Keyword optimization and research are SEO’s foundation stones. The right keywords, used the right way, help your website realize repeatable visibility. They help you drive more organic traffic to your content, often loaded with qualified leads.
SEO strategically positions your content online to attract, capture, and engage relevant traffic. The main objective is to improve the visibility of a website in search engine results, which enhances ranking on results pages.
While keyword optimization and research are connected, the best way to understand them is by examining them separately. Read on for more on what each aspect entails and their SEO importance.
Keyword research entails finding and analyzing search terms, words, and phrases that the audience enters into search engines when searching for something. The research and analysis help you discover common keywords to target, their popularity, ranking difficulty, and other metrics vital for SEO success.
An effective strategy that can supercharge your keyword research process is ensuring you devise a practical approach. The steps that make the keyword research process more manageable include the following:
- Generate seed keywords: Brainstorming seed, also called head terms or head keywords, is usually the first step. Seed keywords are broad terms related to your content and brand. It could be products, services, or topics you intend to cover in your content.
Seed keywords are usually short-tail keywords with no modifiers. They are typically one or two words, for example, Organic Apples. Seed keywords have high monthly search volumes but typically high competition.
- Leverage keyword research tools: Tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and SEMrush make keyword research more manageable. You’ll access an extensive pool of keyword suggestions and comprehensive analysis, including search volume, competition, and potential traffic that the keywords can generate.
- Look into the competitors: Keeping an eye on competitors is always essential. When doing keyword research, competitor analysis helps you identify the keywords the competitors target. The analysis allows you to identify potential opportunities to gain an advantage.
- Generate long-tail keywords: Keywords with high conversion rates and low competition are often the best choice. Long-tail keywords are more specific, which sets your content aside. For instance, you can describe the organic apple (seed keyword) with modifiers, including their uniqueness, benefits, store location, or special offers.
The above steps let you find the right keywords, but that’s not the end. Besides finding relevant keywords, the research helps you connect the relevance of the keywords to your content on various pages. The research equips you with a list of keywords you can utilize for diverse content on different pages to help users find the page answering their query, referred to as search intent.
The Relevancy Consideration
Relevancy is a huge part of keyword research because ranking high only bears desirable fruits if the keywords help generate quality leads. For instance, informational content like a blog post ranking high on transactional keywords may not deliver the best results. The user will find the information, but since their search intent is to buy, they’ll most likely bounce. This is more if the blog doesn’t have links directing them to the product.
Besides the high bounce rate, search engines consider what the user is most interested in when picking what to display. As such, you could optimize your pages with a seed keyword, organic apples, but fail to be among the top results based on relevance.
Relevancy focuses on finding keywords that prompt users to click on a page based on the content. It is about determining which keywords to use and where. Search engines will rank you higher with the right keywords matching user intent. Your content will be visible, and as it fulfills user intent, you’ll generate more qualified traffic. It means your investment will deliver better value.
For example, if the search query intent is informational, organic apples’ health benefits could be the ideal keyword. Conversely, if the user intent is transactional, organic apples on sale in (location) will help rank better, secure more leads, and have higher conversion rates.
The Search Intent
User intent and keyword relevance are closely intertwined. You uncover the user intent by analyzing the keywords and categorizing them based on different user stages. User intent varies by stage and determines the phrases they use during their search.
Understanding and categorizing keywords in these stages enhances the visibility of relevant pages. The user stages provide intent-based keywords because the search terms follow a given query intent aligned with what the searcher wants to achieve. Here are the main stages and search intent.
The informational stage features the top-of-the-funnel keywords. These keywords are primarily used when looking for information or answers to common questions. For example, a user can input “Are organic apples healthier?” This phrase means the user is likely looking to improve their health and are considering how organic apples can help. Ideal content types that fit this stage include blog articles and eBooks.
Users want to find a specific site, page, or brand during the navigational stage. Queries in this stage are also referred to as brand searches. Users may have already discovered a brand and are interested in more information. An example of a keyword in this stage is “Organic apples store.” The user could be interested in checking out the location, product collection, and shipping terms, among other details.
Users are in the middle of the sales funnel at this point. Their search is more about information to help them make a purchase. Comparison keywords are common during this stage. Genetically modified vs. organic apples, organic apple reviews, and Blackberry vs. iPhone are examples of keywords that could be used at this stage. Users in this category are usually hot leads, and you can easily convert them with the right keywords and content.
At this point, a user is ready to make a purchase. They are at the bottom of the funnel, and their search intent is to pick the right product/service. Examples of search queries here include best (product name) deals, fast/free shipping in (location), and buy (product).
The search queries at the transactional stage often feature long-tail keywords. That’s because the user already knows what they want. An example of such a keyword is same-day organic apple delivery in Kansas, TX. The keyword phrase includes the deal they desire (same-day delivery), the product (organic apples), and even the location (Kansas, TX).
Considering the above stages and the type of keywords, it is evident that keyword research entails more than finding the right terms, words, and phrases. The process is also about understanding your target audience and how they find your brand.
Keyword research helps you learn what your target audience needs and wants. You discover what solves their problems and how they find such solutions. In this view, keyword research doubles as an extension of audience research.
The research enables identifying opportunities by understanding the audience. You’ll discover more areas you may not have considered that could deliver notable results. This lets you strategically position your content so users can find your brand and offer the necessary solutions.
Keyword research also includes analysis. The analysis helps you calculate the value expected from given keywords. This means you’ll identify potential users the keywords can drive to your brand and their goals. You’ll understand the traffic value considering the possibility of conversion.
The metrics are essential since ranking high doesn’t automatically translate to desirable returns. The bottom line is that you’ll identify the worth of the site traffic from the keywords and make informed investment decisions based on what they’ll deliver to your business.
During keyword research, keyword difficulty and search volume are the most notable metrics that demand more attention.
Average search volume, search volume, or monthly search volume are the common terms here. The search volume tells you the number of times a keyword is searched. The common measure is the monthly search volume (MSV), which indicates the search frequency within a month across all audiences.
Search volume is vital since you don’t want to use keywords that deliver little or no traffic. You could optimize your content with a particular keyword and rank high. However, despite being on top of the search engine results page (SERP), such keywords are hardly searched. It means your website and optimized content will sit on top but hardly be discovered and explored.
Accounting for search volume helps you avoid setting up your website in a “ghost town.” Nonetheless, remember, even the busiest cities do not guarantee good performance. High MSV keywords are often the top-funnel keywords and usually high competition.
For example, organic apples may have a high MSV, but the head term usually delivers browsing traffic. The search intent is ambiguous, and the audience using such search queries is typically looking for information.
High MSV keywords are ideal for those looking to improve their brand awareness. If your primary objective is to improve conversion and sales, you need to break it down and pick low-volume keywords. These keywords deliver traffic packed with users who are ready to buy.
Keyword/SEO difficulty or keyword competition tells you how difficult it is to rank for a given keyword on search engines’ organic search results. The difficulty is indicated as a percentage. The general rule is that the higher the percentage, the harder it is to rank on the first page. Here is an illustration of the difficulty score.
- 0-29% – easy to rank for, typically long-tail keywords. They are more specific but often have low search volume.
- 30-50%- moderately difficult to rank for and requires well-structured, high-quality, and helpful content optimized for SEO.
- 51-70% – difficult to rank for, and besides high-quality content, you’ll need at least a few high-quality backlinks to boost website authority.
- 71-85% – hard to rank for, demanding more effort, including many external and well-established internal links structure.
- 86-100% – extremely difficult to rank for. They require a solid backlink portfolio, effective content amplification and promotion measures, on-page SEO optimization, and other measures that continuously expose your content to a wider audience and keep users coming back.
Keyword difficulty sounds tricky, but it is easier to get around. You can use keyword research tools to determine keyword difficulty and pick the ones that fit your situation. Generally, you should consider factors including your budget, domain authority (DA), page authority (PA), backlink profile, and content quality when establishing the ideal keyword difficulty to target.
Ideally, if you are starting out on a restraining budget, easy and moderately difficult keywords are good options. The keywords will help your website grow gradually; as the authority improves, you’ll have an easier time ranking for the competitive keywords.
Keyword Research Takeaway
Effective keyword strategy isn’t all about finding the most popular keywords. It is about picking the right keywords that will deliver desirable outcomes. Ideally, it means picking the right phrases you can compete for, rank high, and generate qualified organic traffic.
The process of finding ideal target keywords has borne fruit. You now have a list of keywords relevant to your web pages. At this stage, these are just potential keywords that can boost your search engine ranking. So, how do you turn them from just keywords to SEO juice? Here is the answer:
Keyword optimization entails strategic keyword incorporation into your website. The incorporation helps search engine crawlers understand what your content is about. The algorithms then rank the content based on the search queries relevant to the keywords. With effective keyword optimization tips, you’ll rank high enough, attract the right traffic, and realize desirable results. Let us dive into the top keyword optimization tips you should know.
Keyword mapping lets you establish which keywords go where. Keyword mapping makes it easier to ensure each page has relevant keywords. You won’t be tempted to load all keywords on your front page and neglect other areas with high potential, like blog posts. You’ll also avoid chances of using identical keywords on different pages, which would limit your chances of ranking higher on diverse search queries.
The most effective way to map the keywords is by considering the content type, format, and angle. Content type focuses on search intent. The common types include landing, product and category pages, and blog posts or articles. The content format shows how users preferred the content served. Examples include step-by-step or how-to guides, reviews, comparisons, and listicles. The angle entails establishing a unique approach that helps capture the audience’s attention and showcase why your content solves their problems.
These elements tell you the type of content, which search query they target, and how they attract the audience. They help you map the keywords based on relevance. Here is an illustration:
Considering the content format, you can modify your seed keyword, organic apple, as follows:
- Top ways to include organic apples in your diet regimen (a listicle article)
- How to eat an organic apple (how-to guide)
- Five tips to find the best organic apples for sale in (location) (Numbered list guide)
When mapping the keywords based on content angle, you can use modifiers like:
- Lose belly fat fast; How organic apples help
- Why organic apples are Better according to experts
- Why do people prefer organic apples?
The point of keyword mapping is to ensure you use relevant keywords for each page based on its content.
On-page Keyword Optimization
On-page optimization is among the critical aspects that can make or break your efforts to rank high. When optimizing your keywords use, among the top on-page aspects to pay more attention to include:
The title should be clear and descriptive, informing users and search engines about the page content. Optimize the title tags with appropriate keywords as you focus on making the title tags catchy. The keywords make them more relevant for the search query. This can help rank your pages higher on search results.
The short descriptions below the webpage search results can help improve your ranking. The descriptions should be concise and clearly describe the page’s content. Meta descriptions optimized with relevant keywords can boost search rankings.
Well-formatted header and subheader tags make content easily scannable. They ease content consumption and also impact search rankings. Measures like bolding improve the aesthetics, but for a better SEO kick, you should optimize them with relevant keywords. The search engine crawlers weigh the words on the header tags. When optimized with appropriate keywords, the header tags make it easier for search engine bots to understand what the pages are about, improving indexing and ranking.
Image Alt Text
Incorporating images in your content enhances search rankings. Optimizing the image alt text with relevant keywords can kick this a notch higher. Search engines will better understand the images and content around them, making classifying and ranking them for relevant search queries easier.
Creative, short, and memorable URLs are the way to go. While on it, optimize the URLs with relevant keywords, like in the title and header tags.
Content optimization is where the challenge lies the most. Body content is also where the keyword opportunities can really be exploited. You want each piece of content to include appropriate keyword density for better ranking. Still, the content must offer value that keeps users on your pages longer.
SEO content writing, from blogs, product and category descriptions, social media posts, eBooks, and landing pages, among other areas, enhances visibility and search ranking. The helpful content offers the audience information and support. The content holds their hands, helping them navigate your site, understand your brand, and interact with areas like making a purchase.
It means you should do more than simply insert keywords in your content. You must organically incorporate the keywords to ensure the content makes sense, flows, and offers value. This is what makes content creation a challenge.
High-quality content creation incorporating relevant keywords enhances user experience and search engine rankings. It can be tricky, so working with professional services is recommended. Services like ContentGo delivers SEO-optimized content, keeping your target audience and goals in mind.
The professionals have the tools and technologies to effectively map and incorporate keywords in your content. This includes incorporating local keywords even in the most complex content types. The professionals avoid pitfalls like keyword stuffing, which could be why your search ranking fails to improve despite having massive content loaded with keywords.
With the professionals by your side, you can facilitate a consistent flow of keywords-optimized content across all pages. The fresh and engaging content results in increased organic traffic to your site. This translates to generating more leads and, with fresh and helpful content, higher conversion rates.
- Monitoring and Analytics
Keyword optimization is never done. This is more so since user behavior and trends keep changing. You must monitor and track these elements and update your keywords and content. Regular updates keep the content fresh and optimized with relevant keywords. This accounts for the latest SEO trends, user behavior, and the ever-evolving search algorithms.
You can manage the monitoring and analytics by leveraging tools like Google Analytics. The tools make it easier to monitor keyword performance and gain insights as to what should be adjusted. You’ll access vital information to adjust your strategy, ensuring you adopt changes based on search trends.
Why Go Through All Those Hassles?
Keyword optimization and research is undoubtedly a lot of work. So, why do you have to go through it? Why not just do your thing and see where it goes? The three main reasons keyword optimization and research is critical are:
Higher Search Rankings
Pages loaded with relevant keywords are easily indexed and ranked by search crawlers. Since the keywords are relevant to search queries, your pages will appear higher on SERPs. High search ranking is what every website owner strives to achieve, emphasizing the need for keyword research and optimization.
Improved Site Traffic
Ranking high and appearing on the first search results pages improves visibility. The visibility drives more traffic to your website. Generating massive organic traffic lets you achieve your goals. Whether you want to enhance brand awareness, generate more leads, or improve customer retention rates, visibility provides the exposure your content needs to realize your objectives.
More Leads and Sales
Lead generation is among the top reasons businesses invest in search engine optimization and content marketing. Keyword optimization and research help you better understand your audience. The process also enables you to uncover more opportunities and optimize your SEO and content marketing strategies.
The keywords and opportunities uncovered help improve your site ranking. The high-ranking content, crafted with the audience’s needs in mind, helps convert the site visitors into active customers. You’ll also enjoy better customer retention rates. Your brand will remain visible with the improved search ranking. This means users will keep finding and interacting with your content. You’ll remain on top of their minds, encouraging repeat purchases.
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