SEO: Keyword Research Best Practices


To start, keyword research isn’t an activity exclusively relegated to SEO, but instead, it is necessary for all forms of marketing. Social media, paid media, you name it, keyword research is something that you should be doing on a regular basis.

The results gained from in-depth keyword research should act as a rudder to your boat, guiding the direction of your marketing campaigns and strategies. However, the first step to successful keyword research revolves around asking some questions about your business and customer base. It’s easy to plug in a couple of words into SEMrush or Moz and find loads of information, but that information may have no actual value to you if you don’t understand what and how your customers are searching.

Knowing Your Customer

Keyword research gives you the answer to:

  • What is being searched for
  • How many searches are being done
  • Which format do people want this information delivered in

So let’s connect this to your business and clientele. First, you should brainstorm what products or services your business offers, and branching off that – what possible reasons would a customer come to me? Let’s say you run a car detailing company, and the primary service you provide is window tinting. However, expanding on what other reasons someone might search for a car detailer is important to ponder. Therefore, your offshoot services help drive traffic, and a wider net is cast on Google.

Other reasons someone might also come to your car detailing company:

  • Stain removal
  • Reupholstering
  • Scratch repair
  • Ceramic coating

Additionally, it is important to question why a customer is searching for that keyword or phrases. What is the intent of that search? This is where some keyword research goes astray, and correlation gets misidentified as causation.

A hypothetical example of this:

  • A navigation company that develops and sells SONAR technology. They want to go after the keyword, “sonar technology” with their product page in an effort to drive more traffic to their site. While search volume is low, the overwhelming user intent for “sonar technology” is to understand what it is, not to purchase it.

That’s why Google’s algorithm focuses on user experience. If your corresponding service page or blog post answers the query of the user, rather than matches the keyword or phrases verbatim, Google will value it higher in search results.

Examining Search Volume and Competition

Once you have gained a concrete understanding of who your business is, and why your desired customers might be searching for keywords that relate to your business, you can begin to analyze search results.

The two numbers that will jump out at you are search volume and competition. When performing your research it is important to keep perspective regarding these two numbers in relation to the domain authority of your website. Keywords that have large monthly search volumes with high competition like “digital marketing” would be fruitless keywords to go after.

This is where creative strategy comes into play. Understanding that attempting to rank for robust terms will be a poor investment in time and effort, combing through related keywords with lower search volume and competition can yield better traffic results. Therefore, long-tails like “digital marketing services” provide a Goldilocks scenario — enough search volume, but low enough competition to rank your web page.

It’s also an important note that gets mistaken during keyword research, that if you’re a local company (primarily serving one specific geographic area), you’re trying to optimize and rank for keywords on a local level – not the national scale.

SERP Analysis and Looking at Your Competitors

After you have selected the keywords you wish to target, it’s best practice to do SERP analysis and quickly see (in your geographic area) who is ranking on the first two or three pages of Google results. Additionally, what types of pages are ranking? Are they blogs, product pages, navigation pages? This will help when drafting your content, and the strategy behind it.

Past that, I’m sure you have a few competitors in mind that you’re battling with for web traffic. Tools like SEMrush enable you to see what keywords your competitors are targeting and ranking for. It’s crazy that this information exists, and it’s definitely a hidden treasure that you can use and abuse to help identify and try to outperform your competition.

Lastly, and most of all, keyword research is a fluid process. It doesn’t stop after that initial research stage. Consumer trends change, Google alters its algorithm, and a bunch of other factors can skew keywords off target. Therefore, keyword research is an ongoing process of testing, implementing, analyzing, and repeating.

Just remember the words of James Joyce during your research trials, “mistakes are the portals to discovery.”

Need Help with Keyword Research?

At Venta Marketing, we are helping businesses meet their goals head-on. As leaders in the digital marketing industry, we know the ins-and-outs of SEO strategy and technique. Contact us today if you are curious about our services!