You know it’s something you should do. You probably know it’s important for your website. What you may not know is that before you produce any piece of content, regardless of whether it’s for your blog or a social media post and certainly before you launch a campaign of any kind — you need to do keyword research.

How to do keyword research

We must carefully select the subjects that we communicate about, and specifically, the words we use to target our market, considering the ever-changing search engine algorithms and the increasing volume of data available to us.

It used to be that a quick Google search was all that was needed to figure out which words to add to the code on your site or to keep in mind while you write. With over 2 trillion Google searches globally per year, you can imagine how many words are being typed into search fields each and every second. Google is able to track them all and the algorithm matches websites based on how well that site matches their search terms. The site with the closest match ranks highest. There are a bunch of other reasons that sites rank on the first page of Google, but for now, know that keywords play a big part.

So let me ask you a question.

When you’re putting all that effort into producing content, why not make it easy for the audience you’re trying to reach to find you?

That’s, in essence, what keyword research is all about. Getting the right eyeballs on your content.

Think of it this way. You’ll go through the same process your customers do when they search online. There’s a process involved, similar to the buying process, where we start out broad in our search when we’re not exactly sure what we’re looking for. We end up getting very specific once we know exactly what we’re looking for.

Your keyword strategy should include both broad and more specific or “niche” terms. The broader words are intended to connect with people just starting their research online. They may be searching Google, reading blogs, and checking out social to get a sense of what they’re interested in. The niche terms are targeting people who know what they’re looking for. Chances are they’ve already been online a few times searching. They’ve checked out a bunch of companies, read reviews, looked at social and they're nearing the end of their search. They are likely nearing a purchase and now have some specific questions they need answers to before they buy.

Broad terms are more general and appear earlier in the user’s research process. Keep in mind that because the terms are general, there is way more competition in the form of content and websites or social profiles that will match these terms. What this means for you is that ranking on the first page of a search engine, what we call search engine page rank, for one of these words or phrases is next to impossible unless you’re a household name, like MailChimp or Google itself. This means your efforts in building content, if you rely solely on broad keywords or phrases alone, is going to come up short and most likely not be seen. We still include a few of these terms in our keyword strategy because although the competition is fierce, the potential audience itself is enormous.

Niche terms target smaller audiences. They’re qualified leads if we’re speaking in sales funnel terms. They know what they’re looking for and they’re close to buying. They’re informed. They’ve likely checked out your competition and are narrowing it down to make a purchase decision. This is where the sales happen. Using the right niche keywords is really important. If we target the right words, then we’re going to know it. Our website traffic in Google Analytics will tell us that people are finding our content and we can even track who’s doing what — calling, downloading, or leaving the site. We’ll know whether we’re hitting the mark or not.

Can you see why your keyword strategy needs to include both of these audiences? The broad terms are where we reach our prospects and the niche words target qualified leads right before we convert them into customers. A holistic keyword strategy allows us to reach people at the top of our sales funnel, ensuring we won’t run out of prospects, while the niche words are where the money’s at, where we drive our sales efforts.

Let’s use an example to show you how this works.

Say we’re thinking about redesigning our website. We’re just feeling like it’s stale, but we’re not sure when or how to do it. We’ll need to find someone who can help us out, but first we need to see if it’s actually something we’re going to spend our budget on this year or if we can hold off for a while. Here’s how our search journey might go and here are some questions we might be asking.

How do you know when you need a new website?
Are there signs to look out for when a website doesn’t work anymore?
How do I know when my website isn’t working anymore?
How long does a website last?
How often should I redesign my website?
Is it better to rebuild a website from scratch or should I refresh what I already have?
Signs that a website needs to be refreshed?
How long does a website last before it needs to be redesigned?
Can I refresh my website or do I have to build a new one?
What’s involved in redesigning a website?
Do websites expire?
What’s the life expectancy of a website?

Best web designers in Canada
Best web agencies in Canada
Best web agencies near me
Web designers near me
Hiring a web designer
Is an agency or freelancer better for web design
How to pick a web agency/designer
Questions to ask a web designer
How much does a website redesign cost?
How long does a website redesign take?
How much time does it take to redesign a website?
What to expect when redesigning a website

Here are a few broad phrases we can consider:
Website redesign
Website design
Web agency

And a few more specific ones:
How long a website lasts
Website life expectancy
Steps to redesign a website
Hiring a web designer
Cost of a website redesign
How long a website redesign takes

Whether you’re writing blog posts or captions for your social posts, you keep the phrases in mind. There’s strategy around where and how to place keywords and how to use them, but the first step is figuring out what they are.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, here’s one final reason why every business should be doing keyword research every year, in line with your business planning and strategy sessions. It helps us pick a lane. We have limited resources. We can’t be all things to all people and we know we can’t be just one thing to a tiny group. Keyword research helps us find the right customers at the right time in their buying journey.

Get our marketing insights straight to your inbox.