Keyword Research – The Basics

Whether crafting web content, running a PPC campaign, or driving search optimization, keyword research is a critical first step toward success. Knowing which words and phrases drive search traffic to your website and integrating them into your online marketing efforts (including social media) facilitates being discovered and indexed, and fosters higher SERP rankings

Although it sounds simple, keyword research is a critical skill required for digital marketing in the 21st century. Evaluating your organization’s keyword research needs can positively impact  your marketing strategy.

Reasons to Engage In Keyword Search

Knowing the keywords and search terms that drive traffic to your organization’s website allows you to craft search-optimized content that reflects your brand more effectively. SEO Keyword research also provides insight into how you prioritize your search optimization strategies and engage in outreach.

When you are engaging in keyword research, there are three primary elements to consider:

  1. Relevance – Knowing how your content relates to user intent can provide insights into driving traffic. After all, a user is searching for a particular resource or to answer a specific question. Learning how your content answers that question or concern can impact how your site is ranked in search.
  2. Authority – Providing knowledgeable, helpful content containing inbound and outbound links can strengthen your SERP results. Establishing yourself as a subject matter expert or key resource via keywords enables you to increase your likelihood of being discovered via user searches.
  3. Volume – Matching the right keywords and phrases to your content can not only result in a higher volume of searches for your site but also allow you to find those search strings that are particular to you. The right mix of obvious search terms and more obscure entries (including negative keywords) provides the best opportunity to improve user search rankings and optimize your PPC campaigns.

First Step: Identify and Brainstorm Topics and Trends

Keyword research begins with considering searcher intent, focusing on what would motivate a user to search for a particular item. Keyword research also includes identifying potential trends and categories that would generate the greatest search volume in one month. Identifying these key aspects provides insight into brand perception and influences your overall marketing strategy.

Other initial steps in  keyword research include

  • Brainstorming and identifying key search trends and topics to find opportunities to drive unique search results;
  • Crafting an initial list of focus keywords and long-tail keywords to deliver both high-search content while emphasizing brand uniqueness;
  • Identifying negative keywords, or search words/phrases that, when they appear in your search query, your ad doesn’t show; and
  • Check Google Analytics (or other web traffic measurement platforms) for search rankings and words that drive traffic to your site) 

Online Keyword Research Platforms

The next step in identifying keywords for your search optimization and PPC campaign efforts is using a specific software tool to find appropriate keywords, frequency, and traffic. Knowing which search keywords are more likely to drive traffic allows you to craft more accurate and effective strategies and tactics. 

Several free and paid keyword research tools are available, including 

Although using an AI chatbot such as ChatGPT or Bard may seem easier than using these tools, using them as a primary research tool is not recommended

Integrating Keywords Into Your Marketing and Content Strategy

After performing initial keyword research, your next step should be integrating them into your cross-channel marketing strategies. 

  • Integrating keywords into content should be performed with the same diligence as your research, avoiding “keyword stuffing” and ensuring that your content sounds authentic and reflects your brand. Keywords should be integrated at every level of content, including meta tags, headlines, and visible copy.
  • Although keywords can drive YouTube and social media outreach, they operate differently than other online content. Knowing the difference can enhance overall search optimization practices. 
  • Regular monitoring and assessment of keyword effectiveness in driving web traffic and PPC campaigns is essential for the success of both, and
  • Keyword research should be performed at semiregular intervals to ensure effectiveness and determine potential opportunities. 

Gordon Dymowski Headshot
Author: Gordon Dymowski

B2B Social Media Marketing Consultant/Copywriter

Gordon Dymowski is a B2B social media consultant and copywriter working with small to medium-sized businesses around audience engagement, lead generation, and driving revenues. Gordon has assisted various organizations in social media strategy, engagement, and analytics with a specific focus on healthcare, technology, and mission-driven ventures. He is also a fiction writer who has written for various independent publishers.

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