Keyword research methods are a vital component of any SEO strategy. You need to know which keywords are going to give you both high value in getting visitors to your site, and low competition to boost your visibility in search engines. But how do you go about this? In this article we discuss some of the most effective research methods for pinpointing those keywords and getting you noticed.

Check out your competition

A quick and easy starting point is to analyse any competitor sites you know – especially if they’re getting good results in both search rankings and traffic to their site. You can use a keyword research tool (for example SpyFu or SEMRush) to capture the keywords that are directing people to competitor sites. This should give you a great foundation for building your own keyword list to get similar results, or even highlight something extra that you offer.

Analyse your current audience

What keywords are currently bringing people to your site? Is your current audience spending significant time on your site, or are they leaving after one click? The answers to these questions are factors in the keywords you choose. To help your research, use your site’s analytics to see your visitors and their actions. Alternatively, install a plugin to track and profile your current audience. Google Analytics is a useful tool for highlighting successful keywords. Once you have this information, you can decide whether the audience you’re getting is the one you actually want.

Get the right keyword types

Predicting your audience’s intent should always be paramount in your keyword research methods. To get that right, you have to know the keyword types to concentrate on. For example, let’s break a keyword phrase down to see where the best value lies:

  • Single word keyword (“shoes”) – very high search volume, but also very generic; it doesn’t add much value to your keyword list.
  • 2-3 word keyword (“running shoes Bristol”) – lower search volume, but far more targeted because it provides more information and eliminates some of the competition on geographical grounds.
  • Multi-word keyword (“where to buy running shoes in Bristol”) – lowest search volume, but high-value because it clearly states the user’s intent.

In addition, tailor your keywords to the type of site you have. If you’re selling items, concentrate on “buying” keywords (buy, deal, discount, sale). If you publish reviews, use “product” keywords (comparison, best, review) and specific product names.

Test your research

Once you have your keyword list, check them in a search engine. When you type your keywords in Google’s search bar, the autofill feature immediately shows if those terms are regularly used. The items appearing on the first results page are your keyword competition. If the page is full of big-brand names, you may wish to refine that keyword further.

Installing a tool such as the MozBar browser extension helps you evaluate keyword competition and also keyword difficulty, which is a measure as to how hard it is to get a high search engine ranking based on your keywords. Using tools like this as part of your research methods will help you establish high-value, low-competition keywords to get great results.