How to Get Better Results From Your Keyword Research


Keyword research is an important part of several different marketing and advertising strategies. It’s a crucial component of search engine optimization (SEO), allowing you to identify the most valuable and least competitive targets for your content and onsite development. It’s also important in pay per click (PPC) advertising, which is why Google offers tools like its interactive Keyword Planner.

But simply doing keyword research and finding out new information about your potential keyword targets is no guarantee of success. In fact, you might actually perform worse if your keyword research is flawed or if it leads you in the wrong direction.

So what steps can you take to get better results from your keyword research?

Start By Understanding Your Audience

Keyword research is only effective if you’re using it with sufficient knowledge of your target audience. That means before researching target keywords for an SEO or PPC campaign, you should be conducting market research. You should get to know the demographics most valuable to your brand, the different phases of the buying cycle, and the types of searches conducted by the people who meet all your requirements. The better you understand them, the more context you’ll get to bring to your keyword research.

Use Multiple Research Platforms

Next, make sure you’re using multiple research platforms. While many tools rely on the same source material, they may offer different metrics, have slightly different figures, or calculate aspects of keywords in different ways.

For example, Google’s Keyword Planner evaluates the level of competition for each keyword as being Low, Medium, or High. But what exactly do these broad categories mean? And would a different tool rating keywords as Low, Medium, or High use the exact same criteria? It’s also likely that you’ll get different sets of keyword recommendations from other engines – which means limiting yourself to only one platform will severely limit the keyword ideas you can generate. 

Understand the Most Important Variables

Make sure you’re familiar with the most important variables in the realm of keyword research:

  •         Volume. Search volume refers to the number of people searching for this keyword term over a given period (usually a month). The higher the search volume, the more people will be searching for it – and the more potentially valuable it can be.
  •         Competition. Volume often correlates with competition. High-volume keywords tend to have high competition, increasing ad costs and making it more difficult to rank organically for these terms. This isn’t always the case, however, and high-volume, low-competition keywords are frequent targets for marketers.
  •         Relevance. Don’t forget about relevance to your audience! High-volume, low-competition keywords are attractive, but if they aren’t commonly searched by your target audience, they’re essentially useless.
  •         Trends. How is the search volume for these keywords changing over time? Is it on an upward trajectory, becoming more popular? Or are fewer people searching for these terms? It’s hard to predict the future, but you can make a reasonable hypothesis.

Keep a Close Eye on Your Competitors

If you’re following this guide, you’ll already research the competition for various keyword terms, but it’s important to take things a step further. If there’s a group of keywords you want to target, but the competition rating is high, see what your competitors are doing. Which companies, exactly, are the ones ranking for these keywords (or advertising for them)? Which articles and types of content are ranking for it? What do the ads look like? There’s a lot you can learn here.

Get Ideas From Many Places

Some keyword researchers isolate themselves, coming up with ideas all on their own and relying on one (or a few) tools to help them get the job done. But there’s a limit to the amount of creativity and ingenuity a single person can muster – especially with so many cognitive biases at play. You’re much better off working within a team, even if those other team members don’t have much direct experience with keyword research; they can help you come up with new angles and new ideas to improve your campaign.

Revisit Your Old Conclusions

Keyword research shouldn’t be a one-time ordeal. There are too many variables that can influence keyword effectiveness, such as changing consumer behavioral patterns, competition fluctuations, and even Google algorithm changes. Periodically, it’s important to revisit your old conclusions and conduct new keyword research with a fresh mind and fresh perspective; you might discover the need to overhaul your existing strategy.

Keyword research is a necessary ingredient if you want to be successful in SEO or PPC advertising with search engines – but there are many ways it can go wrong. Use these strategies to keep your keyword research more consistent, more effective, and more actionable – all without wasting your time or effort. 


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