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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware of the importance of incorporating keywords into your SEO marketing plan. In order to do so effectively, you must first know the components that make a keyword list competitive and the steps involved in performing successful keyword research. Whether you’re new to researching keywords or you’ve been around the block a few times, this guide will help you better understand the world of keywords and the best way to do keyword research.

What Is a Keyword?

A keyword is a word or phrase that best depicts the content on your website or webpage. A keyword is also the term that you want to be ranked for on search engine results pages. For example, if you own a landscaping company in Tampa, Florida, one of your keywords may be “residential landscaping Tampa,” or simply “residential landscaping.” The goal of keywords is to have your website show up when a person types a certain word or phrase into a search engine.

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Why Do Keywords Matter?

Keywords are important because they allow Google and other search engines to rank your webpages easily based on its content. The more accurate and specific your keywords are to your target audience, the more likely you are to rank higher on search engine results pages. This ultimately results in more organic traffic to your website and increased lead generation and revenue.

4 Things That Make a Keyword List Competitive

There are a few primary components that go into an effective and competitive keyword list. These components include:

  1. Relevance —  Effective keyword lists are those that are most relevant to the goods and services you provide as well as the needs of your target audience. Understanding the search intent of users and the words and phrases they use to find what they’re looking for as it relates to your business will ensure your keywords are as relevant as possible.
  2. Unique keywords —  While you certainly want to rank on par or higher than your competitors for core keywords that best represent your products and services and the needs of your target audience, you also want to rank for relevant keywords that your competitors aren’t ranking for. While you may not want to rank for every keyword that your competitor does, you still need to know what they are ranking for to give you a better understanding of what’s working for them.
  3. Authority —  During your keyword research, you’ll likely come across several keywords you don’t rank highly for. While you may want to increase your rankings for these, it’s important to evaluate what sources are currently ranking for these keywords. For example, if the Mayo Clinic is ranking highly for a keyword you want to target, you’ll have a harder time ranking for that keyword above the Mayo Clinic because this source is considered a major authority by Google. Knowing where you stand in terms of authority in relation to each keyword will help you determine whether going after that keyword is worth your while.
  4. Volume —  Your website has the potential to rank for countless keywords, but if those keywords aren’t heavily searched for —  or there’s not a high volume of search for them —  it won’t do you much good. Knowing the volume of each keyword is a good way to determine whether it’s worth trying to rank for.

Steps Involved in Keyword Research

There are several steps you should follow when researching keywords. These steps include:

  1. Brainstorm topics, words, and phrases —  The first step in effectively researching keywords is to spend time brainstorming about the most relevant topics related to your business and your target audience’s needs. Come up with five to 10 of the most important topics that you want to rank for. For example, if you have a pet daycare business, you might come up with topics such as “dog daycare,” “pet daycare,” “animal daycare,” “pet boarding,” and “pet daycare services.” Consider what your target audience would search for to find your website and what you want your organization to be found for.
  2. Identify keywords for each topic —  Using the topics you identified in the first step, you’ll then need to generate several core keywords related to those topics. These are keywords you feel are important for you to rank highly on in search engine results pages. You can use a keyword tool to generate keyword ideas or search for each term in a search engine to see which keywords most commonly come up.
  3. Determine the search volume for each keyword —  Next, you’ll need to find out the search volume for each keyword. The higher the search volume, the more likely you’ll want to rank highly for that keyword. For example, if “animal daycare” gets around 1,000 searches per month, while “dog daycare” gets 50,000, you’ll likely want to focus on “dog daycare” as a primary keyword. You can use a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to get up-to-date information on keyword search volume.
  4. Look at the keywords your competitors rank for —  It’s also important to analyze the keywords your competitors rank for. This will give you more ideas on keywords you should go after as well as provide you with a solid idea of what’s working for your competition.
  5. Analyze search intent —  Search intent is the reason behind why someone would search for a specific term (keyword). It’s important to understand the search intent of users to ensure you’re targeting the most appropriate keywords. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and ask yourself why they would search for each keyword and how they would input the terms into a search engine.
  6. Create a list of keywords to target —  Once you complete the above steps, you’ll have a solid list of keywords to target. Start incorporating these keywords strategically into your content and regularly monitor the results,  so you can make adjustments as needed.

Keyword research is a major component of a strong SEO strategy, and putting in the time and effort needed to come up with a strong keyword list will ensure your efforts are successful.

Knowledge Base: SEO

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