If you’ve ever done keyword research for search engine optimization (SEO), you know that the process can be complex. Sure there are some obvious choices, but those might also be the most competitive. Once you have a long list of potential keywords and phrases, how can you prioritize them so that you are focusing on the ones that will bring you the most value?
Getting Started With Keyword Research
When people search for products and services online, they are most likely to click on organic search results. In fact, over half (67%) of clicks go to the top five results in Google.
Google uses over 200 factors in its search algorithm to rank websites, but among the top-ranking signals are high-quality content and links with relevant keywords. If you want more organic traffic, you’ll need to target the right keywords and phrases in your digital marketing efforts.
Your website might already rank for some keywords, and you can capitalize on those by continuing to build quality content around those terms. Your digital marketing agency can research this and provide a list of recommendations.
Another way to do some quick and dirty keyword research is on Google itself. Begin typing in a term in the search bar and watch how Google pre-populates the drop-down with other terms. These are based on relevance and popularity, as well as being customized to the searcher to capture intent.
To get the most comprehensive list of possible keywords for your digital marketing strategy, you’ll need to use some online tools. A few of the most useful and popular keyword research tools are:
Google AdWords Keyword Planner
Since you want to rank well in Google, it would make sense to use the search engine giant’s own keyword tool for research. Google AdWords Keyword Planner is part of the AdWords system but can be used to help you discover keywords for both organic and paid search.
Google Trends is another useful, free tool that allows you to view Google search trends related to your industry. You can even narrow down your results by location.
Moz Keyword Explorer
The Moz Keyword Explorer is one of the best non-Google free keyword research tools available. It is an in-depth tool that helps you discover and prioritize your search phrases.
Wordtracker’s Free Basic Keyword Demand
Wordtracker also has a free keyword tool that allows you to expand your research to include Google, Amazon, and YouTube.
How to Prioritize Keywords for Organic Search
When you do keyword research, you might come away with thousands of possibilities. In a perfect world, your website would rank on the first page of Google for all of them, but this isn’t likely. Instead, most companies have limited time and resources to devote to the digital marketing strategies necessary to achieve these organic rankings.
Prioritizing keywords becomes a balancing act between a number of factors, such as competition, relevance, and search volume. In general, the more valuable a keyword is, the more competition you will face to rank for it. Here are several of the factors you can consider to narrow down your choices from that large list of keywords:
Evaluate for Relevance
It would be a waste of your efforts to rank #1 in Google for something that isn’t going to help your business. If you sell gourmet pizza, for example, what would be the point of ranking well for “best cheeseburger?” You might be able to convert a few visitors, but you’d be better served by focusing your efforts on more relevant search terms.
Some of the questions that you should be able to answer “yes” to before you choose a keyword are:
- Is it something my target audience cares about?
- Can my business offer solutions related to this term?
- Can we create engaging content around this keyword?
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, it’s probably a good idea to move onto the next keyword on your list. Once you’ve accumulated a list of terms that meet these criteria, you can consider some additional metrics.
Check Monthly Volume
You might answer in the affirmative for a long list of keywords, but if few people are searching for them, they may not be worth your effort. Sure, “vegan artichoke pizza” might be something you offer, but if just 50 people each month are on the hunt for this online, there might be better choices.
Using a tool like Moz Keyword Explorer or Google Keyword Planner, you can get an estimate on monthly search volume. Keep in mind that these are estimates, and some figures can be impacted by seasonality.
With monthly volume, higher numbers are better, but you’ll find less competition with low-to-medium volume keywords. If you rank well for a lot of medium-volume keywords, this can add up to some significant traffic.
Analyze for Ranking Difficulty
Finally, what is the level of ranking difficulty with the keywords on your list? Many tools, like Google and Moz, will tell you how much competition you’re going to face with a search term.
A higher difficulty score means that you are going to have a tougher time ranking for that keyword. A newer site vs. a seasoned one will face even more challenges.
If your site is already full of content that targets similar keywords, such as “vegan pizza” or “vegetarian pizza crust,” you’ll find it easier to rank for a new term. But if you choose to target keywords that are completely outside your normal topic area, such as “sushi rolls,” you’ll have a more difficult time finding success.
Keyword research and website optimization can be a complex process, even for people who are tech-savvy. Fortunately, you don’t have to do this on your own. When you partner with an experienced digital marketing agency, you gain access to a variety of online marketing solutions that can help boost your business results.
Contact us today to learn more about how Connection Model’s results-driven solutions can help with keyword research and more.
Written By: David Carpenter