Keyword research

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How does keyword research work?

Any marketing specialist knows that keyword research is the point of departure of any SEO effort.
But is it still so?
Do keywords matter?

1. google ranking: a matter of authority

Everybody wants to rank high in Google.
Regardless their degree of digital marketing expertise, they all understand why it matters.
But how?

The answer is simple: with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

This guide explains just that, with particular emphasis to SEO for B2B markets.

We refer here to ranking on Google because it has an almost natural monopoly of web searches.
The second most important engine is Youtube.

A de facto monopoly

So, you understand that the “Mountain View” is the only one that truly matters (at least, for the moment) when we talk of SEO.

In a nutshell, ranking depends on authority.
Authority can be at a domain or a url level (the whole website or a single page of it).

Many factors at once

So, how can one gain authority?
Google search engine uses hundreds of parameters.
The most important ones have always been:
– backlinks
– content relevance (via keywords)
– page speed

Many developers, though, learned to cheat by adding links and keywords, regardless of their content relevance.

This is why the sneaky Google, whose business model is based on giving users what they are looking for, came up with RankBrain.

2. RankBRAIN

What is it and why does it matter?

RankBrain is a machine-learning based algorithm, whose mission is to analyse, understand, and categorise the meaning of any word it founds on the web.

The role of RB is to interpret the users’ search intent, and consequently match their query not with single keywords, but with the page’s semantic context.
It does that with a mathematical calculation.

What are the implications?

The main consequences of RB are:
– KW stuffing is no longer possible
– semantic variations of the same KW are no longer needed (video – videos – audiovisual)

Most importantly, RB force website owners to produce content that is truly valuable for users rather than for potential clients.

3. Keyword seed

Your keyword research starts here

Seed keywords (or KW seed) are the 1-2 kw that better embody the main topic of a website (and the core of a SEO strategy).

The seed is the point of departure of any keyword research.
It aims to identify and inspire a wide range of related topics, which the website’s single pages will tackle and develop.

The KW seed is relevant to the business.

It is by adding related kw, subtopics, long tail kw, and modifiers, that the seed becomes relevant to what the users search on Google.

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4. Educated guess vs data-driven search

Don’t overestimate your instinct

Once it has conducted a first kw research, based on its seed, a business must expand its kw list.
There are infinite ways to do this.

The first method, and the easiest, is to use the expertise and knowledge of its own market to brainstorm about topics and lines of businesses, which are related to the seed.

A second method (time-consuming but more rewarding) is to ask Google and similar platforms for data about the seed and related searches.

This is how one avoids creating content that people are not really looking for.

Nonetheless, this task can be particularly challenging for niche markets and, in general, for all B2B markets.

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5. Search volume & competition

Are you sure it matters?

The best keywords, among the relevant/ related ones, are those with the biggest search volume and the lowest competition.

The cheapest method to check a kw search volume and competition is Google Ads’ Keyword Planner, plus a double check on Google Trends.

These tools are not always generous with data and details.
Other platforms, such as Ahrefs, Moz Pro or SemRush, help to find relevant keywords and refine a kw research.

Again, for B2B related topics, search volumes can discouraging: this is why it is important to find related topics that bridge user interest with business objectives.

6. Search intent

This is why keywords can even damage you

The simple targeting of a single kw not only is of little help to increase traffic, but it can also do harm to the authority of a website.

The reason is that a company wants to attract to its website only those users, who are genuinely interested in what the company has to say.

Otherwise, these users will leave the website after a few seconds, with a 100% bounce rate, which will tell Google that they did not find what they were looking for on that website.

In order to match users’ search intent, one must group kw into categories (see tab next page), associate them to a funnel and add modifiers (what, how, best, etc.), which outlines their authentic search intent.

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7. Keyword categorisation

You need order if you want your keyword research to succeed

After expanding its list of keywords as much as possible, a b2b company must start mapping and grouping them by clusters of related keywords.
Which will ensure greater kw density and make easier to start producing relevant content around a focus keyword.

We know the 1st parameter is search intent.
However, a company may have different lines of business, brands, departments, products, locations, spoken languages.
Its website may host category pages, product pages, blog pages.

The more consistent and well organised a keyword list is, the easiest it will be to use it and to expand it further.

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8. Longtail keywords

Beat competiion with strategy

The best kw are those with the highest traffic and the lowest competition.
Easier said than done, in particular in the B2B market.

For most of the terms, which are relevant to a small business, there is a lot of competition.
By expanding a single kw to a longtail kw, one can boost its kw competitivity.
That will result in lower traffic queries, but by cumulating many longtails, the total traffic will be (hopefully) high.

Little by little, by producing compelling content on very specific topics, a website will gain traffic and backlinks, consequently authority and more competitivity.

It will also make clearer to RankBrain what value the website gives to users.

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