Conducting keyword research is a critical first step to any SEO work your brand does.
It can be extremely effective in helping you drive the right traffic to your owned media and is often an overlooked part of SEO.
But first, what is it? Keyword research is when you identify popular terms and phrases people are using in search engines to find your website or your competitors’ sites.
This ultimately lies in determining what search terms people within your target market are searching for and the format they want to consume that information. At Bitly, we follow a three-step process when conducting keyword research.
✅ Create a list of terms you want to target
The first step after defining your broader SEO strategy (the SEO experts at Moz put together a comprehensive post on how to do this) is to create a seed list of terms you want to target, or that you think your target market is searching for.
For example, at Bitly a couple of terms we always want to rank for is “URL shortener” and “link shortener.” These speak to who we are and what we do as a platform, and people who search these terms will be looking for a service like ours.
The trick to starting your list is to think of it from your prospects’ perspective. How would they search for the products or services you offer?
Finally, don’t be afraid to build a list to cover all aspects of your business. For example, at Bitly we also help influencers and businesses maintain a consistent and distinguishable brand experience using branded links, so our keyword list includes terms that people would search for if they were interested in these aspects of our business.
✅ Use a keyword research tool to expand this list
The second step is to expand this list using keyword research tools.
One of the most popular is Google’s free keyword explorer tool which suggests related terms as well as their monthly search volume related to anything you input.
A keyword tool can help you explore variants of your original terms, build groups of terms, and narrow in on more specific keyword phrases.
Other popular tools you can use to conduct keyword research include:
✅ Conduct competitive research to refine your list
The final keyword research step is to refine your list with competitive research.
This simply means visiting your competitors’ websites and see what they’re doing. Look at which terms they’re targeting and what type of content they’re creating. This research should give you a list of many different types of keywords you can use to build out your content strategy, or iterate upon the one you already have in place.
Some keywords will be very competitive, meaning they’re harder to rank for because more people are searching for them. Some will be niche to your brand and others will be what’s known as “long-tail” search phrases, which are usually questions or very specific three- and four-word searches.
It’s best to have a mix of all three types of keywords in your strategy.
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