Why is keyword research important? (and how to do it)

Keyword research is a term that most marketers are familiar with by now.

But what actually is keyword research and why is it so important for marketers to understand?

Utilising SEO (search engine optimisation) practices is one of the most effective ways to increase website traffic, build brand authority, and create a positive lasting impression online. 

The huge rise in organic marketing, often due to cuts in marketing budgets, means it’s more critical than ever that marketing teams consider how sustainable and long-term their strategies actually are. 

If your marketing strategy consists of boosting a few paid social media posts and hoping for the best, scrunch it up, throw it out, and let’s start again. 

SEO is one of the most important components of any organic marketing strategy and the key ingredient to successful SEO is, you guessed it, keyword research.

Now, there are a lot of factors that impact SEO success including great copywriting and keyword research won’t solve everything, but it’s definitely essential to build your SEO strategy with keywords in mind. 

Let’s take a closer look at how to do keyword research and why it’s important for building a successful SEO strategy.

Why is keyword research important?

The ultimate goal of keyword research is to find keywords that your audience are searching for that you can create content around in order to appear in search results.

If you don’t know what people are searching for, how can you create content that resonates with their needs? Creating content without purpose or direction is like driving without a destination, we’re doing something but it’s not going to help us achieve very much!

Investing time in (and putting some budget behind) keyword research allows you to truly understand how many people are searching for the terms you are choosing and how difficult it might be to rank for them.

How to conduct keyword research

We can probably all agree that getting started with keyword research is the most daunting part.

How do you know which keywords to target? How many keywords should a website have? Which tools offer the best support with keyword research?

We’ve put together a quick keyword research template:

Make a list of relevant topics

Create an in-depth list of topics that relate to your business. There are probably topics that come to mind straight away when you think of your brand or product. However, the more time you spend thinking about topics related to your brand, the more ideas you’ll come up with that you’d never thought of before.

Start to track the topic ideas in a document ready for the next step.

Create a list of seed keywords

From the topics you have chosen, create a list of seed keywords. Seed keywords are the top priority for the business. You’ll also want to consider any keywords that your website currently ranks for.

You won’t necessarily know if there is much search volume behind these seed keywords. However, this doesn’t matter because they’ll be more generic anyway. 

Choose a good keyword research tool

A good keyword research tool is the ultimate partner to any organic marketing strategy, especially SEO. However, finding a user-friendly all-in-one keyword tool friend can be tricky. 

You might be thinking, ‘what is the best keyword research tool?’. We recommend using Semrush SEO tool* to cover all of your keyword research and beyond to help you create a solid SEO strategy for your brand.

Consider search intent

Search intent refers to the purpose of an online search. Understanding why users search for certain keywords can help you understand what type of content or information they are looking for.

There are four main times of search intent:

Navigational intent

This type of search is when a user is looking to navigate to a specific website. For example, searching “Asos” or “Facebook” into a search engine has a navigational intent. 

Generally, it’s not worth spending much time trying to rank for keywords like this as it generally means that the user is looking for a specific website, and it’s not yours.

Transactional intent

As you can probably guess, this type of search is when an individual is in search of a product or service. When people are searching with transactional intent, they generally don’t want to read pages of information so it’s best to direct them to transactional pages (e.g. product pages) so that they can complete the task at hand.

Informational intent

This type of search is when a user is seeking specific information. Often informational searches will look like a question or be a more general search term. For example, if a user searches “how to change a tyre”, search engines understand that the user may be looking for a how-to guide and will therefore rank this type of content highly.

Commercial investigation

The step before transactional intent. This user is generally still deciding on their purchase and doing some research but is looking to buy in the future. For example, “top 10” lists are common for commercial investigation.

Identify long-tail keywords 

Once you know which seed keywords you want to use, you can start to devise a strategy that incorporates long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are usually longer variations of short-tail keywords with a lower search volume which means you have more chance of ranking highly in search results.

If you’re just getting started with learning SEO, it’s important to target long-tail keywords because it means you can drive meaningful traffic to the website without worrying about ranking number one for a highly competitive keyword in a short time frame.

Identify content gaps 

Identifying content gaps is a great, and often underutilised, way to improve your SEO strategy. When conducting keyword research, look for keywords that have a high volume but aren’t competitive or are even missing good content entirely. If you can identify content gaps that you can fill, it’s a quick and easy way to create content that isn’t difficult to rank for. 

Keyword research and competitor analysis

It’s important to remember to check what your competitors are doing when it comes to SEO. You may find content gaps that your competitors aren’t ranking for which can lead to opportunities for your brand. Semrush’s Keyword Gap tool* is a great way to identify opportunities to fill gaps your competitors are sleeping on.

Try Semrush’s PRO tool for FREE.*

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