Posted on 14/11/2023 by Melanie Comerford

A Guide to Keyword Research

Keywords are the words and phrases people type into search engines to find the information they’re looking for. They are the bridge between your content and your target audience, and mastering them is essential for optimising your website’s visibility and driving organic traffic. The art of keyword research isn’t just about finding words that match your content – it’s about discovering the exact terms your audience uses, their search intent and the competitive landscape. With this knowledge, you can create content that not only ranks higher in search results but also resonates with your audience.

Undertaking your own keyword research before engaging a partner to help you target these keywords can save time, money and help both you and your marketing partner better understand how you’re trying to reach your customers. 

Part 1 – Getting Started with Keyword Research

Define Your Objectives

Before diving into keyword research, you need a clear set of objectives. Ask yourself:

– Who is your target audience?

Understanding your target audience is a pivotal step in the keyword research process. Your target audience represents the group of individuals or potential customers who are most likely to be interested in your content, products or services. To effectively connect with this audience, you need to delve into their demographics, interests, needs and behaviours. By creating detailed buyer personas and considering factors such as age, gender, location, interests, pain points, and online behaviour, you can gain a clear picture of your ideal audience. 

This insight is invaluable because it not only helps you identify the keywords they are likely to use but also enables you to tailor your content to their specific preferences, making sure that your efforts are well-directed and resonate with the people you’re aiming to engage and attract. 

– What products or services are you promoting?

Your products and services are at the heart of your online presence. These offerings are the solutions that you provide to fulfil the needs of your target audience and what you provide defines your brand. By clearly defining your products and services you can target the relevant keywords and phrases that potential customers are searching for that will lead them to your solutions. 

Keyword research plays a vital role in ensuring that these products and services you’re promoting are discoverable by the right audience. It helps you identify the keywords and phrases that potential customers are using to search for these offerings, enabling you to optimise your online presence to attract and engage your ideal customers. By aligning your keyword strategy with the products and services you’re promoting, you can effectively reach your target audience, drive traffic and ultimately, boost your conversion rates and bottom line.

Brainstorm Seed Keywords

Keywords are used to target all stages of your customers’ buying journey. The buying journey typically consists of three main stages: awareness, consideration and decision. This is often described as a funnel that your audience journeys through. Researching keywords that target different stages of this buying journey/funnel is essential for a well-rounded and effective digital marketing strategy. 

Here’s how you can approach keyword research for each stage:

Top of the Funnel – Learning how to define the problem

In the awareness stage, potential customers are identifying a problem or need. Your goal is to create content that educates and raises awareness about the issue without explicitly promoting your products or services. This content shouldn’t be brand related, but more generally answer customer questions. 

Your keyword research should focus on identifying informational and problem-focused keywords. Look for questions, how-to queries and terms related to the pain points your target audience experiences. Long-tail keywords and phrases work well here, as they often reflect specific queries and problems people are trying to solve.

Middle of Funnel – Researching different solutions

At this stage, customers are actively seeking solutions to their problems. They are researching and comparing different options to evaluate which one might be the best fit for their needs.

Your keywords should include more technical terms related to product categories, product types and comparisons. For example, “best laptops for gaming” or “top digital marketing tools”.

Focus on keywords that indicate purchase intent where potential customers are comparing options or exploring features.

Bottom of the Funnel – Comparing solutions before final purchase

In the decision stage, customers are ready to make a purchase. They’re looking for specific brands, models or service providers. Price-points, reviews and branded searches are all what people look for at the purchasing stage. 

Your keyword research should include brand-specific and transactional keywords like “buy iPhone 13 Pro Max” or “hire a digital marketing agency”. Local search terms are also needed if you have a physical presence, such as “restaurants near me” or “plumbing services in [city]”. 

To demonstrate the keywords at each stage of the buying journey, let’s use an easy example of a shoe retailer and their keyword research.

Seed Keywords (Core Terms for a Shoe Retailer)

1. Running Shoes

2. Hiking Boots

3. Athletic Footwear

Top of Funnel (Awareness – Defining the Problem)

– Foot pain remedies

– Running injuries prevention

– How to choose the right shoes

– Shoe sizing guide

– Types of shoe arch support

Middle of Funnel (Consideration – Researching Solutions)

– Best running shoe brands

– Waterproof hiking boots

– Pronation and supination in shoes

– Shoe materials guide

– Trail running vs. road running shoes

– Shoe cushioning technologies

Bottom of Funnel (Decision – Comparing Solutions and Final Purchase)

– Asics vs. Nike running shoes

– Merrell hiking boots reviews

– Best shoe deals under $50

– Where to buy red Nike running shoes

– Customer reviews of Adidas Ultraboost

– Are New Balance shoes good for flat feet?

– Reebok Classic vs. Puma Suede

Part 2 – Leveraging Tools like SEMrush for Keyword Research

There are many keyword research tools that can help you find the best keywords to target at all stages of your customer’s journey. Online tools like SEMrush provide valuable insights and data to streamline your keyword research efforts. These tools offer valuable insights by providing keyword suggestions, search volume, competition levels and other metrics to refine your keyword strategy. 

From your starting list of seed keywords, online tools can generate a broader list of keyword suggestions which you can review to find ones relevant to your business goals. Filter the keyword list to focus on the most relevant and valuable terms to you. Look for keywords with a good balance between search volume and competition and make sure to align them to each stage of the buying journey. 

Keyword research tools can also show you keywords that your competitors are targeting to give you ideas for others that you can go after. Remember to keep an eye on search volumes and competition levels so you’re tailoring your efforts to keywords where you can have a realistic chance of ranking for them and it being a worthwhile keyword that customers are actually searching for. 

SEMrush is a robust keyword research tool that can simplify the process and provide valuable insights. Here’s how to use it:

Analyse Competitor Keywords

SEMrush allows you to analyse the keywords your competitors are ranking for. Simply input your competitor’s domain into SEMrush, and you’ll get a list of their top-performing keywords. This can help you identify gaps and opportunities in your own keyword strategy.

Generate Keyword Ideas

Use SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool to generate a wide range of keyword ideas related to your seed keywords. This tool provides valuable information about search volume, keyword difficulty, and related keywords, making it easier to prioritise your keyword list.

Assess Keyword Difficulty

When choosing keywords, it’s essential to consider their difficulty level. SEMrush’s Keyword Difficulty tool can help you evaluate how challenging it will be to rank for a specific keyword. Aim for a mix of high and low-difficulty keywords to diversify your strategy.

Part 3 – Transitioning from Research to Strategy

Once you’ve gathered a list of relevant keywords, it’s time to transition from research to strategy development.

Build Content Around Keywords

Create high-quality content around the selected keywords. This content can include blog posts, product descriptions, or landing pages. Ensuring that your content is both informative and optimised for search engines is key to driving organic traffic. Use some tools – such as Answer The Public – to find terms that people are searching for and create titles for your blogs. Make sure the content you have matches the keywords you have chosen.

Monitor and Adjust

Keyword research is an ongoing process. Use SEMrush’s position tracking feature to monitor how your keywords are performing. Regularly update your content and SEO strategy based on the results you see. This data-driven approach will help you stay competitive in the dynamic world of digital marketing.

Part 4 – Transitioning to an Agency

As a marketing executive or manager, you might decide to collaborate with a specialised SEO agency to execute your keyword research and strategy. Crafting a SEO strategy is a process that requires a large amount of time and expertise. Talking with an SEO agency can be a valuable tool in both formulating and executing this strategy. It offers the advantage of cost-effectiveness, as you gain access to a team of specialised professionals who can provide support throughout the process.

Share Research Data

Provide your chosen agency with the keyword data you’ve gathered using SEMrush. This will serve as the foundation for their work and ensure continuity in your SEO efforts.

Define Goals and Expectations

Communicate your campaign objectives, KPIs, and any specific requirements to the agency. A clear understanding of your goals will help them tailor the strategy accordingly.

Regular Communication

Maintain open lines of communication with the agency to track progress and receive updates on your campaign’s performance.

Keyword Research with Loop Digital

Keyword research is a fundamental element of any successful digital marketing strategy. By utilising SEMrush and following the steps outlined in this guide, marketing executives and managers can initiate effective keyword research and collaborate with agencies to implement a winning SEO strategy.

At Loop Digital, we’re proud to be a SEMrush partner, providing top-tier SEO services to elevate your digital marketing efforts. Book a consultation with us to discuss your needs, or why not try one of our free audits

Mel is our Partner Strategy & Delivery Manager and also a CIM Chartered Marketer, a testament to her commitment to excellence in the field. But Mel’s contributions don’t stop at the office door. Beyond her professional endeavours, she leads an active life as a qualified run leader and dedicated volunteer. Her experience in these roles has streamlined her leadership and teamwork skills, making her an invaluable asset when it comes to collaborating on projects and ensuring their success. Her sharp insights, strategic thinking, and knowledge have made her a backbone in our team’s ability to drive results for clients in this industry. Mel will make sure that we can approach marketing challenges from all angles and deliver outstanding results for our clients.

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