This article is a sequel to my piece, "Content that Gets Found, Loved and Shared."
What is Keyword Research?
Dubbed as the most important step of content marketing by the gurus, keyword research simply means using those terms and phrases in your content which people are actively searching for in large numbers via search engines.
Why do Keyword Research?
Because, “no one gets to see a peacock which dances in the jungle.”
The point I'm trying to make with this very bad translation of an Urdu saying is that irrespective of the quality of your content, it may not be read at all if you have not researched enough beforehand and promoted the content piece even more afterwards.
The prior research is primarily keyword research in practice. Even if your content has been doing well without any keyword research, it would have done better if you had done some keyword research.
Related Article: Why You Should Consider Bing in Your SEO Strategy
Top 5 Keyword Research Hacks for 2015
1. The Intent
“This is a no brainer,” said Darryl Stevens who runs a digital agency in Austin. “For getting huge amounts of traffic from Google and Bing (for pretty much for free) you should not focus on just finding a keyword searched by enough number of people each month and/or a low competition keyword, but a keyword which you can get a sale for.”
Example: If you are an online rugs retailer, “Sale on Persian rugs” may be more apt than “Persian rugs” as it shows buying intent”provided it has enough monthly search volume and is not super-competitive.
2. Know Thy Audience
Among other things this means you should speak the language of your target audience.
Example: Getting ranked for “Persian rugs” may be futile if you are offering your rugs in a country where they know it by the word ‘carpet’ rather than ‘rug. Or think of the football vs soccer example.
3. Finding Related Keywords
When contacted for this write-up, Brian Dean, an SEO expert spoke highly of Google Correlate which, according to him “people know too little about”. Calling it “PERFECT” for keyword research he said, “This tool shows you keywords that are closely correlated to the keyword you put into it. For example, when you put "bodybuilding" into the tool, it shows you keywords like "what is crossfit".”
While this is surely useful for finding more relevant content ideas, it should be noted that another correlation may be true if you choose a different time series or a different geographical location in Google Correlate.
Related Article: Why Links Will Always Matter in SEO Marketing
4. The Subtle Difference Between Keyword Research for New vs. Old Sites
Nick Eubanks, another SEO expert, emphasized how keyword research for old sites differ from that of new sites.
As his paid keyword research course (which he was gracious enough to share with me for free especially for this write-up) explains, in case of old sites you should rely on existing keyword ranking data of your site to work on improving rankings of keywords which are already performing average or good. This is better than to try getting ranked for a super competitive keyword for which your site is ranked at page # 500 of SERPs.
In case of a new site, it is about studying SERP results for some seed keywords to see if the websites ranking for those keywords are similar to the product or service website you have.
5. Using Wild Cards in Google Suggest
After hearing about using wildcards in Google Suggest from Mary Bowling at a LocalU event, Todd Bialaszewski started using them to uncover interesting keywords for usage in blogposts.
Example: “Say you are doing a post on: How to install a hot water heater. If auto suggest is turned on you can type "how to _ hot water heater" into Google and it'll recommend keywords in place of the wildcards. Works really well to find related keywords for the keyword you are already targeting, and in case of Google Suggest you know people are already searching for them.”
For more information about analyzing the SEO competition of a keyword, check out this blog post.