According to Moz, “Keyword research provides you with specific search data that can help you answer questions like: What are people searching for? How many people are searching for it? In what format do they want that information?”

Determining the best keywords or keyword phrases for your company or organization is one of the first steps to successful SEO optimization. You need to know what people are searching for in order to make yourself more findable, which seems like a no-brainer, but plenty of people bypass conducting keyword research and go directly to the writing stage. That’s like skipping your homework all semester, then planning to ace your final exam.

We’d suggest a different strategy.

Tips for Conducting Keyword Research

1. Think like a searcher, not like an insider.

If a new pet owner wants to get their kitten spayed, they’re not going to search for a vet to do an “ovariohysterectomy”—they probably don’t even know that word (we didn’t). They’re going to use layman’s language. “Get my cat fixed” or “veterinarian to spay my cat” or something similar. We all use insider terms at work, depending on our industry; most have their own lingo. But those insider terms rarely make good keywords. Step outside your industry and put your consumer hat on. What words will they use to search for your organization? Use those terms as keywords instead.

2. Include your location.

If I live in California, I’m not going to fly to Florida to get my cat spayed. So, I might search for “veterinarian Los Angeles county” to narrow my search and find something close to home. If you rely on local business, like a veterinarian or a restaurant or a print shop would, be sure to include your location on all your web pages.

3. Look at your competitors.

Others in your industry or space are doing the same kind of keyword research and trying to optimize their web content for SEO too. So, take a peek at their websites—what words are they using? How do they describe their products and services? Pay attention to what your competitors are doing and consider prioritizing the keywords they’re ranking for to aggressively compete with them.

4. Use helpful tools.

Google Keyword Planner is free and useful, however we highly recommend investing in a tool like Moz or SEMrush. These tools will help you perform keyword research accurately and efficiently so you’ll be able to judge which keywords will be most effective for your business or organization.

5. Use long-tail keywords.

Back in the caveman days of search when Google was just learning to crawl, simple terms like “pizza” or “shoes” may have been enough to get your website ranked. Nowadays, those terms have a super high search volume, and the competition is fierce. While you still want to use relevant one-word keywords like that, you’ll also want to include what’s called long-tail keywords, which are three to four-word phrases that are more descriptive and specific. They don’t get the search volume, but they’re less competitive, making them easier to rank for. Plus, the leads you get with long-tail keywords tend to be more qualified. In addition to “pizza,” you might also use “deep dish Chicago style,” or with “shoes,” you might add “platform leather sneakers.” Look at what you’re offering, and hone in on specifics to create long-tail keywords that will work for you.

On the web, text and images aren’t just for readers and videos aren’t just for viewers. Search engines should always be included as a target audience and keywords should always be considered. Let’s work together to get your website to the top of search engines with SEO-optimized content for both online visitors and search engines.


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