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September 1, 2021

Keeping up with Keywords: a quick guide to keyword research in 2021

Search Engine Optimisation. It’s a phrase we're sure you’ve heard a lot. It’s something you should know is vital to take your business to the top. In the digital age, there are no two ways around it. You must master SEO to achieve your vision.

If you’re just starting with SEO or need a quick reminder, we’ve got you covered.

A quick guide to SEO in 100 words or less

SEO is your mission to appear higher on search engine result pages (SERP’s for short).

By doing this, you’ll generate exposure for your brand and increase your website's traffic. It’ll improve the quality and quantity of your conversions. And it’ll help you build better relationships with your customers.

It’s about understanding the people behind the searches. We like to split it into four patterns of thought: 

  1. What are they searching for?
  2. Why are they searching for it?
  3. How do they want to find it?
  4. Do you have the answer? 

Sounds simple enough, right?


SEO is like baking a cake

Not quite. We like to think that practising SEO is a lot like baking a cake. It's easy enough to follow the recipe, but baking the perfect cake can take years of dedication, effort, and passion.

SEO isn't just one thing either - there are lots of different elements. Therefore, like a cake, you have to mix all the ingredients. This includes:

  1. accessibility 
  2. content
  3. user experience
  4. links and citations
  5. title descriptions
  6. snippet markups 
  7. keyword research.

 We could write a cookbook on all of those, but today we're going to touch on the one every SEO chef should start with: keyword research. 


What is keyword research, and why is it important?

Like flour for baking, keyword research is an absolute necessity. It's the basic building block for all SEO activities. Your keywords impact everything else from content topics and link building to traffic quality and growth. 

So what is it?

In its simplest form, it's the process of finding all of the search queries relevant to your brand. 

But it's far more than that. Like flour for baking, there are different types of keywords depending on its purpose. 

You'll need to sort the keywords into logical groups. These groups will help provide the basis for your content. Because if you want to rank high on search engine result pages, you must provide answers to the questions your target audience is asking.

Ultimately, keyword research reveals what your audience is searching for rather than what you think they're looking for. There's a lot to learn with keyword research, and it's always changing, so here's how tips and tricks for keeping up with it. 


Question everything

The most common mistake in keyword research is simple: cutting corners. 

If you're baking a cake, it's easy to get excited about it and start throwing everything together before you've even got a workspace ready. It's the same with keyword research. 

You assume you know what to do because you know the keywords you want to rank for on SERP's. However, if you want to rank higher than your competitors, you'll need to rank for what your audience wants instead. 

It's all well and good wanting chocolate cake, but if your customer prefers red velvet, you're going to miss the mark. Don't worry, it's not difficult to stop this from happening.

All you need to do is ask the right questions at the right time (hint: the right time is all the time, but especially at the start). 

You need to know your target audience better than they know themselves. It's not difficult to do, but too many businesses don't take the time to do it. To help get you started, you might want to try out the following exercise (where we've used baking a cake as an example)

  1. What types of cakes are people searching for?
  2. Who is searching for these types?
  3. When are people searching for cakes - if it's Christmas cake, there's a big chance you'll see a spike in the winter months.
  4. How are they searching for cakes - what words do they use and what questions do they ask?
  5. Why are people looking for cakes - is it for occasions or simply for a sweet treat?
  6. Where are your potential customers located? 

Once you've got all of that down to a tee, you'll have one more to ask. And it's the most important one.

How can you provide the best content about cake to build your brand, create a community, and make those conversions matter?

Once you know the answers, you're ready to dive into discovering the keywords best suited for your business. 


Discovering Keywords

Brainstorming is your best friend for this bit. Whether you’re into mapping out your ideas or listing them, you’ll need to hit the ground running with your initial keywords. 

These are known as seed keywords. They’ll help you grow your lists and plan out your content strategy. The answers you got from the questions you asked earlier will help you here. You’ll need to be as specific as you can to flesh out your ideas. 

Whilst searching ‘cake’ seems like a good idea, it’s broad and it’ll have lots of competitors. You’d end up getting stuck in search result mud. Try something like ‘chocolate cake recipes’ or ‘quick chocolate cake recipes.’ It’s far closer to the kind of things your audience is searching for. 

There’s plenty of keyword tools for you to tap into for ideas, or if you’re looking for more organic approaches, take it to your competitors. Think about your current competitors and the kind of competitors you want in the future. What do they rank for, and what could they rank for?  

If you can list out the answers, you’ll put yourself ahead of the game. Because you’re using these keywords to create content. So if you can come up with keywords for the future, you’ll be futureproofing your brand.


Understanding volumes  

Starting out and ranking first can be a little like getting a Michelin star for your first cake.It’s important you understand that it can, and will be, an uphill battle. 

The sooner you get to grips with search volume, the easier that battle will be. The more a keyword is searched, the higher its volume. The higher the volume, the more work is required to hit a higher ranking. 

We think it’s often best to target highly specific terms with lower competition. They’re known as long-tail keywords. 

There’s plenty of features search engines offer to help the user find what they’re looking for.If you’re going for high volume keywords, you could end up attracting the wrong target audience.  

For example, if somebody searches for cake, Google might try to show them local bakeries. They could show them recipes, or tutorial videos, or something completely different. 

Using those long-tail keywords with lower search volumes can make all the difference. The more specific the search, the more likely someone is serious about what they’re looking for.  

If your brand is all about selling custom-made birthday cakes for kids parties, the conversions you want will come from keywords like ‘local kids custom birthday cakes.’  

Long-tail keywords can only take you so far, though. 



…you’ve got to get strategic.

 Go after search terms and keywords that get even more specific. It might feel like there’s a lot to look at, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Keywords by season – you’re here to craft a content strategy, so why not think ahead by checking out upcoming seasonal trends. This’ll let you plan your content in advance, and all you’re doing is picking up on what your audience is going to want ahead of time. Are mince pies making an early appearance this year? If so, you can get a recipe up on your website way ahead of time. 
  2. Keywords by region – Whether you’re a big brand or a local start-up, targeting specific locations can make all the difference. Find out local lingos and the kind of things people search for around your subjects from the places you want to target. With baking, bread is known differently all over the UK – make sure you’re getting it right for your audience.


Tools can take you to the top


We’ve hinted at them throughout. And while you don’t want to get too attached, there’s a handful of tools that can help take you to the top. 

It’s always good to go out and find what works for you, but here’s a few we think can help get you off the ground:

  1. Moz Keyword Explorer – Input keywords and get all the info you need on monthly search volumes and SERP features.
  2. Google Keyword Planner – This is a great place to start for separating short and long-tail keywords. 
  3. Google Trends – Remember searching for keywords by season? This is the tool that can streamline the time you spend on that without losing the benefits. 


Keyword research is just a building block 

That’s right. Keyword research is crucial, but it’s also just a building block for every other SEO task. If you want help strategising your SEO for success, get in touch with us today.

Written by
Jack Press
Astronaut - Moon - Star DigitalAstronaut - Moon - Star Digital