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What is keyword research and how do you use it?

Less than 1% of the most popular keywords generate over 60% of all searches online. But how can you learn which keywords are most popular without doing the research? Keywords are a big part of search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing.

If you want customers to find your business online, you need to prioritize digital visibility. Showing at the top of search engine results pages means understanding what consumers are looking for. When you know what customers look for online, it makes it easier to connect with them.

Read on to learn what keyword research is and how to use for your business. Make your marketing and ad campaigns even more impactful with targeted keywords.

What is keyword research?

Keyword research defines and analyzes words and phrases used to conduct searches online. Researching these search terms shows patterns in consumer behavior, providing new ways to target your marketing. Thorough research also reveals the most popular search terms, their ranking, and more.

You can use keywords to boost your SEO, content, and overall marketing strategy. Knowing what people search for online gives you a better perspective of how to sell your business offerings. You’ll uncover the difference between organic searches vs. those you might pay for in advertising.

When you research keywords, you’re creating a template for potential buyer personas. Following a search query and its related results online can show you what customers really want or need. Building a clear path of how people end up on your website increases the chances of more traffic overall.

How to use SEO keyword research for your business

Researching keywords means asking the right questions. You can’t optimize your business in any search engine if you don’t know who your customers are and their needs. Market research can provide some of this information, making it easier to conduct keyword research later on.

When you focus on your audience’s interests, you can pick keywords that rank better than random search terms. To get started, you ‘ll need a strong understanding of your industry. You’ll also need tools to conduct your keyword research.

Planting seed keywords

A seed keyword is the most basic term associated with your business. Using this seed, you can grow a much larger list of keywords. For example, if you run a coffee shop, any singular terms like coffee, cappuccino, espresso, etc. function as seed keywords.

Most likely, these aren’t the keywords you’ll emphasize in your content and marketing. You’re more likely to use longer phrases for accurate targeting. These should pop into your mind right away, as a result of simple brainstorming.

Find keywords competitors rank for

If you’re worried about a competing business in your industry, a solid way of diverting traffic to your site is through SEO keyword research. If you don’t know who your competition is, it’ll be harder to identify ranking keywords.

The easiest way to find a competitor is through a quick Google search of any seed keyword. Any business that pops up is likely a direct competitor (whether it’s an organic or paid result). As the owner of your business, you should be able to identify which companies are true competitors.

With a good keyword research tool, you can analyze top keywords for competitors’ web pages. You can even see which keywords send the most traffic to their website.

Find reliable keyword research tools

Looking at the competition can even give you ideas for your own targeting efforts. Maybe their higher ranking keywords fit your business better. Knowing this, you can tailor your content strategy accordingly.

Google’s keyword planner shows you new keywords most relevant to your business. It also shows you how often search terms are used and how these trends change over time. This information can guide you to use the most current keywords, too.

If you pay ads, you can pick the best terms worth investing in. High-ranking keywords may cost more, but if they drive more traffic to your business website, you’ll find the return on investment worthwhile.

Optimize your marketing and targeting efforts

Now you can stop wondering, “What is keyword research?” That doesn’t mean you know everything about keywords and SEO. If anything, you might have more questions than before. There are many types of keywords, each bringing different value to marketing efforts.

And, of course, keywords are only a tiny part of search engine marketing. Making the most of your keywords keeps your content strategy fresh and on-trend. Content marketing brings long-term value to your brand, communicating higher value to consumers.

How your market depends on how well you do your research. Take the time to find the right tools for your SEO keyword research, and you’ll soon find your virtual recognition on the rise.

Editors' Recommendations

Amanda Hoyer
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Degreed in Psychology and English, Amanda fell into copywriting and blogging when she discovered an innate gift for narrative…
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