Many people think that keyword research is all about selecting high volume search terms, creating links and ranking that very keyword. Well, the truth is, Keyword research is the basis for good SEO. When used well, this can be very instrumental in ranking web pages for more keywords and subsequently driving traffic.
Based on statistics, over 50% of people click on the first three results returned by the search engine. What is even more interesting is the fact that 75% of them do not scroll to the second page of their search results. This clearly indicates how important high ranking is. However, one important thing to note is that it is never easy getting to the top of the Google ranks because of the growing competition and ever-changing SERPs.
You may be thinking, ‘but what is a keyword?’
Well, according to Dictionary.com, a keyword is an informative word that is often used to retrieve information from a system and indicates the content of a document. In other words, keywords are words that hold great significance. It is the keyword that will give you a hint on what a document is all about.
So, why do we need keyword research in the first place?
Well, keyword research plays a critical role in driving traffic to a web page and creating content that is highly useful. The truth is, it does not really matter the number of times Google Algorithm changes as it is always aimed at offering its users value.
Based on this, it is clear why keyword research is important for the users. It is responsible for helping us understand the manner in which the marketplace is searching for information. By understanding what the target audience is looking for, you can tweak your content in such a way to provide them with the most value.
Therefore, it is safe to say that google research is here to stay. It is the factor that will always help us understand our target audience. The key is, as we provide our audience more value, Google will reward our efforts with increased visibility and finally allow us to drive as much traffic to our websites as possible.
The Cluster Approach to Keyword Research
There are so many methods that are used in performing keyword research. One of the most common ones that reign is the cluster approach based on topic clusters. In order to rank well on Google algorithms, the truth is your content has to demonstrate thought leadership in both the depth and breadth of content coverage.
One of the best ways in which Google does its approximation is looking through grouped content using bidirectional internal links. This means that pages on your website that discuss a similar subject are grouped together via a link.
Traditionally, keyword research involved coming up with a list of keywords (long tail) and then using these words in creating blog posts. The truth is, this resulted in a lot of posts that were never used. This is because they failed to demonstrate the thought leadership in their content except for the fact that a single website concentrated on a topic that was very specific.
One common mistake many content creators make when it comes to keyword research is holding on to the old-school method despite the fact that it does not yield any fruit. Rather than holding on to these traditional methods, shifting our focus to clusters is the core of creating pillar content.
So, now the real question is how this cluster approach can be adopted in conducting keyword research as well as generating keyword-targeted strategies. These two processes are highly intertwined.
Topic cluster strategy
When you think of starting a journey, what prompts it is the destination. the truth is, you cannot just hop into a car and start driving without knowing exactly where you are headed. In the same case, when it comes to keyword research, what we want is to come up with a series of topic clusters that you can focus your attention.
This includes; having the most highly searched terms, low competition and finally getting the best opportunity to quickly improve the outcome. When you think of topic clusters, what should come to mind is a set of articles or web pages that are interlinked together around a single topic. This means that it has to have the main title and several smaller topics.
The keyword strategy will then establish and prioritize each cluster that you are supposed to target. It will also determine what the correct strategy is for targeting every topic and subtopic. You can download and use the Keyword strategy template to help you design your own strategy. Note that each keyword has to be grouped in clusters with all terms that are related put together to form a single topic cluster.
Expectations for Your New Cluster-Focused Keyword Research
When conducting keyword research, there are a number of things that you have to bear in mind with. These include;
Here, you need to incorporate tools that will offer you information about keywords so that you can select what to target.
You can use such tools as SEMRush and Keywords Everywhere but there are several other tools you can use depending on what you feel most comfortable with and what you aim to achieve. What you need to look out for is a tool that can provide reliable information about monthly search volume as well as the level of competition for a particular keyword.
The performance and rank of a given keyword cannot stay the same throughout the year. This means that you have to take the time to revisit each keyword at least every quarter or half-year. How frequent you choose to do your revision should be based on the speed you create content and the traffic volume of your website.
It will take a couple of hours to run through the initial keyword research and work with your content creation team to come up with a suitable strategy wound around these terms. You will also have to dedicate a couple of hours into conducting subtopic research once you have a number of ideas to kickstart your writing.
One thing to remember is that in between your revisits, it is important that you spend additional hours adding topics as you may see necessary. The bottom line is, you have to set aside some time to establish new strategies that you can implement so as to improve the performance of your website.
When it comes to keyword research, there are a number of items that you have to ensure you have prior to beginning the process. If you are already familiar with this industry and know the language well, you may already have this taken care of.
If you are just starting off, you need to staring familiarizing with terms that people may use to refer to; your business, products, and services you offer, the pain points that your products and services address and the industry.
When dealing with new customers, these are the teams that we often use for purposes of inspiration;
Industry publications; these are publication websites that are within your industry. They are the things that provide the target audience with relevant information and contains the keyword terms commonly used by your audience.
Current website; the language you use on your website.
Competitors; these are the people that offer the same line of content as you and thus, you are competing to attract the attention of your similar target audience. Therefore, it is important that you look at your competitor’s website to determine the keyword phrases they use when describing their products and services and pain points. This way, you get a ton of ideas you can use to improve your website’s traffic.
Sales materials; the manner in which the sales team talk about the products and services you offer.
The process of keyword research
This process can be broken into different phases. These include;
a. Short-tail keyword research
This is one of the brilliant ways to create a cluster strategy. The first phase of this involves generating ideas and learning what the target audience is looking for. This way, you can easily determine the manner in which you can structure your findings into a cluster strategy that offers robust support from search engines.
Focusing entirely on short-tail keywords can be a big step from the way you are used to doing things in the past. However, it is a very important distinction. You first have to come up with a plan that is data-driven. This data is that derived from phrases used by a target audience when searching for information.
In order to nail it, start by understanding the current performance of your website, then break down the searches you are looking for and finally use them to create topic cluster keyword strategies.
b. Long-tail keyword research
This is a very important step in creating a plan for content execution. Unlike the short-tail keyword research strategy, this one is more subjective. This is the very reason why the first phase is based strongly on data.
The first thing to do here is to create a plan for content creation based on the topic cluster strategy. You may be wondering ‘what are the phases?’ Well, there are two major phases involved here;
- Creating an execution plan
- Reporting, revising and repeating
In order to determine what keyword to use in researching and then selecting it for content creation, there are four major factors that you have o consider. These factors include;
Search volume: this simply refers to the number of people who are searching for the keyword every single month.
Relevance: this refers to whether the keyword is relevant to the company or business or products and services you are offering your target customers. Determining relevance of keywords helps in predicting whether the keyword has the potential to drive traffic to your website.
With relevance, we are sure to drive the traffic that we want. This means that, if you focus on keywords that matter, you will be able to drive tons of traffic. However, this does not matter if the keyword is not a right fit for your target audience. Ensuring that the keywords you select are relevant to your products, services, and company, in general, is the first thing to do when it comes to keyword research.
Current performance: this refers to how your website ranks for the keyword. The truth is, it is easier to take a keyword that ranks poorly and then makes it move up to a higher level rather than take a keyword that does not appear at all on the rank and move it to a similar position.
When we assess the current performance of various keywords, we are better placed to leverage the small wins we have gained and make them be more impactful.
Competition: this is often considered a measure of how difficult the keyword is. In other words, how many other websites are driving traffic with this keyword?
The competition and Search volume play a critical role in helping us understand the value of each keyword when it comes to matters about driving traffic. Those search volumes that are higher often have a greater opportunity to drive traffic than those of lower competition levels.
After all, is said and done, it is important to note that keyword research plays a critical role in driving traffic to websites. The secret is to strike a balance between creative and data-driven approaches. In other words, it is better to take a hybrid approach in order to explore the full potential of keyword research.
Always aim at offering your target audience valuable content that is drawn from targeted keyword research and proper planning. Remember that search engines like Google always rewards value, and hence, how wrong can you be by offering exactly that? So, what is it going to be for you in 2019 as far as keyword research is concerned? Make the right decision and watch how much traffic you can drive. Good luck!