The ABCs of Keyword Research

Angela McCainby:

Technology

Search engine optimization is key to any marketing strategy. SEO is what allows your website to be readily found online. And in order to properly optimize your website, you need to be targeting the right keywords.

These keywords will let both web visitors and Google’s crawlers know exactly what your site is all about. One of the best ways to decide on the right keywords is by conducting thorough keyword research.

Despite what you might have heard, keyword research isn’t dead. On the contrary, this process is an essential part of your search optimization strategy. But in order to make the most of your keyword selection, you need to establish a specific process.


The ABCs are as good a place to start as any. These three steps can act as the foundation for your keyword research process and put you on the right track to selecting search terms that will help your website rank.

Analyze Your Aims

“A” is for the analysis phase. You’ll need to identify your goals from the very start. If you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, you won’t know which keywords to select and which to leave behind.

It’s not enough to simply say that you want to rank in the number one position for a given keyword. While that designation might come with a bit of clout, you need to determine whether that’s really what you care about. After all, it’s entirely possible to rank well for a keyword but lag behind in terms of web traffic and sales conversions.

Certainly, showing up on page one of search results is a good goal to have. But you’ll need to delve deeper into what you really want for your business. Do you want to get more local foot traffic? Are you trying to get people to buy a specific product? Do you want to be considered a thought leader in your industry? Your goal will depend on your unique organization and may change over time. But zeroing in on specific aims will make the keyword research process far more fruitful.

Brainstorm and Build a List

Once you’ve figured out what your specific goals for optimization might be, it’s time to start brainstorming an initial list of potential search terms to target.

You’ll want to think about terms you may already be ranking on and ones you’d like to rank on, as well as some contextual keywords that are relevant to your business. Don’t forget to include different variations of similar keywords and to explore both long-tail and short-tail keywords. You can even use Google’s suggested search features to get an idea of what others might be looking for.

This list doesn’t have to be perfect and should probably contain a greater number of keywords than you think you’ll end up targeting. You can even include some long-shot keywords just to see what their monthly search volume looks like. Don’t worry too much about what’s realistic for your industry or budget at this stage; the point is to see what shakes out during the brainstorming process.

Check Out the Competition

Using available analytics data and your own intuition, you’ll be able to create a list of prospective keywords. Of course, your work won’t be done quite yet.

It’s a good idea to use a Google keyword planner tool at this stage to assess how you might fare by targeting the keywords on your list. These kinds of tools can show you how many monthly searches are being conducted with those terms, which will give you an idea of how much web traffic you might receive if you’re on page one of SERPs for a given keyword.

That said, it’s important to remember that monthly search volume doesn’t mean everything. Some keywords may see a lot of searches, but they may not result in conversions. What’s more, broad keywords will have a higher volume of searches but may not provide smaller businesses with the opportunity to rank. Consider different options carefully before going after a keyword that’s too competitive.

With some keyword planners, you can actually enter in the URL of your biggest competitor and see how they’re ranking on certain terms. This information can allow you to narrow down the list and potentially allow your business to outrank theirs for specific terms.

When you’re new to keyword research, it’s good to start at the very beginning. By keeping the ABCs of keyword research in mind, you’ll be well-versed in the basics and can continue to grow your SEO strategy over time.

Angela McCain

Angela is a senior editor at Dreniq News. She has written for many famous news agencies.

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