Top 5 Tips for Keyword Research

It all starts with a query in a search engine. Keyword research, and getting the right ranking on search can make or break your website. By researching your market's keywords, you can not only learn which phrases to target with SEO, but also learn more about your customers needs and wants. It's all about getting the right kind of visitors to your site, and turning clicks into conversions.

We hope these 5 top tips will allow for you to nail your keyword research!

1. Understanding Search Queries:

This is one of the first key steps for keyword research. Within search queries, it is important to understand what the customer is looking for exactly. The English language, according to an article from the Oxford Royale Academy, is one of the most complex languages to learn and understand, due to the amount of contradictions within it. By simply swapping two words around, a phrase can mean two completely different things. Fully understanding queries isn’t just about determining the relevance of each result to the query; it establishes the interpretation of the query. Search queries are getting longer and more precise as search engines are getting more powerful, which is good for us as marketers, as shorter queries leave a lot more room for interpretation and misunderstanding.

When trying to interpret searcher's queries and keywords, ask yourself if the keyword is relevant to your website and its content. Will searchers find what they are looking for on your site when searching using these keywords? Will this traffic result in financial rewards or other organisational goals?

2. Understanding Search Intent:

According to a Moz Blog Article, between 40–60 billion searches happen on in the US each month. As well as understanding the queries that the searchers have, it is also important to understand exactly why they are searching for that query or keyword. As Anna Corbett explained in the recent Brighton SEO Conference, there are 4 types of search intent; informational, commercial, transactional and local.

[caption id="attachment_6814" align="alignnone" width="805"]Top 5 Tips for Keyword Research - Search Intent This Image from ThinkWithGoogle, details the types of intent a customer may have when searching online.[/caption]

Informational intent

Lots of searches are from people looking for information; informational intent. Information about the weather, information about food, information about SEO. People will have a specific question or want to know more about a certain topic. Modifiers used for these type of searches normally include, what, why, who or list of.

Commercial intent

Some people have the intention to make a purchase in the near future, but use the web to do their research. Which washing machine would be best? Where is best to go on holiday in South Italy? These people have transactional intent but need time to research possible products/services. These types of search intents are usually called commercial intents. The modifiers used for these searches could include, best, reviews or compare.

Transactional Intent

A transactional search intent is a query that indicates the intent to make a purchase. Transactional intent search queries may include exact brand and product names (like "Samsung Galaxy S3”) or be generic (like “iced coffee maker”). In other words, they're at the conversion stage of the business funnel, going from prospects to actual customers. The modifiers used for this could include, buy, cost, cheapest or discounts / vouchers.

Local intent

When you view local search intent from the perspective of a business owner, it's all about having their company found whenever people in their area are looking online either specifically for them or for the goods and services they offer. So if a customer is searching for a coffee shop in their area, their search query will include modifiers linking to locality such as near me, local or Birmingham for example.

Understanding the consumers search intent can allow for you to create content and landing pages that better fulfil their needs. Knowing exactly why a user is searching for something will help you to build your content to answer their query in as clear as possible, branching out to cover relevant topics as well.

3. Dissecting the Queries:

Now you understand what searchers exactly want and the reasons for searching, you are able to dissect the queries in order to focus on certain keywords that may have higher search volumes within your web content. Semantics and syntax of search queries is getting more important as search engines are getting more powerful. Look for verbs, nouns, prefixes and suffixes as well as the order of the query, to better understand the query.

Top 5 Tips for Keyword Research - The Search Demand Curve

Some keywords have more searches than others, but this does not necessarily mean that all the higher volumes should be targeted. According to a selection of articles on The Moz Blog about SEO, the more popular keywords make up less than 30% of the searches on the web. The remaining 70% is the "long tail" of search. According to Hubspot, Long-tail keywords are used to target niche demographics rather than mass audiences. In other words, they're more specific and often less competitive than generic keyword terms. Ranking well for long-tail keywords allows you access to well-qualified, specific traffic, who are more likely to be your target customer and convert if the work you have done to this point is right.

5. Knowing and Understanding the Target Market:

For all businesses, knowing the target market and understanding what they want is key to success. Keyword research is similar to audience research, without it you’ll miss an important piece of the puzzle in understanding your audience. With it, you’ll find that you not only do a better job of targeting your audience but also increasing the value they receive when they visit your website. Much like developing a product campaign, it is important to develop customer personas for the people you are trying to target. If you think like your consumer and select the words they are most likely to be searching for (even if it’s not exactly what you want to call your product or service), you will achieve ranking success in search.

[caption id="attachment_6816" align="alignnone" width="700"]Top 5 Tips for Keyword Research - Customer Personas In this image from, it shows an example of a customer persona and some things to take into consideration when creating the customer persona.[/caption]

By developing personas, you are now able to do focused research into their search queries. The focused research can involve search volumes, keyword ideas, trends, geographic location and competition. Skytap, a self-service provider of cloud automation solutions, implemented a targeted content marketing strategy and saw a 55% increase in organic search traffic (according to a HubSpot Infographic).

Once you've built your detailed buyer personas and considered keywords for their searches, your work isn’t done. Your customers will continue to grow and change. Continue to monitor your customer base over time and alter your personas and keywords accordingly.

5. Using the Right Tools:

There are many tools to aid keyword research and finding the keywords that your customer base are searching. Below are a selection of examples;

The Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a free tool to use. It suggests keywords and provides estimated search volume, but also predicts the cost of running paid campaigns for these keywords and phrases. To determine volume for a particular keyword, be sure to set the Match Type to 'Exact' and look under Local Monthly Searches. Depending on your ranking and click-through rate, the actual number of visitors you achieve for these keywords will usually be much lower.

[caption id="attachment_6818" align="alignnone" width="2732"]Top 5 Tips for Keyword Research - Google AdWord Planner This is a screenshot taken from Google AdWords Planner and shows the kind of information the programme gives you when it comes to keyword research.[/caption]

The Moz Keyword Explorer helps improve how you discover and prioritize keywords. Keyword Explorer provides accurate monthly search volume data, gives an idea of how difficult it will be to rank for your keyword, estimated click-through rate, and a score representing your potential to rank. It also suggests related keywords for you to research. It cuts out a great deal of manual work and is free to try.

The Searchmetrics Competitive Keyword Discovery is a programme that can automatically identify your competitor’s unique keywords on a page-level. Compare yourself with any competitor and receive insights in real-time — without setting up a project. It allows you to save valuable time analysing and comparing pages, identifying your competitor’s unique keywords that they rank for, but you don’t. Find opportunities to dominate the competition through your unique keywords and topics. Unveil competitor’s content/topic strategies and find new business niches and competitive opportunities.

[caption id="attachment_6820" align="alignnone" width="470"]Top 5 Tips for Keyword Research - SearchMetrics This image, taken from the SearchMetrics Keyword Tool, shows the in-depth analysis of each keyword and the comparison of the keyword in terms of competitiveness.[/caption]

There are many other keyword analysis and planning tools in the industry - try a few and let us know what you think!

This article was inspired by some of the speakers on keyword research at the last Brighton SEO conference. Head of Digital Marketing at Base Creative, Anna Corbett, lead a presentation on search intent and the importance of understanding exactly what consumers are looking for. Next, Stephan Spencer, SEO expert, author and speaker spoke about keyword strategy and outlined tools to use to aid keyword research. Finally, Patrick Reinhart, senior director of digital strategies at Conductor Inc, and Tom Smits, SEO manager at, spoke about keyword research within e-Commerce.

If you would like to watch the full video stream of the main stage, it can be found here: Brighton SEO Live - 27 April 2018. With thanks to Authoritas for the live stream and the team behind Brighton SEO.

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