When you’re creating great content, you want to get it in front of as many people as possible. But how can keyword research help to boost your rankings in search engines and propel you towards that coveted top spot?
A “keyword” is something that people type into Google when searching for a particular topic. Finding out exactly what keywords and “key phrases” people are searching for enables you to create content that fulfils their expectations. And content that gives users what they want is likely to rank better.
Why keywords still matter in 2018
Have you ever heard the phrase “keywords are dead”? As the Google algorithm gets better at understanding semantics, some digital marketers believe that it’s no longer so important to use the exact wording that your audience searches for. However, Thrive’s experiments reveal that keywords and key phrases still have immense power.
Working with our client, BabyCentre UK, we have found that simply tweaking the keywords used within a title can still improve traffic from search by anything from 10% to 350%! Keyword research also enables you to discover the exact language your audience uses when searching; by reflecting this language back to them, you can establish an instant rapport.
In a world of finite resources and constrained budgets, keyword research is also an excellent way to focus your content creation efforts. When choosing topics for new articles or blog posts, a little research can reveal which topics people care about most.
The best free keyword tools for 2018
So how can you find out which keywords your audience are searching for? The following free keyword tools are a great place to start:
- Google keyword planner – based on Google’s own data, this gives the most reliable search volumes for any given keyword (i.e. it shows how many people are searching for it in an average month). In addition, it suggests related keywords, and shows the level of competition in Google AdWords for any given keyword. The downside is that you need to be running an AdWords campaign to get accurate search volumes.
- Keywordtool.io – similar to Google keyword planner, this provides suggestions for related keywords on any given topic. It has the advantage of also checking data from other search engines, such as Bing.
- Answer The Public – provides related keywords for any given topic, focusing on questions and prepositions. This tool is a great way to find out what questions people are asking around a given topic.
- Keywords Everywhere – this is a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that works with Google keyword planner, Answer The Public and other keyword tools, to show search volume.
- Keyword Sh*tter – in spite of the unsavoury name, this is a great tool for getting hundreds of keyword suggestions at once. Combined with the Keywords Everywhere extension, it can be a great way to find unexpected keywords.
Choosing the right keywords
So you’ve done your research, and come up with a long list of keywords relating to your chosen topic, complete with search volumes. But what are the best keywords from the list for you to target?
Many people’s instinct is to go straight for the keywords with the highest search volume. However, these are usually also the keywords with the most competition.
If you’re working on a major website with a high Domain Authority (i.e. a website that lots of other websites link to), it does make sense to target the keywords that the most people search for. But if you’re working for a smaller or newer site, it pays to think strategically.
This is where “key phrases” or “long-tail keywords” come in. These are longer and more specific than the most popular keywords. As a result, they usually have lower search volumes, but are also often considerably easier to rank for. The Google Keyword Tool gives a sense of how competitive a keyword is.
See the next, and final, part of our SEO series: 5 ways to use keywords for content optimisation.
Check out our SEO series from the beginning: Google snippets: what you need to know.
Polly Logan-Banks is a Thrive editor and our resident SEO expert. Any questions? Contact us!