Performing Keyword Research 101: The Basics

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As we’ve talked with many clients, one common issue often encountered is keyword research.  Currently, Devenia does not offer this service.  Although no clients have expressed their frustration regarding this, it’s pretty reasonable to imagine some are somewhat irritated by this fact.  Right now, our resources are strapped, and we just cannot feasibly offer this service without charging a fee for it.  But, most companies offer this service for free, so charging a fee is not reasonable at this point.

So, that leads you to the most logical conclusion:  learning how to do it yourself.  It takes some time, maybe a couple hours or so, but not a ton.  Here is basically how we would recommend you perform your own keyword research:

Know the language of your customers

If you don’t already know the keywords which people are using to find your business, its products, and its services, then now’s the time to figure out!  Go to SEMRush and type in the URLs of your top 5 competitors.  You’ll learn about 10 of their top 50 keywords for free.  If you’re willing to pay $70 per month, you can see all 50.  But, the top 10 will do.  By researching the competition’s SEO efforts, you will learn some of the more important terms for your industry.  You could also go to their websites directly, and just browse a few pages to identify some other terms for which they might be trying to rank.

Generate additional ideas

The free version of SEMRush won’t give you a complete set of keyword ideas, but it will serve as a starting point.  Google Adwords, however, is also free and will give you a very thorough listing of keywords you can use.  But, only view it as an idea generation tool, and a rough gauge of how much traffic you might receive.  Be sure to use the “Keyword Tool.”  Ignore the “competition” column, as it does not provide an accurate idea of competition – we’ll explain that to you next.  The column to look at is “Local Monthly Searches,” which reflects the number of searches for the term in your country and language.  Be weary of the number of searches shown.  The number is not accurate, but rather it is inflated by Google, as the primary purpose of Adwords is to sell advertising.

What you will want to note, however, is large discrepancies in various terms.  For example, if the term you are considering has    100,000 or more local monthly searches, it’s going to be tough to rank for, and it’s hard to say how many of those searches will convert into sales for your company.  Are people who are searching for that term really looking for what you are offering?  It’s difficult to tell.  What you can say, however, is that a term with 2.5 million searches per month will very likely receive more traffic than a term with 2,500 searches per month.

Analyze the competition

Analyzing competition is done by simply plugging your term into Google and noting the number of results.  If you receive 207 million results, that’s 207 million pages you are competing against – that’s a ton of competition!  If you have 7 million competitors, that’s a little more doable.  When you type the keywords in, be sure to make a special note of the results that appear.  Do the 1st page results reflect product or service offerings similar to yours?  If so, you’ve probably found a high-converting keyword.  Are the 1st page results way different than what you are offering?  If so, this might be a keyword to pass up.

Should you use short-tail or long-tail keywords?

The answer to this is “yes.”  We get this question all the time.  The benefit of long-tail keywords (keywords with 3 or more words) is that they generally convert at a higher rate, and you can rank quickly for them.  If you don’t have a lot of money or time available at this point, these keywords are a great solution to your problems.  Short-tail keywords (keywords 2 words or less in length) generally convert at lower rates, although they receive more traffic and may lead to more total conversions.  But, they take more time to rank for, sometimes substantially more time.

When first starting SEO, the best way to do it is this:  80% of your keywords should be long-tail and should have less than 5,000 local monthly searches.  You can have a high level of confidence they will convert in excess of the fees you pay an internet marketing company.  20% of your keywords should be short-tail.  You can aim for keywords with greater than 10,000 local monthly searches and much higher.  View them as a “healthy risk.”  They might dramatically increase your business, but then again they might also not convert nearly as well as long-tail keywords

Hopefully this post helps shed a little insight onto the keyword research process.  It’s not easy, and nothing is for sure, but if you follow these steps, you can have a high degree of confidence your overall strategy will deliver you a net profit.

Last Updated on March 17, 2019 by Dan Stelter

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