How do I know which keywords work for my business?
To choose the right keywords for your business website to target, you are going to have to do some keyword research. Keyword research allows you to identify the phrases that your target audience are searching online. It’s more than that though. Thorough keyword research involves:
- identifying searcher intentions
- identifying keywords and phrases
- analysing search difficulty and number of searches
- competitor analysis
- curating landing pages
With a good SEO strategy, your small business can easily compete with globally recognised brands for the top spot in SERP’s. But a good SEO strategy is hard to define. Many people claim to know the secret to bagging the top spot. Most of these people don’t know what they’re talking about or will try to convince you to implement a black-hat SEO strategy that will likely lead to penalisation.
When it comes to SEO, honesty is the best policy. It all comes down to good website design. Any attempt at cheating the system will get debunked. Your website will lose all organic traffic for some time, if not forever.
This is one of the reasons that I put so much emphasis on keyword targeting. And not just any keywords, that could be just as harmful as a black-hat SEO strategy. You have to target the right keywords for your business and your audience. You have to provide a result to that query that fills the purpose of the search. Content is king, keyword research is his crown.
Keyword research helps you better target the words or phrases related to your business. Good keyword research will make sure your website is always on the first page when somebody searches for that query.
Targeting the right keywords will ensure that search engines serve your content to the right people. You can go a step further than that though. Are you trying to sell a product? Educate people? Do you want more people to sign up to your mailing list? Choosing the right keywords for your business will not only grow your organic traffic, but it will also increase conversions and help you grow.
In this case study, you will see how a company with a niche product were able to identify the right keywords for their business. In doing so, their organic traffic doubled (despite a global pandemic shutting their industry down) and they received an increase in inquiries.
Case Study: Quadrant2Design
Quadrant2Design design, manufacture and install exhibition stands at trade shows. The stands that they create are custom-modular. This means that the customer can reuse and reconfigure their stand at different exhibitions, but they can also have bespoke graphics to display their branding. You might think that with a product this niche keyword targeting would be easy. Here is your first lesson: the more niche your product or service, the harder keyword targeting is.
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Defining your Business’ Keywords
The obvious thing to do would be to target the keyword “exhibition stands”. Here is why they shouldn’t do that:
- ‘Exhibition stands’ is an umbrella term for hundreds of products with varying costs, designs, styles and exhibiting solutions
- A search this loosely defined doesn’t suggest that the searcher is in the market for an exhibition stand yet, perhaps they are looking for ideas or information
- There is a lot of competition for this keyword, making it more difficult to rank in SERP’s
A more sensible idea would be to target a keyword that was specific to their niche. In this example, Quadrant2Design could target several keywords and phrases that would help people discover their product. Here is your second lesson: a keyword doesn’t have to be one or two words, it can be an entire phrase, preposition or question.
Rather than ‘exhibition stands’, here are some keywords that Quadrant2Design could target:
- Modular exhibition stands
- Custom-modular exhibition stands
- Custom exhibition stand design
- Exhibition stand designers
- Bespoke exhibition stands
- Reusable exhibition stands
- Exhibition stand manufacture
- Exhibition stand installation
- Exhibition Stands UK
- Exhibition Stand Builders
- Exhibition Stand Contractors
Understanding Search Intent
If someone is searching for a specific phrase relating to your product, you want to make sure that the searcher knows that that is what you do. The searcher has shown their intention to find out more about “custom-modular exhibition stands” or find a company that provides “exhibition stand installation”.
When someone searches for a vague or loosely defined keyword, search engines aren’t able to pinpoint their intention. Are they looking for information, a particular brand, make a purchase or research products for a future purchase?
Someone who searches for “exhibition stands” may have a trade show next month and need to make a purchase there and then. They may be a student studying marketing who has just come across the term and wants to know what it means. Or they could be looking for design ideas so that they can start planning for an event next year.
User Experience and Keyword Targeting
Unless you know searcher intention, you can’t develop a landing page that suits their need. User experience is becoming more important for SEO. The search engines take bounce rate into account when indexing a web page. Bounce rate is a measurement of how many people leave a website after viewing just one page. It suggests that the content you are showing is irrelevant, there are issues with your site or doesn’t fulfill the searcher’s intention of the keyword.
It’s bad for your SEO, bad for your customers, and bad for your business. Yet, thousands of businesses worldwide battle for these lucrative keywords. Why? Search volume.
In the table below, you will see why so many businesses targeted loose or vague keywords rather than the more niche phrases we discussed earlier.
|Keyword||Search Volume||Search Difficulty|
|Modular Exhibition Stands||320||29|
|Custom-Modular Exhibition Stands||10||5|
|Exhibition Stand Designers||1,300||20|
|Bespoke Exhibition Stand||170||20|
|Reusable Exhibition Stand||20||35|
|Exhibition Stand Installation||10||40|
|Exhibition Stands UK||210||27|
|Exhibition Stand Builders||480||24|
|Exhibition Stand Contractors||170||17|
As you can see, the keyword “exhibition stands” has a much higher search volume than the other phrases. That means more people search for that phrase each month than any other keywords on the table.
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It also has a higher search difficulty. That means that there is more competition amongst other websites (their direct competitors) to rank for that keyword. And remember, we are still uncertain of the searcher’s intention.
Now, do you want to work extremely hard to try to rank for a keyword that could increase organic traffic but won’t necessarily benefit your business or drive conversions? Or do you want to do target the right keywords for your business every time?
Quadrant2Design noticed that the search results for “exhibition stands” often showed eCommerce sites and Pinterest boards. This suggests that Google has decided that individuals who search for this keyword are looking for ideas or want to buy a product there and then.
Before Quadrant2Design can give the searcher a price quote, they have to take a brief and design a custom-modular exhibition stand. Their website isn’t a ‘click and collects’ exhibition stand shop, which means Google doesn’t think that the searches want to see it. If you think about everything we have discussed so far, you can start to understand how to find the right keywords for your business.
The keyword “exhibition stands” was out of the question. It has a high search volume, which seems great, but is very difficult to rank for and Quadrant2Design’s content didn’t align with Google’s idea of the searcher’s intentions.
That’s why they chose to focus their SEO and content marketing strategy on long-tail keywords. According to Raven Tools, 70% of search traffic comes from long-tail keywords. They make up the majority of searches. But do you know what they are?
Fat Heads, Chunky Middles, and Long Tails
A long-tail keyword is a search phrase with a longer word count. How did you find this article? Did you search for “keyword research” or “what keywords should I use for my business”? Long-tail keywords tend to have a lower search volume but are also much easier to rank for.
More than two-thirds of searches come from long-tail keywords that have a higher specificity. Looking at the chart below gives you a good idea of how we can breakdown online queries.
Fat head keywords are made up of 1 – 2 words and have the highest search volume. They are notoriously difficult to rank for and have the highest competition levels. In our case study example, the fat head keyword would be “exhibition stands”. As we have already discussed, search engines find it harder to identify search intent with fat head keywords.
The chunky middle keywords are great to target if you sell a niche product or service. Think “modular exhibition stands” as opposed to the fat head “exhibition stands”. If your business can deliver a user experience that matches the search intent of this query, these are the keywords you should aim to rank for.
However, just because you’ve found a chunky middle phrase that relates to your business doesn’t mean you should target that keyword. Remember, if your content doesn’t provide a valuable user experience then you will never make it onto the SERP’s. Make sure that your content answers the query in accordance with search intent.
This is why most SEO agencies, independent experts and marketing managers choose to target long-tail keywords. These are much longer phrases that get few searches per month but have low competition, clearly identify search intent and account for 70% of online queries.
If “exhibition stands” is our fat head and “modular exhibition stands” is our chunky middle, what long-tail keywords should we target?
Once you have your head around search intent, user experience and long-tail keywords you can finally start to identify which phrases you should target for your business. But how do you know which keywords to target in the first place?
The first thing you want to do is analyse the search volume. Even if you target the most obscure long-tail phases you want your keyword to get some searches a month, otherwise, your efforts are pointless.
Luckily, there are loads of free tools available for marketers and business owners that can tell you just that. Google trends and keyword planner are great places to start. They will tell you how many searches a word or phrase gets and give you a breakdown of geographic data. Ubersuggest is a personal favourite. Not only does it give search volume but you will also get a list of suggested alternatives and search difficulty so you can choose the keywords with the least competition.
Choosing the right long-tail keywords for your business
Now you are at the stage where you can choose the long-tail keywords that your business should target. Let’s go back to Quadrant2Design’s case study to understand best practice.
The exhibition stand design contractors looked at what questions people were asking about trade shows and made a list of all of the long-tail phrases that had more than ten searches a month. Then they adopted a content marketing strategy that aimed to create the perfect landing page for each of these long-tail keywords. From the beginning, their focus was on delivering content that would deliver a fantastic user experience by answering the search intent.
They started by updating the existing content on their site. The keyword research had helped them understand what their customers wanted so they tailored their website to suit this need.
Once they had optimised the content on their site, they created a content calendar that answered the questions people were asking about their product or industry. Once a week they shared an article that answered one of these long-tail keywords in as much detail as possible.
The keywords that they were targeting included phrases such as:
“How much does an exhibition stand cost?”
“What should I wear to a trade show?”
“Will my business benefit from trade show marketing?”
“How to save money on my trade show marketing”
“How to choose the right exhibition contractor”
“Best games to drive traffic to your exhibition stand”
These long-tail keywords get less than 500 a month between them but have a much lower search difficulty. It is easier to create a piece of content (such as a blog post) that perfectly answers this question. The search intent is clear.
By reaching the first page of the SERP for these keywords, Quadrant2Design were able to grow their organic traffic quickly without splashing out on an SEO agency. If they had tried to target the obvious fat head keyword straightaway (exhibition stands) they would probably still be battling for a spot on the first page.
Although this strategy doesn’t directly sell a product, it does increase brand awareness. More website visitors means more people know who you are. Every time you provide a valuable answer to a query, you are pitching yourself as an industry expert. And, the people who search these long-tail keywords relating to your product or industry are more than likely to already be your target audience.
If you’re not sold yet, check out the results that Quadrant2Design have had in just six months on their new content marketing strategy:
By changing their strategy and targeting long-tail keywords rather than chasing the fat head, they grew their organic traffic and doubled the number of keywords that their website ranked for.
This is only made more impressive by reminding you that this was during a global pandemic where the exhibition industry was forced to shut down. People weren’t searching for the phrases that Quadrant2Design wanted to rank for but they continued to deliver highly relevant and valuable content to professionals within the industry.
If you run a small or niche business, you might not have a clue where to start when it comes to SEO and keyword targeting. Hopefully, this article and the case study provided have helped you understand the best strategy for moving forward. This content marketing strategy is the missing link for your lead generation.
The first thing you need to do is identify a handful of keywords and understand what the search intent behind each one is. As you now know, there is no point writing a blog post if the search intent reveals they want to make a purchase. If it’s not obvious straight away, have a look at some of the other ranking pages – are these all informative articles or eCommerce sites? That will tell you what type of content you want to product to improve your chances of ranking for that particular phrase.
Then you need to do your keyword research. Start with the fat head phrase associated with your industry and narrow it down until you get a couple of chunky middle terms and a good number of long-tail keywords. Make sure that all of these keywords get at least ten searches a month; otherwise, they aren’t doing anything for your business.
Finally, update the content already on your site to align itself with your new targeted keywords and the searcher intent. Improve the user experience by answering the query right off the bat. Use bullet points, bold text and relevant headers to make this clear to the reader. Once you’re existing content is up to scratch, start creating content to specifically target your long-tail keywords.
It sounds so obvious now, doesn’t it? But Quadrant2Design’s results speak for themselves. Keyword targeting is the best way to grow your organic traffic, introduce yourself to a new audience and boost your business. What are you waiting for?
Choosing the right keywords for your business is key to a successful content marketing strategy. Use this technique to grow your organic traffic in weeks!