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What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is a research process used to find actual search terms that people employ to find products and services online. The purpose of keyword research is to help businesses achieve better search rankings and learn more about their customers. Understanding keyword demand gives companies better insight into consumer motivations and helps to inform their marketing strategy.
Why is Keyword Research Important?
Keyword research is the backbone of search marketing. In the simplest sense, keyword research is the only way to gauge understanding of what terminology web searchers are using to discover your products. Without that knowledge, you will not be able to execute search engine optimization (SEO) and boost your conversion rate.
In addition, keyword research can be a very useful tool in providing a general insight into the market niche you’re operating in. It is a quick and reliable method to pinpoint your main competitors, as you can see what other eCommerce stores are bidding on the same keywords. Gathering the most popular search phrases also informs you about market trends and helps to estimate the potential size of the market. Low search volume always signals a lack of demand and can also help you see market fluctuation and seasonality.
The ultimate goal of every online store is to make more sales. To increase the potential of sales, you need to get more eyeballs on your products, which means driving more traffic to your store. This should not be any traffic; you need to attract people that have a keen interest in what you’re offering. There are several proven tactics on how to gain the attention of the right audience, most notably, content marketing, paid search advertising and social media ads. All of these methods rely on tapping into the right keywords to catch consumers in the right state of mind. Hence, the importance of comprehensive keyword research can never be overstated; with such a profound impact on the bottom line, it can make or break your eCommerce business.
When it comes to crafting effective paid search advertising campaigns, keyword research is where it all begins. Doing it properly will give you a complete picture of the search volume, keyword opportunities, competitors, bid prices and the difficulty to rank for your target keywords. Getting all this information upfront will help you choose the best and most cost-effective approach to paid search advertising.
Keyword Research Tools
The best way to kick off your keyword research is by brainstorming an initial list of words and phrases that you suspect your customers might use to search for the products you are selling. Don’t rely on your own imagination only, get your friends and family involved and extract ideas from them, too. The longer your initial list of possible keywords, the easier it will be to discover keyword opportunities.
Once you have that figured out, consider some keyword research tools that can help you expand the list and take the research a step further:
- Use Google’s related suggestions (at the bottom of every SERP page)
- Google’s Keyword Planner
- Open Site Explorer
How to Choose the Right Keywords
First, let us agree on the meaning of “the right keyword”. A great search phrase meets these three main requirements:
- It’s highly relevant to your online store and the products you’re selling: you only want to drive targeted traffic.
- It has a high search volume: you want to fill the top of your sales funnel with as many potential customers as possible.
- It has reasonable levels of competition: you want to achieve the top-of-page position on search pages in a cost-effective way.
Search engine optimization is an ongoing process with a lot of moving parts, so don’t expect to achieve mind-blowing results overnight. On second thoughts, getting off to a good start can determine how long and difficult this process will be. Broadly, these are the main steps to choosing the right keywords:
- Initial brainstorm. Make a separate list of relevant search phrases for every product group and aim for at least 5-10 phrases in each list. Product group is just a convenient way to group similar products into bigger batches, for example, “women coats” or “laptop accessories”. If you have data on your current best-performing keywords, make sure you include these in your lists.
- Alternative keywords. Use the keyword research tools mentioned above to expand your list and see what people are actually searching for. Take note of these phrases’ popularity, relevance to your business and the level of competition you’ll be up against.
- Keyword difficulty. Hundreds of online stores might be bidding for the same keywords, so in order to rank high in search results, you’ll need to apply creative thinking and single out search phrases that have a reasonably high search volume but enjoy rather low bid prices. Lower PPC bid prices often indicate less competition (and therefore, better opportunity).
- Long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are particularly valuable in eCommerce because they clearly indicate a consumer’s purchase intent. It is reasonable to assume that someone searching for a “spring coat” is at the information gathering stage of their buying journey, whereas long-tail keywords like “yellow spring coat with pockets” or “long black spring rain coat” help to identify a buyer who’s closing in on a purchase. Optimizing for long-tail keywords can be a little tricky, but ranking for them is much easier compared to the broad search terms. The best way to come up with long-tail search terms is to use your basic keywords as a starting point and spin them into something more specific. Make use of the keyword research tools mentioned above to broaden your thinking and take a look at resources like AnswerThePublic, HitTail and WordTracker that are a little more suited for the long-tail keyword research.
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