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What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research involves investigating and refining a list of keywords to target and use in digital marketing. Think of keyword research as a three-part process:

  • First, you identify keyword topics to research.
  • Next, you research specific keywords for importance and applicability.
  • Lastly, you build and launch a marketing strategy incorporating those keywords.

When done properly, keyword research forms the first major step in content creation.

Why is Keyword Research Important?

Keyword research is a cornerstone of modern digital marketing. Doing in-depth keyword research before starting a new campaign, writing a new blog, or creating any new content is always a good idea.

But why?

In truth, there are many reasons why keyword research is so fundamental and valuable to digital marketing. Keywords are the base data blocks Google collects information about.

If you know the keywords your target audience members type into Google, you learn:

  • What they’re thinking
  • How they approach your brand’s industry
  • What they’re interested in
  • And more

All of that information is vital when creating new digital marketing materials.

More importantly, keywords help your marketing materials rank highly with Google’s search engine algorithms. They’re critical for good SEO or search engine optimization.

For example, imagine that you want to create a fresh batch of blog posts for your company website. However, you need to make sure the blog posts show up on Google and that their topics answer questions your target consumers have.

So, you do a little keyword research. Once you figure out the right keywords, you can:

  • Make blog posts with titles incorporating those keywords
  • Make content with keywords woven throughout, thus helping those pages rank highly with Google
  • Make content that includes topics and answers your audience members are interested in

Bottom line: keyword research is important for more reasons than one. Don’t think you can skip it, even if you’re rushing to publish a new blog post – you’ll regret it in the long run.

Basics to Understand

Before diving into how to practice keyword research properly, let’s look at some key terms you’ll encounter.

  • Keyword – A word that helps to describe the content on a page. Keywords are usually nouns or verbs.
  • Search result – A webpage produced by Google in response to a user search. SEO algorithms generate search results by looking at keywords to determine whether certain pages are appropriate for user searches.
  • Short-tail keyword – A keyword between one and two words long. Short-tail keywords have the highest average search volume and the most competition.
  • Middle-tail keyword – A keyword between three and four words long. These keywords have average search competitiveness and search volume.
  • Long-tail keyword – A keyword with five words or more. Long-tail keywords have the lowest search volume but the least competition. However, they also have the highest average conversion rate since they tend to be very specific and focused on individual searchers.
  • Search volume – The total number of user search queries for a given keyword in Google.
  • Search intent – The assumed or stated purpose of a Google search (the reason someone types in specific keywords).
  • Keyword strategy – The overall strategy marketers or businesses use to best leverage keyword research results, such as which keywords to target.