SEO Keyword research is one of the most important, valuable, and high return activities in the search marketing field. Ranking for the right keywords can make or break your website. By researching your market’s keyword demand, you can not only learn which terms and phrases to target with SEO, but also learn more about your customers as a whole.
How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner’s Guide
It’s not always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitors. The usefulness of this intelligence cannot be overstated; with keyword research you can predict shifts in demand, respond to changing market conditions, and produce the products, services, and content that web searchers are actively seeking. In the history of marketing, there has never been such a low barrier to entry in understanding the motivations of consumers in virtually any niche.
How to Judge the Value of a Keyword
How much is a keyword worth to your website? If you own an online shoe store, do you make more sales from visitors searching for “brown shoes” or “black boots”? The keywords visitors type into search engines are often available to webmasters, and keyword research tools allow us to find this information. However, those tools cannot show us directly how valuable it is to receive traffic from those searches. To understand the value of a keyword, we need to understand our own websites, make some hypotheses, test, and repeat—the classic web marketing formula.
Understanding the Long Tail of Keyword Demand
Going back to our online shoe store example, it would be great to rank #1 for the keyword “shoes” … or would it?
It’s wonderful to deal with keywords that have 5,000 searches a day, or even 500 searches a day, but in reality, these popular search terms actually make up less than 30% of the searches performed on the web. The remaining 70% lie in what’s called the “long tail” of search. The long tail contains hundreds of millions of unique searches that might be conducted a few times in any given day, but, when taken together, comprise the majority of the world’s search volume.
Another lesson search marketers have learned is that long tail keywords often convert better, because they catch people later in the buying/conversion cycle. A person searching for “shoes” is probably browsing, and not ready to buy. On the other hand, someone searching for “best price on Air Jordan size 12” practically has their wallet out!
Understanding the search demand curve is critical. To the right we’ve included a sample keyword demand curve, illustrating the small number of queries sending larger amounts of traffic alongside the volume of less-searched terms and phrases that bring the bulk of our search referrals.
n my opinion, SEO tends to focus on one of two areas;
Optimizing for traffic, or
Optimizing for conversion
Most SEO’s (and dare i say internet marketers) fall victim to optimizing too heavily for traffic, and not conversion.
It’s not necessarily bad to optimize for traffic, it depends on your goals; if you’re in e-commerce or a service based business it is more valuable to invest your resources in making sure you rank well for the terms that are most likely to lead to a sale; optimize for conversion,not just to gain the visitor.
Where as if you are in the advertising or publishing business, where your revenues are directly correlated to the number of visitors and pageviews, or in other words the volume of eyeballs, then optimizing for traffic is going to be a better strategy.
Like any good SEO campaign, your optimization strategy should be dictated by your campaign goals. If your top level goals are straight-forward, such as increase revenue, then decide which optimization path is going to be the most effective based on your business: