After working so many years for multiple startups, I have realized that entrepreneurs (both tech and non-tech) should have a good understanding of digital media, especially search engines. Organic search can generate huge number of leads and can impact any business positively. Still, a lot of startups fail to make best use of search; some reasons are:
- Early stage startups cannot hire experienced agencies because they are expensive
- Low cost agencies often fail to deliver
- It is difficult to build and manage an internal team when you need to spend more time on the core business areas
- Even good agencies sometimes fail to acquire right kind of domain knowledge and just keep trying random stuff
That said, I am going to share insights on various aspects of digital. Today’s topic is keyword research. This is a beginners’ guide, if you want to add some more points/share your insights, please feel free to comment.
Image courtesy: lauramanigan.com
Selecting right set of keywords is critical to your success in organic search. And it is a continuous process. You should keep discovering more and more keywords – the process never ends. For the sake of simplicity, I have divided the entire process in two levels:
When you launch a website OR start optimizing an existing website, you need to follow these steps.
Identify the Seed Keywords
Think of some words that best describe your product or service offering. These are broad terms like ‘travel agent’, ‘flash games’, ‘online courses’, ‘mumbai real estate’ etc. If you are into ecommerce, then this list can be longer – you may like to add all the products you are selling, brands you are working with etc.
Figure out what’s in people’s mind
Take help of the seed keywords and figure out what majority of people actually type when they search. How you search does not matter; what matters is how your target group searches. Here comes the role of a Keyword Tool. And Google AdWords Keyword Planner is quite reliable.
Enter the seed keywords in the search box, set other parameters as required and the tool will show you what your prospects actually type in to find the product or service you are offering.
The tool will give you a long list of keywords. Download this list. Now, you need to prepare a list of keywords which you would like to target immediately. For this, follow these steps:
- Go through all the keywords one by one; filter out those which are not relevant for your business. (For examples, city specific keywords where you do not offer your service, related products which you do not sell etc.)
- Look at the Competition and Monthly Search Volume columns. Keywords with Low or Medium competition and moderate to high search volumes are the right ones to start with.
- On that basis, prepare the final list. Keep the competitive keywords for next level.
Look at Related Queries
This is another easy way of identifying relevant and popular keywords. Type your seed keywords on Google and check the related search terms listed at the bottom of the search page. You will get a good idea about what people actually search for, their interest areas, problems they face etc. which, eventually, will help you in content creation as well.
Spy on your Competitors
Not to forget your competitors! Go through their website and see which keywords they are targeting; you can also use tools like Keyword Spy to get the keywords your competitors are targeting for both Organic and Paid search.
By preparing a super set of all the keywords collected from above options, you will have a good list of relevant keywords to start with. Most of the people stop keyword research at this point and keep reusing these keywords. Actually, you need to keep discovering new keywords continuously – you never know if your customers are searching for anything else? Whether they are searching any long search query or a relevant topic on Google which is easy to rank for?
Once your website starts ranking for some of the keywords, you are all set for advanced level keyword research. How to do that? Here are some points.
Track Bounce Rate, Time Spent and Conversions from Google Analytics (assuming you are using Google Analytics only). This will give you a fair idea on whether you have targeted the right set of keywords or not. Quality of content you have on your website does influence, still you will get some idea on whether you are getting right kind of audience or not.
Here is a case. A website development company wanted to target SMEs. They created many How-to articles and Tutorials and started ranking for a lot of technical how-to and tutorial related keywords. They were getting good traffic but almost zero conversion! Reason is, business owners who need a website rarely search for tutorials! Keywords this company was ranking for were non-profitable for them! Students and newbie developers were coming to the website, not the business owners.
Hence, performance tracking is extremely important as you move forward. And this is a continuous process.
Long tail keywords
Long tail relevant keywords, which look like a question, can be immensely helpful. Reasons are:
- Such keywords are easy to rank for
- You can earn organic ranking quickly
- They are 100% relevant and chances of conversion is very high
Keep a close eye on the keywords or search queries sending traffic to your website. Use Google Analytics and Google Search Console for this. Trust me; you would get lots of insights about your users – topics they are interested in, whether you need to translate your website content etc. Take a look.
Little bit of AdWords
Finally, run experimental Search Ads. Make sure you have proper conversion tracking in place. See which keywords are giving best ROI. Target them for organic search as well. It may take some time to rank – but once you are in top 3, you are done.
What about you? How do you do your keyword research? Have you tried anything that gave you amazing result? Please share in the comments.
P.S. After keyword research, content optimization is the next thing you should focus on. Here is a great article on keyword research and content optimization by another Rodinhooder. In my next article, I will share some more ideas.