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When it comes to inbound marketing one consistency among inbound marketers and SEO consultants appears to be clear – quality content will win out. However, to make an impact that content has got to be found by your target audience, which is where SEO keyword research is critical.

I’ve often mentioned how I like to imagine crawlers or bots, which are programs search engines use to scan websites to determine their importance, as librarians cataloging information.

Keywords are an important component of algorithms the crawlers (or my imaginary librarians) use to catalogue information on search engines. Keywords work to ensure when you type in a search query you’ll receive only relevant answers.

Your aim is drive traffic from the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s) to your website. Simply put, a lack of adequate SEO keyword research or targeting the wrong keyword can mean the crawlers and your target audience won’t easily find your website and content – it will end up lost at sea.

What exactly are keywords?

Hubdo co-founder Helen Nicholls, who has vast experience with SEO, describes Keywords as the “bloodline to your online success”.

“They define the standing of a website on Google and can make or break a business’s online strategy,” Helen says.

“Keywords are the words your ideal customers use when searching online for you and your business services.”

“As a business owner, it’s vital you understand which keywords customers use regularly and how to use these keywords effectively on your website and online tools.”

What’s the difference between short and long-tail keywords?

Keywords Research and Analysis through Loupe on Old Paper with Blue Vertical Line Background..jpegHelen explains short tail keywords as being typically non-conversational and sometimes difficult to use within your page content.

“They’re 1 to 3 words in length and may contain a local area such as ‘PR Brisbane’, as a simple example,” she says.

“In some industries, it’s difficult to gain traction with ‘short keyword’ optimisation. Short keyword terms can be highly ‘generic’ and therefore compete with articles of interest, and general knowledge sites such as Wikipedia.”

“Short tail keywords often attract a large amount of traffic, but this traffic doesn’t always convert to solid leads,” she says.

By having a clear understanding of your target market, goals and unique selling points there is a way to start ranking well and even close the SEO dominance of larger companies in your industry.

“Long tail keywords can have five or more words in a string and are conversational. Generally, long tail keywords get less search traffic than short keywords but usually have a higher conversion rate, as they are much more specific and relevant,” Helen says.

“Building on our earlier example instead of using ‘PR Brisbane’ as a short tail keyword you could try ‘Can PR services help to grow my business in Brisbane?’ as a long-tail keyword.

Helen’s Tips for keywords research

Undertaking keyword research takes time, but if done thoroughly the results can be well worth the effort.

  • Start by reviewing your services and products on your website.
  • Use Google Search autofill terms as potential keyword:

“Do this by going to Google and type in a keyword to search for your type of business. Google will display numerous ‘auto fill’ keywords. These are the most popular keywords used in the search requests on Google.” Helen says.

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  • Review your Google Analytics and Search Console accounts if you have them > Go to Search Traffic > Search Analytics – check Clicks, Impressions and Positions.
  • Review the websites of your competitors. Note the main page’s, header titles etcetera for keywords.
  • Use the Google Keyword Tool in Adwords if you have an account or keywords tool in Hubspot if you are a user of the platform.
  • Substitute in synonyms – Thesaurus.com – test different words.
  • Get keywords from the Wikipedia article on the topic/s.
  • Search in Quora – needs an account – similar to asking an audience www.quora.com.
  • Use UberSuggest to generate variations –www.ubersuggest.io.
  • Use ‘Keyword Shitter’ to create long tail keywords – YES! It’s spelt correctly keywordshitter.com
  • Add all the keywords to a list and then work through the most searched terms (data from Adwords keyword tool).
  • Remove duplicate and irrelevant keywords from your list.

How to use your chosen keywords

It’s tempting to try to fit as many keywords as possible onto one page. Unfortunately, this tactic, known as keyword stuffing, will only work against you and may be considered by Google as ‘black hat’ or bad SEO.

Using your keyword spreadsheet list, apply one specific keyword to each of the pages of your website. For example, if you have a page about ‘services’ and you’re a public relations company, use the keyword ‘Public Relations Services’ for this page.

Add the chosen keyword in the meta (SEO) title, meta description, H1 header and in the body of the page. Remember, you’re writing for a human, so it needs to make sense – you’re not writing to appease the Google bots. If possible, add the same keyword to the image title and ALT tag.

Some final points on keyword research

SEO Keyword research is not always that simple. Google processes trillions of search queries on an annual basis with many of these new and never before seen by the search engine.

With the move to ‘AI’ and Google’s desire to make searching online more ‘conversational’, there’s a move to more ‘topic-based’ content searches.  A new generation of consumers research online for more ‘focused content’ so Google has changed their algorithms to favour this ‘topic’ approach. For more information read research.hubspot.com/reports/topic-clusters-seo.

“Topic Clusters are a new approach to writing and a great way to increase author authority within your field of expertise. ‘Clusters’, are a number of smaller blogs written to complement a larger ‘pillar page’ topic, is also an opportunity to rank well for specific keywords which are competitive but achievable,” Helen says.

“Find highly relevant keywords for what you offer, popular enough that they’ll result in good traffic numbers to your site, but not so competitive that ranking well for them will be nearly impossible.

“There is nothing more satisfying than achieving a ranking result for a blog post”, Helen says. “Be sure to set your ‘SMART’ goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) for each cluster. You’ll see the results in your data and your rankings will work for you over time.”

We can’t all be experts in every aspect of our business. If you’re struggling with your keyword research, reach out to us to be put in contact with experienced SEO consultants.