When talking marketing strategy, there will inevitably be discussion about search engine optimization (SEO). It’s more important than ever for marketing your company in the current digital landscape.

There’s a lot that goes into SEO – from domain authority and page speeds to link building and content optimization.

Today, we’re focusing on keywords: what they are, how to research them and the best ways to use them for SEO.

Why Keyword Research is Important

Keywords are the words or phrases used in search engines to find information about specific topics.

Optimizing individual pages of your website for specific keywords help search engines understand that your pages’ content is related to the keyword. This results in search engines showing your page in correlating search results more frequently.

Researching what keywords you currently use (if any), and what keywords you should optimize for will show you what drives traffic to your website. Implementing these words and phrases into your digital marketing strategy will improve your Google search rank, increase traffic to your site and help you better understand your customers’ journey.

Now that we’ve established why keyword research is important, let’s get started putting a plan together.

Getting Started

When brainstorming keywords for your company, start by asking yourself some questions:

  • Who is your target audience/persona?
  • What key products or services can you offer to that audience?
  • If you were your target persona, how would you search for what you need?

Answering these questions will provide you with a framework.

For example, if you provide financial services like investment planning, you likely want to be targeting company CFOs. From there, what your company can provide CFOs, what types of questions they would ask and ways they would go about finding that answer.

If you’re not sure what your clients would search, consider interviewing them.

Get More Specific 

After you have listed out your product or service offerings, here are some other ideas and concepts to consider.

What Types of Keywords Should You Be Using?

There are two common categories of keywords, long tail and short tail. Short tail keywords are more popular, generalized searches that are usually 1-2 words. Long tail keywords are specific phrases that will yield specific results.

“Financial services” is a short tail keyword since it is general and casts a wide net. “Financial service help for companies near Chicago” is a more focused search, making it a long tail keyword.

As detailed in this post, there are many advantages to using long tail keywords. A long tail keyword strategy worked wonders for a client of ours. Take a look:

longtail keyword strategyLocation, Location, Location

When applicable, localizing keywords yield great results. Adding a location tag to your keywords makes it easier for Google to direct traffic to you. You will begin to see more local traffic if your keywords are “financial services in Chicago” vs. “financial services.” 46% of Google searches are for local businesses and 80% of local searches result in conversions.

Keyword Tools to Use

Once you’ve narrowed down your keywords, it’s time to dig deeper.

Fortunately, there are numerous tools out there to get you started. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Google Search Console: Another free tool offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s Google search presence. It’ll help you troubleshoot issues and assess how well your site or specific pages rank for specific keywords.
  • SEMrush: Use SEMrush to run SEO audits of your blog and website. It provides suggestions for how to boost your rankings and website visibility. We also love using this tool to get organic competition metrics.
  • Google Keyword Planner: Designed for paid ads, this free tool helps build strong keyword lists. Located within Google Ads, it provides ideas and bid estimates for products and services related to your business.

Use these tools in tandem with each other because they all provide different metrics and analysis. SEMrush provides search volume data by country while Google Keyword Planner provides the same data at the city, county or DMA (designated market area) levels.

From there, pick your battles using data. Aim for keywords with low competition rates with medium to high level search volumes.

What’s Your Competition Up To?

Knowing what keywords you are using is great. Learning what keywords your competitors are using can be a game changer.

Use the tools above to collect as much data as possible about your competitors’ strategies. Apply this data to plan a strategy to directly combat them, or pivot to focus on keywords that your competitors may be neglecting.

If your competition is at the top of the food chain for highly competitive keywords, the probability of you overtaking them is low. Luckily for you, all is not lost. Instead of battling them head on, put together a strategy to “work around” them. Pick related keywords to help you gain visibility in spaces they do not occupy, therefore setting your company apart.

If you are looking for other ways to scope out your competition from a website, social media, or advertising perspective, check out our blog on the different types of competitor research!

What Does Google Suggest?

Take a look at what Google suggests when you type in your potential keywords. There is value in knowing what types of searches Google feels are related. Your keywords may be more impactful if you can match them. Remember the finance company example we talked about earlier? Based on our searches for “financial services company,” here is what Google suggests:

google suggestions

Note how the searches range from “financial services company near me” to “financial services company name generator.” This is an at-a-glance way to see how searches vary.

While analyzing these results in Google, look at the “people also ask” section as well because they offer additional insights:

google people also ask

Sometimes the answer you are looking for will be waiting for you there. Keep in mind, these results are often skewed by your location and personal search history. If you identify keyword opportunities, double back and do some additional research on those words using Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush or your preferred keyword research tool.

Put Your Keyword Research to Work

After you’ve established what keywords to implement, it’s time to apply them.

Use your keywords to craft specific blogs, pillar pages and website content to draw more traffic to your site. This will boost your online presence, making it easier for Google to recognize and recommend what you do to others.

By putting these keyword strategies to work, your business can also become a success story. If you need help brainstorming ways to maximize your digital imprint, Simple Machines Marketing can help. We offer free SEO site audits, so get the ball rolling today.