Studying potential search traffic by keywords is about bein found on Google for search phrases that customers use to find your business.
There is little point in ranking highly for a keyword that no one searches for.
Yet that is what is happening every day. The LACK of keyword research leads to wasted money and gives content writers and SEOs a bad name.
In This Section
It is a science
Research your keywords Why Bother?
Websites are for connecting with strangers and selling them a product, a service, or a brand. One reason that Vanilla Circus has the ‘circus’ part in its name is because of the magic of people we do not know contacting us on Google and giving us money without paying a penny for ads.
The reason to bother is three-fold.
- Missing opportunities to increase business revenue and profits by reaching new customers
- Avoid wasting valuable marketing spend and time writing or targeting keywords, phrases or questions that are unlikely to result in a sale.
- Your competitors are analysing keywords.
What are you trying to discover?
What are you looking for
Keyword research is about looking through long lists of keywords and understanding the buying keywords closest to the money.
Example Invisalign braces. This generic brand term could be used to buy braces, research braces, spy on the competition, or contact Invisalign.com.
Vanilla Circus' optimisation always aims for the core keyword.
However, it is hard to argue that the search phrase 'cost of Invisalign braces' is more likely to be by a user that is closer to making a purchase. Even better would be 'cost of Invisalign braces London'.
The buyer wants to price and a dentist. This is closer to what we want and in terms of transactional intent.
What else to look for?
Search or user intent is what Google is an expert at defining. It is all about context. What is the user really asking to find out? Google divides 'intent' loosely into the below four categories, which it believes cover 99.9% of all search queries.
- Informational, learning, Googling
- Navigational intent, i.e. opening Instagram. WordPress etc.
- Transactional intent (shopping!)
- Commercial Investigation, either businesses gathering data or consumers looking for pre-buy information.
OK what else is important
Identifying keywords that have high competition is also a very long-term goal. It is always Vanilla Circus' ultimate goal as it gives logic to our keyword choice and resulting site architecture.
However, for converting customers, highly competitive often single or short keyphrases are often more for vanity.
A search for 'laptop' could be for so many reasons that wanting to repair one in Manchester is only a single low possibility.
KD (keyword difficulty) is an Ahref concept which estimates the level of competing websites optimising for that keyword. It is very useful in finding nuggets. These are low KD-scoring, high-traffic keywords that the competition has missed. However, sometimes there are reasons why.
For example, 'free dental implants' is one such example. You can imagine that the conversion rate to a dentist is very low. (We tested it, 02/23 Mint Dental.).
While there is traffic and some sales, it was more trouble than it was worth. In fact, all blog posts (keyword question-answering content) and pages that led with the keyword NHS were all tested to be a complete waste of time.
Search volume statistics come from Google, which is interested in making its search engine seem more popular. Search volume is the number of individual searches made per month. If a keyword has 1000 searches a month and another 500, then it is the proportional difference that is accurate, not necessarily the number. We know this as we have 100s of websites ranked #1 for multiple keywords and can test Google estimates and our statistical reality.
Remember, 1000 searches a month does not mean a thousand potential customers. Why, read back to intent; not all are shopping. Also, think about how many searches you do in a day on Google. Google reportedly receives 8 billion queries a day. That is one per person for the entire world's population.
Search volume is a useful if overused statistic. It only takes one search query to reach your website and buy a Bentley.
How many searches a month? Always take Google's figures with a pinch of salt. In our experience, you can safely remove a zero from all scores. Google Keyword Planner is a good place to start.
Competitor traffic keywords
Content gaps, where are we going wrong? Where is more traffic that we are not optimising and writing content for? There is software that will analyse your competition and see where they are gaining traffic and your website is missing out. Again, we are back to traffic and not converting traffic; however, it is a valuable tool.
- SERP features like featured snippets and knowledge panels are also worth including in your mix.
- Using Google Ads is another useful (if expensive) way to separate the buying keywords from the click waste.
Trial and Error
Other Metrics and Process
- Ultimate tools
It is impossible to research keywords accurately without knowing which keywords generated what traffic and which traffic generated sales.
It is often a case of trial and error. There is a wealth of software out there that will give you tons of data, the problem is they are no wiser and which keywords are closest to the money.
We use software that watches users visit our client’s website and see in real-time which pages they visit and for how long.
It is an excellent way of sipping coffee and watching users interact with the content we created; what is their dwell time, which pages do they choose next etc., which pages are a perpetual bounce, and which pages do they reach out from?
Data is key.
How to do your keyword research?
- This page aims to illustrate the depth of our knowledge and the skills we have gained over 16 years.
- It is to show that keyword research is a complicated ongoing task that is both insightful and rewarding.
It also encourages you to call Vanilla Circus and engage our services, not to offer you a how-to guide! Therefore, if you have enjoyed reading this page and want to discuss your keywords, please contact us to arrange a call.
One interesting point is when spending on Google ads; companies are incentivised to choose keywords that result in clicks and buys, not solely clicks.