Keyword research is generally any new marketer’s first exposure to search engine optimization (SEO).
As one of the central aspects of the most critical SEO methods, keywords play an extremely important role. As a result, it makes sense that they are among the most common items most people associate with SEO.
However, without a proper understanding of how keywords are discovered and used when implementing SEO, you could be making serious errors in your SEO marketing efforts.
For example, many people mistakenly assumed that keywords lost their importance when Google Analytics redacted much of their readily available information on SEO keywords. Others believe that keywords are to be understood individually or that context and relevance are of little importance.
To clear up these misconceptions, it is important to understand keywords, keyword research, and the importance of both to implement SEO effectively.
1. Branding Is Everything
It is entirely possible that the traffic coming to your page is not there for the reasons you assume. Think about it — without keyword research, you have no firm proof of why people are coming to your website. You can assume it is to access your wealth of information or for your eCommerce products, but unless you put in the time to research, this is ultimately a guess.
If you conduct keyword research, you’ll find the words and phrases that commonly drive clicks to your website. If it lines up with what you assumed, great. Continue to highlight those keywords in your SEO efforts. However, the more likely scenario is that your keyword research will reveal something you hadn’t expected.
People may be drawn to your site due to irrelevant keywords or maybe searching for the information you hadn’t thought to make easily accessible. Once you know this information, you can understand what you need to highlight.
Identifying your website’s strongest keywords and most heavily trafficked landing pages allows you to better utilize them to your advantage.
2. Keywords Can Drive New Business
Most business owners think they understand their customers, and in a way, that is true. However, just because you understand the products and services people like does not mean you know the terms they are searching for when they go online.
Many people who don’t research their keywords simply lose out on SEO’s full potential. Doing research allows you to closely match what people are searching for with the content on your website, which allows your site to rank higher on search results.
Perhaps even more importantly, you can identify other closely related, relevant keywords that may provide more tangential site traffic when people are searching for products and services similar to your own.
By performing keyword research, you can begin to include additional keywords you’d been missing. This is especially important if your brand has blogs, infographics, videos, or other content shared on other websites and social media outlets.
As your content is shared and appears in more searches, it can draw attention from audiences who otherwise wouldn’t have known about you. However, without the proper research to discover keywords people are searching for, you won’t know what to include in your shareable content to make it successful.
3. Search Methods Are Changing
It really can’t be overstated how much the internet and search engines have changed in the last few decades.
When the search engine concept was first introduced, people tended to enter search queries in truncated, computer-friendly language. For example, in 1998, someone who wanted to know the amount of potassium in a banana would have typed “potassium banana.”
With developments to the Google algorithm and the general ways we’ve begun to enter queries in a more conversational tone, someone typing a similar query into a search engine today would likely enter “how much potassium in a banana?”
Perhaps even more significantly, an increasing number of users aren’t typing their questions at all, but rather saying them aloud to Siri, the Google Assistant, or whichever AI their phone or home devices employ.
Researching the keywords and phrases users are currently searching via voice allows you to understand that you should optimize your page not just for “potassium” and “banana,” but the entire question that is likely to be asked. This research lets you hone in on the seemingly inconsequential parts of a search that actually may be the key to gaining website traffic.
4. Google Is Smart, But It is Not That Smart
Even though we’ve begun interacting with our devices more conversationally, it is key to remember that Google and other search engines are not people. They have complicated algorithms and machine learning techniques that often bring us what we want, but they don’t have the interpretive powers humans do.
As a result, despite Google’s remarkable ability to interpret what people mean when searching for phrases and individual keywords, you’ll still need to incorporate specific keywords into your web copy and content.
Performing keyword research provides you with insight regarding the keywords and key phrases your customers are searching for. By deconstructing this intel on a landing page-by-page basis, you can optimize each of your pages for the groupings of keywords most likely to drive traffic for the page’s purpose. This works to your advantage by boosting you as a result for related searches on each of your pages.
5. You Can Hone In On Demographics
Keyword research is especially powerful when it comes to learning more about your current customers’ demographics and attracting new groups.
You can examine your top-performing keywords and gather demographics information about the group that most commonly searches for them. Then, search for opportunities to link to the geographic areas your demographic frequents or find other keywords, interests, and other topics that appeal to them.
By looking into the interests and searches of your desired customers, you can potentially begin to include information that they may search for in blogs and articles.
For example, if you find millennial women commonly search your top keywords as they relate to your niche, conducting more in-depth research would tell you that millennial women make up the bulk of the population of Instagram.
Including Instagram-friendly content, mentioning Instagram, or even utilizing Instagram itself to research what is popular among your key demographic can provide valuable traffic and information. This gives you a higher chance of showing up in millennial women’s searches, boosting your exposure to your desired market.
6. Utilize Both Evergreen and Topical Keywords
Researching keywords allows you to use several types to broaden your coverage for your target markets. Evergreen keywords are words that are used consistently and without much variance.
However, topical keywords are more popular temporarily or seasonally. These could involve a recent trending topic or can involve a specific time of year or holiday.
To capture as many user intents as possible, it is good practice to use a combination of both of these keyword types on your site. Evergreen keywords give you authority and consistent traffic, while topical keywords show web crawlers and human users alike that your information is fresh and your webpage is consistently relevant.
To identify relevant evergreen and topical keywords, it is critical to perform keyword research and develop a good mix.
7. Keyword Research Is Important
Though SEO, search engines, and keywords absolutely change and evolve, they are not going anywhere. As Google begins to prioritize user experience (UX) and other technical SEO aspects of your website, commentary and analysis may fall by the wayside.
However, using on-page SEO like relevant keywords to drive traffic to your website is just as important as it ever was. Make sure you are conducting thorough keyword research to lead the most lucrative users to your sales and conversion pages.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.