Why Keyword Research is the Most Important Part of SEO
Keyword research is important to website SEO as water is to our human survival.
Without keyword research, your web pages, blog posts, and other content wouldn’t survive online.
In this article, we’re going to show you how keyword research is critical to growing your business, as well as the keyword research process and keyword research tools that we use, which you can replicate for your own SEO and digital marketing strategies.
What are keywords and what do they mean for your business?
Keywords, or search terms, are an informative word used to indicate the content of a document, page, or article.
Keywords are also used by search engines, such as Google, Bing, and even popular social media platforms, to provide relevant information to users searching for specific information on a topic.
For your business, this means displaying your information, products, or services in front of users as a result of their search queries. Keywords bridge the gap between your business offerings and your prospective customer’s intent.
Let’s say your business provides lawn mowing services in Brantford, Ontario.
People in need of lawn mowing services that live in Brantford will search Google for solutions, and Google displays the most relevant results.
In order to rank for those search terms, your lawn mowing website needs focused keywords in the lawn care industry as well as supporting, related keywords (such as grass cutting, weed removal, gardening, etc.). This informs Google that your website is about lawn care services.
How keyword research fits into your SEO strategy
First off, keyword research should always be the first step of your SEO strategy.
Performing thorough, quality keyword research allows you to determine and understand what your prospective customers are looking for, and how your business’ products, services, and knowledge can fulfill their needs. In addition, keyword research allows you to plan for proper on-page optimization as well as niche-relative off-page outreach, specific to your business and the people you serve.
Not only does keyword research provide useful insight into your customers, it also provides important data that allow you to focus your efforts on the highest-potential, and eliminates wasted time and content.
Let’s take that same lawn mowing company and determine how keyword research plays a part in its SEO process.
By analyzing popular keywords in the lawn service industry, you’re able to identify which specific keywords have the highest search volume and their levels of competition. For example, the term “lawn care” has an average of 3,600 monthly searches and is highly competitive to rank for, whereas “lawn care services” have an average of 1,600 monthly searches and is easier to rank for.
The dangers of writing without keyword research
As a business owner or an employee, we can all agree that time is money.
That’s why it’s so important to focus on something that’s going to drive real results and make an impact.
Writing without keyword research is the equivalent of driving without a destination. Sure, on a Sunday afternoon sometime you just want to feel the wind in your hair. But when you’re looking for results and the best ROI possible, you need direction that you know has benefit.
Keyword research allows you to successfully write for your audience, not for yourself.
Let’s look at our example lawn mowing company.
Knowing that our audience and prospective customers are asking Google questions such as, “when to start mowing your lawn in the spring in Ontario” allows us to prepare to properly answer this question, and create a resource that ranks for this search query.
Our keyword research process and tools, and how to use them effectively
Having a process for performing thorough keyword research saves a ton of time, and ensures consistency in your results.
Here’s a look into our keyword research process, some of our keyword research tools, and how you can use them in your own business.
First and foremost -- and quite frankly, most importantly -- we write down the products, services, and information for the business we’re working with.
In our lawn care company’s case, this includes lawn care, landscaping, and snow removal.
From there, we use Neil Patel’s Site Audit tool to analyze our client's website.
For our lawn care company, you’ll notice there’s a strong correlation between lawn care services and related keywords on their website, including “grass cutting services,” and “lawn care company.” This is great!
We then reconvene to analyze Site Audit results and identify opportunities and weaknesses between the site's current state and the business services and growth goals.
After determining any discrepancies or missing keywords during our analysis, we utilize a combination of Keywordtool.io and Soovle.com to create additional keyword ideas.
In our opinion, using minimal, 1-2 word terms provides the best results using these tools.
Looking at our lawn care company, we're able to expand on longer-tail keywords in relation to our "grass cutting" keyword.
Once we've developed a substantial, comprehensive list of potential search terms, we use Google's Keyword Planner to determine the potential search volume for keywords that weren't prevalent during the Site Audit but are similar, related search terms to our target industry.
The most significant benefit of using Google's Keyword Planner in the final step of our keyword research process is the ability to drill down results based on your target regions, which is very useful for local businesses serving a couple of cities.
Using our lawn care company as an example, we're able to determine that even though we have good keyword density for "grass cutting" on our website, the potential monthly search volume is very low compared to "lawn care" or "lawn care services," and we want to build our strategy around keywords that our prospective customers are actually searching for.
Maybe you've been working hard to improve your search results, or maybe you're completely new to SEO and digital marketing in general, at any rate, performing thorough keyword research and understanding why it's so critical for SEO (and online marketing in general) helps successfully grow your business.
What search terms are you trying to rank for? What tools do you use when doing keyword research?