How to do Keyword Research to Improve Your SEO

Keyword research is the core of digital marketing. This SEO strategy should be performed regularly in order to stay in touch with your audience as they grow and evolve. 

The goal of YOUR research is to find out what words or phrases your target audience is searching for, so you know what it will take to rank on search engines for those specific terms.

If you don’t know what keywords you should be targeting for your business – how are you going to optimize your website and create content to best serve your client?

In this guide, we will cover:

  • What are keywords?
  • What is keyword research and why is it important?
  • How to conduct keyword research using SEMrush
  • How to use that keyword research to get more clients (with some BONUS TIPS)

What is a keyword?

Keywords, also known as search terms or search queries, are the words and phrases that searchers use to perform a search in a search engine (like Google or Bing). Keywords are extremely important in an SEO strategy and should be the backbone of any written content you release on the web.

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is an SEO strategy that is used to find specific terms that users enter into search engines to find products, services, and information.  More importantly, keyword research helps you figure out how people find you. Using this knowledge, you’ll know exactly what to write about on your website and blog for your target audience. 

In order to get traffic from Google, performing keyword research to understand the words and phrases used by searchers is essential. Google uses this information to determine what content is relevant to a search term, and how that page should rank in search.

Proper keyword research will help you:

  • Understand your audience
  • Reach your audience
  • Find new hot topics to cover
  • Improve ad campaigns
  • Build brand awareness

Why is keyword research important?

Do you ever wish that you could read the mind of your perfect client? With a little bit of keyword research, you CAN jump into their mind to figure out the exact words and phrases they are using to search for results that relate to your business. 

Who wants to waste time creating content on topics that aren’t being searched for? 

Keyword research can help you answer the following questions:

  • How difficult is it to rank for this keyword?
  • How much traffic will I receive if I rank for this keyword?
  • What keywords are my competitors ranking for?

How to do keyword research

Keyword research consists of collecting relevant variations of all keywords that relate to your website, products, services, etc.

We are going to walk you through researching keywords using SEMrush. This is an amazing tool that is used to improve online visibility and discover marketing insights.

Step 1: Build your keyword list

Let’s build a list of keywords for ABC painting company. To begin, we will start by searching for a general keyword relating to this business. In the image above, you can see that we searched for “professional painter” in the keyword overview section of SEMrush. 

Keyword overview gives you a quick analysis of your keywords.  You can see a summary of metrics for each keyword such as number of results on a search engine results page, monthly search volume, average cost per click in Google Ads, paid search competition, and more.

You can create your master keyword list using the keyword magic tool. Starting with our seed keyword, professional painter, we are now able to see lists of keyword variations and related keywords. 

You don’t have to stop here; continue to search for other seed keywords if you would like to keep growing your list. When researching keywords, be sure to also search for location specific keywords. For example, “professional painter pittsburgh” or “Pittsburgh painting company”.

The photo above shows the list of keyword variations for “professional painter”. Although the results show thousands of keywords, this does not mean that they will all be relevant for you. After your initial list has been built, it will need to be trimmed down to just the terms that are truly relevant to the site you are researching.

Step 2: Analyzing your keyword list

Having a list of thousands of keywords is all good and well but how do you know which ones are the best to use? SEO keyword metrics can be used to narrow your master list down and find the best of the best.

Export the data from SEMrush and make note of the columns boxed in red – these are the categories that you want to look at. These are the keyword metrics that will help you narrow your list and find the best keywords to use.

Search Volume

Search volume shows you the number of monthly searches for a particular keyword over the previous 12 months.

Keyword difficulty (KD%)

The keyword difficulty index (from 1 to 100%) shows you how difficult it would be to outrank your competitors in the Google organic top 20 for a given keyword. The higher the percentage, the harder it will be to achieve high rankings for each targeted keyword.

Cost per click (CPC $)

Average price in USD that advertisers pay when a user clicks on an ad triggered by a given keyword.

Competitive density (Com.)

The level of competition between advertisers bidding on a given keyword within their PPC campaigns. Competitive Density is shown on a scale from 0 to 1.00 with 1.00 being the most difficult to rank for.

Now that you have formed a list using what you think that people search for, it’s time to confirm your suspicions by researching your competitors.

Competitor-based keyword research

Competitor keyword research uses seed websites instead of seed keywords to begin searching. This approach can be used in conjunction with traditional keyword research.

Discover organic competitors

Using organic search, you are able to find who Google believes your competitors are.  You can also see what keywords they are ranking for. 

Even if you think you know who your competitors are, it is still a good idea to check it out with this tool.  One important note, if you don’t see any of the competitors that you expect on this list, there is a good chance that your website is not optimized for the right keywords.

Navigate to the organic search tab on the left side menu and enter your domain in the search bar. Click on the competitors tab to reveal the table of domains that you are in competition with.

Here is a list of your competitors that can be used as your seed domains. They are sorted by competition level showing how close of a competitor they are to the one that was entered in the search bar. This metric is based on the total number of keywords of each competitor and the number of common keywords between the competitors.

How to get your competitors keywords

Under the positions report of the Organic research for the seed domain, you can find all of the keywords that a domain is ranked for.

Each keyword that a domain ranks for is shown in this list and is accompanied by a link to that corresponding landing page along with metrics to help further your research. So, for each of your competitors, type their URL into the search bar under “organic research” and you will have access to all of the keywords they are ranking for.

Between using a seed keyword and your competitors’ keywords, this method should help you create a list of keywords relevant to your business.  

What Should I Do With a Keyword List?

Taking the time to create this list can help your business in multiple ways, but the ultimate goal is always to get more clients.

So how do you use this list?

Write Relevant Blogs for Your Clients

You can use the list to write blogs or articles about the things that your target market are searching for.  SEMrush will also give you FAQs about the keywords your search.  Pick a few of these questions that are focused on a keyword and answer them.

BONUS TIP – You can also turn that blog into a script for a video that you can post on YouTube.

Improve Your Onsite SEO

You can use the list to improve the onsite SEO of your website.  Make sure that common keywords and phrases are found in your website headers, page titles and more.

BONUS TIP – Include keywords when you are naming images.  This is one trick that people do not typically take advantage of.

Improve the SEO of Your Social Media Profiles

Use the list that you create to craft the perfect message in your social media profiles.  By using words and phrases that they are using frequently, they will feel like you are talking to them and that you understand them.

Create Google Ads that Perform Well

Keyword research is critical when it comes to creating Google Ads and not spending a fortune.  Be sure to figure out what people are searching for when it comes to your business so you don’t waste your time and budget by showing ads to people searching the wrong thing.

Questions about keywords?  Need help doing with your keyword research?  Contact IFTS today and ask about our keyword research package!  We do the keyword research for you and set you up with a content plan for the next 365 days!

What Are Backlinks and Why Are They Important for your Website?

When looking at factors that help your SEO, everyone always tells you that backlinks are important.  

However, what exactly is a backlink?

A backlink is simply a clickable link to your website from another website.  They can also be called “inbound links” or “incoming links”. The number of backlinks is an indication of the popularity or importance of that website. Backlinks are important for SEO because some search engines, especially Google, will give more credit to websites that have a good number of quality backlinks. These websites are given a higher priority in the search results for relevant terms.

Why are backlinks important?

Google looks at a backlink to your website as a “vote” or “thumbs up” that the webpage the link is pointing to has quality content.  This is because most people would not link their website to a page that they considered bad.

The more backlinks that your website receives, the more “votes” that Google sees you as having.  By having many of these “votes”, it’s a signal to the search engines that your website is high quality with good content.  Subsequently, it makes the site more trusted by the search engines and improves your site ranking.

How do I get a backlink to my website?

Previously, before Google started guarding against it, people would create spammy, directory sites.  You could buy backlinks from these sites for very cheap.  This would make it look like you had a quality site very quickly and it would improve your search visibility.

Once Google realized what people were doing, they decided to put a stop to this.  Backlinks from reputable online sources are now way more valuable than those spammy links.  Websites now have a quality score that is taken into account.  For instance, the New York Times website has a much higher reputation score than your typical website.

Building backlinks is definitely a time-consuming task.  You want to start building backlinks to your site that have a good reputation score and are relevant to your business.  

One really good way to start is to join a local Chamber of Commerce that will give a backlink to their members.  Not only will most Chambers have a reputable website, but they are also local to you.  This is an indicator to Google as to the location of your business.  A similar organization that you can join as a law firm is the local, state or American bar association.

Another good way to build backlinks is to look at the backlink profile of your competitors who are ranking well.  You can use a tool such as aHREFs or SEMrush to see a list of their backlinks.  Then, you can start attempting to get links at the same places because you know that they are willing to link to businesses similar to yours.


Need help with link building or aren’t sure where to start?  Contact us at IFTS! Visit our website, iftsdesign.com or call 412-563-2106.

7 Facts You Need To Know About SEO

When it comes to SEO, there are many factors that determine the way your website is indexed and ranked by the search engines. That in mind, it’s obvious that by focusing on the right SEO techniques, you can maximize your marketing efforts and grow your business into a success.

But other than improving your visibility on the search engines, what else does SEO offer? 

Here are 7 facts you should know about SEO and why it’s so important for businesses when trying to take their brand to the next level.

1. Most traffic on websites comes from organic search

Organic search is currently the main source of traffic for websites. While you can direct targeted traffic to your website through paid ads or a social media marketing campaign, being visible on the search engines is always going to work in your favor. With organic search engine optimization (as opposed to pay-per-click ads) people will more easily find your website on search engines while they are looking for a product or service you provide. Making it more likely that they will convert from visitor to customer. No one searches for a product or service that they don’t want, so they’re already in the mood to buy. You just have to stand out among the competition. Additionally, when you rank on the front page of a search engine, you are showing potential consumers the legitimacy of your products or services because of your high ranking.

2. SEO is the best long term strategy to market your business

Results don’t happen overnight – organic search engine optimization takes time, patience, and consistency. While PPC or retargeting campaigns are great ways to reach your audience and sell more of your products, keep in mind that your ads will stop showing up the very moment you stop paying for them. With search engine optimization, that doesn’t happen. If your website is well optimized using the best SEO practices, it should continue to show up on search engines for months or even years to come. 

3. Good SEO is NOT expensive

Contrary to what many think, SEO is relatively cheap, considering the payoff. If you were reluctant to spend money to optimize your website for search, think of SEO as an investment. The sooner you invest in good SEO implementation, the sooner you’ll gain more visibility on Google and grow your brand for the long haul. 

4. SEO best practices are constantly changing

Did you know that ‘pausing’ an SEO campaign for too long can have a negative effect? While it’s true that SEO is a long term strategy to rank your business, what’s also true is that the search world is always changing. Google alone is known to make often algorithm changes. This means that, if you fall behind, getting back on track may be quite the challenge. 

5. SEO and User Experience are related

Few people realize that today, user experience is a big part of ranking well on search engines. Google already knows what a positive user experience looks like on a website and how to spot a negative one. The better your website is structured, the more likely it will gain more visibility. 

Google and other search engines take hundreds of factors into account when determining which pages rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs). With that being said, today, elements of user experience have been rolled into SEO best practices. How easy is your site to navigate? Do you have quality content that makes visitors want to stay and engage? Is your site secure, fast and mobile-friendly?

Think of the partnership of SEO and user experience this way: SEO targets search engines and user experience targets your website’s visitors. Both share a common goal of giving users the best experience.

Some common website elements that impact both SEO and user experience are:

-headings

-easy navigation and site structure

-site speed

-mobile experience

6. Great rankings influence conversions

Customers today do a lot of research before buying something – whether it’s a product or a service. This is a big advantage! Not only does good SEO help you rank well in Google, but it allows you to send a positive message about your offer. Using this SEO best practice to outrank your competition will definitely have a positive effect on your conversions.

7. If you’re not on Page 1, you’re losing business

Obviously, if you’re not #1, someone else is! And that means you’re losing business… If you need assistance in improving your SEO, contact us at IFTS and we will help get you on the road to page number 1!

5 Social Media Marketing Secrets Nobody Has Told You About

Surely and quickly, social media marketing is becoming one of the most important ways for businesses to reach their target market. But why? 

How does social media provide such incredible benefits? It wasn’t too long ago that social platforms were only used to connect with family & friends.

The truth is, over the past few years, things have changed… A lot! Today, over 90% of marketers have noticed how social media has significantly increased their exposure. And this can only mean 1 thing: if you’re not using social media to your advantage, you’re missing out on an incredible marketing opportunity. 

That in mind, here are 5 “secrets” about social media marketing that no one’s telling you about: 

1. Social Media Marketing can help your SEO

What does social media have to do with search engine optimization? The idea is simple: search engines know which pages on your website are getting traffic and which ones aren’t. This means that, each time your content is shared on social media, traffic will be sent to your website that tells the search engines your website is still relevant, helping you to maintain your rankings or climb faster in the search engine results pages. The more shares you have on social media, the more opportunities people have to see your content and link to it.

2. Social Media helps you know your target market

By taking an interest in your “fans” on social media, you can easily find out who your target market is! By simply looking at their profiles and seeing what other brands they follow, you can learn what products they buy, what their hobbies are and maybe even what they like most about other brands. The more you know about your audience, the better you can market your products or services.

3. A Social Media presence helps you increase your brand awareness

People don’t look at Facebook or Instagram and see a marketing platform. They see a social network! That in mind, the more you interact with everyone, the sooner you can start building a relationship with your audience and grow as a brand. Social media is a great platform for brands to maintain customer relationships, while also having the opportunity to be found by new leads. 

4. Social platforms allow you to target and RE-target to your audience

Did you know you can narrow down your audience on social media and target only your ideal customers? Not only that, but Facebook allows you to retarget your products and services to anyone who was “this close” to becoming your client! If someone visited your website, but left before making a purchase, you can add that person to your list of “almost clients” and deliver your ads to them in the hopes that they convert.

5. Social Media Marketing is cost effective and fair

Did you think you’d have to spend a fortune to market your business on social media? Creating a business profile is free and so is being active. And if you decide to advertise on Social Media, you can always start small if you don’t know what to expect.

One of the best things about social media is that it’s a fair way to market your business. Sure, bigger brands have some advantages like bigger marketing budgets and better name recognition. But everyone can create a social account for free and dedicate their time to engage with their audience.

 

If you need help with social media or even just want it done for you.. contact us at IFTS!

Visit our website for more information!