For many businesses, website traffic directly correlates to their success. That’s why marketers do everything in their power to attract the right kind of traffic to their business. With physical buildings, garnering attention may rely on architecture or signage.
But how do you do that for an internet-based business?
In fact, SEO keywords could make the difference between a flourishing business or a floundering one. They’re at the core of every digital marketing strategy.
What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of optimizing your website to attract both search engines and visitors.
Most importantly, you can use SEO to increase web traffic to your website.
Search engines are the core of SEO’s importance. You want to prove to search engines that your website is relevant enough to rank. By ranking highly on the search engine results page (SERP) for a particular query, your brand shows that it can successfully answer important questions people are asking online.
While major search engines (e.g. Google, Bing, etc.) constantly change the algorithms they use to rank content on SERPs, some algorithms remain fairly constant. Of course, tweaks are necessary for improvement, especially as people learn to game the system.
One of the core principles of SEO is the use of SEO keywords. This practice has been standard for several years and doesn’t appear to be stopping any time soon.
SEO keywords: The key to being found online
If you’re looking for a basic definition, SEO keywords are essentially the terms searchers use in an online query.
For example, if someone is searching for Nike-brand shoes, they might type, “Nike sneakers” into a search engine. The search engine will then pull up all the pages containing those words and rank them according to relevance and webpage or web domain authority.
This is the tricky part for you as a marketer.
As you can see from the image, there are 639 million results for “Nike sneakers.” Yet only 10 results are shown per page. And of course, no one’s searching Google to go through 63,900,000 pages. In fact, research shows that 90% of searchers never go beyond the first page. Instead, Google does the work for us, and we expect that.
As a marketer, this is where keywords come into play. You’ll have to find the right kind of words that your customers type into Google (or speak in the case of voice search). Once you understand what your audience is searching for, you’ll then need to research the SEO keywords most likely to help you rank.
You want to rank highly, not only to get more clicks but also because high rankings show you’re a relevant and authoritative voice in the midst of all the noise on the internet.
Keywords drive targeted traffic to your website and ultimately your product or service.
Short tail vs. long tail keywords
There are 2 types of keywords when it comes to SEO—short and long tail keywords. Short tail keywords are those that contain only 1-2 words—like “sneakers.” Long tail keywords, on the other hand, contain at least 3 words.
When looking for the best SEO keywords that will provide you with the most traffic, it’s best to use long tail keywords. This is because short tail keywords target a mass audience while long tail keywords target a niche demographic.
For instance, our search for Nike sneakers gave us results for everything containing “Nike sneakers.” But searchers often Google something much more specific. And that’s where long tail keywords give you an advantage. “Men’s red Nike sneakers 2019,” for example, is a much more optimized keyword.
Not only do they help you target your specific audience, but they also reduce the competition around that phrase, thereby increasing your chances of ranking well on the SERPs.
So how do you find these traffic driving keywords?
By understanding your target audience
In order to find the right keywords to attract a targeted demographic, you will need to carry out thorough keyword research.
Here are the few steps you will need to take.
1. Know your audience
As the first step to finding the best SEO keywords to provide you with the most traffic, you’ll need to define your target audience. Not everyone is interested in what you have to offer.
Before you start doing your keyword research, you should understand your ideal customer.
Understanding your ideal customer will help you get in their head and know how they think and the kind of words they use when looking for your product or service.
2. Understand user intent
After defining your ideal audience, the next step to finding the best SEO keywords is understanding user intent. User intent simply means the reason a person is searching. It could be that they are looking for general information on a particular subject or they are searching for a particular solution.
Understanding user intent will allow you to come up with the right keywords for each situation.
Finding SEO keywords using keyword research tools
Keyword research has become an advanced form of science. Thankfully, there are a number of keyword research tools, free and paid, that help make this science simple. And while you can get by with free keyword research tools, they can only take you so far.
In order to conduct comprehensive keyword research, consider using the paid versions of these tools. This is because paid keyword research tools will give you detailed metrics on a keyword—metrics such as search volume, the cost-per-click, and the SEO difficulty of that particular keyword.
So how do you use a keyword research tool to find the best keywords for you?
1. Plug in a seed keyword
Most keyword research tools are plug and play tools—literally. That means you simply plug in a seed keyword you think will work best for you and click the search button. The tool will then pull up related keywords that you can also use.
We’ll use KWFinder to walk through how a keyword research tool works.
In the screenshot above, the keyword “landscape design” was our seed keyword. The data the program pulled is a goldmine: Not only does it show suggested related keywords (very useful if your primary keyword is hard to rank for) but it shows the search volume and the pages that are featured on the top results pages.
There’s so much you can do with most keyword tools to help you maximize your chances of driving targeted traffic to your site, such as:
- Autocomplete. This tab will pull up suggestions from Google’s autocomplete feature.
- Questions. Clicking this tab will generate the most popular questions that feature your seed keyword.
- Results filter. This helps you filter out irrelevant words from the list.
- Add to list. You can collect all your relevant keywords and organize them in a neat spreadsheet.
- Export. This button allows you to download your results as a spreadsheet.
Keyword research tools are invaluable when it comes to finding the right keywords in order to rank well on Google. Unlike in the past where keyword stuffing could get you tons of traffic, now ranking takes data and thoughtful use of that data to craft captivating and relevant content.
2. Check your competitor’s keywords
Next, you’ll want to understand the keywords your competitors are using to drive traffic to their websites.
This is another great feature available in most keyword research tools. One tool that does a particularly good job in this regard is SEMrush.
Apart from giving you amazing keyword suggestions, you can get deep insights into your competitor’s online performance from the SEMrush dashboard.
For illustration purposes, we’ll continue with the seed keyword “landscape design.” Only this time, we’ll check out the keywords that Garden Design ranks for.
On the SEO dashboard, click on “Domain Analytics” and type in your competitor’s domain into the search bar. SEMrush will pull out a wealth of data on your competitor, but one of the key pieces of data is the list of keywords Garden Design ranks for and the position they hold on the SERPS for that keyword.
This important data helps you mine keywords. It also helps you see key elements in a competitor’s content marketing strategy that you haven’t considered before.
How to pick the right keywords to use
Having a list of relevant keywords is half the battle. Finding the perfect ones to use is even more challenging.
In order to determine which SEO keywords to use, you will have to strike a balance between the search volume and the keyword difficulty.
To improve your chances of ranking highly and increasing site traffic, go for high volume/low keyword difficulty (competition) scores.
In the screenshot above, the keyword “landscape” is high volume, but the competition is also high, so it’s best to leave it out.
Now that you have found your SEO keywords, it will be easier for you to craft relevant content for your audience. Remember, in order to increase web traffic, you must use keywords that are connected to your users’ intent, have a high search volume, and low competition.
Before you go ahead and start crafting that content, here’s an interesting blog post that helps bridge the gap between email marketing and content marketing. It’s definitely a worthwhile read, particularly for email marketers.