Your online customers didn’t find your business by accident. They found your business because you’re serving up a relevant website that appeals to what your customers are looking for. You solve a problem for them.
This organic search traffic finds it’s way onto your site because Google’s bots knew your site answered their query better than your competitors. To beat your competitors more often, you’ll need to do your research. Keyword research, that is.
Doing quality keyword research is the key to providing content that has value for your customer. It isn’t a waste of your time and will gain your website more domain authority.
Keyword research shows you what people are actually looking for that you can solve rather than guessing.
Before you publish your next blog post, read this guide on how to choose the right keywords for Google.
Search Traffic Success: How to Choose the Right Keywords for Google
While choosing keywords seems simple, choosing great keywords can be a little more complicated. You know your industry better than anyone else, that’s why you started a business, but does your customer know as much as you?
For instance, say you run an auto repair shop. You may think a great blog post would be “How to Diagnose a Serpentine Belt Issue.” So, you write an amazing 2,000-word step-by-step guide on that process. But, you see in your data that no one ever goes to that page.
That’s because no one is searching for “How to Diagnose a Serpentine Belt Issue”. If you use some keyword research tools you’ll find that this exact phrase is not searched for. However, using Google Keyword Planner, “What Is A Serpentine Belt” gets between 1K-10K searches per month.
Using this info, you could publish a blog post on that topic instead and get lots more eyes on your website.
Here, we go over the different techniques and tools out there that you can use to do great keyword research.
Start Big and Go Small – Using Google to Rank Higher in Google
The first step in how to select keywords is to come up with a list of a bunch of big ideas about your business. Using our auto repair shop example, this list could look like this:
Common car repairs
Auto repair cost
Once you have your seed list, you have some options on how to decide what to post about. A great option is to take your big ideas and go smaller. A good way to find similar but more specific versions of your big ideas is to turn to Google themselves.
The easiest way to find more keywords is to type the main keyword into the search bar and see what Google populates for you. For instance, when you type “common car repairs” into the Google search bar before you even hit submit, it populates a dropdown list of suggestions other people have typed.
For this query it gave these 4 examples and a few others:
Common car repairs by model
Common car repairs costs
Most common car repairs
Common expensive car repairs
These are searches real users typed into Google. So much so, that Google suggests them to you to save you from having to type it all out. Taking this idea to the next step, click “search” and scroll to the bottom of the page.
At the bottom of every page in Google is a section called “Searches related to [your search term]:.” These are other searches related to your initial search, that users have looked for as well.
While this is a simple technique, and you won’t have any hard numbers, this is a great jumping off point to find topics your customers are looking for.
Use the Google Suite of Tools
Now that you have some keywords about your industry that are relevant in Google, you can go deeper with your research. While you know people search for these terms because Google offered them to you, you don’t have hard numbers.
Finding the right keywords is like an art. You want to make sure you’re offering value while attracting the highest volume of users to the page. Google gave you some ideas, now you can use Google Keyword Planner to make a strategy.
Google Keyword Planner
Using your Google email, you can sign into Google Adwords. This is the system you use to create paid advertising campaigns in the search engine. You can use this tool without creating a campaign as well.
They offer a few different tools within AdWords but the one we want to focus on is the Keyword Planner.
Take “most common car repairs” and plug it into the search. This will populate a list of keyword ideas that also includes the average monthly searches for the term. Sort by the average number of searches per month and start looking down the list.
It may be tempting to just use the top keyword, but it’s much better to find a long-tail keyword that has decent search volume. Long-tail means that the keyword has 4 or more words. The first long-tail result in this search is “why is my check engine light on?”
What a great topic! It’s easy to make into a step-by-step guide and that term gets between 1K-10K searches per month. Questions also do better in search bars because it’s easy for Google to serve an answer.
To understand your organic search traffic on Google you need to be using Google Analytics. This tool gives you real-time data on your website. It serves up data on impressions (how many times your website made it into the results), clicks (how many times people clicked on your site to get the info they were after), and tons more.
Analytics will also tell you what keywords are bringing in the traffic to your site. In the “Acquisition” section, you will see an overview of your traffic sources. When you click on “organic search” it will show you which queries brought in the traffic it’s showing you.
Analytics also shows which of your pages is getting the most traffic. This allows you to replicate what’s working across other pages.
Google Search Console
Another great tool within the Google suite is Google Search Console. You can access this in the same way you do Analytics.
Google Search Console gives you even more in-depth information about your audience and their behavior. It will give you your average position for your top performing keywords.
It’s a great overall tool to play around with. You can also link your Google Search Console into Analytics so you don’t have to go to two places for the info.
Google Webmaster Tools
This tool is more powerful for keywords in combination with Analytics. Google Webmaster Tools will give you tons of data. This data includes a comprehensive breakdown of your site traffic.
That breakdown includes the keywords that people are using to click onto your site. These could be the keywords that Analytics won’t show you or that come up as “keyword not provided” in their reports.
Webmaster Tools also give you suggestions on how to make your site better. It tells you if you have errors and it even gives content keyword suggestions for site improvement.
Using these tools all together gives you a complete picture of how Google views your website, your domain authority, and how well you’re doing in search.
Research Your Competitors
Think about what you want to do to make money. Which of your services do you want to push? Is this service getting organic search traffic?
Now that you have free tools, you can have a better picture of your traffic. But, what if your service isn’t selling? You want to research the people that are showing up for searches related to that service.
Think of some keywords for that service, research them, and take the ones with volume and Google them. The organic results on the first page are your competitors for that keyword.
Look at the pages that are ranking.
How can you be more like them? Do you need longer form content? Do they use different kinds of buttons or menus?
There are often simple changes you can make to get higher in the search results. By researching your competition, you can see where you need to get better.
Consider Paid Tools
While all of these solutions are great ways to build search traffic Google favors, there is a more extensive way to do research. There are a variety of fantastic paid research tools that give tons more insight.
You can look to services like Ahrefs, Moz Pro, SERPstat, Cognitive SEO, and others for powerful analysis that provides you in-depth data. These services can give you reports on everything your website is currently ranking for. They can give you lists of your competitors and where you and your competitors meet and differ.
These tools are fantastic and worth every penny, that is, if you understand what they do. The problem with these types of tools is they are industry tools for SEO professionals.
The pros know the lingo, know what’s important, and can interpret these granular data sets easily. What can look like a different language to a layman gives a professional SEO input and the ability to form a strategy.
This is why the best-paid tool of them all is a professional SEO strategist. Why re-invent the wheel? If there are people out there who have spent years learning the ins and outs of this detailed and subtle tech artform, trust them to do it for you.
Find yourself a reputable outfit that fits in your budget. Trusting a professional can save you hours and hours of research and can get your campaign going right the first time.
SEO is a long game strategy. You can be waiting to see the fruits or failures of your efforts for six months to a year. That’s a long time to wait to realize you did the wrong thing and could have been doing it better this whole time.
Don’t Feel Pressure to Pay
While it could benefit your business to hire a digital marketing agency or pay for some SEO tools, it isn’t necessary for every business. These strategies are only worth it if a large percentage of your business comes from search.
If you’re mostly a referral-based business, extensive SEO campaigning may not be as beneficial to you as an e-commerce store. If you have an offline close that’s killing it, then doing your own research and keeping a current site and blog could work.
Depending on your business model, the basics could work. If you are unsure if that’s you, consult with a marketer. They can give you great insights into issues with your site and quick fixes to start with.
Helping Customers Find Your Business on Purpose
We hope that this guide to keyword research helps build your website’s search traffic and leads to more conversions on your books. Remember, use Google and all the tools they already give you for ideas.
Know your competition and check out what they’re doing on their website. It’s a good thing to emulate people in your niche who may be doing it better than you. It doesn’t mean their product or service is better, just that they have a better sense of online marketing or have been at the game longer.
Still stumped? Is this all sounding like a ton of work? Don’t have the time to put this much thought into your website?
Are you scared your lack of attention could be costing you business? Let us help you. Please contact us anytime and we’ll be happy to help you.
Are you feeling empowered? Ready to take on the SEO world for your site?
Check out our other blog post with expert advice on how to rank higher in Google. It will go beyond the keyword research here and take you into the next step in making your website Google-friendly.