5 things to remember when doing a keyword search [keyword research]

10 min read
Amanda Schewaga

Let’s set the scene. You’ve taken the plunge and built a website. It’s both beautiful and simple for users to find what they’re looking for. You’ve stocked the online shop with gorgeous photos showing unique, compelling products. In short, you’ve done everything a person should do to make their website successful. All that’s left to do is a keyword search.

In bringing your target audience to your website, there can be many different factors at play:

  • Level of competition in your niche
  • Changing search engine algorithms
  • Consumer actions

The list goes on. However, the most effective metaphorical knobs to fiddle with typically fall squarely within the realm of SEO (or search engine optimization).

Not convinced that keyword research is worth the effort? Would it help to know that, in all likelihood, you came across this blog post due to our strategic use of keyword search terms?

Yeah – we thought that might be a convincing argument. Let us show you how it’s done.

Editor's note: Make your venture look legit with a great-looking logo you create yourself.

Keyword research is a big topic, one that’s generated tens of thousands of words. Here are the top five things to know.

1. Keyword research tells you what they’re typing in to look for you

Wondering how to get a sense of what your target audience is typing into that search bar?

Sounds like what you’re after is a healthy dose of keyword research.

Google search for best cafes downtown Toronto

This can give you an edge over the competition by determining what keywords your customers are searching for.

For example, you know how when you look for something online, and you typically click through the first or maybe second search result, as opposed to, say, the 10th one?

You’re not alone in that practice – your customers do the exact same thing. That’s why you want to be sure the content you’re publishing includes top-tier keywords that are precisely aligned with what your target audience is searching for.

The closer your keyword terms are to the ones they’re using to search for products or services like yours, the higher your site will rank in search engine results. The higher your search ranking, the more traffic your site will get.

It's not as straight-forward as scattering exact-match keywords throughout your website, though. That might have worked during the early internet, but since then, search engines have advanced and evolved.

Now, search engines like Google interpret and extrapolate broad topics from what people are typing in.

Instead, any keyword research you do simply needs to be taken one step further. You need to learn not just the language to include on your web pages but also topics you’ll want to be detailing.

This information gives you a clearer sense of exactly how to build content out across your website to best bring traffic to it.

2. Start with words that apply to your products/services

In building your SEO strategy, you’ll first want to determine which topics make sense for the kind of business you own.

This is as easy as imagining what you would type into Google if you were looking for the goods or services your business offers.

If you own a pizza shop, you might guess that people would search for “pizza near me” or “best pizza in [your location].”

If you shampoo carpets for a living, “carpet cleaning” would be a possible keyword for you.

Once you have a list, you can use a free tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to see if your guesses are correct … or if people are actually using a different combination of words to find goods or service like the ones you sell.

Example of how to discover new keywords on Google Keyword Planner

From there, you can determine which keywords make sense to use and which you might want to cut from consideration.

This might seem counter-intuitive (why not include all of them, after all?), but ultimately, it’s the smart move. Simply throwing everything at the wall in hopes it’ll stick won’t get you the result you’re after. It’s much better to focus your efforts on a handful of keywords you know your clients are searching for and attempt to “own” those terms on your web pages.

This can sometimes mean working with keywords that aren’t right at the top in terms of overall search volume. Many algorithms (including Google’s) tend to prioritize large organizations when it comes to extremely high-volume terms.

If you don’t have lots of money to spend on ads, it’s smart to go after terms that your website can be the ranking authority on. That means choosing search terms that get between 1k-10k in monthly searches and have medium or low competition.

Example Google keyword search
This is an example of a keyword search for a baker who specializes in wedding cakes.

Branded keywords can also be beneficial, if you’re reselling big-name items. These are terms that you grant you “ownership” over a term through brand affiliation when it might otherwise be out of your business’s reach. Branded keywords can also be used to get a sense of affiliated terms that the bigger players are chasing.

For example, searching “Nike runners” can give you a sense of the Just Do It company’s search presence and ad strategy today – valuable information for a business looking to sell these trainers!

Don’t hesitate to swap out keywords if you find one of them isn’t working quite hard enough for you, either. Search algorithms are constantly changing, and your keyword search strategy should likewise always be agile, flexible, and ready to respond in kind.

3. Narrowing down your choices

So what else do you need to know when researching those key SEO terms? How do you choose those all-important keywords?

When it comes to search algorithms — and we’re referring mainly to Google here again because they’re the biggest fish in the sea by far — there are three main details to consider:

Volume. This metric is typically measured in terms of Monthly Search Volume (MSV) and is exactly what it sounds like: how often a term is searched for each month. Choose a term with too high an MSV, and you’ll be competing against the most prominent organizations in your industry. Conversely, choose a term with too-small an MSV, and it’s sort of like setting up a lemonade stand in the middle of an empty street – it won’t matter how good your product is or how compelling your site might be. There simply won’t be anyone searching for what you’re selling!

Relevance. Most search engines (Google included) are now sophisticated enough to rank by relevance – that is, whether your site will do the trick in meeting searchers’ needs. By creating content that is valuable to your audience, you’ll be on the right track toward building a website that ranks high in your customers’ search returns. It goes without saying that you should not use keywords that have nothing to do with what your website offers. Google will punish you for this unscrupulous practice.

Authority. In addition to ranking for relevance, the biggest search engines also weigh a site’s apparent authority on the subject matter being searched for. So, again, by regularly building and promoting informative content, you’ll be putting your site’s search power in a competitive position to succeed – certainly against those businesses of similar heft and clout, if not against the most significant outfits out there in the biz.

4. Zeroing in on the right words or phrases

Now that you’ve got a bit of a better sense of what makes an impactful keyword and what strategic details to take into consideration, it’s time to build out those themes with related terms, questions, or queries that you can imagine your target audience might be typing into their Google search bar.

If, for example, one of your search themes is “mountain bike,” you might be looking at search terms including:

  • Where can I buy a mountain bike?
  • Full-suspension mountain bike
  • Mountain bike online shopping
  • Mountain bike repair

You’ll also want to consider user intent here, which can be tricky. This falls into some of the earlier points we made around search terms relevance and authority.

Keywords can have many different meanings beneath the surface. Because this crowd-sourced “intent” can ultimately end up driving results in or against your site’s favour, you’ll want to clearly understand the user intent behind any term you adopt into your keyword search strategy.

This is easy enough to vet, though: simply search that term yourself before going too far with it and see if the results match the same intent and angle you plan to associate it with. You’ll be saving yourself a massive potential SEO-related headache by doing so!

5. Staying inside the lines

If we can offer you one final piece of advice, it’s to constantly refine and adjust your keyword search strategy to make it the best that it can be – and be smart about it in the process!

Don’t keyword stuff

Don’t sacrifice the quality or readability of your site experience by trying to jam a keyword into the first sentence of a page three times to boost search rankings. This will typically only have the opposite effect, anyway!

Remember that search engine algorithms rely on key terms as much as they do individual words – and that details as nuanced as relevancy and subject authority genuinely matter.

Choose your keywords carefully

Do your research, look at what industry leaders are doing, and run with keyword search terms that you can own within the scope and authority of your site – even if they may not be the biggest in terms of monthly search volume.

Implement your words carefully through your website

First, ensure you are placing them in spots that flow with the content. Incorporating a word too many times will hinder your ranking so use this cautiously. A good rule of thumb is to use the keyword once for every 100 words on a web page.

Use a different keyword for every page of your website.

Select the keyword based on the content on that particular web page.

When implementing your keywords, ensure they are placed in:

  • The page headline
  • The introductory paragraph
  • At least one subhead
  • Naturally throughout the rest of the page content

Lastly, the best way to update your website consistently is with an ongoing content source like a vlog or blog. This will attract the attention of the search engines regularly.

Editor's note: Not really the do it yourself type? Leave your site's search engine optimisation to the experts at GoDaddy.

The last word on keywords

Follow the above advice when building your keyword search strategy, and you should find yourself building traffic toward your business’s website in no time. Thanks for taking the time to learn a bit more about keyword search terms, and we’ll see you around the web – especially if you’ve taken our SEO strategy suggestions to heart!

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