Keyword development is one of first things you need to do when you’re preparing your SEO strategy, building your website, planning a content marketing campaign, or configuring digital ads. Keywords are the words and phrases people type into the search box at Google.com when they start looking for information. Your goal is to show up on the search engine results page for your patients and clients, and for potential new patients and clients as well.
The goal for your keyword development is to identify keywords that your target market will use to look for your goods and services. You want to choose mostly keywords you have a chance to rank for. Read on to find out how to accomplish this.
Start with a hypothesis
You have to begin with a guess on which keywords will perform well for you. Let’s say you’re a new company selling plant-based beauty products. From talking with your customers and looking at other people’s websites, you think “plant-based skin care” is a good keyword for you. Go ahead and think of a few more options. In our example case, “natural skin care” and “plant-based cosmetics” come to mind.
If you had some of your own data to work with, you could look to see which keywords you were already showing up for, but in our example, you’re just building your website and have no internal data. You can’t avoid making some guesses, but you’re going to test those guesses.
Check your hypothesis
Do a check to see whether you’re on the right track. Google the keywords you have in mind and make sure that the web pages that come up are relevant. They should be your competitors.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and see the suggestions Google offers. This gives you an idea of what Google thinks about when those keywords come up.
Use Google Trends to make sure that your customers are actually searching for the keywords you have in mind.
In our example, we’ve added “organic skin care” from the suggestions we found at the bottom of the SERPs, and asked for a comparison of the terms we’ve found. Google Trends shows us that “organic skin care” and “natural skin care” are much more popular than “plant-based skin care.”
In fact, “plant-based skin care” has very little search volume.
On the other hand, “natural skin care” has more suggestions at Google Trends.
At this point, we have some knowledge about the terms people are most likely to use when they search for our products. Our new list of keywords still includes “plan-based skin care,” because we think that’s the best term for our products, but we have added others.
- plant-based skin care
- natural skin care
- best natural skin care
- natural skin care products
- organic skin care
There are other keyword development tools available. Click through to read about more options.
Check out the competition
At this point, we feel pretty confident that we know the keywords our potential customers will use when they want to buy our products. Now we need to know if we have a chance to rank well for those terms.
Start by Googling your list of keywords. If a single national brand owns them all, you are not in a strong position to rank for that list.
In our example, we see different results for each of the terms, they include local results, and we see large and small brands showing up. We see quite a few lists from beauty magazine websites, too. We have some space to compete in this area.
Spyfu is a nice tool to use at this stage. Spyfu will point out the sites that they think are your competitors and list keywords they think your competitors are using. They’re not perfectly accurate, and you must use common sense to filter their recommendations, but Spyfu is definitely helpful when used correctly.
From our example research at this stage, we determine that we can’t compete on “best natural skincare” right now. “Natural skin care” and “organic skin care” will both be challenging for us, but these are very important keywords. We know that Google shows different results to different people, and we think we’ll be able to get some results from these tough keywords in local SEO.
Add long-tail keywords
We discover that there are a lot of questions about “Why is natural skin care better?” and lots of queries using “for” as in, “natural skin care for psoriasis.”
After going through the steps above for a few of these keywords and thinking about our own strengths as a company, we decide to add “natural skin care for oily skin” to our list.
Set up analytics
You can’t tell how your efforts with the keywords are going if you don’t have analytics. Check your rankings for your chosen terms with tools like Google Search Console or ManageWP. Since you want to track improvement, it’s important to use the same tool every time you check.
Also consider business metrics. If you see improvements in your rankings for “natural skin care for oily skin,” do you also see increases in sales of your products designed for oily skin? Make sure you have baselines for any KPIs of this kind that will matter.
Set the goals and definitions for success at the same time you set up your list of keywords to work on. Then, as you reach your goals, you can add more keywords to work on.
Or, if you find that you can’t compete for a keyword right now or that it doesn’t bring you traffic, you can remove a keyword from your list and replace it with another, using these steps.