When looking for the answer to a question or the solution to a problem, 9 times out of 10 we will turn to Google for help. (And if it’s not Google, then it’s Bing, Yahoo, etc.)
Search engines give us the ability to sort through the limitless amount of information available online and find exactly what we’re looking for.
For your website to be seen in people’s searches, it needs to include something essential: Keywords.
Keywords are generally between one to five words strung together. They highlight a topic of interest to a searcher. Finding the right keywords for search engine optimization or PPC ad campaigns can ultimately lead to higher revenue.
So why are keywords so important? And how can you find the right keywords for your website? Let’s find out!
Why are Keywords so Important?
Keywords are the beginning of success for your on-page SEO, or your PPC campaigns. Why do we say so?
Keywords Tell Search Engines What Your Page is About. Search engines are trying to provide the most valuable information to the user. So when a search engine crawls your website, it checks to see what keywords are used most on each page. Then, it has an idea of what your website is about, and when to present it to searchers.
Keywords Give You Topics for Your Content. The topics of your pages or posts should be based on keywords. That allows you to have appropriate topics to write about, and ties the post together. It also helps you place keywords naturally in the text.
Keywords Help Your Audience Find What They’re Looking For. Often, searchers who click into your site will skim the information presented. When they see the keywords that they searched for in prominent places (the first paragraph, headings, subheadings, etc.), they know they’ve landed on the page they wanted.
Well-Chosen Keywords Help PPC Search Ad Campaigns. When you use the right keywords in your PPC ad campaigns, your ads will show up in relevant searches. You want your ads to appear in the right places, so finding relevant keywords is essential to the success of your ad campaign.
So, how can you find the keywords that work for SEO and PPC?
Define Your Audience and Your Goals
The first step in finding the right keywords is defining both who you’re targeting, and what you want them to do.
What kind of people do you want to come to your site? Perhaps you’re marketing a product or service that is specific to a certain type of person. Or, maybe your website is narrowed down to people from a certain location.
When you narrow down the people you’re targeting, you’ll also be narrowing down certain group-specific keywords. For example, if your audience is mainly based in the UK, you’ll want to make sure your keywords include UK English spelling.
Also, it will be easier to find the type of speech that appeals to this group, thus giving your more narrowed keywords.
To define your keywords, you also want to keep in mind your goals. With PPC ad campaigns, think about the lead page you’re promoting on search engines. What is the action that you want visitors to take? What part of the marketing funnel are you targeting with this campaign?
The same is true with on-page SEO. What is the goal of that particular page or post? How do you want visitors to convert? Finding your goals will help you define specific keywords that are appropriate for the conversion you’re looking for.
Finding Primary Keywords
When you’re building a list of appropriate keywords for your pages or PPC campaigns, there are a number of steps that you’ll need to go through. Profitable keywords often include one or two main words that define the purpose of the page or business. Then, they join additional words to support primary keywords.
Let’s see how we can find your primary keywords.
Keywords that Describe Your Product or Service
Look to your conversion goals above. If you’re trying to get visitors to purchase a product or service, then a good place to start would be words that describe that product or service.
For example, if you’re trying to sell hiking boots (or if you’re referring sales as an affiliate), then hiking boots would be a good primary keyword.
This same principle can apply to SEO within a blog post. What is the main topic of your post? Keywords such as budget travel, vegan food, Samsung tablets, etc., are all good places to start.
If your brand is already somewhat recognized across the internet, using brand keywords will draw people in to your business. Using these keywords with both SEO and PPC is good because it ensures that the people who are specifically searching for your business can find you!
Drawing in these kinds of visitors to your site is an excellent way to increase ROI. These searchers are already looking for your brand, which means they’re probably at the very bottom of the marketing funnel. If they can find your website easily after searching for brand keywords, they are the more likely to make a purchase.
Of course, this method will only see ROI if your business name or brand is known to users. If your business is still somewhat unknown to readers, these brand keywords are not worthwhile.
If your business is based in a physical location, it is highly recommended to use location-based keywords. Including your country or region is a good start. However, you could even narrow these keywords down to your specific state, city, or neighborhood, if appropriate.
This makes it much easier for those searching in a specific area to find your business. Also, you’ll be weeding out competition that is not in your area from search results, getting you closer to the top.
Even if your website or business is not tied to a physical location, you can still target certain areas with location-specific keywords.
For example, freelancers who work entirely online capitalize on the area where they live and include location-specific keywords. They might use location-specific keywords on their website, such as copywriter in Dallas, graphic designer in Washington, etc.
In this way, they’re targeting a specific audience and will probably find it easier to rank well in search engines.
Free Tools to Research Primary and Secondary Keywords
Now we’ve discussed some ideas for your primary keywords. Once we have a seed list of potential keywords, we need to make sure that they are actually profitable.
Here are three free tools that I use to test and develop primary keywords.
1. Google Keyword Planner
This free tool is part of the Google AdWords program. However, it is useful whether you’re looking for PPC keywords or SEO keywords. You will need to create an account, but you won’t need to pay anything to use the tool.
The Google Keyword Planner allows you type in the product or service that you’re trying to sell (or market as an affiliate), a landing page URL, and other keyword filters and targeting parameters. If you don’t have a landing page set up, find a competing website and use that URL.
The Keyword Planner will then spit out an incredible list of keywords related to your topic. This gives you a great starting point for primary and secondary keywords, and also lets you see the search volume for each.
The key with using this free tool is finding keywords that have a mid-range search volume. While high search is good, it means high competition. On the other hand, keywords with a very low search volume may be easier to rank for, but they won’t bring you much ROI. So, find keywords that seem to take the middle range for your topic.
Once you develop that list of primary and secondary keywords, it’s time to test the trends.
2. Google Trends
This is an amazing and often-overlooked tool that I use regularly to find profitable keywords.
The primary use of this tool is to check the popularity over time of any given keyword. You can see seasonal drops in interest, daily interest points, or whether the keyword is increasing or decreasing in popularity over a long period of time. You can also target these results to a specific country or area.
Using this tool, you can take advantage of keywords that are rising in popularity, giving your site the SEO boost it needs to really take off!
Also, Google Trends allows you to compare the popularity of different keywords. The graphics and charts are easy to understand, and allow you to see which of your keywords are more valuable.
After scrolling down, you’ll also see specific areas of the world where this topic has greater popularity. Along with that, you’ll see a chart of related keywords that are rising in popularity.
This keyword research tool gives you a fantastic overall view of the general online interest in your keywords, and shows you which keywords are truly valuable.
3. Keywords Everywhere
This is a browser plugin that I’ve used recently. The Keywords Everywhere tool allows you to see the monthly search volume of any Google search that you do.
This is useful when researching topics and primary keywords, as it helps you to see how many searches are appearing on a regular basis with the keywords that you’re interested in using.
Also, since this plugin works directly with Google searches, you’ll be able to see which websites are currently ranking well for the keywords that you’re searching, along with the search volume for those keywords.
What are Long-Tail Keywords?
After you’ve found your primary and secondary keywords, it’s time to turn them into long-tail keywords.
You probably have quite a few broad terms on your list of potential keywords. For example, we mentioned copywriter in Dallas, vegan food, etc. While these have already been narrowed slightly to your industry, they’re still quite broad.
Long-tail keywords take those broad, primary keywords and narrow them down even more. It’s as if you want those keywords to point directly to you.
Creating long-tail keywords is done by placing additional words in your keywords, sometimes up to four or five. For example, instead of using the broad keyword ‘vegan food’, we might try ‘vegan food for diabetics’, ‘vegan food list for beginners’, etc.
These longer keywords are great for SEO because they draw in more targeted traffic. The people who search for these terms are looking for something very specific. If your website ranks well, they’ll be turning to you to find answers to their questions or solutions to their problems.
Also, these specific visitors are likely closer to the end of the marketing funnel than those searching for general terms. Thus, it’s more likely that these visitors will turn into leads.
An additional benefit of long-tail keywords is that they are much easier to rank for than broader keywords. You’ll find that the search volume is much lower, but so is the competition. That means you can rank better in search engine results pages and get more traffic to your website.
How to Find Long-Tail Keywords
So now that we know why we need long-tail keywords, how do we find them? Here are even more free tools to find appropriate keywords.
Google itself is one of the best tools you can use to find long-tail keywords. There are several ways to use Google searches to find keywords that are more specific to your business or website.
First, at the end of every search results page you will find a box that suggests related search keywords. Within this box, you’ll find long-tail keywords that are relevant to your topic.
For example, I searched ‘vegan foods’ and found these results suggested to me:
You can use these suggestions as ideas for long-tail keywords. Also, see those numbers on the side? That’s another nifty feature of the Keywords Everywhere tool I mentioned above. It tells you the search volume on these suggested keywords as well!
Another way to use Google searches to find long-tail keywords are the suggestions that come up when you start typing into the search bar.
Since many searches are questions, try starting your query with a question word. You’ll get all kinds of long-tail keyword suggestions in the form of questions. These long-tail keywords are fantastic for blog post SEO.
LSI Keywords and Synonyms
Latent semantic indexing, or LSI, keywords are important to consider when collecting relevant keywords. Both in SEO and PPC, LSI keywords are essential to completing the package. (Could we fit more abbreviations into that sentence?)
Basically, these are keywords that use synonymous or very related words to the ones you’re already using. So, for example, used clothing would have LSI keywords like secondhand clothing, pre-worn clothing, etc.
Using synonyms to find LSI keywords is very important when doing keyword research. Why? Because you may find that an LSI keyword has better search volume than your main keyword.
Using our example above, imagine that you’re trying to rank for used clothing. You could put a lot of effort into optimizing your pages for that keyword, only to find out later that secondhand clothing was actually a more profitable keyword to use.
By searching for synonyms and LSI keywords beforehand, you can check to see which have better search volume results.
A fantastic tool that I use is LSI Graph, which automatically generates LSI keywords from your main keyword.
Even if you don’t find LSI keywords that are more valuable, keep a list of these related keywords for future reference. We’ll talk more about what to do with them below.
Using Your Keywords
By now, you probably have a rather long list of keywords that you are ready to use. So how can you use these keywords to your advantage?
Let’s discuss keyword usage for both SEO and PPC, and see how to get the most out of these worthy keywords.
On Page SEO Usage
· Check the Competition
Before you start trying to rank for an individual keyword, it’s good to check the competition. I always do this before starting a new blog post.
If you want to rank well in search engines, your post or page must be better than the competition. So check out what they’re doing.
When you search for your main long-tail keyword, what websites come up first? What kind of posts do you find? How extensive is the information?
For example, let’s say I want to write a post about the best vegan food substitutes. When I search my long-tail keyword, I’ll skim through the first few results to check out the competition. Are the articles well put together? Do they answer the question or provide a solution to a problem? Is the information comprehensive? Are there grammatical or spelling errors?
Remember, on page SEO is not just about keywords. It takes into account the value of the content itself for readers. So if the competition’s content is lacking in value, you can make your post or page better.
· Place, Don’t Stuff
We all know this point, but it’s amazing how much we need to emphasize it. When you stuff keywords unnaturally into sentences where they don’t fit, this is not good for SEO. You may trick the search engine bots for a while, but soon they’ll find that your content isn’t actually valuable to readers.
Balancing keywords with actual content value is the key to maintaining a good SEO strategy. So, find places within your sentences where the keywords fit naturally. If your keywords really fit into the topic that you’re discussing, this should be easy enough to do.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure your keywords are truly relevant to the topic. When you do this, you know people are finding your website from the right search terms, and it’s easier to place keywords in your posts and pages.
· Include Contextual Keywords
Remember that list of LSI keywords I told you to keep above? This is where it becomes useful. When the search engine bots crawl your site, there are certain things that they want to see. It starts with your main keywords, which lead to the correct understanding of what your site is about.
However, once these bots find your main keywords, they also want to see contextual or LSI keywords within your posts. These semantically-related words are relevant to the topic, and thus the bots know that they should be present in your post.
When bots find posts and pages that contain main keywords supported by LSI keywords, your website will earn a better ranking.
· Keywords in Headlines, Metadata, and Media Alt Tags
These three areas are very important for SEO. When search engine bots find your main keywords in these places, it will give your ranking a huge boost.
Headlines. Your headlines need to capture the essence of your post. If you’ve chosen keywords that capture the main ideas you want to convey, then it should be fairly easy to craft an attractive headline out of them. Along with boosting SEO, this will help readers to understand better what the post is about.
Metadata. Title tags and meta descriptions are good places to insert your main keywords. Your meta description is the content that appears under the headline when your post shows up in a search query. It looks a little bit like this:
As you can see, below the title of the page you’ll see the URL, and then a short description of what is on the page. A well-written meta description helps searchers to know what your site is about, and thus highly affects your click-through rate. When your click-through rate improves, your site’s ranking will also improve.
· Mid-Tail Keyword Success
Research has shown that mid-tail keywords (or keywords that include between 2-4 words) are most effective in PPC ad campaigns. In fact, studies estimate that in 2017, 94% of impressions will come from search terms that include no more than 4 words.
The results of these studies show that to increase impressions and improve conversion, use of keywords that include 2-4 words is your best option. While longer keywords may be interspersed with SEO, PPC runs better on these mid-tail keywords.
· Avoiding Negative Keywords
When you run a PPC ad campaign, you’ll also have the option to include negative keywords. These are basically search engine terms that are similar to your keywords, but that don’t match your product or conversion goals.
For example, if you are marketing leather shoes for men, you don’t want your site to appear in a search for faux leather shoes for men.
If your ad campaign is set to include similar terms, watch carefully which terms are bringing up your site to Google ads. In Google AdWords, you can check this in the Search Query Report. When you see keywords in this list that are not related to your business, make sure to exclude them from your list of terms.
This will not only save you money in ad campaigns, but will ensure that your website is only seen in relevant searches.
When you find worthy keywords for SEO and PPC ad campaigns, you know you’re getting the most bang for your buck! Whether you’re running a niche website to make money as an affiliate or to sell your own product or service, these tips will ensure that your site is in the best position possible.
After going through the research above, you should have a pretty good idea of which keywords will work for your posts and pages.
However, remember that keyword research is a constant process.
Keep tools like Google Trends handy to make sure your keywords are still popular online. Test which keywords convert better for your PPC ad campaigns and adjust accordingly.
By following these steps, you’ll have a well-ranking website and a successful PPC ad campaign, bringing you closer to your business goals!