Standing out from the crowd is crucial in the vast digital landscape, where millions of websites compete for attention. This is where content writing comes into play. But how do you write compelling content that distinguishes your brand from your competitors and establishes it as an industry leader?
Well, you must first understand your audience and the search term they use on search engines. This act is simply known as keyword research. Understanding the importance of keyword research in content writing and implementing it effectively can significantly impact your website’s visibility, organic traffic, and overall success.
Keyword research involves identifying the words and phrases your target audience uses when searching for information online. By strategically incorporating these keywords into your content, you can optimize your website for search engines, improve your rankings on search engine result pages (SERPs), and attract the right audience.
In this blog post, we will explore the significance of keyword research in content writing and provide actionable tips to help you conduct proper keyword research. Whether you are a seasoned content writer or just starting, understanding these tips will empower you to create compelling, search engine-friendly content that resonates with your target audience.
So let’s dive in and uncover the power of keyword research in content writing!
Understanding Keyword Research
Keyword research is the process of identifying words and phrases (aka “keywords”) that people use in search engines, like Google, Bing, and YouTube, when searching for information, products, and services. It helps you identify relevant topics, understand user intent, and optimize your content for search engines.
Keyword research is a crucial component of content writing. It impacts every other SEO task, including finding content topics, on-page SEO, email outreach, and content promotion. It also helps you understand your target audience better, giving you insight into their language, interests, and needs.
Keyword research helps you find which keywords are best to target and provides valuable data insights, such as:
- Search Volume: The number of times a specific keyword or search query is searched for within a given time frame, typically measured monthly.
- Relevance: How closely a keyword aligns with your content or topic of a website or webpage and your audience’s interests.
- Competition: How difficult it may be to rank organically in search engine results pages (SERPs) for that particular keyword.
- User Intent: What the searcher is looking for or trying to accomplish when they type in a keyword.
Keyword research also helps you create high-quality content that satisfies user intent and provides value. Using keyword research, you can benefit from improved search engine rankings and increased organic traffic.
The Connection Between Keywords and Audience
Every content is written for a purpose. Therefore, to archive that purpose and connect with the audience, you have to incorporate relevant keywords into the content strategically. This way, you can align your content with what your target audience is actively searching for.
Keywords help you understand your audience’s language, interests, and needs and align your content with their search queries. By understanding audience intent and connecting your content with them, you improve content relevance to your target audience.
By conducting proper keyword research, you can be able to answer the following questions:
- What topics your audience is interested in or curious about?
- What questions do they have or problems do they need to solve?
- What solutions are they looking for or willing to consider?
- What words and phrases do they use to express their queries?
You meet your audience’s needs by using keywords matching their search intent to write quality content that provide them with relevant and valuable information. This will help you build trust, authority, and loyalty with your audience and increase the chances of converting them into customers.
Identifying Relevant Keywords
Identifying relevant keywords is the key to unlocking your audience’s hearts and minds, especially as an SEO content writer. This is very powerful and will make you forge a strong bond with your audience and make your content shine.
To identify relevant keywords for your content writing, you must systematically brainstorm, expand, and analyze keyword ideas.
The first step of keyword research is brainstorming. It involves generating a list of potential keywords related to your core content topic through mind mapping.
Since you already have a product or business that you want to write about online, coming up with seed keywords is easy. Just think about what people type into Google to find what you want to share with them.
For example, if your business deals with shoes, then your seed keywords might be:
Please note that seed keywords should not be the main focus for targeting pages on your website. Instead, consider them as the starting point, or “seeds,” for the subsequent stages of the keyword research process. Avoid fixating on your seed keywords excessively.
You can also ask your existing or potential customers what keywords they use when searching for information related to your topic. Customer surveys can help you understand their language and needs better.
Analyzing competitors’ keywords
One of the most effective ways to speed up your keyword research is to analyze the keywords your competitors use on their websites or blogs and focus more on those that already drive traffic to them.
But before you can do that, you need to find out who your competitors are. That’s where your brainstormed list of keywords comes in handy. Search Google for one of your seed keywords and see who ranks on the first page.
If none of the top-ranking websites for your seed keywords match your site (or where you’re trying to take it), then you should try searching for slightly more specific things.
For example, if you sell “gardening tools” on your website, you may find more actual competitors in the search results for “lawn mower” rather than “lawn.” That’s because there will be mostly e-commerce stores like yours ranking for the former and blogs ranking for the latter.
Once you find a competitor website that fits the bill, you should plug it into a competitive intelligence or competitor analysis tool to check which pages bring the most traffic and what keywords these pages target.
Make sure to repeat this process for as many competitors as you can. After repeating the process with a few competitors, you’ll find a pretty sizable list of relevant keywords.
Note you’ve barely even started your keyword research! Because you still need to determine whether these keyword ideas are purely informational (i.e., blog articles) or have commercial intent (i.e., product pages). But don’t worry; you will determine that later in your keyword research process. For now, your goal is to collect as many relevant keyword ideas as you can.
Competitor analysis can help you discover gaps or opportunities you can leverage with your content.
Expanding Keyword Lists
Use tools to generate more keyword ideas based on your seed keywords or competitor websites. There are likely many keywords your competitors haven’t covered yet; you can find these using various keyword research tools.
Keyword research tools all work the same way. You plug in a seed keyword, and they pull keyword ideas from their databases based on that keyword. They help you find more variations and synonyms of your seed keywords and related keywords and questions that people search for.
Google Keyword Planner (GKP for short) is a popular and widely used tool keyword tool. It’s free to use, and although it’s made for people who want to display paid advertisements in Google, you can also use it to find keywords for SEO purposes.
For example, if you enter “running shoes” as a seed keyword in Google Keyword Planner, you will get hundreds of keyword ideas such as “best running shoes,” “running shoes for men,” “best-running shoes for men,” and so on.
It is important to note that GKP can generate keyword ideas that don’t necessarily contain your seed keyword, making GKP a helpful tool for discovering non-obvious keyword ideas.
Whenever you discover an interesting keyword, try using it as your new seed keyword and see what kind of new keyword ideas you’ll get from it.
Many tools are available for this purpose, but some of the most popular ones include Ahrefs Keywords Explorer and Moz Keyword Explorer.
These tools can save you time and effort in finding more variations and synonyms of seed keywords for your website or blog.
When expanding your keyword list, it is essential to consider long-tail keywords. These keywords consist of three or more words and are more specific and less competitive than short-tail keywords. For example, “content writing” is a short-tail keyword, while “content writing tips for beginners” is a long-tail keyword.
Long-tail keywords are beneficial because they can capture a wider range of search queries, target more niche audiences, and have higher conversion rates.
Analyzing Keyword Relevance and Competition
The final step of keyword research is analyzing keyword relevance and competition. You don’t want to write just anything and through it out for people to read. You have an audience in mind and a purpose for writing. Therefore, you want to ensure that those keywords align with your objectives and that your content can be found for the purpose it was written when published.
This involves assessing how well each keyword matches your content topic, audience interests, and SEO goals. A relevant keyword accurately represents the content and intent of the page, ensuring that it matches what users are searching for.
To analyze keyword relevance, you can use the following criteria:
This indicates how popular a keyword is and how much traffic it can potentially bring to your website. It also helps identify the level of demand for a particular topic or term.
Generally, you want to target keywords that have high or moderate search volume, as they can attract more visitors. However, balancing this with other factors, such as competition and user intent, would be best. That is because a keyword with low competition and high user intent but low search volume would be a good one to target.
Relevance to the content topic and target audience
This indicates how closely a keyword matches your content topic and the main message you want to convey. Generally, you want to target keywords that are highly relevant to your content topic and accurately represent the content and intent of the page. This way, you ensure that it matches what users are searching for, as it can help you rank better and provide more value to your audience.
Let’s say the target audience is fitness enthusiasts looking for running shoes. A relevant keyword could be “best running shoes for marathon training.” This keyword directly addresses the target audience’s specific interest in finding high-quality running shoes suitable for their marathon training needs.
Alignment with the target audience’s interests
This indicates how well a keyword matches your audience’s interests and needs. Generally, you want to target keywords that are aligned with your audience’s interests, as they can help you connect with them and increase engagement.
For example, the keyword “Healthy vegan recipes” is relevant for a target audience interested in veganism and seeking healthy recipe ideas. It captures the specific interests of individuals looking for nutritious plant-based meals that align with their dietary choices. By using this keyword, you can attract and engage with the audience that is interested in exploring healthy vegan recipes, ultimately driving more relevant traffic to your website or content.
If you want to be on SERP’s first page and enjoy higher click-through rates and increased organic traffic, you must evaluate how difficult it is to rank for each keyword based on the existing competition.
Based on these criteria, you can prioritize your keywords and select the most relevant, aligned, and achievable ones for your content writing.
To analyze keyword competition, you can use the following criteria:
Search engine result pages (SERPs)
Which web pages appear when you search for a keyword on Google or other search engines? You can examine the SERPs for each keyword to see what kind of websites rank for it, how authoritative they are, and what kind of content they provide. This way, you can gauge the level of competition and the quality of content you need to produce to outrank them.
Competitor rankings refer to the position or placement of competing websites in search engine results pages (SERPs) for specific keywords or queries. For example, let’s say you run an online shoe store, and one of your main competitors is a popular footwear retailer called “BestShoes.com.”
Then you perform a search for the keyword “running shoes,” and “BestShoes.com” appears as the top result in the organic search results; it indicates that they have a strong competitor ranking for that keyword. They have optimized their website and content to appear prominently in search results when users search for “running shoes.”
You can use tools like SEMrush or Moz to see how your competitors rank for each keyword and their SEO strategies. This can help you identify their strengths and weaknesses and find ways to differentiate yourself from them.
By analyzing their rankings and gaining insights into their SEO strategies, you can identify areas for improvement in your website’s optimization and develop strategies to improve your rankings and outperform your competitors.
This metric indicates how challenging it would be to rank on the search engine results page (SERP) for a specific keyword. It considers factors such as the keyword’s competitiveness, the authority of websites currently ranking for that keyword, the quality of their content and backlinks, etc.
For example, consider the keyword “best-running shoes for beginners.” If the keyword difficulty for this term is high, it means that many established websites with strong SEO efforts are already targeting and ranking for it. In such a case, it would be more challenging for a new or less authoritative website to rank prominently for this keyword. It may require a more robust SEO strategy, including high-quality content, targeted optimization, and acquiring authoritative backlinks, to compete against the existing competition and improve the keyword ranking.
On the other hand, if the keyword difficulty for a different term like “best running shoes for flat feet and high arches” is low, it suggests that there is less competition for this particular keyword. It may be relatively easier to rank for this term, as fewer websites have optimized their content specifically for it. This presents an opportunity for a website to target and rank well for the keyword with less effort.
Generally, you want to target keywords with low or medium difficulty, as they are easier to rank.
Keyword difficulty provides valuable insights for SEO practitioners and website owners, helping them evaluate the level of competition and determine which keywords are worth targeting based on their resources, goals, and capabilities.
Incorporating Keywords in Content
Once you have selected your keywords, you need to incorporate them into your content strategically and naturally. You are writing content for a specific audience and want it recognized. It is through your use of keywords on content that search engines will realize what it is for. Remember you must do it naturally and not stuff the content with keywords, thereby jeopardizing with user experience.
Incorporating keywords in content involves two main aspects: on-page optimization and creating high-quality content.
On-page optimization refers to the process of placing your keywords in strategic locations on your web page or blog post. This helps search engines understand your content and rank it accordingly.
Some of the best practices for on-page optimization include:
- Placing your main keyword in the title tag, which is the headline that appears on the SERPs.
- Placing your main keyword in the meta description tag, which is the snippet that appears below the title tag on the SERPs.
- Placing your main keyword in the URL slug, which is the part of the web address that follows the domain name.
- Placing your main keyword in the H1 tag, which is the main heading of your content.
- Placing your main keyword and related keywords in the H2-H6 tags, which are the subheadings of your content.
- Placing your main keyword and related keywords throughout the body of your content, especially in the introduction and conclusion paragraphs.
- Using synonyms, variations, and natural language when incorporating keywords in your content.
When incorporating keywords in your content, it is important to maintain the natural and reader-friendly language. You should avoid keyword stuffing, which is the practice of using too many keywords or repeating them excessively. Keyword stuffing can harm your SEO performance and user experience.
Creating High-Quality Content
Creating high-quality content means producing well-written, informative, and engaging content that satisfies user intent and provides value. Search engines want the best for their users and will favor content that gives value and benefits the user. Quality content enhances the overall user experience and positively impacts search engine rankings.
Some of the best practices for creating high-quality content include:
- Writing clear, concise, and grammatically correct sentences.
- Providing accurate, relevant, and up-to-date information.
- Using credible sources and citing them properly.
- Providing examples.
- Using visual elements like images, videos, charts, graphs, etc.
- Breaking up long paragraphs and using bullet points or numbered lists.
- Adding a clear and compelling call to action (CTA) at the end of your content.
When creating high-quality content, focusing on satisfying user intent and providing value is essential. User intent refers to the goal or purpose that the searcher has when they type in a keyword. For example, if someone searches for “how to bake a cake,” the user intends to learn the steps and ingredients for baking a cake.
To satisfy user intent and provide value, you need to:
- Understand what your audience is looking for or trying to accomplish with their search query
- Provide them with relevant and comprehensive information that answers their query
- Provide them with additional information or resources that can help them achieve their goal or solve their problem
- Provide them with a clear and compelling reason to take action or engage with your brand
Creating high-quality content that satisfies user intent and provides value enhances the overall user experience and positively impacts search engine rankings.
Monitoring and Adapting
Doing keyword research and writing well-optimized quality content is not a one-time activity. It is an ongoing process that requires monitoring and adapting your content strategy accordingly. You must track your keyword performance and analyze your user engagement metrics to make data-driven decisions for future content optimization.
Some of the tools and metrics that you can use for monitoring and adapting include:
These tools can help you measure and analyze various aspects of your website or blog performance, such as traffic, conversions, bounce rate, dwell time, etc. Some popular analytics tools are Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMrush, and Moz.
These are the positions of your web pages or blog posts on the SERPs for each keyword. You can use tools like SEMrush or Moz to see how your keywords rank over time and what factors affect them.
User engagement metrics:
These are indicators of how your audience interacts with your content, such as clicks, impressions, CTR, comments, shares, etc. You can use tools like Google Analytics or Google Search Console to see how your content performs regarding user engagement.
By monitoring and adapting your keyword research and content strategy, you can:
- Identify what keywords and content are working well and what are not
- Discover new keyword opportunities or trends that you can leverage
- Optimize your existing content or create new content based on data insights
- Improve your SEO performance and user experience
Content optimization is an evolving practice that requires continuous learning, experimentation, and adaptation.
Search engine algorithms constantly evolve, and user behavior and preferences can change over time. Therefore, it is crucial to remain informed about industry updates and adapt your content optimization strategies accordingly. This may involve keeping up with algorithm updates from search engines like Google and understanding how they impact search rankings and visibility.
Furthermore, testing different content optimization strategies is essential to find what works best for your specific audience and goals. Every audience is unique, and what may work for one website or target audience may not work as effectively for another. Through experimentation, you can gain insights into which optimization techniques resonate most with your audience and drive the desired outcomes, such as increased traffic, engagement, and conversions.
By embracing a mindset of continuous learning, experimentation, and adaptation, you can stay ahead of the curve in content optimization and ensure your content remains relevant, valuable, and effective in reaching your target audience.
Evolving Keyword Research Practices
Keyword research is not a static practice. It constantly evolves as search engines become more sophisticated and user behavior changes. You must be aware of the latest trends and changes in keyword research practices and adapt accordingly.
Some of the current trends and changes in keyword research practices include:
This refers to the ability of search engines to understand the meaning and context of search queries rather than just matching keywords. Semantic search considers factors such as user location, device type, and previous searches to provide more relevant and personalized results.
This refers to the use of voice commands or questions to perform searches on devices like smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, etc. It is becoming more popular as it provides convenience and speed for users. Voice search queries are longer, more conversational, and question-based than text-based queries.
These are brief answers or summaries that appear at the top of the SERPs for some queries. They aim to provide quick and direct answers to users without requiring them to click on any web page. Featured snippets can increase your visibility and traffic if you can rank for them.
a new feature of Google Lens that allows users to search with images and text simultaneously, introduced by Google in April 2022. It is a current trend and change in keyword research practices because it enables users to express their queries more naturally and intuitively, especially when they don’t have the exact words to describe what they are looking for. Multisearch can also help users refine their searches by adding visual attributes like color, brand, or style. Multisearch is available globally on mobile devices, in all languages and countries where Lens is available.
To keep up with these trends and changes in keyword research practices, you need to:
- Use natural language and semantic keywords in your content
- Optimize your content for voice search by using long-tail keywords, questions, and answers
- Target featured snippets by providing concise and clear answers to common queries
- Optimize your content for mobile devices as more and more people use them to search online.
- Monitor and adapt to the latest algorithm and feature changes that affect keyword ranking and display.
- Use structured data and schema markup to help search engines understand the content and context of your images and text.
By staying updated with the latest trends and changes in keyword research practices, you can improve your SEO performance and user experience.
A Final Note
Keyword research is a vital component of content writing. It helps you find and target the keywords your audience is searching for and optimize your content for search engines and user intent. This way, the time and effort you put into writing content will not be a waste.
Because you create high-quality content that connects with your audience, improves your search engine visibility, and drives organic traffic to your website or blog.