Your Keyword Research Needs a Diet
Written by Garrett Mehrguth and published
Times have changed and, frankly, our keyword research needs a diet. We get so caught up in building out all of our keywords that we often forget to focus on the key terms that matter to our audience. Furthermore, we do not have a quality tool that helps us to choose between keyword options.
Unless you have an established website, or you are in a non-competitive market, you are limited to ranking for long tail keywords directly related to your core products/services or keywords related to your physical location.
For example, if you are a typical local business it will be far easier for you to rank for “Local Plumber in Dana Point” than “Plumber.”
The same concept applies to e-commerce. If you are an e-commerce store, it will be much easier to rank, in theory, for “Organic Men’s Hair Conditioner” than “Hair Conditioner.”
The long tail keyword allows for quick wins that are also more relevant to purchase intent.
The problem arises at the keyword research and selection phase. Either you haven’t done the research or you have done too much — both represent a deficit.
When you boil it down, your keyword selection should be about four things:
- How many people are searching?
- Is your website authoritative enough to rank?
- Is this a transactional search? Are people looking to buy?
- Is this a branded search term, like your company name?
Based on these four points, the question now becomes, How do you perform keyword research and selection efficiently and effectively?
The answer: you back into your keyword research on a page by page basis and base your selection on consistent metrics.
The goal of this post is to walk you through a three-step process that can greatly speed up and improve your keyword research.
Step 1: List Core Pages and Potential Long Tail Pages
Often, we approach keyword research from an industry perspective. We take everything we can think of related to our website, add those keywords to our tool and then sort through the results.
Instead, let’s identify our core pages and then perform research on a page by page basis.
For example, if you were a plumber, your core pages would contain the following and can be organized as such.
Home page: The keyword for your home page should be your most profitable keyword that has the highest volume of searches and is the most difficult to rank.
Services page: You will want to do keyword research for each service you offer and the “hub” service page.
- Water Heater Repair
- Drain Repair
Locations: You will want to do keyword research for each location you do business including counties. Each county will serve as a “hub” that holds each city page.
- County 1
- City 1
- City 2
- City 3
- County 2
- City 1
- City 2
- City 3
The sub points can be thought of as submenus in your site so as to maximize your internal linking. It will also be important to link to each of these pages, or the hub that holds them, from the body of the home page. Think of a “hub” as the “Services” page that holds all the individual services your business offers.
Then, choose five long tail keywords not directly related to a service or product but that a potential buyer might search. You don’t need hundreds, just enough to get your content team started.
While this is for a local service business, the same approach can be performed for an e-commerce website or non-localized business.
The goal of backing your way into keyword research is that it can become an iterative process where you review your current keyword strategy and then build upon those keywords/phrases that drive traffic and ROI.
Typically, many online marketers perform keyword research only at the beginning of a website launch or campaign and consider their job to be done.
The goal is to perform research for only what is needed. Then you want to conduct keyword research for every unique piece of content so that you are better able to give your target audience what they want.
Keyword research is not for a search engine — it is for your audience.
Step 2: Perform Your Keyword Research on Page by Page Basis
Now that we have identified our core pages, it is time to perform the keyword research for each page.
While there is a plethora of tools, each “better” than the next, let’s talk theory for a change.
Regardless of which tool you use, the same principles apply:
- How many people are searching?
- Is your website powerful enough to rank?
- Is this a purchase driven search?
- Does this term fit within your business’ brand?
While conducting keyword research, the goal is to go through your core pages and identify three keyword options for each page.
Once you’ve identified three keyword variations for each core page, the difficulty often comes in selection.
Step 3: Selecting Your Keywords
How do I know which word is best?
Choosing the best keyword is difficult and too often based on “gut” feel instead of metrics. Because of this, I created a keyword selection tool you can use for selecting the best keyword for each page. After you have identified three options for each page, score each word on a scale from 1-10 for each of the following categories:
The amount of people who search for a term each month.
Ability To Rank
The potential your page has to rank compared to other pages on the first page of the SERPs. For example, how does your domain authority compare to your competitors? Do they have quality on-page SEO with both internal and external linking?
The likelihood that someone searching this term would purchase your product or service.
The fit between your business’ brand and the keyword. To rank well for most keywords on the page, targeting is essential. Would including this keyword in your URL, title, and H1 make sense?
It’s time that keyword selection evolved from gut analysis to a more refined process of careful evaluation.
Whether you believe “Volume” is more important than “Brand Fit” or vice versa, put your keyword research on a diet by focusing on core and longtail pages, performing your keyword research page by page, and selecting keywords after comparing your options via meaningful metrics.