Google’s emphasis on keywords has taken some twists and turns over the years with updates like Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird, to name a few. As I write this in 2023, Google is more focused on understanding the meaning behind queries and keywords, so simple keyword research and keyword-centric optimization on its own no longer form the foundation for powerful results that can drive your business forward.
People use keywords to find solutions to their problems and needs online. In order to gain traffic, you should be targeting what your users are searching for and analyzing user intent to create content around what people want to discover, not what your business wants to tell people. Rather than talking about your business and why it’s so great, you should be talking about how your business or service solves your users’ problems.
Keyword research should inform SEOs which keywords are best to target and provide valuable insight into the terms that your target audience is actually searching for. The insight that you can get into these actual search terms should be the backbone of your content strategy and should influence your larger marketing strategy. You should be asking yourself questions such as: Why are users searching for that, and what needs do I need to meet? What’s the intent behind the search query? What stage in the purchasing funnel is the user in when they’re searching for this term?
How We Do Keyword Research
At JDM, one of the ways we approach keyword research is by starting with a core keyword, then drilling down a few layers to find all kinds of nuanced opportunities to engage users with helpful content.
This is how it works:
We begin with broad topics relevant to your business / products / services, etc. These are our primary (core) keywords.
From there, we expand into related search terms that provide insight into intent, use cases, needs, synonyms, and more. Here’s what the breakdown looks like:
Example of Keyword Research in Action
In practice, it looks like this:
Core keyword: running shoes for women
Secondary keywords: best running shoes for long distance, running shoes for trail running
Accessory keywords: what are the three types of running shoes, which shoe brand is best for running
Keyword variations: best running shoes for women, running shoes for women nike, brooks running shoes for women
Semantic keywords: speed, long distance running, trail-running, road-running
In addition to this type of keyword research, do a competitor and ranking analysis to see how you measure up. Verify intent by analyzing the SERPs and using a keyword research tool to assess the type of content that ranks well. Then, determine how you can lean into the search intent with a POV that’s both unique to your brand and helpful to the user, and start creating great content with this research as a foundation!
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