Keyword Research: Episode 1 (Defining Niche Markets)
Ever since Panda, SEM professionals have incorrectly been throwing around the expression that “keywords are dead”, syntactically it might be true that keywords are no longer used in the same way that they were before Panda. However, keywords are not dead (yet!!). Keyword Research is still the very foundation of effective SEO techniques.
“Now, keywords just need to be incorporated into useful articles to bring worth for the search engine user’s query.”
An amended and updated definition might be that: “Single keywords’ worth has been reduced however relevant long keywords are more important than ever’. But the effort put into determining the right long tail keywords for your website (i.e. Keyword Research) takes some considerable effort.
Quite simply, Keyword Research is a refined version of Market research
How to Find the Best and Most Appropriate Keywords:
There are two parts to better keyword research, determining the “high performing keywords” and finding the “appropriate keywords”.
Using high performing keywords can be quite a hassle when it comes to attracting and retaining traffic through them, since all your competitors will be focusing on these.
If only you can hone the skill of acquiring the more “appropriate low competition keywords”, you get more, specialized traffic and higher conversion (i.e. visitor to customer conversion) rates.
Getting back to the traditional Keyword Research process that is conventionally used:
- Come up with a few vague keywords that customers in your market might search for
- Plug those keywords in the Google Keyword Planner
- Pick some of those keywords based on higher search volume and buyer intent
It was an effective process but not anymore, now most customers look for required services through long tail voice queries or using a combination of keywords that may be as diverse as the words in a dictionary.
In this scenario, the high performing Keywords might get you on the top of the SERPs but it is going to cost you. Dearly!.
Conversely, when you tailor your on-page SEO around the appropriate keywords you get a much better overview of your Niche (new word!) and the customer persona.
Back to brass tacks:
How does one find these “appropriate keywords” that we speak of?
There are two simple steps:
- Identifying Niche Markets
- Dissect and Analyze Market Demands
In the next few lines we will discuss these two processes of modern Keyword Research
Identifying Niche Markets
Most SEO professionals start the process with Google Keyword Planner or other market analysis tools.
Which is Great!
But the GKP does not help you come up with new keywords. You need to apply your own market research skills to do that.
We will discuss the concept with an example:
What comes to your mind with the term “Football”?
It does not matter if you are a diehard Club fan or a person totally unfamiliar with “soccer”; there are a few words that might pop in your mind:
FIFA, Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi, Goals, Soccer etc
However enter the word “football” in the Google Keyword Planner to search for new keywords; you get none of these words.
Projected Keywords are closely related to your industry and the GKP does not provide you much insight into the related terms that lead to a prospective thought process.
Many keywords in these categories are highly competitive and almost impossible to rank for with a mediocre content marketing budget.
That does not mean that you should not target these words. You just need to define better ways to find good Keywords beside these tools.
Here the concept of Niche Markets comes in play.
“Niche Markets are a sub-segment of a larger market that are too small to be monetized by themselves. When your provided services are specialized, you need to focus on a collection of specific market segments. Niche Markets”
Related: Feel that you could use a little more traffic for your website? Check out the guide to Boost Blog Traffic by Improving Content- 15 Simple Steps
Determine your Niche Markets using Niche Clouds
Niche Clouds is Visual representation of Niche Markets. On a piece of paper, draw a rectangle, write a service/product in it, think of some neighboring concepts and or linking words and write them with the relative word. Then, for each relative linking word, link other synonymous words. Until you have something of the sort:
The Deeper you go; the longer will be the keyword. Unfortunately, GKP does not do that for you.
While some of these keywords might be a great fit for your business, there are dozens of others that are less competitive and are just as valuable to your site.
Such Niche Clouds are simple mind maps that chalk out a possible way path for a prospective conversion through a search query. (note: all these long tail keyword end with a person wanting to buy your football)
These are unique, closely related, multi faceted queries that make up a Niche Cloud.
As stated earlier, niche markets are small niches that will not support their own product, for example Cristiano Ronaldo does not have his own line-up of footballs, not a lot of people search for Good Soccer Balls.
Note that this is just an abstract study for Footballs. In-depth market studies will show that there are a lot more keywords that can be generated on all the levels.
But another note worthy point is that alone these keywords have very little search volume, but collectively, they add up to decent visitor traffic with intent to buy.
Establish Buyer Personas to Enrich your Niche Market
Talk about buying, having Buyer Personas helps identify Niche Markets that a potential customer might belong to.
Once you have identified these Niche markets, you can find keywords used by your target market.
A keyword research persona can include:
- Hobbies and interests
- Things that they find troublesome
- Their personal and professional Goals
You might have different buyer personas based on your niche market. For example:
- The Soccer Mom
- Gender: Female
- Age: 30-45
- Income:40-80 K
- Hobbies and Interests: Cooking, Cleaning etc
- Things that they find troublesome: Interactive Graphics or Tween Lingo
- Their personal and professional Goals: High Achieving Children
- The High School/College Soccer Coach
- Gender: Male
- Age: 30-45
- Income: 60-120 K
- Hobbies and Interests: Watching Sports
- Things that they find troublesome: Over Explanation or Tween Lingo
- Their personal and professional Goals: High Achieving Students
- The Online Sportsman
- Gender: Male or Female
- Age: 15-40
- Income: 30-220 K
- Hobbies and Interests: Sports, Social Media,
- Things that they find troublesome: Concept of Failure or Sub-par performance
- Their personal and professional Goals: To excel, to look trendy and be popular
Related: When simple link building and keyword research just won’t do. Read the comprehensive report on Technical SEO: The Future of SEO.
Besides Personas, you can also use a couple of other nifty little tricks to enrich your Niche Market Clouds.
Using Forums to Get Niche Data
Forums are like a live focus group that can be accessed anytime.
Note: You can find a focus group by the simple queries; “keyword” + “forums” or “keyword” + “board”
Find forums that your target audience uses:
Once you find a forum, note how the forum is divided up into sections: Each of these sections is a Niche Market.
To dig deeper, check out some of the threads on the forum to find other Niche Markets your ideal customer belongs to.
Once you’ve found a few Niche Markets that make sense for your site, add them to your Niche Cloud Map.
Keyword Research Through Wikipedia Table of Contents
Wikipedia is also a good resource of niche research. Here you can find overviews on a topic reviewed by thousands of industry experts and organized into neat little categories and sub categories.
- Go to Wikipedia and type your first service keyword
- You will arrive on a certain page for that keyword
- Go to the “contents” section
- Note the sections for the certain page
Review these sections since many of them contain usable Niche Markets that you might have overlooked.
Look for relative entries and check their pages out too!!
Categorizing the Types of Obtained Keywords
Now that you’ve identified a large group of Niche Markets it’s time to find some keywords!
Keywords can be divided into three main categories: head, body and the long tail.
Head Keywords are often a single-word keyword with unreal search volume. (The competition is unreal too) Since Head keywords can be used in a query with a multitude of intentions, someone looking for “cars” Head keyword; might be looking for “cheap used cars” and not “premium German cars”. Thus the click rate is usually quite low, beside the mad impressions.
2-3 word phrases with decent search volume (at least 3,000/ month) , they have better click rates and often have lower competition than Head Terms but still define a body of your visitor acquisitions.
Long Tail Keywords:
Long tail keywords are 4+ word phrases that are usually very specific. Phrases like “affordable off-road Vehicles for Outdoor People” and “Buy Whey Protein Workout Supplements” are some examples of long tail keywords. Even though they don’t get a lot of search volume by themselves – when added together– long tails make up the majority of online searches.
“Weathered SEO professionals value Body and Long Tail Keywords”
But Head Keywords have More Search Volume!
Yeah we know that, but as covered above; they have lots of competition and they do not convert that well.
Body Keywords hit the sweet spot of search volume, buyer intent and competition, therefore they should be YOUR priority too!! When you achieve ranking for Body Keywords, you rank for Long Tails too, as well as hundreds of undiscovered long tail keywords.
Long Tails are easier to rank on but they too have some problems.
Related: New to the Analytics tools from Google? Check out the The Starter Guide to Google Analytics.
What Problems? You may ask!
Since a specific Long Tail or Body Keyword may have only 200-900 Searches per month, you will have to write a lot to add up to a decent search traffic volume. Over addition of Content may put you at risk for a Google Panda Penalty. That does not mean that you should not use body or long tail Keywords, but rather that you should learn to focus on quality rather than quantity. Quality Long Tails introduced through Quality Content.