A Complete Guide to Keyword Research for SEO
If you are wondering why keyword research is so important to search engines, then think of keywords as questions. These are questions that users ask, which Google strives to answer in the best possible way.
If you were Google, you will try to provide the best answer for the question. Since, there are hundreds of web pages that can answer the question, Google algorithms try to rank the questions according to the usefulness of the content – an excellent content will be displayed before a good content, and so on.
SEO, search engine optimization, can be described as a method to answer a search query. If your method of presenting your answer to Google is better than your competitor, your content will be presented at the top of the search result. In simple words, these questions are basically keywords that people use to search for an answer.
Someone looking for information regarding soccer can type the keyword ‘soccer’ in the search engine, which will allow Google to display the information about soccer. Similarly, keyword such as ‘soccer shoes’ tells Google that the person is interested in getting soccer shoes. ‘Branded soccer shoes for kids’ is yet another type of keyword that tells Google to provide the best result for the branded soccer shoes that kids will love to wear.
There are literally limitless keywords that people use to find relevant information on the Internet. However, you need to understand what keywords you should focus on, and how you should present them to the end user. This is precisely where SEO keyword research comes in, which ensures that your page is properly optimized to answer the question.
The following is a list of eight most widely used keywords in search engine. Some of these keywords are used for online advertising while other keywords are useful for organic SEO results. Understanding the type of keywords will definitely help in making the right decision regarding Google keyword research.
The main keywords are words that describe the nature of your business or products. Also known as primary keywords, these are used as the backbone of your business. For instance, if you have retail outlet that sells soccer shoes, your primary keyword is ‘soccer shoes’ and its variations that can also include words such as football shoes and soccer boots.
These main keywords are mostly included in the title and domain of a web page. Mostly, the main keyword is always included in the content; therefore, you can automatically rank for the main keyword without intensive SEO marketing. The main keyword is important because it describes the content of the web page and associated services.
From SEO perspective, it can take a long time to attract potential visitors for the main keyword because of the intense competition. A business that sells soccer shoes will face competition from a lot of other websites that are also targeting the main keyword. Due to the competitive environment, SEO professionals seldom try to rank for the main keyword because such keywords are automatically ranked as the content of a website increases with the passage of time.
Instead, the focus of Google keyword research is to target many other types of keywords, described below. It also means that you cannot ignore the important of main keywords because the primary keyword is vital to influence the rankings of your other keywords. Hence, it is practical to use primary keywords on a regular basis along with other type of keywords. Usually, a good SEO expert offers a list of primary keyword to select before running a campaign. The success of all other secondary and tertiary keywords will depend on understanding the scope and volume of your main keyword.
LSI keywords are basically keywords that are related to the primary search term. In short, they are synonyms, or similar keywords that are linked to the main keyword. Following are some of the examples of LSI keywords for the primary keyword, ‘cheap hotels’:
Cheap Hotels: discount hotels, hotels, hotels in Orlando, best cheap hotels, discount hotel deals
It is important to include LSI keywords for SEO because it helps Google understand the content of your website. It also helps improve and enrich the content of your web page with possible queries that the user may be entering in the search engine. By using LSI keywords, you send positive signal to search engine that helps improve the positioning of the website.
While optimizing the page, you should only choose words that are related to the content of your website. It means that the page should never be over optimized because a page full of keywords that are not related to the topic will likely be regarded as spam.
Broad Match Keywords
As the name suggests, broad match keywords are the type of words that broadly match the original term. In other worlds, these are the keywords with similar phrases, singular and plural words. These should not be confused with LSI keywords because broad match keywords can include an extensive variety of keywords as compared to very closely related keywords described in LSI keyword search.
They are also used for advertising purposes. For instance, if you want to run an ad campaign, using the broad match, your ads can show for a variety of variations for the main keyword. If the main keyword is ‘Soccer Boots’, your ad can also appear for word variations that may include keywords such as football boots; boots; where to buy good football boots; and soccer boot etc.
In addition, singular or plural forms, and other relevant variants can also trigger your advertisement. For example, any of the following searches may trigger your ad: football matches, running shoes, sportswear, football, and boot images etc.
If you do not want your web page to appear for irrelevant or broad terms, then it makes sense to use exact match keywords. During an ad campaign, these keywords appear only when the user inputs an exact phrase without any variation of the term. For instance, if you want your ad to appear only when the user types "soccer boots", then the ad will only trigger when someone types the exact word.
It also means that Google will not display any other variation of the keyword. As such, singular or plural words will not be used. Anyone typing ‘soccer boot’ will not see the ad because it is a singular of the term, without the letter, s. Hence, it is practical to use the exact match if you want to laser-target an audience.
Recently, Google has made some changes to the use of Exact Match. After getting feedback from consumers, the exact match may trigger multiple variations, which closely matches the original keyword. It means that the exact match will often trigger ad, if plural or synonym are used. Still, the related terms will closely match the original keyword. In fact, you should always check with the terms of your advertising platform to see what type of variations are associated with ‘exact match", if any.
Branded keywords are usually search phrases that include the name of a particular brand. These keywords are mainly used by brand and anyone interested in developing their unique brand. Examples of these branded keywords can include variations of keywords such as Company X, CompanyX.com, and Company X Information.
Branded keywords are mostly used by consumers who are specifically looking for a particular brand. Mostly, branded terms are used to enhance the reputation of a brand by providing useful information about the company.
Regarding branded keywords, it is important to realize that you should use it carefully if your brand name is similar to other brands. Sometimes, branded keywords use Meta Tags, which can cause copyright issues. Therefore, it is important to work with an expert who has experience in working with branded keyword research.
Short Tail Keywords
Short-tail keywords are those keywords that are made up of only 1 to 3 words. They are basic keywords that are used when a general search is made on any topic. For example, a person who wants more information about soccer shoes will likely see millions of results that have all sorts of information about different soccer shoes. "Puma soccer shoes" is another example of a short tail keyword because it is made up of only 1 to 3 words.
For SEO purposes, short tail keywords are preferred because they provide a huge volume of search results. If you can rank in the top 10 of a generic short tail keyword, a single keyword can offer thousands of visitors per day, based on the large volume. These keywords are also very easy to include in the content naturally. Unknown to webmaster, their page can rank for many short tail keywords.
In contrast, there are also disadvantages of working with short-tail keywords. The main disadvantage is the huge competition that you may face when trying to rank for such keywords. Just think about the number of people or companies who may be using the term "soccer shoes" to promote their business.
It means that it can take plenty of time and effort to appear in the top results in the search engine. Another potential disadvantage of the short tail keyword is that it often leads to a low conversion probability. When using the short tail keyword, chances of conversion are low because consumers may only be looking for more information about the soccer shoes instead of buying the shoes.
Long Tail Keywords
A long tail keyword is usually a keyword that has more than 3 words in it. These keywords are niche-oriented, which means that they are used to target specific audience instead of targeting the mass public. For SEO purposes, these keywords are less competitive and more specific to a user query.
A potential problem with long tail keywords is the low search volume; however, there are plenty of long term keywords that can be targeted to attract mass traffic. Just to understand the importance of long term keywords, imagine ranking for hundreds of low search volume terms that have low competition. The sheer number of terms means that any good SEO marketer can help you get massive amount of traffic from these low-hanging fruits.
The main advantages of the keyword are its focus and detail. Using these keywords, there is little competition when it comes to getting on top of the search results. In addition, little competition and use of specific keywords means that your conversion probability will be very high, since the search term will offer extremely relevant information for people with a real interest in what you are offering.
If you are selling sports shoes for kids, a long term keyword that focuses on users searching for ‘sports shoes for kids’ will generate the kind of visitors who are eager to buy the product. It also means that your return on investment will be fairly high compared to similar amount of search for low tail keywords. According to resent research, long term keywords account for nearly 70 percent of the overall traffic for businesses around the world.
Geo Targeted Keywords
Geo-targeted keywords are used for local search targeting. Whenever customers in specific locations type certain keywords, they will likely see a list of associated businesses for that particular term. For instance, ‘Soccer Shoes New York’ and ‘Soccer Boots in San Jose’ are two keywords that show user-intent for searching businesses or store locations that sell these products in a specific area.
If you have a shoe retail store in San Jose selling soccer shoes, you can geo-target ‘Soccer Shoes San Jose’ as a potential keyword. If someone types in the keyword ‘Soccer Shoes San Jose’ or any related term, your business location, its contact number, and other business parameters will show on a map, and on Google search page before the organic results. For businesses, geo-targeting makes sense because businesses get maximum exposure using this strategy.
Geo targeting can also be used for a larger area, and it can also work for online businesses. For instance, an online store can target the keyword ‘Soccer Boots for Kids in Canada’, if it is a registered entity selling the product in Canada. Focusing on localized results also helps increase the worth of a business in the eye of Google. In a nutshell, geo targeting can definitely help grab a substantial share of the local market.
Overall, the type of keywords you chose to for your SEO will mainly depend on the type of service you are offering. For instance, geo targeting is an important SEO strategy for local businesses. Likewise, long tail keywords and LSI are important to gain top rankings in the organic search results of Google; whereas, exact and broad match keywords are important for online marketing including PPC. If you are not sure which keywords to use, let an expert help you in reaping the full potential of SEO keyword research.