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Keyword research: back-to-basics

Keyword strategy remains the biggest make-or-break factor in SEO, yet it’s still widely misunderstood, and the number one on-page problem identified by Click’s SEO team.

Since Google’s 2013 Hummingbird update, and a shift to semantic search and a greater focus on content, keywords have taken a bit of a backseat in many people’s minds. Here’s a back-to-basics overview of keyword research best practice.

Make a list of keywords that a customer would search for


  • A good way to get into the mindset of customers is to ask your sales team about the common questions they are asked about your product or service, as this will give you a sense of what they are likely to type into a search engine.
  • Mimic the language of your audience: customers are more likely to use natural, casual language than industry jargon or the terms you use to refer to your business.
  • Think about what people search for at different stages of the buying cycle. At the start of their searches, potential customers are likely to search for problem-based keywords, eg: ‘How to dry out a smartphone’

Further into the buying cycle, they tend to type in solution-based keywords, eg ‘Waterproof smartphone cases’

Branded keywords are not usually introduced to searches until the decision stage: ‘Samsung Smartphone preserver case review’

  • Bear in mind that language varies between different English-speaking countries, and even across different regions in the same country; important if you run a local business.

Expand the list by searching for alternatives

Google Suggest is a useful tool that you literally have at your fingertips. Type in your keywords to Google and see what it predicts based on popular keyword search phrases.

Other useful research tools include Google Keyword Planner Tool and Google Trends.

Decide which you have the best opportunity to rank for

Some keywords are more competitive than others and bigger, more established companies are likely to dominate search results for these, eg the broad keyword ‘shoes’.

Go for more specific, long-tail keywords (phrases of three or more words) – ‘cheapest women’s wide fit running shoes’.

Long tail keywords are more specific and targeted, so easier to rank for; and show greater intent as the person searching is very clear what they’re looking for.

Drill down into your keyword analytics

Use Google Analytics to determine which keywords people are already using to find your site.

Research current ranking for keywords and how often people are searching for it. Also check out the level of competition: you’re looking for low competition and high volume.

A useful, but often overlooked feature of Google Analytics, is the ability to view internal site search data, ie, the terms people are searching for when they are actually on your website.

Google Search Console (formerly known as Webmaster Tools) is also a good resource for keyword data and gives an indication of the amount of traffic a site can expect from brand vs keyword organic searches.


Now, start creating content (around keywords)! Use keywords naturally: focus on delighting searchers and providing them with a great user experience, not keyword stuffing.

Chloie Brandrick, Marketing & Content Executive, Click Consult

Tel: 0845 366 7586



Twitter: @ClickConsultLtd

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