Last Updated on October 16, 2020 by David Bryan
How to carry out keyword research for SEO in 2020?
Table of Contents
In this post we will explore the following topics:
- 1 What is a keyword?
- 2 What is keyword research?
- 3 Is this the same as keyword analysis?
- 4 Why is this so fundamental to SEO?
- 5 How do I know if I’ve chosen the right keywords?
- 6 What tools can I use?
- 7 How do I carry out keyword research?
- 8 Broad vs long tail keywords
- 9 What do I do once completing my keyword research?
- 10 Conclusion: Keyword research for an SEO success story in 2020
- 11 References and further reading
Keywords are at the beating heart of any successful SEO project.
As they are so important, embarking on appropriate keyword research for SEO is vital to improving your ranking in search engines like Google. This guide will discuss how to find the perfect keywords for your website using keyword analysis techniques and tools.
What is a keyword?
To be successful in SEO, you’ll need to ensure that users can find your content on Google 1.
It might sound obvious but for those wondering ‘what is a keyword’, it is simply a word or phrase (collection of words) that on a web page.
When somebody visits a search engine, they will enter a search phrase or query like the one shown below. Search engines will then try to match the query with websites that match the user’s search intent.
The likes of Google and Bing crawl the web looking for websites. They then index those sites, including every page and every word used on those pages.
Using clever algorithms, they decide which web pages in their index match a user’s search query. One of the ways they do this is by looking at the words (keywords) on the page to determine whether it’s a good fit and display them according to relevance, i.e. their ranking position.
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is largely what it sounds like. It’s the process of discovering the relevant keywords that apply to your site 2 and whether they are worth pursuing. Optimising your website for these keywords will help people find you, thus boosting your organic rankings in Google and traffic.
If you are unsure how to conduct effective keyword research, ask yourself the following questions.
- What common questions are users asking Google and are these questions relevant to my website?
- How can my website help them answer those questions?
- Does anybody else already answer these questions? If so, are they good answers? Can they be improved?
- What keywords can I use to make it clear that my website has the answers?
- Are there other ways to answer the question, e.g. using different words?
Essentially, keyword research involves understanding what questions your target audience are posing (their search queries).
Keyword research is not the only way to improve your rankings on Google, but it is one of the most important tools in doing so.
Is this the same as keyword analysis?
Keyword research simply provides you with a list of keywords that will benefit your SEO. You are unlikely to be able to use all of them without sacrificing quality in your copy, though.
Keyword analysis is a deeper dive into these keywords and the impact they will have on your site 3.
Examples of how keyword analysis can be used include checking:
- Which keywords are searched most often?
- Which keywords convert to the most clicks?
- Which keywords attract the most attention at particular times? “Wimbledon Tennis Final”, for example, will be much more active in July than November
- Which keywords yield the greatest return in advertising and marketing campaigns?
- Which keywords are easier or less competitive? A keyword like “dog” will always attract more attention than “canine”
Keyword analysis is an essential SEO practice upon completing your keyword research.
Once you have a list of suitable keywords, the real work starts. You need to discover which of these will benefit your website and SEO strategy most.
Why is this so fundamental to SEO?
Simply spamming a single page with relevant keywords surrounded by copy will have a detrimental impact on your ranking, especially in 2020.
Gone are the days where a website owner could stuff a page with keywords and see improvements in Google. Believe it or not, this used to work. These days, you are more see your page penalised due to Google’s algorithms. Therefore, it’s essential to consider keywords in a natural way so that your content is readable and adds value to your visitor.
You must ensure that your keyword research is used to answer specific questions. This will appeal to algorithm updates like Hummingbird, RankBrain and E-A-T which place particular emphasis on accurately matching questions with answers that demonstrate Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. Your content must be relevant and fresh!
Google is placing greater emphasis than ever on user behaviour, too4. By undertaking appropriate keyword research and understanding the user’s intent, visitors are likelier to click through to your site – and stay put. This means identifying what a user could be searching for and how best to match their search with an answer. Some typical examples are below:
- Informational searches – “What is”, “How to do”, “What are”, “Examples of” – typically where a user’s intent is to find an answer to a question
- Transactional searches – “Buy a”, “Sell my”, “Purchase a”, “Shop for” – typically where a user’s intent is transactional e.g. relating to buying/selling products or eCommerce
- Visual searches – “Show me”, “View a”, “Present a” – these searches are normally where a user’s intent is to view something visually
How do I know if I’ve chosen the right keywords?
In theory, you will notice as search engines re-index your site and crawl the keywords. The assumption here is that you’ve selected relevant keywords, used them naturally on your web page and have checked that they have a reasonable search volume. However, it can take much longer in practice to see results due to other factors including the age/reputation of the website, authority and promotional work undertaken. Sometimes it can take anything between 3-12 months to know for sure.
The first thing to check is your ranking positions. There are a vast array of paid tools available to help you do this. You can also check free tools like Google Search Console for checking queries/clicks and Google Analytics where you can see landing page views to confirm whether you’ve had a surge in organic traffic.
It’s always nice to see rankings improve for keywords, but this won’t tell you very much without seeing traffic as a result. When you see your traffic improve using a tool like Google Search Console, you will know that your keyword research is working.
However, it doesn’t end there. Just because you have received traffic doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good quality traffic. You need the ‘right kind’ of traffic and user engagement.
This is where tools like Google Analytics come in, as they will help you to check important metrics related to user behaviour, such as ‘time on site’ and ‘bounce rate’. If you have a poor ‘time on site’ or high ‘bounce rate’, there’s a good chance that you have the wrong keyword or have made an error elsewhere in your SEO strategy.
If your keyword is ranking well (typically positions 1 to 5 depending on the other results) but it’s not generating any traffic, this will be another indicator that you don’t have the right keyword.
By undertaking the keyword analysis that we previously discussed, you’ll gain a better understanding of the impact of your keywords. T
For more information on this practice and how to study your results, refer to our articles on successful SEO planning and measuring the success of your SEO.
What tools can I use?
As well as Google Search Console and Google Analytics for checking search traffic, there are many other tools available to aid with keyword research and keyword analysis for SEO.
If you’re keen to learn how to use keywords effectively, you should investigate some – or even all – of these tools:
There is no shame in getting help with your keyword research. The SEO landscape changes constantly. These tools will help – and, naturally, Opace are also ready to assist whenever necessary.
How do I carry out keyword research?
To conduct the most impactful keyword research and analysis possible, refer to our search intent article. Together, these two articles will act as the ultimate how to guide to keyword research.
We’ve given some ideas above, but if you’re unsure how to practice effective keyword research, try these tips.
- Think of relevant words and questions that pertain to your business
- Research related terms and synonyms, i.e. other ways people may search
- View the sites of high-performing competitors, noting their use of keywords
- Take inspiration from Google’s “People also search for” and “People also ask” boxes
- Group and cluster your keywords around relevant, relatable themes and questions – this will help you to form part of your content creation strategy and developing Topical Authority
Broad vs long tail keywords
You should also master the difference between broad and long tail keywords5.
The main difference here is that broad keywords are usually more competitive words or phrases and tend to generate more traffic. Long tail keywords, as the name suggests, are longer multi-word phrases and tend to be more specific to your business. This makes your site likelier to rank well as a result of algorithm updates like Hummingbird and RankBrain.
With long tail keywords, users are more likely to stay on your site longer as you will have been able to answer their question directly.
Here are some examples of how broad and long tail keywords can attract similar visitors:
|“What time is the new James Bond movie showing at my local cinema?”||James Bond Movie Cinema|
|“How to bake a loaf of bread using yeast in an oven”||Bake Bread Yeast Oven|
|“Are size 42 running shoes a size 8 in the UK?”||Running Shoes Size UK|
|“How to carry out keyword research and improve my SEO performance?”||Keyword Research SEO|
As you’ll see, the long tail keywords answer a very specific question and are far more likely to provide the answer needed.
The broad keywords may do so, too – but equally, they could take a visitor down an unrelated rabbit hole of content and result in poor user behaviour metrics. The visitor will quickly leave the site and your SEO is likely to be impacted as a result.
A successful website will need to strike the balance between using these twin techniques – especially in the age of voice assistants, where more users may conduct Google searches verbally rather than through typing.
What do I do once completing my keyword research?
Once you have completed your keyword research, it’s time to move onto keyword analysis. Use this to perfect your SEO strategy.
This means taking the time to carefully consider the metadata to accompany each page each keyword. This will ensure that you are gaining the most possible success in your SEO.
Conclusion: Keyword research for an SEO success story in 2020
The key to success in SEO is taking the time to master keyword research and keyword analysis. Once you understand how to achieve this, you will see your rankings improve, traffic increase and overall SEO performance grow. With recent algorithm updates, getting your keywords right is more important in 2020 than it has ever been.
Opace are experts in the field of keyword research and SEO implementation. We are always on hand to help, so if you are struggling to see results feel free to get in touch. Just remember, identifying keywords is not sufficient on its own, you need to also understand how to use them.
References and further reading