Keyword research is one of the most crucial building blocks of a smart search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. You can’t boost organic traffic to your website without identifying the keywords for which you’re going to try and rank.
Essentially, every subsequent step of SEO depends on effective keyword research. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to use your list of keywords to inform your off-page or on-page optimization efforts, if you’re going to develop new landing page content to rank for new terms or of you’re going to reach out to publishers to acquire powerful backlinks – it’s all contingent on your ability to identify the right keywords.
But how do you find the keywords that will soon hopefully drive significant amounts of relevant traffic from search engines to your website?
You could always go around guessing the words and phrases your target audience will include in their search queries. However, a smarter approach is to use a robust keyword research tool for SEO that provides you with accurate and updated data about various keywords.
A data-driven approach to keyword research eliminates the need to rely on guesswork. That, in turn, improves the performance of your SEO strategy and paid search campaigns.
So, how do you use data from a keyword research tool to drive traffic to your website? Let’s find out.
1. Watch Your Competitors
Identifying target keywords for your website can be a challenge when you’re building a keyword research strategy from scratch. The good news is that you don’t have to look too far to find keywords that are worth targeting. All you have to do is identify the keywords that your competitors are already using.
Keyword research tools come in handy at this stage. They can give you a detailed glimpse into the keywords a competitor is targeting. Also, you get a breakdown of their organic and paid keywords. You can even analyze the performance of each keyword and see what pages on their site rank for each search query.
All these insights can go a long way in helping you select the most suitable keywords. If a specific keyword is driving traffic to a competitor’s website, it may also work for your SEO strategy.
If you’ve already selected a few keywords for your website, it’s crucial to evaluate your competitors’ rankings for those keywords. While a simple Google search will do the trick reasonably well, you might be looking at personalized search results based on your past browsing activity or geo-location. Regardless, a keyword research tool can give you deeper insights.
2. Identify Keywords You’re Already Ranking For
One of the biggest mistakes that most marketers make is to start keyword research from scratch for every SEO campaign. If your website has been around for a while, it likely already ranks for a few keywords. It could be wiser to improve your rankings for pages that are already ranking relatively nicely – and the search terms that are already sending people to those pages.
The best way of identifying these keywords is to use a website analytics tool. These platforms can give you a clear idea of different sources of traffic to various pages on your website. Some allow you to go even deeper into the organic search referral trend data, showing you what keywords are driving traffic to those pages.
Similarly, you can use a sophisticated keyword research tool to find these keywords. Some tools even allow you to monitor your website’s rankings for specific keywords over time, allowing you to see the extent to which your SEO efforts are yielding results.
For further insights, you can take things up a notch by comparing your own ranking trends with trends relating to the keywords your competitors are targeting. This can help you spot gaps and untapped opportunities in a competitor’s keyword research strategy.
For instance, if you’re already ranking for a high-performing keyword your competitor hasn’t targeted yet, you can use it to attract more traffic. On the other hand, if you find keywords that are driving traffic to your competitors but not for you, you can devise ways to outrank them.
3. Analyze and Validate Keywords
Whether you’re targeting your competitors’ keywords or trying to capitalize on newly trending search terms, it’s essential to evaluate the relevance of every keyword you target to your goals, brand, and industry. When someone searches for a given keyword, what are they hoping to see in the results? Is that something you can deliver and that your business would benefit from?
Use a keyword research tool to gain a deeper understanding of a keyword’s performance. Focus on metrics such as keyword difficulty, traffic share over time, monthly search volume, click-through rate (CTR), and so forth, to determine whether a keyword is worth targeting.
Also, use industry benchmarks for the selected keywords to find out whether they’ll give your website a competitive advantage. Don’t forget to check the top-ranking domains for each target keyword.
4. Monitor and Optimize
It’s essential to understand keyword research isn’t a one-and-done process. You must monitor the performance of every target keyword to determine whether it still fits your SEO strategy and business objectives.
Also, use tools like Google Trends to stay on top of your target audience’s changing search preferences and behavior. It’ll help you identify high-performing keyword trends and maximize website traffic.
Depending on the specifics of your business, you’d likely do well to refresh your keyword targets on a quarterly basis, if not more often.
Keyword research is the foundation of SEO and content marketing. You can’t attract sustained organic traffic without identifying and validating the right keywords. Data from keyword research tools can make a big difference here, providing you with insights you need to make the right decisions.