Ongoing, consistent keyword research is critical to a strong online presence.
While keyword research has seen its share of changes over the years, it remains a useful part of content creation.
Keyword research is online ROI.
Real, true, return-on-investment: find the right keywords, and you can create content with the potential for high Google rankings inside the next year (remember, content is a long-term investment). Using the right keywords allows you to use the direct terms of your customers and target audience.
Keyword research is the tool you use to spread your message and stand out in your field. Every content developer worth his or her words knows it is a piece of the bigger picture when it comes to ranking and reaching.
Understanding why, and how, will add vitality to your brand’s presence. Skimp here, and you’ll find yourself stuck in the same place with the same results. But there is a way to dive in, find the right keywords, and strengthen your online presence. Let’s discuss!
Why Consistent Keyword Research Is Fundamental to a Strong Online Presence
Let’s dive in with three big reasons why keyword research is vital to a strong presence.
1. Consistent keyword research helps you get to know and understand your ideal target persona.
Focusing too much on specific keywords without a focus on the user behind the screen is a big mistake.
Keywords are the words we are trying to rank for, but your buyer persona doesn’t really care about the “keyword” itself. What they care about is finding the best results for their search term.
When you type something into a Google search, you have a purpose. Your goal is to find out more information about a new restaurant, read a news story, or look for a local service.
This means that one simple change in a word can produce far different results.
It’s all about intent.
Example: When someone searches for “hire a gardener” on Google, the first results are fairly generic and include results from sites like Home Advisor, WikiHow, and Gardens Illustrated. These are general how-to guides aimed at anyone who wants to know how to plant a flower, when to weed, and what type of fertilizer works best. The results are not specific to location or service type.
But change that search to “hire a gardener in Austin,” and the results are much different.
With the addition of just a few more words, we see the best gardeners in the Austin area based on reviews from other customers. These are meant for those searchers who are far into the process and want real answers.
There is intent behind this specific search.
By understanding how a user will search, you can narrow your focus and dive deeper into keyword research, rather than just stringing words together. This will allow you to craft focused content, target your persona, and see results.
Content creators often make the mistake of spending too much time on specific phrases and terms while neglecting to understand the user intent behind the words. Rather than try to guess what your audience means by a search query, keyword research helps you understand the intent behind the language.
2. Consistent keyword research keeps it natural.
How we search on the web has changed significantly over the past few decades. The rise of voice search and advanced technology has contributed to the way we look for everything from pizza delivery to books on Amazon.
Today, users are more likely to phrase a search as a question, as if they are talking to a friend, rather than searching with just two or three words.
Or in some cases, they search online the same way they ask Alexa or Siri a question. It’s natural and less stuffy.
A2: Always write with your audience in mind and use keywords in a way that’s natural, not forced. Keyword stuffing isn’t cool. #semrushchat
— Express Writers (@ExpWriters) December 21, 2016
This trend toward more natural language is due to a few factors, including:
Search engine capabilities: No one wants to sit and string together a bunch of keyword combinations, especially as they search through a mobile device. We are searching quickly, and we don’t have time to wait around for an answer.
Search technology: Google welcomes complex questions, as explained in this blog post, and the search engine understands more specific queries. Technology is keeping pace, and the faster it answers, the faster the user expects it to be.
Search through digital assistants: Ask Alex, Cortana, or your smartphone, and you’ll get an answer. Here is what Will Oremus from Slate had to say about the future of search in the wake of these popular devices:
In the beginning, computers spoke only computer language, and a human seeking to interact with one was compelled to do the same. First came punch cards, then typed commands…the 1980s brought the mouse click and the graphical user interface to the masses; the 2000s, touch screens; the 2010s, gesture control and voice. It has all been leading, gradually and imperceptibly, to a world in which we no longer have to speak computer language, because computers will speak human language—not perfectly, but well enough to get by. And the implications…will be tremendous. (Slate)
Using long-tail keywords in a natural way will reach your audience quicker as they search, which will make your communication more effective and specific.
3. Consistent keyword research brings relevancy and leaves an impression.
When content creators take the time to find the most relevant and meaningful keywords for their target group – which happens when we understand our audience – it changes everything. Relevant, long-tail keywords contribute to successful SEO and more qualified traffic.
Here is the truth: if someone is searching with a long-tail keyword in the form of a question, and you have optimized for shorter keywords that don’t hold meaning, your results will not be as relevant.
We can challenge ourselves here to go even beyond just relevant content and strive to produce amazing content. Relevance combined with amazing equals results that will go beyond our expectations.
How do we find relevant terms, those that our target audience is searching for? With consistent keyword research.
3 of Our Favorite SEO Search Tools
When you’re ready to dive into keyword research, here are some of our favorite tools you can use right now. Check ‘em out!
This killer SEO tool performs keyword research, tracks keyword strategy used by your competition, runs an SEO audit of your blog, and looks for backlink opportunities, just to name a few of the features. SEMrush houses a database of over 46 million domains and 120 million keywords while tracking the organic position of a domain and competitor analysis.
This keyword research and analysis tool offers real-time keyword SEO difficulty and generates long-tail keywords related to your niche that your competitors may be missing. Perform a search on a keyword and the site will analyze, providing you with an SEO competition score out of 100, giving you the keyword difficulty based on comparison across the market.
Also, one reason I love this tool is the absolutely gorgeous UX. I mean, what other tool is this pretty?
This cool search tool grabs and maps keyword suggestions and predictions with a free visual report. The common Google and Bing autosuggest reports show you what is actually being searched for based on the keyword you enter.
A recent AnswerThePublic search for “online content writing” resulted in this visual and alphabetical list.
The site works to automate the gathering of questions related to your keyword, creating a visualization of the data so you can answer more effectively. The insight you can gain is invaluable and may serve as a jumpstart to relevant long-tail keyword creation for content writers.
Of course, you can only use this tool if you’re comfortable doing so while having a stranger stare at you and, at times, pick his teeth. 😉
Are Keywords Still Relevant? The Big Ticket Question Discussed
When it comes to keyword research and its effectiveness for online content, the opinions are as varied as a can of fruit cocktail.
I talk about this question more in-depth in my recent post, Is Keyword Density Dead?
TL;DR: keyword density is certainly dead. But keywords themselves are certainly not.
While keywords may not be the only factor we now consider, they remain an important part of content development in a world of ever-changing SEO and technology.
In fact, long-tail keywords (those with more than four words) still account for 50% of search queries, which reminds us that it’s important to use them in page titles and content, in internal links, and in user-generated reviews.
Keyword research has changed, but the goal of creating quality content remains the same.
When brands and website owners commit to understanding their audience, keeping the word flow as natural as possible, and staying relevant, the results will be a solid offering that meets the reader right where they are.
Are you ready to build the cornerstone of great content? Our Content Strategists are trained to do just that in our Keyword Strategy service! Connect with us today and let’s get to work.