Keyword Research

SEM Guide: How to Research Your Way to Keyword Success


With the objective to increase sales online, you should understand the identity of your ideal customer. As explained in the webinar about Persona Development, customers aren’t attracted with a general sales pitch.

Developing a user persona is just one step on the road to converting a hypothetical persona to a real-life customer.

One of the most important things you can do to identify with your customers is to understand how people search. Understanding user personas will help you understand the phrases they use to search for your product.

This is paramount to your online sales. Online searchers use certain words and phrases to find what they are looking for. More than likely, researchers won’t be using your brand name in their search for the product or service you offer.

Your job with keyword research is to think of the words used by an online customer, which will lead them to your brand.

The three groups of researchers with which you’re contending are:

  • People who don’t yet know they have a need
  • People who are comparison shopping
  • People who have made a decision

The focus of your search engine marketing (SEM) campaign should be people who are comparison shopping, and then convince them to make a decision on your product or service. Keyword Research will assist in website optimization and in strengthening your search ranking.

It will also help you determine what content to develop for your audience. The best strategy is to strike a balance between broad terms and hyper-specific phrases, or long tail keywords, that have a lower search frequency but can result in fruitful results for you.

The key is to find suitable, related phrases for your business.

Long Terms vs Board Term

One place to start is your website. Ask yourself what the main focus of your website is, then write down keywords related to that. If you have an idea of where to start, using Google can help you expand your keywords.

The suggested searches that Google provides will further your search for words and phrases relating to your business. Keep in mind that Google isn’t your only option for keyword research. Though it is the main option, others include Yahoo, Bing, Ask, and Dogpile.

These search engines will help you continue your quest for long tail keywords. They have a higher value in terms of traffic because they have lower competition.

Even if your website is optimized for the most searched and popular words, optimizing it for long tail keywords will strengthen the possibility of appearing in search results.

When your website is optimized for keywords with lower competition, it doesn’t matter if each long tail keyword is only searched once a year. If you have enough long tail keywords, they add up to moving as much traffic to your site as popular keywords.

Researching Your Target Audience

The user personas you developed will be extremely helpful in researching and understanding your target audience. You want to keep in mind the phrases that best describe the intentions and needs of the personas you envision visiting your website.

Just as your potential customers have different motivations and are searching for different things that are important to them in a product or service, your range of keywords should follow suit. Rather than casting a broad net for customers, it’s better to think about specifics.

Think about the problems they have and how your product or service provides the perfect solution. Your job is to be the suitable place for a person to bring their business. Your ideal customer will appreciate that a business is out there which speaks to their needs and wants.

Research Tools

Research Tools

With Google and other search engines as your initial step into keyword research, you can begin to grasp the way your ideal customer searches online. When you developed your buyer personas, it was a way to start thinking like your potential customer.

Brainstorming keywords is a way to further your research behind the motivations and minds of your ideal customer. Which keywords they use to search online will only strengthen your search engine marketing campaign.

There are a few tools at your disposal which will provide valuable insight into keyword research for your target audience.

In addition to the search engine, another helpful resource from Google is The Google Adwords Keyword Tool. No account is needed to gather good ideas for keywords; however, a Google Adwords account provides cost per click pricing (CPC) and better results.

Rather than 100 results, an Adwords account allows upwards of 800 results. The information available on Adwords is divided into a few categories:

  • Competition - This column ranks the competition for the use of a keyword within the levels of low, medium, and high. The number is a worldwide figure across Google of how many advertisers are vying for their ad to be noticed.
  • Global Monthly Searches - This number includes an average of monthly user searches for the keyword on Google search. This statistic also includes all keyword match types, languages, countries, and devices used for search.
  • Local Monthly Searches - The statistics can also be narrowed down to searches in your local area or an area you’ve selected.
  • Approximate CPC - The approximate cost-per-click for a particular keyword. Price is based on the average of all ad positions.

Click here for more examples of the statistics which can be found in Adwords.

Another useful tool is SEMrush, Extremely useful for learning what keywords your competitor is using, it will lead you in the right direction.

By searching a URL address, you’re able to see the keywords from which a website is gaining the most traffic. Without purchasing an account, only the first ten keywords are available.

The brainstorming and research you do will help you identify with your ideal customers. The decision making regarding the phrases and keywords will help you optimize the different pages of your website.

When you implement your choices, the most useful places to write them are the page title, meta description, H1, and strong tags. Hitting the most important SEO elements of your website doesn’t stop there. Integrating those keywords and rewriting some pages of your website’s content will increase relevancy to the target search term.

Your Next Steps

So you have your SEM goals, which means you know what you’re trying to achieve. You also have your personas developed, so you can target your campaigns directly to the dreams, wishes and fears of your exact target market.

Finally, you know how to research the keywords you will use in your pay per click advertising and SEO efforts that will attract those personas.

You’re well on your way to SEM mastery.