Both the novice and experienced SEO strategist have to know how to conduct proper keyword research in order to enjoy some degree of success in today’s market space; the mere optimization of simple keywords just isn’t as rewarding as it once was.
As a result, no SEO strategist on the face of the planet can afford to skimp on keyword research.
The standards for keyword research, however, are always in flux, which means that conducting such research can quickly turn into a headache. The conventions change from year to year, and keeping up with all of these changes requires a bit of effort on a strategist’s part.
Because the year 2018 is no exception, we’re giving you the skinny on some of the best keyword research strategies to adopt this year.
Tools For The SEO Strategist In 2018
If you aren’t big on keyword research, you probably don’t know much about many of the tools which designed to make the research process run smoothly.
If you happen to be a veteran, on the other hand, you will be more than familiar with a number of them. Regardless of which category you fall into, we’ll be highlighting just a few of those tools in this section.
Who knows? Perhaps some of you veterans will discover a new use for a tool that you currently rely on.
Google’s Keyword Planner
Google’s Keyword Planner has been a trusted tool for quite some time now, probably because Google has practically become the master of search traffic; if someone wants to visit your site, that person is likely going through Google to get there.
We guarantee you that there isn’t a competent SEO strategist alive who would disagree.
Of course, this tool has a lot more behind it than a popular brand. Keyword Planner helps users “discover new keywords” by allowing them to search “words or phrases” that relate to their “products or services.”
The tool also allows users to “compare keyword trends.” Users can “see how often keywords are searched.” Needless to say, such features can be extremely useful to strategists.
We sincerely hope that you’ve at least heard of Google Trends because if you haven’t, you’ve been missing out.
Google Trends lets you view the “latest trending searches” and even shows you how many times each keyword has been searched. You can also filter the trends by region and day.
To be fair, Wikipedia isn’t a tool designed to help your average SEO strategist conduct keyword research.
That said, many seasoned strategists routinely cite Wikipedia as one of the tools they use in order to research niche topics.
Google’s Search Engine
Since we’re on the topic of using Wikipedia as a tool, we might as well discuss the merits of using Google’s search engine as a viable tool.
While you probably shouldn’t use the search engine as your only tool, you can definitely gain some valuable information about what people are searching for by looking at the results Google’s autocomplete service returns.
Answer The Public
If you’re one of the new kids on the block, we’re willing to bet that you don’t know much about Answer The Public, primarily because it arguably requires more experience to use than some of the other tools listed here.
Still, you shouldn’t shy away from this tool simply because you are afraid of failure. Furthermore, if you combine this tool with a couple of the other ones on our list, you’ll do well for yourself.
Using public forums to conduct keyword research requires intuition of an SEO strategist because forums are not technically official keyword research tools.
Even so, no SEO strategist should overlook the valuable information that forums can provide. Not only do they allow strategists to find out what their potential buyers want, but they also allow these strategists to find out who these potential buyers are.
One such forum is the hugely popular site Reddit, which is admittedly just a collection of forums. Some people would even say that Reddit’s niche is, as it turns out, niches.
There are definitely a plethora of other tools which SEO strategists can rely on, but we couldn’t possibly cover all of them since we need to be moving on soon. We don’t, however, want to wrap this section up without recommending a few other tools.
Having said as much, if you ever find yourself looking for other tools, try looking into SEMrush and popular tools developed by Moz. You should combine these tools and the others we’ve mentioned with any link-building tools you’re using to improve your SEO strategy.
Keyword Selection Process
Now that we’ve covered some of the basic tools, we can move on to what your keyword selection process should look like this year.
In this section, we’ll be going over relevant keywords, short tail and long tail keywords, niches, and buyer personas.
After you’ve successfully selected a keyword that is relevant to your website’s content, you’ll then want to identify some keywords that are relevant to your chosen keyword.
There are several reasons for taking the time to identify similar keywords, the first of which is that relying on a single keyword for the entirety of a piece is limiting. You can only, after all, use your keyword so many times before Google labels you as a keyword stuffer.
Having a few other, lesser keywords will help you avoid relying on a single keyword. Furthermore, targeting these other, similar keywords will allow your website to rank for other keywords in your niche.
We might also add that, though we believe that you should make good use of the tools we’ve listed above, you can’t necessarily rely on such tools to provide good related keywords. In other words, you’re going to have to put some serious thought into your selection of secondary keywords.
Short Tail & Long Tail Keywords
If you are a somewhat seasoned SEO strategist, you likely know the difference between short tail and long tail keywords, so we won’t lay out any formal definitions here. We are, however, going to talk about selecting one type of keyword over another.
Short tail keywords are extremely competitive, and while they generate plenty of traffic in the short run, they don’t generate much traffic in the long run.
Long tail keywords, on the other hand, are not competitive, so pages with long tail keywords will likely rank better than pages with short tail keywords for long tail queries. Consequently, such pages will continue to get traffic in the long run. The downside is that long tail keywords are so rarely searched.
Every SEO strategist, without exception, should ideally focus on researching both types of keywords and find a way to strike a balance between them.
If you’re competent, and we know you are, you should already know just how important selecting a niche is; you simply cannot select efficient keywords if you don’t decide on a niche, and when we tell you to select a niche, we mean to tell you to select a specific niche.
Simply put, if your niche is not specific enough, you can do all of the keyword research in the world only to get disappointing results.
Identifying Buyer Personas
After you’ve picked out a specific niche for yourself, you’ll need to start putting together some buyer personas in order to keep tabs on your customer base because everyone knows that playing to buyer personas helps you better market your services.
Whenever you identify a buyer persona, you should take care to document things such as your average customer’s age, gender, race, income, and place of residence. All of these details will definitely come in handy when you’re selecting keywords because you’ll have some idea about which keywords appeal to your buyers’ needs and interests.
Luckily for you, identifying buyer personas isn’t difficult. You need only engage with your customer base via social media and forums. You can either pose the questions or respond to user questions.
And you could even spy on competitors who have similar niches in order to find out what their customer bases look like and what types of keywords they target in order to attract those customers.
Regardless of how much keyword research you do, your research will be all for naught if your content isn’t useful.
Indeed, almost every SEO strategist will tell you that optimizing keywords isn’t going to redeem bad content. As a matter of fact, some strategists even claim that they don’t do much keyword research at all.
“Bad” content is loosely defined as content that simply isn’t useful or informative. It typically leaves site visitors feeling unsatisfied since they don’t actually find the information they’re looking for.
Succinctly stated, your website’s content actually needs to help people. Not only does the content need to help visitors, but the keywords should ideally reflect that you’re trying to provide a valuable service to those visitors.
Too many content creators select unnatural keywords that rank well instead of choosing keywords that have some use to visitors, and this strategy is not viable in the long run.
Perhaps we’ve made keyword research sound a little too simple here, so let us reassure you that it’s no walk in the park. If
If you are your own SEO analyst, you’re going to have to work hard to get the results you desire.
There is no shortcut to success, and there never will be. That said, do the research, and you’ll be greatly rewarded for all of the time you put into your marketing campaign.