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Tips for Keyword Research in 2023 from Your Friendly Neighborhood SEO Experts

Tips for Keyword Research

At its core, SEO is about helping people find the content most relevant to their search query. Keyword research identifies the words most likely to be used when someone searches for something in context.

It’s a practice that requires patience, creativity, and a good understanding of the current trends and algorithms used by search engines. Ultimately, keyword research is about knowing your market and the needs of your audience. 

Keyword research can be tedious and time-consuming, but it’s worthwhile. In this blog post, we’ll give you some tips for keyword research from SEO experts here at Ranq so you can level up your keyword research game in 2023. 

Why is keyword research important for SEO?

Keyword research is the foundation of SEO for any business looking to build its presence online. To see any success with SEO, you need to have the keywords to back you up.

Search engines prioritize giving people precisely what they’re searching for by matching the keywords typed into the search field with the keywords in your content. The more relevant your keywords are to what’s being searched, the higher chance that content will appear on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

That’s why keywords are important: they convey the “intent” of your page to Google. Nailing your keywords means more visibility and organic traffic for your website, giving you more chances for conversion and growth. 

How do you search for these precious nuggets? Searching for keywords with the Google Keyword Planner and Google Suggest is possible, but it’s usually done best with the help of tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, etc.

Our process for organic keyword research

There’s no one way to search for Waldo, and the same is true when searching for keywords. Search engines are extremely complicated, and there isn’t one method to this madness. But when you’re using tools, there are some best practices you can follow.  

At Ranq, we customize our methods to suit each campaign’s unique goal. Below are some tips for keyword research that will help you search for the right keywords for your next marketing campaign.

Start with seed keywords and see where they take you

If you’re just beginning, a good starting point is using primary keywords. These are also called short-tail keywords, as they typically don’t exceed two words. They comprise terms that generally encompass the topics in your niche or market. 

For example, a specialized fitness equipment company may choose such terms as “workout equipment,” “fitness equipment,” and “exercise machines.” Searching for these will leave you with a mind-boggling number of keywords. To whittle down the list to a few keywords, focus on phrases with more words, adding modifiers to those seed keywords. 

You may have started your search with “workout equipment,” but you’ll soon find keywords like “home workout equipment,” “cheap home workout equipment,” or even “cheap home workout equipment with weights.” 

These are known as “mid-tail keywords” and “long-tail keywords.” They’re highly targetted and niche specific. The search volume for mid-tail and long-tail keywords is usually lower than seed keywords, but they are easier to rank for given how targetted they are. 

Search volume isn’t a metric to obsess over anyway. It’s more reliable to look at metrics such as traffic potential (TP) and keyword intent when choosing keywords. As a rule of thumb, the longer a phrase, the lower the search volume and easier it is to rank for. 

So, find some long-tail keywords and target them. You’ll start seeing some traffic. 

Load up on matching keywords to maximize reach

Most experienced folks know matching keywords by type is extremely useful for running PPC campaigns. A lesser-known fact is that keyword match types can be used in finding keyword variations for organic SEO. Further, matching keywords diversifies your pages’ keyword profiles, organically improving their SERP position. 

It’s a fact that the top-ranking pages target a few primary keywords successfully. However, the difference in ranking first or second can be the number of secondary keywords they also organically rank for. 

You can use matching keywords as secondaries on blogs or just sprinkle them generously in whatever media format you’re trying to rank for. 

There are three main types of keyword match types:

  • Exact match (E.g., exercise machines): These keywords contain the exact syntax you’re targeting. They are highly relevant to the query but may have low reach. When these are used in a PPC campaign, even though the impressions may be low, they usually yield a higher click-through rate (CTR).
  • Phrase match (E.g., exercise machines for home): Although these keywords may include words before or after the primary phrase, they will always contain the syntax and convey the same meaning. Further, they also have more reach than exact match keywords. These keywords are highly relevant for PPC campaigns but not so much for SEO.
  • Broad match (E.g., exercise and workout machines): These keywords may not have the exact syntax as the main keyword, so they may not always be relevant. However, they have the most reach. That’s why they’re great for increasing impressions in PPC campaigns, and they’re significant in SEO, too. 

Evaluate your keyword metrics by context

Keyword research depends on data. Regardless of which tool you’re using, you will be drawing upon hard data from multiple search engines like Google and Bing. While subjective interpretation and modifications may be required in specific campaigns, your process should ideally begin and end with data.

If your starting point is metrics, it’ll be easier to organize your SEO decisions into reliable systems with consistent results. Here are some to look at when conducting keyword research:

  • Domain Authority (DA): This metric measures how established your website is, meaning newer websites have low DA. Your DA grows as your SEO efforts result in more traffic and backlinks. When your DA is low, you should prioritize gaining traffic.
  • Traffic potential (TP): Traffic potential is how much organic traffic a page has month to month on average. While TP is derived from search volume, the two aren’t the same. However, you may rely on search volume if you don’t have access to the traffic potential metric. With a low DA, this metric should be your focus.
  • Keyword Difficulty (KD): This is how difficult it is to rank for a specific keyword, which is based on backlinks and domain authority (DA). Using keywords with low KD is generally a good idea, especially if your DA is low (e.g. your brand is new), as it’ll help you gain traffic faster. This metric varies by industry, though, given how competitive the online marketplace is.

Once you have a respectable DA, you may be able to work with more difficult keywords, even aiming for keywords with transactional intent. Speaking of which, what’s intent?

Always check your SERPs for search intent

Intent is everything. It’s the “why” behind those words that your audience decided to type into the search field. Are they looking to buy something? Are they only gathering information? Understanding this can help you create more relevant content and connect better with your audience. 

It may sound simple, but when you start looking at data, sometimes things get blurry. For example, let’s take a keyword like “pec deck.” Just by looking at the keyword, it’s difficult to say whether the searcher wants to buy one or learn how to use one. It may be unclear whether or not you should use it.

If you check the SERPs for this keyword, the results are a mix of informational and commercial posts. This is why, despite what the data suggests or your personal experience dictates, it’s crucial to manually plug the keyword into Google and check the SERPs for intent.

Google classifies keyword intent into four types:

  • Informational: The user is only looking for information on the topic. From a buyer’s journey perspective, the user is at the top of the funnel. 
  • Commercial: The user is specifically looking for information to help them decide if they want to buy something. Examples include product comparisons, best product lists, and reviews. 
  • Transactional: The user is convinced and is looking to complete the purchase if they use transactional keywords. The keywords typically comprise “buy,” “price,” “discount,” “deal,” etc. Here, the user is at the bottom of the funnel. 
  • Navigational: The user wants to get to a specific page they know. It could be a login page of a website or even a policy page of a government website. 

Here’s a general rule. When in doubt regarding the intent behind a keyword, always rely on what the SERPs show you.  

Run through competitor analysis

When trying to find keywords, competitor analysis can be the first step or come later in your campaigns when you’re trying to refine and optimize your pages. There are a couple of ways to approach competitor analysis. 

With a new website, you can work backward from your competitor’s position on the SERPs, populating it with new content through domain-to-domain comparisons. This’ll give you all the keywords they’re ranking for, which you can target yourself if KD is suitable. Alternatively, you can find some long-tail keywords to bring you more traffic.

On the other hand, if you have an established website and want to improve the performance of individual pages, you can use URL-to-URL comparisons. This will enable you to see where competing pages are beating your page, which you can then start optimizing around. 

Knowing how to conduct a competitor analysis comprehensively can add significant value to your overall SEO campaign. 

Keyword research got your head spinning? Have Ranq do it for you

So, there you have it! Just so you remember, here’s a list of our keyword research tips that you can follow:

  • Start with primary keywords and go for long-tail keywords from there.
  • Use match-type keywords as secondary keywords in SEO content.
  • Balance metrics like DA, TP, and KD (don’t focus on search volume too much).
  • Don’t forget to run a competitor analysis at some point!

If all this sounds too convoluted, it’s because it is! But it’s what we love to do here at Ranq. We tailor our keyword research methodology to suit clients’ unique goals and business needs. 

And guess what? We don’t stop there, either. We take care of the entire marketing cycle, from strategy to execution. Interested? Check out our services!

Author avatar
Diksha Chauhan

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