Shour of SnackNation detected a strong commercial intent in the keyword ‘wellness program ideas’. He used this to make better content that got him ranked number 1 for that term and led to monthly revenue of $100,000.
Without thinking of user intent, it will be difficult to come up with some important keywords. Thinking of the benefits of your products or services give you insight into what users will search for when they need your product.
- Get keywords from competitors’ websites
Sometimes, it’s easy to get stuck while thinking of keywords your potential readers use. But you can get many clues from competitors’ websites, especially authoritative websites.
To gain authority in a niche, you must have done many things right. Authoritative websites rank for many keywords. These keywords can give you an insight into what users are searching for.
But this doesn’t mean you should only pay attention to keywords that these websites rank for. Often times, there are other keywords that they don’t rank for and you may even try to rank for these keywords as there will be low competition.
You can also check for the most popular posts on these websites. You can use a tool like BuzzSumo to check for the popular posts on a website — and then analyze the keywords used in these posts.
- Use Google Suggest
When you enter a particular keyword into Google search bar, Google’s Autocomplete feature gives a suggestion of various words to complete the search.
This is important because the data to complete your search term is pulled from previous searches by other users. This tells you the keywords your potential customers have been using to search for the content, product or service you’re offering.
ou can put one or two keywords in the search bar to see all the suggestions. To utilize long-tail keywords, you can continue to increase the number of words. This will give you more keywords that are useful for optimizing your content.
To get suggestions that are closely related to your search term, you can use a wildcard between the search terms to give you more suggestions.
Google Suggest is also important for Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). In the English vocabulary, there are many words that can have more than a single meaning. For instance, bat could refer to an animal or the one used in sports.
LSI uses the context of your search to determine which one you’re looking for. If you’re searching for Titanic, it could either be about the ship itself or the movie made with the same title.
When you get suggestions during your search, you’re able to get the words that are closely related to your search. This is to avoid confusion if you’re trying to rank for a term that has more than a single meaning.
You can use the free tool LSI graph to get more suggestions for words used with your keyword.
By using LSI keywords to update archived blog posts, OptinMonster grew its monthly traffic to more than 600,000 unique visits.
Do you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine after its parent company (i.e., Google)? This is because people not only go to watch funny clips — but to also learn from tutorials and other educational content.
And YouTube has its own search suggestions due to popular searches users have made. You can get many keywords to use for your content. This is especially useful if you’re going to create videos for your written content.
- Use Google’s ‘related search’
At the bottom of each search page, there are usually related searches which are similar to your search term. This may give you other keywords that users have used to search for similar things.
For example, when I search for “marketing strategies for property agents,” when I scrolled down the page, here are the related keywords I can optimize my landing pages with.
You can click on the related search closest to your search to get more keywords for its related search. You can continue this until you have generated enough keywords to use on your website.
An online store for Dickies WorkWear focused on ‘Dickies’ and keywords that are related such as ‘work wear’, ‘safety boots’ and other terms. This approach resulted in a 63% traffic growth and a 47% increase in sales.
- Use Question and Answer websites
Questions and Answers websites like Quora and Yahoo! Answers are gold mines when looking for keywords. Keywords are usually words that website visitors use in their daily interactions.
When you go to a Question & Answer website, you’re looking at search terms that people use most times. You can get many keywords when you look at the questions in the categories that are related to your content.
Another way you can utilize questions and answers, especially if you’re selling products, is through Amazon question and answers. After a product review, there is usually a part where users can ask questions.
When you see these questions, you’ll know the pain points of such customers. And more so, you’ll be able to craft content that will solve these problems using the keywords that customers are interested in.
By using Quora, Canva got top questions (about typefaces, fonts, and typography) that users asked on the website and wrote high-quality blog posts to address these questions. This led to a 226% increase in traffic.
- Write for your audience
A keyword research tactic you should try is having a conversational tone in your content. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger suggests that a better SEO strategy is to write for humans rather than computers.
In years past, it’s easy to stuff your posts with keywords and still get ranked on search engines even if this has affected user experience negatively. But no more!
One of the criteria used for ranking now is to create posts that deliver a great user experience to the visitors. Stuffing keywords in your post could affect your user experience and hinder your search ranking.
This will not only affect your search visibility negatively but may also get your website penalized by Google. Worse, your page may be removed from search engine results.
The purpose of search engine optimization is to bring more visitors to your website. But that is not all. SEO is also a means to an end. You want to convert your visitors from search engines.
Doing keyword research is not only going to help you gain organic search traffic and ranking — it’ll also help you build your email list, drive a richer engagement to your content pages, generate targeted leads, improve user experience, and grow your revenue.
Use these keyword research tactics to get ahead in 2018.