SEO Essentials: Keyword Research

SEO Essentials: Keyword Research

SEO Essentials: Keyword Research

May 24, 2021 Cassandra Mullet No Comments Business SEO Web

So you’ve just gotten to your lunch break at work and pull out your phone because your wireless mouse has been causing issues lately. You’ve admitted it’s time for an upgrade. Which model of mouse is best? Thankfully, Google knows the answer. You search for “best wireless mouse 2021” and begin to read through the first article that appears in the results.

While you might not be aware of it, much work was probably put in by websites that are listed first in the search engine result pages (or SERP, for short). Various SEO strategies are used by brands to do just this — to boost their page’s rankings for specific search terms.

The strategy of keyword research is a vital part in SEO that all website owners will want to understand and apply to increase organic search traffic. Though keyword research is a whole world of its own within SEO, we’ll introduce a few basic elements in this article to get you familiar with the concept.

What is Keyword Research?

So what exactly is keyword research? It is the process of identifying common search terms and then strategically placing them throughout your website’s content, in order to appear more higher up on the SERPs. It’s all about increasing your site’s visibility by knowing exactly which terms are being typed out by search engine users that are relevant your content.

By then placing those key terms in your webpage, you are then “optimizing” the page for a relevant keyword(s). Doing so will boost its chances of appearing higher up on a SERP when that term is searched for, which leads to more traffic to your website.

Animated GIF: Mobile search engine results pages (SERPS)

In order to optimize a certain webpage for accurate search queries, quality time is put into researching which keywords are relevant to that page’s content, which keywords are popular for search engine users, and which keywords could be ranked for, in comparison to competing webpages. Each webpage has a different ideal sets of key search terms and phrases, and each page must be individually optimized.

How Do I “Rank” for Certain Keywords?

Finding keywords that are relevant to your content and that you can reasonably rank for will help you know which words to strategically place in your articles and website pages.

There are often many, many pages of results on Google for a single search term. But, how often do you visit the second or third page of results when you are looking for something? Unless you are doing a specific research project, you more than likely will not venture past the first SERP. Therefore, your goal as a website owner is of course to get your website and its individual pages to appear on the first SERP when relevant search terms are entered in, “ranking” the page among the top non-sponsored results.

If you own a business that sells bicycles, it would be a dream for your website to appear at the top of a search engine result page when a searcher types “bicycle” in the search bar. However, unless you own a major bicycle company, your website will probably rank on one of the millions of other pages after page one for the term “bicycle.”

In addition, those searching for a generic term such as “bicycle” may be more interested in the history of the bicycle, how to ride a bicycle, or perhaps a nearby bicycle tour. The search for a single word can often imply vague intent on the part of the searcher. This could mean it may not actually be relevant to your website after all.

Ranking in the top for specific keywords takes detailed research to determine which words are the best to try to rank for, considering how relevant that keyword is to your webpage and how competitive it will be to rank for it. Often, a very generic single keyword will honestly not be worth attempting to rank for because other, larger sites often dominate the first pages of the search engine results pages.

Google SERPs on mobile.

Know your Competition

There are many other factors that affect a site’s ranking in a SERP, the most well-known correlation being the authority that a domain and page have in comparison to that of other sites. While not an official Google metric, SEO companies typically estimate a site’s authority based on a dominant SEO factor: the quantity and quality of sites that link back to it.

And while there are different types of “backlinks”, generally they are obtained when a reputable website links back to another website. The more quality backlinks a site has, the more authority that page will have in the eyes of Google, making it rank higher on a SERP in comparison to sites with lower authority.

This means that an essential step in conducting quality keyword research is considering your page’s authority in comparison to other sites attempting to rank for the same term. (More on this subject in another article soon.) Most often, the biggest factor determining which sites appear highest in the results pages is their authority — even if a page is perfectly optimized for a key term.

So while the keywords with the highest search volume can be the most valuable to obtain a ranking for, they are also the most competitive to rank for. That said, these factors should be strongly considered when determining which terms should be your target keywords for a specific webpage. More likely than not, your target keywords will likely be a phrase instead of a single word.

The Keyword Research Process?

There are differing schools of thought around the best approach to keyword research. Each involves brainstorming relevant search terms, identifying which could be reasonably ranked for in comparison to other sites, and strategically placing that chosen word or phrase throughout a page’s content.

Each of these steps deserves a full description of its own, and unfortunately we don’t have space here to get into those topics. But do stay tuned for our upcoming articles about how to brainstorm keywords for a specific page as well as our favorite approaches to SEO keyword research. We hope this introduction has sparked your interest to learn more. Stay tuned, and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or comments along these lines.