February 6th, 2015

A Basic Overview of Keyword Research and How it’s Used

by Ashley Bullin

Doing proper keyword research is the first, and probably the most important, step digital marketers take before developing a website. More than that, it comes into play with a variety of other marketing tactics. But many small business owners don’t understand the process or why it’s useful. Read on to find out the value of strategic keyword research.

The process begins with understanding your target audience and the way your consumers may be searching for your products or services. The goal is to try and capture relevant traffic for your website with a list of terms they may be searching for. There are many keyword research tools available to marketers—ones that provide insight on competition, estimated search volume and maximum cost-per-click bids in Google Adwords. These tools are great, but good old-fashioned common sense paired with creative thinking goes a long way as well. No tool understands your industry better than you, so it’s important to share all the jargon with your digital marketing partner.

If we’ve learned anything about Google’s frequent algorithm updates, it’s that search engines now favor quality over quantity in terms of content. And writing quality content starts with using the right keywords. Relevant, industry-specific keywords will bring in the most qualified traffic for your website. Essentially, if the keyword does not show up anywhere on your site—it’s not a good keyword for your business. And generally speaking, the more targeted the keyword, the better.

Unless you’re a high-end, big-budget retailer, you probably don’t stand a chance of ranking high for general search terms. Take the keyword “computer” for example—a store like Best Buy will certainly rank higher for this term than a small, specialty online computer retailer. Inserting brands, descriptors and styles in front of “computer” would be much better keywords for a small business to try. More specific keywords generally lead to more conversions as well. Compare the following two types of individuals: one that types in “computer” and one that types in “used Dell laptop computer” into a search engine. Who do you think is more likely ready to make a purchase?

Keyword research plays an important role in your site’s DNA—from headers and sub-headings to paragraph text and meta data. That’s why it’s performed before any copywriting that takes place for your website. Search engines need keywords to index your site in order to present relevant search results, and failing to incorporate the right keywords into your site’s content would be a huge waste of time.

Paid advertising is a digital marketing tactic that relies heavily on proper keyword research. We always recommend narrowing down a list of keywords to only ones that are most important for your business. Although an ecommerce store may sell a variety of products, they wouldn’t necessarily include keywords related to each product in their PPC campaigns. Especially not if big-budget retailers will out-bid them again and again. Prioritizing keywords will help maximize your marketing budget.

Keyword research should also influence your social media strategy. It’s true—adding the “#” symbol in front of keywords relevant to your brand helps spread your content’s overall exposure. Hashtags play a key role in getting your business in front of new customers by aggregating your content with others of its kind on a variety of social networking sites.

Website development, search engine marketing, paid advertising and even social media strategy—as you can see, keyword research plays a pivotal role in just about every aspect of digital marketing. Acquiring customers online would be a complete shot in the dark without it. Luckily Sage Island’s team is well versed in the process of keyword research, ensuring we deliver only the best marketing solutions for our clients.


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