As a business owner, you likely know how important it is to get prospective customers to visit your website. Part of attracting your target audience to your site is through search engine optimization (SEO). Using the right keywords can help you stay relevant to consumers’ search queries, thereby increasing their chances of landing on your website or blog.
However, SEO shouldn’t be a trial-and-error guessing game. To drive real results, you should understand which terms are the most effective in attracting your audience. This is where keyword research — and the appropriate keyword research tools — comes into play.
Related article: Is SEO Worth It for Small Businesses?
Why keyword research matters
Researching keywords is crucial for anyone with a website. Not only does it help you better understand market demand, it also helps your content stand out among others.
To attract people to your site, you’ll have to first understand which terms users are frequently searching. For instance, two words might have the same meaning, but one of the meanings can be more popularly-searched than the other, driving results only pertaining to that more popular definition. In other words, using keyword research tools will allow you to choose the right phrases to help your content rank in search engine result pages (SERPs).
By identifying and utilizing popular keywords, you drive more organic traffic to your website. The more people find your website with your carefully selected keywords, the more your traffic (and your business) will grow.
Related article: 10 Beginner SEO Tasks You Can Do This Afternoon
How to do keyword research for your website
New to keyword research? Here are some steps to get you started:
1. List relevant topics and identify potential keywords.
Brainstorm some topics that pertain to your business so you can narrow them down into possible keywords and keyword phrases. Consider searchable terms and phrases that might rank you high on results pages.
2. Research related terms.
Head over to Google and plug in the keywords and phrases you listed above, and identify any other common terms you see. Also, consider the “searches related to” section at the bottom of the page for further insight.
3. Mix up keyword types.
You don’t want to only include short keywords with just a few words; instead, you’ll want to vary the lengths so you’re experimenting with both head terms (broader terms of three words or less) and long-tail terms (specific phrases of more than three words).
4. Check up on competitors.
If your competitors’ content is outranking yours for the same keywords, it might be time to reevaluate your list. Ask yourself how you might go one step further with your keyword phrases, and what additional terms you can include that your competitors haven’t included. That way, you have everything they have and more.
Keyword research tools we love
Now that you know the steps for researching possible keywords, check out these free and paid tools to help you put your knowledge into action:
1. Google Search Console (Free)
Google Search Console gives business owners the tools to measure their site’s search traffic and optimize content with in-depth search analytics. The premier feature “Performance Report” lists out the pages on your site that receive the most clicks from Google users.
2. Ahrefs Keyword Explorer (Paid)
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer runs on the world’s largest third-party search query database. Keywords will be compared globally, so you have complete confidence in your keywords ranking high on SERPs. The most striking feature is the site’s “Keyword Difficulty.” Keywords are given a number from 1 to 100, so the higher their number, the more difficult it is for their keyword to rank on the search results.
3. Moz Keyword Explorer (Paid)
Moz Keyword Explorer predicts the amount of search volume a keyword will receive. This keyword tool abandons the spreadsheet and vows to identify the existing keywords on your own site that could rank high in SERPs. All you have to do is enter your site’s URL, and Moz Keyword Explorer will gather tons of results in seconds.
4. SEMRush (Paid)
SEMRush believes getting insight from your competitors is the key to growth. Instead of entering a single keyword and receiving a list of ideas, SEMRush displays your competitor’s ranked keywords, which can better equip your site to establish new trends.
5. Soovle (Free)
Soovle allows business owners to explore high ranking keywords on multiple search engines. This is a vital tool for brainstorming new keywords. You can grab inspiration from sites like YouTube, Amazon, and Wikipedia.
6. Jaaxy (Paid)
Jaaxy is a research tool developed by marketers for marketers. With over 500 millions keywords searched daily, this research tool will drive your PPC and SEO campaigns to the next level. A standout feature on Jaaxy is their ability to “spy” on competitors. You can research why your competitors’ websites are ranking, where they are ranking and their content structure.
7. SECockpit (Paid)
SECockpit is perfect for website owners new to the keyword game. This research tool takes a vast amount of information and condenses it into a simple overview. You can read about your search trends, organic competition and traffic estimates with a glance.
8. KeywordTool.io (Free)
KeywordTool.io is a great alternative to Google Keyword Planner. One impressive feature is KeywordTool’s ability to generate a competitor’s list of keywords based on the site’s content.
Improving your SEO
Getting your website on SERPs can seem like a daunting task, but by following these steps and using these tools, you’ll help generate organic traffic to your site and stand out among competitors.
If keyword research still seems like decoding hieroglyphics, Lightning Media Partners can help. No websites are alike, so we tailor our SEO services to your business’s needs, solving real problems and chasing real opportunities.
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