The first stage of using a search engine, such as Google, is to enter a series of words which relate to the type of website/content you are looking for.
These words are commonly known as ‘keywords’.
The goal of any website is to bring in as much organic traffic as possible and the best way to do this is to appear at the top of the search results when someone uses keywords relating to that website.
In order to do this effectively, a website must optimise their target pages with those target keywords. But how do they know which keywords will work for them?
You need to understand that you cannot just choose a keyword and start optimising! Before deciding on what keywords to use… you need to perform keyword research.
What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is one of the core foundations of any website.
With hundreds of potential keywords in almost every niche, you need to figure out which ones are going to perform well for you.
You need to consider whether a possible keyword is actually actively being used as a search term to find websites (you wouldn’t optimise for a keyword that has a very low search volume) and you need to ensure that all your competitors haven’t also optimised for that keyword. A little competition is fine but you need to choose your battles smartly.
There are a number of keyword research tools, both free and paid, available on the market that make this process really easy. I will cover these a bit later.
It is important to understand that there are different types of keywords you should use, depending on the goal of your business. Let’s take a look at these…
Types Of Keywords
So you understand that keywords play a massive role in bringing traffic to your site but you also need to be aware that the type of keyword you use will determine the type of visitor you receive.
If you bring the wrong type of visitor they will leave straight away increasing your bounce rate which is a signal that can be interpreted by Google that your site didn’t fit their search term (keywords) and this could result in a drop in rankings.
Let’s take a look at the 7 types of keywords so you can see exactly what I mean.
Generic keywords are usually one or two words that solely isolate a topic without going into any detail. Sometimes known as ‘short tail’ keywords.
A few examples would be:
- Air conditioning
- Mobile Phone
As you can see they have no further words (no ‘head’ or ‘tail’) to qualify what the searcher is looking for within that topic.
These keywords generally have pretty low conversions and are high competition. It is usually best to avoid using generic keywords.
Brand Keywords (as you probably can guess) include a keyword that relates to the branding of a product.
They are better than using generic keywords but it is still difficult to figure out what the searchers intent is.
Some examples of brand keywords are:
- Bosch power drill
- Dell laptops
- Samsung mobile phones
- Nike shoes
Although this type of keyword has narrowed the search down slightly there are still a bunch of reasons they could be using this search term. If you decide to use a brand keyword you need to consider you will be going into direct competition with the brand itself.
Broad keywords normally provide a decent amount of traffic and they have less competition as the search term has been narrowed somewhat.
The person searching has essentially decided what they want but still only has a rough idea and could be looking for options.
Examples of broad keywords would be:
- Wedding tuxedo
- London hairdresser
- Cooking books
There are a few ways these can be interpreted but the search is a little more specific.
The opposite of generic keywords is exact keywords.
They show that the person searching already knows exactly what they want. They are a good keyword to optimise your site for because they generally convert well and a lot of people are searching with these terms.
Some example are:
- Blue wedding tuxedo rental
- Mobile London hairdresser
- Italian cookbook reviews
The only issue you can find with exact keywords is the amount of competition.
Long-tail keywords are usually the best type of keyword to focus on.
They have less search volume meaning less competition to deal with BUT they have a really high conversion rate.
Long-tail examples are:
- Blue wedding tuxedo rental with delivery and collection
- Mobile London hairdresser reviews
- Italian cookbook for beginners 2019
They target the perfect balance between conversion, traffic and competition.
Depending on your type of business, having your site optimised for buyer keywords can be a really smart decision.
They are search terms that include buying keywords around the main keyword. Which usually means the searcher is ready to part with their cash. You see the opportunity here right?
Buyer keyword examples
- Blue wedding tuxedo discount
- London hairdresser coupon
- Buy Italian cookbook for beginners
By bringing traffic to your pages through buyer keywords and having the right product in front of the searcher in less than a couple of clicks – your conversion rate is only heading in one direction.
Tyre Kicker Keywords
These are the type of keywords you should really avoid. Anyone using tyre kicker keywords usually want something for nothing – unless however, this is your business strategy!
Here are some examples:
- Download Spanish lessons
- Learn to speak Spanish for free
- Book torrents
- Free Spanish courses
Generally, you need to avoid this type of keyword. So you understand why keyword research is so important and you can now decide what type of keywords are right for your business. Next, let’s take a look at the tools you can use to find those keywords.
Keyword Research Tools To Get You Started
SEO keyword research tools can be quite expensive, so first I am going to show you how you can do quick keyword research for free. The tool is called Google Keyword Planner. Start by creating a Google Adwords account. Once set up, select the ‘find new keywords’ option. Just enter some keyword ideas and hit ‘get started’ The results will find a lot of keyword suggestions and give you a good idea of the average search volume and level of competition for each. Not bad for a free tool! But…. there are a number of problems when it comes to using any free tool.
Problem 1: It takes time to work through each result manually and find exact figures
Problem 2: People use odd search terms and free tools often limit the number of results making it harder to find genuine keywords between the fluff.
Problem 3: You are limited to the amount of information you can get about a keyword, often just being given rough estimates instead of exact figures.
But there is a cost-effective solution to these problems…
Simply sign up to a trial period to use a premium tool like Ahrefs ($7 for 7 days) or SEMrush (free 14-day trial).
You will be able to complete keyword research that produces accurate important metrics such as keyword difficulty (KD), search volume and cost per click as well as a number of other super useful functions.
Matthew Woodward also has an intelligent keyword research spreadsheet that allows you to analyse your competitors best keywords and tells you which keywords you should be focusing on based on the data. Learn about that and other free keyword research tools here.
Wrapping It Up
Keywords are the bridges between search engines and websites.
Without keywords, people using search engines would have no way of finding your website.
Optimising for the right keywords can have a huge impact on traffic which ultimately boosts you towards your business goals. Invest the time and money (if need be) into a great keyword research strategy and you won’t regret it.
‘Matthew Woodward is an award-winning SEO & digital marketer who publishes tutorials and case studies that focus on helping anyone with an online business. He started his blog back in 2012 and since then has helped thousands of people achieve their goals.’
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