Willemien is the manager content of yoast.com. She loves making content easy to use and easy for people and search engines to find.
If you have a business these days, your website may have become your lifeline. There’s no time to waste: let’s start with SEO and improve your rankings on Google. Keyword research is an essential first step. Here’s what it is and what factors to consider.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is about finding the keywords your target audience will use when searching for a product or service you offer, and using that information as a guide in your keyword strategy. Without keyword research, you could get lost in your own jargon and miss out on popular keywords that your target audience is already looking for. Or, you could end up competing with industry giants – a battle that even with a great strategy, you might have a slim chance of winning.
There are a variety of Factors To Consider When Doing Keyword Research And Setting Up Your Keyword Strategy. In this blog post we discuss your mission, your audience, and Your competition.
If you want to dig deep into keyword research, check out our ultimate guide to keyword research first. If you want to get started right away, read below.
We often hear people say: We can’t find meaningful keywords. Before doing anything, and this is key, you need to know what makes your business unique. Take a step back and look at your company as a whole. You need a clear concept of your company’s mission. You need to determine exactly what you have to offer because that is what will get you to the rank.
It’s that simple. SEO is like normal business. If you do everything at the same level as or below your competition, you will not get noticed. If you are not getting the best result, why would people want to find you? Why should Google rate you? It seems simple, but this factor is often forgotten.
What makes your company unique?
If you’re struggling to find the right keywords, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you have to offer?
- What is your mission
- What are your core values and strengths?
- What makes you different from the crowd? Think about the niche aspects of your business that you excel in.
You don’t have to be better than your competition in absolutely anything, as long as you identify enough points to develop a keyword strategy. For smaller businesses, this means you probably need to be better at what the bigger fish haven’t thought of or are not actively looking for.
The role of your target audience in your keyword research
Once you’ve established what you have to offer, it’s time to consider your audience. How does your offer relate to the needs and goals of real people? Ultimately, SEO is all about making sure your users find what they’re looking for – but there’s a lot more to it than just picking the right keywords. Understanding your audience’s needs is important in creating great user-centric content, which is also an important part of good search engine optimization. The first thing you need to do is figure out what words your potential audience is using to find the information they are looking for.
Let’s look at an example. At Yoast we call our platform for SEO training courses “Yoast SEO Academy”. At first glance, it seems logical to us to optimize the keyword [Yoast SEO academy]. However, when we analyze traffic data, it turns out that our audience is looking for it [SEO training] or [SEO courses] much more often. Hence, it makes a lot more sense to optimize for this term instead.
Every company has an internal vocabulary that often does not match the vocabulary of its audience. So you should Always choose your keywords from the perspective of your target audience. Using the built-in Semrush features in the Yoast SEO plugin, you can find keyword data and suggestions with just a few clicks. You can also try the Yoast Suggest tool for more ideas.
What about your competition?
After all, you simply cannot develop a suitable keyword research strategy without considering your competition. Too often, websites optimize for terms that they have absolutely no chance of ranking. For example, keywords with a high search volume can help a website reach a much larger audience. However, you will only see positive results if you can get a good rank. The search terms that are delivering the highest traffic are very competitive. So you need to research your competition and evaluate the situation.
You could go overboard and do a thorough analysis of all the competitors in your field and it can certainly be worth it. But let’s stick with the basics for now. It’s actually quite easy to get an overview of your SEO competition. Just google some search terms that you want to rank and see which companies are showing up and compare them to the rank of your website. How big are the companies you are competing with for these top three places? Would your company fit into these results? This can easily be determined by just looking at Google search results.
But be aware! You can’t just blindly trust the search results as Google will match them to your personal search history. This means that your website will rank higher for you than for others doing the same search. You can work around this by searching in incognito mode, although there is still a local search component in that too. If this is likely to be an issue for you, consider using a VPN to hide your location or using Valentin.app to choose a location yourself!
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Expand your strategy step by step
Large websites can be classified for the most general terms. Smaller websites in a very specific niche can do the same thing. Of course, it is also easier if you write in a language that is not spoken all over the world. However, for most smaller websites that write in English, the general rule of thumb is: Start with a large number of long-tail keywords that are low on traffic but are easier to rank for. Then work your way up to the ranking list step by step. Once you have some SEO authority, start optimizing for more general keywords. And in the end, you might even be able to rank for your head keywords!
Read more: Keyword Research: The Ultimate Guide »