While much has changed over the last decade when it comes to SEO, the fundamentals of performing keyword research have remained the same. The goal is still to find the words and phrases your prospects are using to seek out your services and products. There are a variety of tools and tactics you can implement to mine keywords effectively:

  1. Use keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner and Searchmetrics’ Keyword Analysis to find popular keywords and phrases that aren’t ultra-competitive.

  2. Analyze your website analytics to identify which keywords are already generating traffic and sales.

  3. Look at your competitors’ top-ranking pages and determine which keywords they’re targeting.

  4. Use Google’s Suggest to mine long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are words or phrases that are more specific—and usually longer—than more commonly searched keywords. Long tail keywords get less search traffic, but usually have a higher conversion value as they are more specific. Google Suggest is the list of auto-filled suggestions that drop down in your search bar when typing in keywords. Most of these keywords are what real people have actually searched for.

Now there’s good news and bad news that come with learning these keyword research strategies. The good news is: They’re very effective at finding relevant keywords. The bad news is: There’s been a shift away from achieving high-ranking results from the use of good keywords.

According to Searchmetrics’ 2016 research:

  1. High-ranking pages use around 20 percent fewer keywords in body copy than in 2015

  2. 53 percent of top ten Google ranking results include the keyword in their title

  3. 52 percent of top ten Google ranking results include the keyword in their description

  4. Less than 40 percent of top ranking landing pages have the keyword in their H1

These statistics demonstrate how Google now evaluates content according to relevance over keyword inclusion.

Here’s why: Google has become wise to our SEO game. Instead of looking at search queries solely in terms of keywords, the queries are analyzed in terms of user intent. What does this mean for keyword research? You should focus on finding relevant subjects to build your content around. Instead of selecting one or two words or phrases to write about or around, use your research to learn more about your audience and their needs, their queries, and their interests. Write about that instead and add in keywords as appropriate.


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