keywords and a magnifying glass

3 Steps for How To Do Keyword Research

What are Keywords?

In this guide, you will find three steps for how to do keyword research. But before we get started, let’s begin with the basics: what are keywords? Keywords are the main idea or topic about what your content is about. 

Think of them as your search query when you Google something. The words or phrases you type into the search bar are keywords like the examples below:

keywords in the search bar

Keywords are important because they are the key to improving your SEO (pun intended). So how do you use them to their full potential?

Research, Research, Research

Everyone is doing keyword research and using various tools to compile long lists of keywords to enhance SEO. Most times we don’t even know why we are doing it, how we can be efficient in our research, or what we will do after we compile all of this information.

Modthink to the rescue! We can help you conduct well-structured, consistent, and effective keyword research with three easy steps.

1. Focus On The Purpose of Your Keywords

You want to dig into keyword research, but have you asked yourself why? Many businesses fall into the trap of conducting research just for the sake of doing research. Outlining your purpose can change the way you conduct the research and offer a better direction.

the purpose of your keywords

Is it to put together a killer list for your ad campaigns? Is it to understand what words to add to your alt text? Or maybe it is understanding the best keywords to optimize your webpage’s SEO. There are endless purposes for keyword research, but you’ve got to narrow in so that your research is as targeted as possible.

For effective keyword research, you need to address the difference between what you want to rank for and what your audience actually looks for. Putting a specific focus on exactly what your audience is searching will allow you to hone in on insights that will translate to improved search rankings, rather than focusing on arbitrary keywords that your company relates to a given topic. 

There are a variety of tools available to give you insights on what your audience is searching for. Check out SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner, KWFinder, Longtail Pro, and other tools to decide which one fits your needs and pricing best! 

Use these tools to find important keywords and the data behind them, not every keyword has the same value. Next, we will discuss how to identify the most valuable keywords to help you build out a long list of effective keywords. 

2. Find the Most Value in Your Keywords

Now that you have looked into what your customer is searching for we can begin to identify the best keywords to add to your list, based on your purpose. 

While it is good to address many of the phrases your customers are searching in order to enhance SEO, we must also consider that one may be more effective than the other.

magnifying glass on the blue ocean

Let’s say you owned a golf shop and noticed that customers were focusing heavily on the phrases “best drivers” and “accurate putters.” If your competitor has put out a ton of content on drivers but is lacking in content around putters, then you have an opportunity to start creating content surrounding putters without much competition. We like to call this a “blue ocean.” 

A blue ocean is a topic or type of content that is not bogged down with competition. Finding blue oceans can lead to higher efficiency and fewer barriers to success because there aren’t many pieces of content similar to yours. 

By focusing on content surrounding putters you will be able to rise up in a space with lower resistance, providing more value to your business and produce faster SEO results.

All of this being said, in the tools mentioned above, do some digging to find the most valuable keywords. Depending on your purpose, these could be the ones with the highest search volume, lowest cost-per-click, lowest difficulty, etc. 

You may want keywords with a high search volume and low cost-per-click if you want to add them to your ad campaign. Or you may want keywords with low difficulty to add to your blogs to move you up in the SERP. You also may want to diversify your list with some long-tail keywords. 

Align your purpose with your values, and create a list of keywords that are right for you.

3. I Have My Keywords, What Now?

At this point, you have a list of keywords that your customer actually cares about and have identified the keywords you will be able to capitalize on quickly. Great work! Now you have to put this research to use.

There are so many different areas that keywords can be utilized and many of them are often overlooked. It would be a shame to do all of that research just to add keywords to a few page titles and sprinkle them throughout your upcoming content. You should weave these keywords into:

  • meta descriptions
  • headings/subheadings
  • alt text on images        
  • URLs
  • link anchor text
  • on your social media platforms      

keywords in a scrabble game format

Meta Descriptions

A meta description is an HTML attribute that gives a brief summary of a webpage. Search engines display the meta description in search results that influence click-through rates. Adding keywords will catch your audience’s attention as well as indicate to the search engines that you address the topic on a given webpage.

example of a meta description

Headings and Subheadings

This is a simple trick to make your content easier to scan and more user friendly. While it may not have a significant impact on technical SEO, it does give structure to your article and creates a better experience for your audience. Use keywords you have found to entice your audience and keep them moving down the page.

Alt Text

what alt text means Also referred to as “alt tags” and “alt descriptions”, alt text allows you to provide written copy that appears in place of an image on a webpage.

This helps audiences who may be visually impaired and also directly indicates to search engines what an image is referring to. Add applicable keywords to enhance the pages SEO.

URLs

More commonly known as the web address. The URL specifies the exact location of a resource on the internet. A well-crafted URL can be beneficial to both humans and search engines. Including appropriate keywords allows the search engine to provide your audience with the best articles that relate to the given topic. Moz.com provides a great breakdown of how to better structure your URLs here!

Link Anchor Text

This is the visible, clickable text shown for a hyperlink. It is not often represented by blue text or underlined text in a browser. You can provide anchor text for keywords that you have previously created other content to improve your own SEO and to draw attention to important keywords included in your article.

Social Media Applications 

We all know how important social media has become in recent years. Oftentimes businesses neglect keyword usage in social media platforms. This can be a costly mistake as it lessens the opportunity to drive organic traffic to your various social media platforms. You can include these keywords in captions, account bios, and about sections.

Curious how to add keywords to your images and captions? The Modthinkers touched on alt text and social media captions in recent Modthink Minutes! While this may seem like an obvious path forward, oftentimes keywords are not used to their full potential. 

Time to Do Keyword Research 

These three steps for planning your keyword research are not difficult. The time you set aside to follow these steps and develop your keywords is time well spent. It will have a positive return on investment. This is not some crazy new formula that will completely reshape your business. However, if you follow these steps you will drastically improve how you relate to your audience, find truly impactful keywords, and utilize keywords to their maximum potential. 

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