The key to a great SEO strategy is choosing the right keywords.
If SEO is about being visible when potential customers are searching for the solutions you provide, then you need to know what they’re typing into the search bar, right?
That’s where keyword research comes in.
Understanding how your customers are searching for your business can make or break a successful SEO strategy. Target the wrong keywords and you’ll struggle to rank. But choose the right keywords and you’ll be on your way to page one of Google in no time!
So if you’re looking to level-up your SEO game, read on for my top keyword research tips to get your business in front of your ideal customers.
OK let’s start with the most obvious (but most important) keyword research tip. Choose keywords that are closely aligned to your business and the services, products or solutions you provide.
Every time someone types a phrase into the search bar, it’s Google’s job to find the most relevant, useful and quality content to display in the search results. And the more relevant your business or website is for a keyword, the easier it will be to create content that the searcher is looking for, and the higher your web page will rank in Google search results.
So if you’re a graphic designer based in Sydney, and you work with small businesses, you’ll want to go for keywords like “sydney graphic designer” “graphic design for small business” and even “small business logo design”. The more specific your keywords are, the more relevant they’ll be to your business (but we’ll get into this a little later on).
When it comes to researching keywords for SEO, the WHY behind a search is just as important as the WHAT. In other words, why is someone typing that keyword into Google. Are they looking for information or inspiration, to find a service provider or make a purchase? This is known as search intent, and it can tell you a lot about a searcher when you start to dig into it.
Let’s take a look at a few keywords as an example.
If someone is searching for ”website designer near me”, it’s safe to say they are looking to hire a local website designer. This is called a transactional search.
If that person instead searches for “best web designer” they’re looking to compare web designer options to find the best provider. This is called a commercial search. While the searcher may not be ready to buy right now, they are in the market for web design services.
On the other hand, if someone searches for “good website design examples”, they’re in the early stages of their research. This is called an informational search. They may be interested in professional web design services down the line, but for now they’re just looking for some inspiration.
The reality is people aren’t always going to be ready to buy from you right now. So, try to use a mix of transactional, commercial and informational in your website content to make sure you’re meeting your audience where they are in their journey. But remember, the keywords you choose should be aligned to the type of SEO content you have on your site. If you have a blog or FAQs, you can target those informational keywords. If you don’t, then stick to transactional and commercial.
We already know that SEO is all about showing up when potential customers are searching. So, when it comes to choosing your SEO keywords, you need to ask yourself “How likely is it that these keywords and phrases are *actually* being searched for by my customers?”
Let’s put this into perspective. If you’re a party planner that’s ranking #1 on Google for “rainbow party planning for over 60s”, is this really something to write home about? Probably not.
It’s essential that you check the search volume of a keyword before you decide whether it’s right for your biz. Search volume is the number of times a keyword is searched in Google each month, and this info is easily available in any free keyword research tool you’re using. While there’s no magic search volume number, you want to go for keywords with at least 50 searches per month. The higher the monthly search volume, the more potential traffic you will get to your website if you rank high in Google.
But before you get carried away, we don’t want to only choose the keywords with the highest search volume.
Which brings me to my next keyword research tip…
Just because a keyword has 1,000 searches a month doesn’t mean you should add it into your SEO strategy.
Let’s say you’re a social media manager and you’re interested in the keyword “instagram reels”. It’s got 1,600 monthly searches so you know people are interested in the topic, and you happen to be an expert. This one seems like a no-brainer. You think “Great! I’ll add a paragraph to my service page about my Instagram reels service and throw in some info about how important reels are for small biz”.
But in reality, this keyword is going to be very difficult to rank for, and your little 300-word paragraph isn’t going to cut it (sorry – I say this with love!). If you do a quick incognito Google search for that keyword right now, you’ll get an idea of the websites you’re up against. At the top of search results, you’ve got a news update from Instagram, followed by a few 2,000+ word guides from sites like Later and Hootsuite, with detailed info on how to make a reel and reel ideas for different types of businesses.
To get to page 1 of search results, Google needs to consider your content as the best option for a given search. So, unless you’re planning to create a better, more valuable piece of content than what’s already out there, you’re better off choosing an easier keyword.
And how do you find an easier keyword? I’m glad you asked!
A long-tail keyword is a keyword (or phrase) that longer and more specific than a generic keyword. “Instagram reels” is a very broad keyword, while “how to grow Instagram followers organically” is much more specific.
Long-tail keywords have two benefits:
Long-tail keywords are great for blog content, but you can also use them on your service pages. Because it’s a lot easier to rank for “social media management for small business” than “social media management”.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to choosing your SEO keywords. If your website has been around for a while, and you’ve already got some great content, have a look and see which keywords your website already ranks for.
If you're ranking on page 2 or 3 for a keyword, it’ll be much easier to optimise that page and move up the rankings, than targeting a keyword you're not ranking for.
Not sure how to check your SEO rankings? Log into your Google Search Console, go to the Performance report and select Average Position at the top of the page to see which queries (keywords) your site ranks for.
People’s behaviour online is often influenced by what’s happening in the real world and search interest in different topics can fluctuate over time for a number of reasons.
Whether your business is affected by tax time, school holidays, or even the changing of seasons and weather patterns, it’s important to be aware of any trends or seasonality when planning your SEO content.
Google Trends is a great free tool to help you spot when interest in your products, services or related topics peaks across the year. Just remember that you’ll want to plan and publish content well ahead of time as it can take a few months to start ranking on Google.