If you haven’t checked in on your SEO strategy lately, it’s probably time, especially if your organic SERPs are down. SEO keyword research in 2018 is guided by a search engine push for intuitive search queries, mobile and local search priority, and rich search feature tools.
Because search is changing, it’s not enough to shoot for a top SERPs position on Google and hope for the best. That also means the tools you use for keyword research might need an update.
In this post, we’ll cover some of the SEO keyword research strategies that should be on your radar, plus the SEO tools you’ll need to implement.
SEO Keyword Research Strategy
Comprehensive Topic Coverage
As search evolves, Google gets better at understanding the semantic meaning of a user search. This means the particular keyword phrase your business targets — and that your customer searches for — is slightly less important now than the topic of that keyword phrase.
While not perfect, Google is getting better at understanding when two different keywords mean basically the same thing, and ranks the same group of pages for each keyword. For example, a search for “home security systems” and “home alarm systems” returns this same content block on both Google SERPs pages.
What this means for your SEO strategy is that topic coverage matters a lot more than what particular keyword phrase you use to describe it. So plan on creating more high-quality content that covers the topic in depth, rather than just trying to work in this or that keyword into a so-so piece of content. One bonus: with a comprehensive piece of content, you could end up ranking for hundreds of long-tail keywords beyond the one or two particular keywords you target.
Longer Long-Tail Keywords
Speaking of keywords, with search tools becoming more intuitive, longer long-tail keywords are on the rise. Longer keyword phrases may help narrow down search results that more closely match user intent. So if a search user is googling “mortgages,” it matters whether he wants to know today’s mortgage rates, how mortgages work, or where nearby lenders are located.
Google has predicted that more than half of search queries will be voice searches by 2020. Voice searches of course use longer keyword phrases in natural language patterns, often phrased as a question. So don’t discount the value of an FAQ page that answers common product, industry, or brand questions.
Even simple searches now often return Google’s “People also ask” search tool boxes, which offers another opportunity for your business to get in front of search users. A simple query for “checking account” lists a number of questions potential banking customers want to know.
Many search users today are on the go. Folks are increasingly using mobile search, but more and more searches are also concerned with local searches (within a town or region) or even hyperlocal searches (within a particular borough, neighborhood, near a street, or even near a landmark).
For instance, the scenic Detroit RiverFront is a popular enough landmark that it already has a good number of search results for the phrase “food near Detroit RiverFront.” Mobile users at the location could also enter a search phrase like “food near me” and be served similar useful search results.
While mobile and location-based searches won’t be as important for online businesses, brick-and-mortar businesses can benefit by targeting nearby foot traffic and playing up proximity to popular landmarks.
Re-Optimizing Existing Content
Another strategy that we recommend for 2018 to look for opportunities to re-optimize your existing content. It’s not always necessary to reinvent the wheel; often you have great content already that could help you rank with only minor revisions.
One idea is to consult Google Search Console. See what keywords Google is already associating with your content piece. If you can find a keyword that ranks between 6 and 20 that hasn’t already been covered thoroughly in your article, adding new information on that keyword could help rank.
Another way to re-optimize is to perform your internal link audit. While you most likely link newer content pieces to older pieces on your site, you probably aren’t linking the older pieces to relevant newer pieces unless you have a time machine in the break room. The audit is a good time to add those missing links.
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
If you’re interested in the comprehensive coverage topic strategy, a good SEO tool to know about is Ahrefs Keyword Explorer. That’s because of this tool groups topic keywords together according to search volume hierarchy. The top keyword by volume is called the “parent topic.” Click on a given parent topic keyword for a ranking page, and you’ll see other keyword phrases that content also ranks for.
Answer the Public
If you’re thinking about targeting Google’s “People also ask” search tool boxes with some natural language long-tail keywords, you might want to check out the tool Answer the Public. This is a great way to browse options for how a primary search term could be posed as a question. It’s a good start to your keyword strategy that might give you some strategy ideas you hadn’t thought about.
When it comes to working out those local long-tail keyword phrases, KWFinder is one of the most popular options. It’s easy to use and handles long-tail keyword phrases with ease. KWFinder uses data from Google (like other big names like Moz and Majestic), so it’s recommendations are pretty solid.
Google Keyword Planner
Google’s Keyword Planner, of course, is another great tool for local search volume, and one that allows you to narrow it down to that hyperlocal level. Even starting with a broad keyword search, you can narrow it down to a very specific local market.
Google Search Console
And lastly, if you are thinking of re-optimizing content, Google’s Search Console is your go-to tool. It’s very simple to plan out a very effective strategy here with only Search Console and a spreadsheet.
Putting It All Together
Of course, your best results are going to be putting the strategy together with all the best tools. Keyword research and SEO strategy aren’t going anywhere any time soon, not when 93% of online activity begins with a search. With the right strategies and tools, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the pack.
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