It’s the year 2018 and there’s obviously no slowing down with our use of the Internet. We proudly live in the age of information and social media, giving us unrestricted access to massive amounts of information. As a result, we have also grown increasingly dependent on the Internet for much of our personal, social, educational, and financial needs.
Whether you’re hoping to go shopping without leaving the house, order food without having to pick up the phone, or find out the screening times for an upcoming movie, the Internet gives you the liberty to do all of these things conveniently. On the other hand, if you have a website, you’ll want to make sure that you turn up on search engine results when people search for relevant information, products, or services. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.
In this article, we aim to give you a high-level understanding of the following key topics:
- How search engines work
- Utilization of keywords
- Keyword research tools
How Do Search Engines Work?
Nowadays, most people can find what they are looking for through search engines. It all begins with the search words or terms that you type into a search box. A good number of websites (or landing pages) with information that is most relevant to your search queries will then appear in the search engine results page (SERPs) for people to click on.
So how do search engines determine which websites (among millions) should be displayed on the first few SERPs? Believe it or not, “keywords” is just half the answer. Search engines actually make the decision through different ranking signals—and keywords play a big part in some of those signals.
Utilizing Keyword Research for SEO & SEM
Every website contains keywords intended to attract potential customers searching for products or services related to your site. Therefore, the key to optimizing your website is to conduct keyword research beforehand. With the help of an SEO specialist, find related keywords with the highest monthly search volume and include those in your website’s title tags, meta descriptions, and content. This way, you can help your site rank in organic searches and get the right kind of visitors.
Keywords are also crucial in search engine marketing (SEM), specifically in paid search. As the name implies, paid search is basically a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising method where you get to advertise within sponsored listings of a search engine or partner website and pay them for every click your ad gets.
So how do your ads appear on online advertising services like Google Adwords? Again, through the use of keywords. Through keyword research, you identify your head terms and long tail keywords related to your niche and bid on them. And with the right keywords and a good budget, your ads can maintain their competitiveness in your niche.
Online Marketing Tools for Keyword Research
Enough about the importance of keyword research. So how do you actually search those keywords and what is the right way to do it? Here are some of the most popular keyword tools that experts use for online and content marketing.
Google Keyword Planner is the most common tool used by many SEO and SEM specialists. Aside from being very user-friendly, it is instrumental in giving forecasts and historical metrics of the keywords you want to rank for.
Historical Metrics gives you the Avg Monthly searches of your keyword, determining how often users search for that particular term. It also tells you about your competition to give you an idea of how difficult it may be to rank for your chosen query.
Meanwhile, Forecast shows you the number of clicks and impressions you can get from your keywords as well as the click-through rate and how much the keyword costs.
Another popular keyword research tool is SEMRush. It is pretty much the same as the Keyword Planner except that it requires a paid subscription. It provides the search volumes of a long list of related keywords and keyword suggestions, and the cost per click for your paid search, among many others.
Keywords Everywhere is a free tool that can be installed as an extension on your browser (Chrome or Firefox). What it does is save you the hassle of researching and comparing keywords on different platforms, while also providing you with exact keywords you need, their Avg monthly search volumes, cost per click, and competition data across various tools and websites.
Keyword research is an important SEO ranking signal. We can even argue that it is the most critical part of SEO and SEM. Without keyword research, there is no SEO, so it’s important to realize how this simple step is crucial for finding the right audience and visitor for every website.