Keyword research is a crucial element of digital marketing that enables businesses to understand the language their target audience uses when searching for products or services. By utilizing the right keywords, businesses can improve their online visibility, drive traffic to their websites, and increase their chances of generating leads and conversions.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the 10 steps involved in conducting effective keyword research for digital marketing.
- Step 1: Identify Your Goals
- Step 2: Brainstorm Potential Keywords
- Step 3: Analyze Keyword Search Volume
- Step 4: Analyze Keyword Difficulty
- Step 5: Analyze Keyword Relevance
- Step 6: Analyze Keyword Intent
- Step 7: Consider Long-Tail Keywords
- Step 8: Prioritize Your Keywords
- Step 9: Monitor Your Keywords
- Step 10: Use Your Keywords Effectively
Step 1: Identify Your Goals
Identifying your goals is an essential first step in any digital marketing campaign, including keyword research. Without clear goals, it’s challenging to know which keywords will be the most effective in achieving your desired outcomes.
Therefore, before starting keyword research, you need to determine what you want to achieve with your digital marketing efforts.
To determine your goals, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the purpose of your digital marketing campaign? Are you launching a new product, promoting an existing one, or simply trying to increase brand awareness?
- What are your specific objectives? Do you want to increase website traffic, generate leads, or drive sales? Be as specific as possible in defining your goals.
- Who is your target audience? Understanding your target audience is critical to choosing the right keywords that will resonate with them and drive the desired actions.
Once you have identified your goals, you can start to select the right keywords that align with your business objectives. For example, if you want to increase brand awareness, you might choose more general keywords that relate to your brand or industry. On the other hand, If you’re aiming to generate leads or sales, select more precise keywords highlighting your offerings. Such keywords will likely attract potential customers who are searching for precisely what you offer.
To help illustrate how identifying your goals can impact your keyword research:
Goal: Increase Brand Awareness
If your goal is to increase brand awareness, you may want to choose more general keywords related to your industry or niche. For example, if you sell coffee, you might choose keywords like “coffee,” “caffeine,” or “brewing” to reach a broader audience. These keywords are not necessarily focused on selling a specific product or service but are more geared towards generating interest and awareness.
Goal: Generate Leads
If your goal is to generate leads, you may want to choose more specific keywords related to your product or service. For example, if you sell organic skincare products, you might choose keywords like “organic skincare,” “natural skincare,” or “chemical-free skincare” to attract people who are specifically interested in your product category. These keywords are more focused on generating interest in a specific product or service and are more likely to attract potential leads.
Goal: Drive Sales
If your goal is to drive sales, you may want to choose highly specific keywords related to your product or service. For example, if you sell running shoes, you might choose keywords like “men’s running shoes,” “women’s running shoes,” or “trail running shoes” to attract people who are actively searching for those types of products. These keywords are highly specific and focused on driving sales by targeting people who are ready to make a purchase.
Step 2: Brainstorm Potential Keywords
After identifying your goals, it’s essential to brainstorm potential keywords that are relevant to your target audience. Here is the process of brainstorming keywords:
- Firstly, make a list of words and phrases that are relevant to your business. Think about the products or services you offer and the problems they solve for your target audience.
- Next, consider the words and phrases your target audience might use when searching for your products or services. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what they would type into a search engine.
- In addition, use online tools such as Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush to get additional keyword ideas. These tools can help you identify related keywords, search volumes, and competition levels.
- Furthermore, long-tail keywords, despite lower search volumes, can target your audience effectively with more specific phrases. For example, instead of using the broad keyword “running shoes,” you might use a long-tail keyword like “women’s trail running shoes.”
- Another approach is to use location-based keywords if you are targeting a specific geographic area. For example, if you are a local coffee shop, you might use keywords like “coffee shop in [city name]” or “best coffee near me.”
- Additionally, consider using industry-specific keywords if your business operates in a niche market. These keywords may be more technical or specific to your industry, but they can be highly targeted to your audience.
Brainstorming potential keywords is an essential step in the keyword research process. Generating a list of relevant keywords can be achieved through a combination of your own knowledge and online tools. This can help you reach your target audience and achieve business goals.
Step 3: Analyze Keyword Search Volume
To ensure that your keyword research is effective, it’s important to analyze the search volume of each potential keyword.Firstly, use keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner or Ahrefs to analyze the search volume of each keyword. These tools can provide you with valuable insights into how many people are searching for each keyword on a monthly basis.
Let’s say you’re a travel blogger and you’ve brainstormed potential keywords like “travel tips,” “best travel destinations,” and “solo travel.” Using a tool like Google Keyword Planner, you discover that “travel tips” has a monthly search volume of 10,000, “best travel destinations” has a search volume of 5,000, and “solo travel” has a search volume of 3,000.
Next, focus on keywords with high search volume. These keywords are more likely to drive traffic to your website, as they indicate a high level of interest from your target audience. However, be aware that highly searched keywords are often competitive and require extra effort to rank. This is important to keep in mind.
With the help of search volume data, you can choose “travel tips” as a primary keyword for your blog. It has the highest search volume among other options. However, keep in mind that this keyword may also be more competitive, so you may need to put in more effort to rank for it.
In addition, consider the relevance of each keyword to your business goals. A keyword with high search volume may not be as valuable if it doesn’t align with your business objectives. Focus on keywords that are both high in search volume and relevant to your business.
While “best travel destinations” has a lower search volume, it may still be a valuable keyword to target if it aligns with your business goals. For example, if your blog focuses on luxury travel, targeting this keyword could help you attract high-end travel advertisers.
Furthermore, analyze the search volume trends for each keyword over time. Some keywords may have a high search volume during certain times of the year or in response to specific events. Understanding these trends can help you optimize your keyword strategy for maximum impact.
If you notice that “solo travel” has a higher search volume during the summer months. Accordingly, you might focus on creating content around this topic during that time to capitalize on the trend.
Another approach is to analyze the search volume of your competitors’ keywords. Identifying overlooked keywords of competitors or gaps in the market can be done using this method. It is a helpful strategy to target untapped opportunities in online marketing. You might use a tool like Ahrefs to analyze the search volume of your competitors’ keywords. If a competitor ranks well for a high search volume keyword, target a related keyword with less competition. This can help gain visibility in the same space.
Analyzing keyword search volume is a critical step in the keyword research process. Keyword research tools can help identify high-value keywords based on relevance and competition. These keywords can aid in reaching your target audience and achieving business objectives.
Step 4: Analyze Keyword Difficulty
Understanding keyword difficulty is essential for optimizing your keyword strategy. Here are steps that can help you better understand this concept:
Firstly, it’s important to understand that keyword difficulty refers to how hard it is to rank for a particular keyword in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Factors such as competition, search volume, and content quality all contribute to a keyword’s difficulty score.
Competitive keyword: Let’s say you run an online shoe store and you want to target the keyword “running shoes.” Using a tool like Ahrefs, you discover that this keyword has a high difficulty score of 75. This means that there is a lot of competition for this keyword, making it harder to rank for.
Next, focusing on keywords with low difficulty scores can increase your chances of ranking higher in SERPs. These keywords may have less competition, making it easier for your content to rank higher and attract more organic traffic.
Low competition keyword: On the other hand, you might discover that a long-tail keyword like “best running shoes for women with flat feet” has a lower difficulty score of 20. This means that there is less competition for this keyword, making it easier for your content to rank higher in SERPs.
In addition, using tools like Ahrefs or Moz can help you determine the difficulty score for each keyword on your list. These tools analyze various factors and provide a score that reflects how difficult it is to rank for a particular keyword.
Shifting difficulty: It’s important to note that keyword difficulty can change over time. For example, if a popular influencer or celebrity starts promoting a particular product or topic, the search volume and competition for related keywords might increase. Monitoring changes in difficulty scores can help you adjust your strategy accordingly.
Furthermore, keep in mind that keyword difficulty is not the only factor to consider when choosing keywords to target. Relevance to your business goals, search volume, and user intent are also important factors to consider.
Balancing difficulty and relevance: While targeting low difficulty keywords is important, it’s also important to ensure that your keywords are relevant to your business goals and user intent. For example, targeting a low difficulty keyword that has little to do with your business may not be effective in driving relevant traffic to your site.
Another approach is to focus on long-tail keywords, which are more specific and have lower competition. While they may have lower search volume, they can be valuable in attracting a highly targeted audience and driving conversions.
Targeting low difficulty keywords: If you’re just starting out or have a smaller budget, targeting low difficulty keywords can be an effective strategy. These keywords may have less search volume, but they can still attract a highly targeted audience and drive conversions.
Lastly, regularly monitoring and adjusting your keyword strategy can help you stay competitive. It can also help maintain a strong online presence in response to changes in keyword difficulty and other factors.
Understanding keyword difficulty and focusing on keywords with low difficulty scores can help you increase your chances of ranking higher in SERPs. Tools like Ahrefs or Moz, along with targeting long-tail keywords, can help optimize your keyword strategy. Additionally, considering other factors such as relevance and user intent can also be effective.
Step 5: Analyze Keyword Relevance
In addition to search volume and difficulty, it’s important to consider the relevance of your keywords to your business. Focus on keywords that are relevant to your products or services, and avoid keywords that are too broad or too generic.
Use tools like Google Trends or SEMrush to gauge the relevance of your keywords. Here are some examples to help illustrate the importance of relevance in keyword research:
- Specificity and relevance: Let’s say you run a vegan bakery and you’re looking for keywords to target in your digital marketing efforts. While a keyword like “bakery” may have high search volume, it’s too broad and not specific enough to attract your target audience. Instead, you might target keywords like “vegan cupcakes” or “gluten-free baked goods,” which are more relevant to your business and have a higher likelihood of driving conversions.
- User intent and relevance: It’s important to consider the intent behind your target audience’s search queries when selecting keywords. For example, a user searching for “how to make vegan cupcakes” is likely looking for recipes or instructional content, rather than a bakery to purchase from. By targeting keywords that align with user intent and are relevant to your business, you can attract more qualified traffic to your site.
- Avoiding generic keywords: Generic keywords like “shoes” or “clothing” may have high search volume, but they are also highly competitive and not very specific. By targeting more specific and relevant keywords like “women’s running shoes” or “men’s leather jackets,” you can attract a more targeted audience and increase your chances of driving conversions.
- Analyzing relevance over time: As consumer behavior and trends change over time, it’s important to regularly analyze the relevance of your keywords. Tools like Google Trends or SEMrush can help you identify shifts in consumer behavior and adjust your keyword strategy accordingly.
Focusing on relevance in keyword research can help attract a targeted and qualified audience. This can drive conversions and help maintain competitiveness in your industry. Choosing the most valuable keywords involves balancing relevance with search volume and difficulty. This helps to determine the optimal keywords to target in your digital marketing efforts.
Step 6: Analyze Keyword Intent
Keyword intent refers to the reason behind a user’s search query. Understanding keyword intent can help you to create content that matches your target audience’s needs and interests.
Here are some examples to help illustrate the importance of keyword intent in keyword research:
- Identifying user needs: By understanding the intent behind your target audience’s search queries, you can create content that meets their needs and interests. For example, if you run a beauty blog and you notice that many users are searching for “how to apply foundation,” you might create a tutorial or video that addresses this specific need.
- Navigating the buyer’s journey: Different keywords can indicate different stages of the buyer’s journey, from awareness to consideration to purchase. For example, a user searching for “best running shoes” is likely in the consideration stage, while a user searching for “buy Nike running shoes” is ready to make a purchase. By targeting keywords with clear intent, you can tailor your content and calls to action to each stage of the journey.
- Optimizing for conversions: Keywords with clear intent, such as “buy” or “download,” indicate that the user is ready to take action. By targeting these keywords in your content and calls to action, you can increase your chances of driving conversions and achieving your business goals.
- Avoiding irrelevant traffic: By targeting keywords with clear intent, you can avoid attracting irrelevant traffic to your site. For example, if you run a dental practice, targeting keywords like “teeth cleaning” or “dental checkup” with clear intent can help you attract more qualified leads, while avoiding keywords like “teeth whitening” which may attract users who are looking for cosmetic services rather than general dental care.
Understanding keyword intent can help create content that meets your target audience’s needs. It can also help navigate the buyer’s journey, optimize for conversions, and avoid irrelevant traffic. Choosing the most valuable keywords involves balancing keyword intent with relevance and search volume. This helps to determine the optimal keywords to target in your digital marketing efforts.
Step 7: Consider Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are longer phrases that are more specific than short-tail keywords. They often have lower search volume but higher conversion rates. Focus on long-tail keywords that are relevant to your business to target users who are further down the sales funnel.
Here are some examples to further elaborate on the importance of long-tail keywords in keyword research:
- Targeting specific niches: Long-tail keywords allow you to target specific niches within your industry. For example, if you run an online shoe store, targeting the keyword “women’s running shoes” is more specific than simply targeting “running shoes.” This can help you attract a more targeted audience who is more likely to convert into a customer.
- Improving conversion rates: Long-tail keywords tend to have higher conversion rates because they are more specific and relevant to the user’s search intent. For example, a user searching for “best running shoes for women with flat feet” is more likely to convert than a user searching for “running shoes.” By targeting long-tail keywords that are relevant to your business, you can improve your conversion rates and generate more leads.
- Lowering competition: Long-tail keywords often have lower competition than short-tail keywords, making it easier to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). This can be particularly helpful for small businesses or new websites that are competing with larger, more established websites in their industry.
- Enhancing your content strategy: Long-tail keywords can help you create more targeted and specific content for your website. By focusing on long-tail keywords that are relevant to your business, you can create content that addresses specific pain points or questions that your target audience may have. This can help you establish yourself as an expert in your industry and attract more qualified leads to your website.
Targeting long-tail keywords can improve conversion rates, lower competition and enhance your content strategy. They are important to consider in your keyword research strategy as they allow you to target specific niches. Choosing the most valuable keywords involves balancing long-tail keywords with search volume and keyword intent. This helps to determine the optimal keywords to target in your digital marketing efforts.
Step 8: Prioritize Your Keywords
After analyzing your list of potential keywords, it’s time to prioritize them based on their search volume, difficulty, relevance, and intent. Focus on keywords that have high search volume, low difficulty, and clear intent, and are relevant to your business. These keywords are more likely to drive traffic and generate leads. Here are some examples to further elaborate on the importance of prioritizing your keywords:
- Maximizing ROI: By prioritizing keywords that have high search volume, low difficulty, clear intent, and relevance to your business, you can maximize your return on investment (ROI) in digital marketing efforts. Focusing on these valuable keywords will increase the chances of driving qualified traffic to your website and generating leads that are more likely to convert into paying customers.
- Aligning with your goals: Prioritizing keywords based on their search volume, difficulty, relevance, and intent can help you align your digital marketing efforts with your business goals. For example, if your goal is to increase sales, targeting keywords with clear intent to buy or review products can be more effective than targeting keywords with high search volume but no clear intent to purchase.
- Streamlining your strategy: Prioritizing keywords can also help you streamline your digital marketing strategy by focusing on the most important and valuable keywords. This can save you time and resources that would otherwise be spent on targeting less effective keywords.
- Staying competitive: Prioritizing your keywords can also help you stay competitive in your industry by targeting the most valuable keywords that your competitors may also be targeting. By staying on top of keyword trends and focusing on the most valuable keywords, you can stay ahead of your competition and attract more qualified leads to your website.
An important step in effective keyword research is prioritizing keywords based on search volume, difficulty, relevance, and intent. This can help identify the most valuable keywords to target in your digital marketing efforts. Focusing on the most valuable keywords can help maximize your ROI and align with your business goals. This can streamline your strategy and keep you competitive in your industry.
Step 9: Monitor Your Keywords
Keyword research is an ongoing process. It’s important to monitor your keywords regularly to ensure they are still relevant and effective. Use tools like Google Analytics or Ahrefs to track your keyword rankings and adjust your strategy as needed. Here are some examples to further elaborate on why keyword research is an ongoing process and how you can monitor and adjust your strategy:
- Adapting to changes: Keyword research is an ongoing process because search trends and user behavior can change over time. By monitoring your keywords regularly, you can adapt to changes and ensure that your strategy remains effective. For example, if a new competitor enters the market or a popular trend changes, you may need to adjust your keyword strategy to stay relevant.
- Improving performance: Regularly monitoring your keywords can also help you improve your digital marketing performance over time. By tracking your keyword rankings and analyzing which keywords are driving the most traffic and conversions, you can adjust your strategy to focus on the most effective keywords and optimize your content and website for those keywords.
- Staying up-to-date: Monitoring your keywords can also help you stay up-to-date with changes in search engine algorithms and best practices for SEO. By staying informed about changes and updates in the world of digital marketing, you can adjust your strategy to stay ahead of the curve and continue to drive traffic and leads to your website.
- Identifying new opportunities: Regular keyword research can also help you identify new opportunities for growth and expansion. By tracking your keyword rankings and analyzing search trends, you may discover new niches or topics to explore, or new keywords to target that can help you reach a broader audience and increase your visibility in search engine results.
Keyword research is an ongoing process that requires regular monitoring and adjustment. Tools like Google Analytics or Ahrefs can help you track keyword rankings and analyze data. This allows you to adapt, improve, stay up-to-date, and identify growth opportunities.
Step 10: Use Your Keywords Effectively
Once you have identified your keywords, it’s important to use them effectively in your digital marketing efforts.
Incorporating your identified keywords into your digital marketing efforts is crucial for improving your online visibility and attracting your target audience.
One effective way to use your keywords is to include them in your website content, such as your blog posts, product pages, and landing pages. This can help search engines to understand the relevance of your content to users’ search queries.
Additionally, meta descriptions, titles, and tags are important places to incorporate your keywords as they provide search engines with important information about your website. These elements should accurately and concisely describe the content on your website and include your targeted keywords to improve your website’s visibility and click-through rates.
Moreover, incorporating keywords into social media and email marketing can increase online visibility and drive website traffic. This is another effective way to utilize your keyword strategy. However, it’s important to ensure that your use of keywords is natural and relevant to your content, rather than appearing spammy or forced.
While using keywords is important, it’s equally important not to overuse them. Overusing keywords in your content, known as “keyword stuffing,” can actually harm your SEO and lead to search engines penalizing your website. Therefore, use your keywords strategically and ensure that they fit naturally within your content.