While Google is regularly making algorithm changes, one constant remains in the content marketers arsenal of weapons: keyword research.
While the keyword researching process might have changed over the years, the absolute necessity of conducting said keyword research is as constant as the tides.
Without further ado, let’s remove an arrow from our quiver and take aim on an accurate keyword researching process.
What is keyword research?
Let’s start at the very beginning. Keywords are the words and phrases that people type into a search engine (like Google) to find websites.
For example, if you’re a copy writing agency located in Melbourne, Australia (like me!) you would obviously want your website to appear in Google’s search results if someone searched for ‘copy writing Melbourne’. In this example, the keywords would be ‘copy writing Melbourne’.
Some keywords receive literally hundreds of thousands of unique searches each and every day. Others might only receive a handful. Some keywords are highly competitive, with hundreds of business vying for the same traffic and referrals.
To give you some context, in 2013, the number of Google searches performed for the year was: 2,161,530,000,000. There are so many digits in that number; I’m not even sure what that number is!
So, it follows then that keyword research is all about investigating the words and phrases that the general public are most likely to use to find your business online. It’s about identifying what people are most likely to type into a Google search.
So, why is keyword research important?
In a nutshell: keywords drive targeted traffic to your website. FOR FREE!
Until you actually know what words and phrases your website needs to rank for in a Google search, you cannot properly optimize your website (or the pages within). You definitely cannot devise a content marketing strategy or an editorial calendar for your blog. The result: you will not be drawing qualified traffic and potential leads to your website.
Even more frustrating can be the situation that arises when your website is optimised for incorrect, or inaccurate keywords. You website might be optimised for keywords that don’t directly relate to your business, your services, or your products. As a result, you might be generating high volume, unqualified traffic for your website; lots of traffic but no leads. Not only is this frustrating for you as a business owner, but for site visitors who land on a website that doesn’t fulfil their needs. If you do nothing to rectify the situation, your bounce-rate will skyrocket.
Think about it. Would you embark on any marketing campaign without an objective in mind? Without first identifying what message you need to deliver? Without pinpointing your target market? Without knowing what your intended outcome was?
I think not.
Your website should not be any different to any other marketing campaign. For any marketing strategy to succeed, it is critical to know who your audience is, who your core customers are. Then, it is absolutely, 100% vital to understand how to reach them.
That’s why keyword research is so important.
Did Hummingbird make keyword research less important?
Released by Google in September 2013, Hummingbird was the biggest change to Google’s algorithm ever. Essentially, the change enables the search engine to do its job better. It improved Google’s semantic search function. It enabled Google to understand and calculate the intent and contextual meaning of words and phrases entered into a query. Google can now better answer long-tail queries, even if your page isn’t optimised for them.
As Search Engine Land so succinctly puts it:
Instead of asking: How do I rank for this query?
Think: How do I best answer the questions my users have?
Even following Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update, keyword research is still important. While some commentators have played down using keyword research, Jim Yu and Stoney deGeyer from Search Engine Land have both (sensibly) argued that this approach is just wrong.
These two experts have contended that Hummingbird doesn’t eradicate the demand for keywords, it simply recognises the intent of search queries much more clearly. Hummingbird makes Google intuitive enough to re-word your search query (while it wings its way across to index servers) so that Google can answer your question in the most accurate manner possible. Stoney explains this concept better than I:
“In fact, the only thing that Hummingbird changed was how the actual search query was processed. In short, Google rewrites your search query. [What’s a good place to get Chinese food?] might be rewritten as [chinese food canton ohio]. If you’re already ranked for the latter phrase, Hummingbird is your friend. If you ranked for the first phrase… Well, you probably didn’t, unless you were optimising for the word [place].”
Tune in next week for part two: How to Perform Keyword Research.
P.S. If you’re wondering what a quaint little farmhouse has to do with keyword research, let me enlighten you…not a thing! Rather than relying on boring stock imagery, we’ve decided to go with beautiful photos. Photos that inspire. Photos that make us smile. Fingers crossed; they make you smile too!