28th February 2022
Anyone with a hand in digital marketing will have heard of SEO keywords. However, there are various views relating to how best to use them.
Furthermore, Google’s own take on keywords has shifted over the years, so an up-to-date skill-set is essential. If you’re looking to optimise keywords for SEO, look no further.
In our article below, we’ll define keywords themselves, detail the research process and how to transform this data into the best possible content.
- What are SEO keywords?
- What is keyword research?
- How do I optimise keywords for SEO?
- How many types of keywords are there in SEO?
- Keywords and the sales funnel
- SEO keywords: the next level
What are SEO keywords?
SEO keywords are simply words and phrases input by users of Google and other search engines. These words reveal user ‘intent’ – what they’re looking for or what they want to know.
The notion of keywords has changed over time. In the early days of SEO, most were single words. Nowadays, 69.7% of search queries contain four words or more. This shift is a reflection of Google’s growing ability to ‘read’ and understand the intent behind user search queries.
What is keyword research?
Keyword research is usually performed by in-house or industry SEO professionals to discover the terms that a brand’s audience is using to find what they’re looking for. (satisfy their search queries)
Keyword research is carried out using a digital tool, such as Google Adwords or our very own DIY SEO platform. Keyword research then forms the foundation of any content plan.
As statistics show that 70-80% of users prefer to click on organic listings over paid advertisements in Google’s search results, optimising pages for SEO keywords is a vital ingredient for any business wanting to compete online. Put simply, web content without keywords is a bit like curry without coriander, fish without chips, or baths without bubbles.
How do I optimise keywords for SEO?
First things first – even if your brand is small, optimising keywords for SEO is never a five-minute job. Here’s a brief summary of the process:
- Content audit
An audit looks at your current content offering and analyses where improvements are needed.
- Audience & competitor research
Research aims to uncover the terms your audience uses, as well as those keywords your competitors are currently employing.
- Keyword research
Time to go word-fishing! Note: worms are optional.
- Organise keywords into clusters
‘Clusters’ are groups of related keywords. Google no longer evaluates the quality of a page by looking at single keywords – it’s clever enough these days to understand keyword groups.
- Map keyword clusters to pages
You may be looking to target keywords to optimise your existing content, be starting afresh by creating new pages, or doing a mixture of the two.
- Optimise existing pages or create sparkly new ones
Time to get writing! Note: caffeine helps.
- Analysing results
Anytime you optimise keywords for SEO, the results should be monitored to show how effective the process has been.
How many types of keywords are there in SEO?
Depending on whom you ask, you might hear anything from two different types to more than 10. To simplify matters, all keywords can be split into the following two types:
- Short-tail keywords
These are keywords with a high volume of searches. They’re often single words, and given their volume, ranking for these is very competitive. Despite having a tail, they don’t wag.
- Long-tail keywords
These are keywords with a low volume of searches. Some will be single words, but many will be two-words or more. Given their volume, they’re easier to rank for than short-tail keywords. Sadly, they don’t wag either.
When looking to optimise keywords for SEO, it’s essential to take a mixture of short-tail and long-tail terms and then match them to different content types, which in turn can be linked to different stages of the sales funnel.
Low and high-intent keywords
Short and long-tail terms can also be referred to as low and high-intent keywords. As a general rule, the further down the sales funnel a user gets, the closer they are to a sale. The terms they use change with their level of intent, becoming more specific (i.e. long-tail) as they get closer to a sale.
Trending & evergreen keywords
Within the world of short and long tails, there are ‘trending’ keywords and ‘evergreen’ keywords. Evergreen keywords are generally short-tail and will never go out of date. For example, the keyword ‘sofa’ will always be relevant to a sofa company. Trending keywords will come and go – a Game of Thrones-styled sofa will likely have a limited shelf-life.
Keywords and the sales funnel
Different users have different reasons behind the search queries they input, which can be related to the different stages of the sales funnel:
Users at the awareness stage have simply become aware of a product or service. For example, they may be looking to go on holiday but have little idea of their destination, price point or travel date.
Such a search will typically take place during a British winter when only Googled-images of sun-drenched beaches will help. But it’s a start, and it’s better they find your images than anyone else’s.
Users will likely research a high number of brands at the awareness stage. By stage two, they have a direct interest in your brand and likely have a short-list of sites that have tickled their fancy. They’ll also be more specific in their search queries, so content produced to match this stage will need to be more specific as well.
Those at the ‘desire’ stage are close to buying a product or service, but they’ll likely be considering a handful of options from different brands. Search queries at this stage will be highly-specific and related to users wanting answers to specific questions.
So, a customer is ready to convert. You should be looking to optimise pages that are literally a click away from a sale, as well as other pages which can act as a sweetener, such as testimonials and reviews.
We’d recommend looking at one of our previous posts about click depth SEO to really see the value in making the sales process as easy as possible for your users.
SEO keywords: the next level
It’s a complex process to optimise keywords for SEO, but hopefully a little clearer now!
However, when it comes to getting the best results from keyword research, it’s essential to step up a level and enter the world of SEO Bombs®, topic clusters and pillar pages.
This approach provides the very best user experience in terms of matching content pages to every stage of the sales funnel, as well as making it easy for Google’s crawlers to evaluate your site with greater accuracy.
To get the lowdown, check out our guide on how to master topic clusters and pillar pages.
We’ve years of experience in optimising keywords for SEO to bring about actual results, so come join our party!
From our hugely-effective SEO Bombs® to fully-managed SEO services or DIY SEO software, we have a solution to help your business grow. Get in touch with one of our SEO specialists today to book a free consultation.