You probably heard about this many times. Keyword research is one of the most important topics when it comes to the findability of your online store. But what does keyword research look like exactly? Where do you start and what should you keep in mind? In this article I will answer those questions.
Why is keyword research so important?
During our monthly course on how to sell online we spend quite a bit of time on keyword research. The reason is that the right keywords can affect your online success a lot. When you select the right keywords, and optimise your online store for these, you will attract the right visitors. That may sound like common sense, but before you are at that stage, there are a couple of important steps to take. These steps will be discussed in this article.
What you should keep in mind for this keyword research
Attracting more visitors to your online store is not even that hard. Getting the right visitors however is a lot more difficult. When you optimise your online store for broad keywords, chances are that you attract visitors that are actually not really interested in your product. To give you an example: imagine that SEOshop would optimise its homepage for the keyword 'online store'. Wouldn't it be likely that many visitors would visit your store just to buy a product instead of creating an online store with SEOshop? A keyword like 'create your online store' would therefore be a more relevant keyword.
Okay, so now you know that broad keywords may be less relevant for your online store. Let's take it one step further before we move to our 6 steps to successful keyword research for your online store. Let's talk about longtail keywords. These are keywords that consist of multiple keywords, are longer than the average keyword phrase and have less search volume. Now I hear you thinking: why would I optimise my online store for keywords with little search volume? Let me explain this with an example. Imagine you are selling shoes. Now you can choose a keyword like 'shoes', but that keyword would attract visitors that may find your online store irrelevant to their search. Let's say you are selling shoes to teenagers, then a keyword like 'shoes for teenagers' could be an option for you. After all, your online store will be more relevant for the search query, but this is still a very broad group. You can also choose a longtail keyword like 'Converse All Star Seasonal sneakers'. Possibly, this keyword may have less search volume (although I doubt this in this example), but chances are that a search query leads to a purchase sooner because of the high relevance. If you select many of these longtail keywords, your positions in Google will increase and you may be able to convert more visitors into customers.
Now that you know what to take into consideration, it will be a lot easier to follow the steps below.
Step 1: Focus on what people may be looking for
Before you use any tools, it's important to think of the needs of your customer. What would he or she type in Google when searching for an online store like yours? Create a list of possible keywords.
Step 2: use a keyword research tool
In this step you will check whether these keywords are indeed relevant and you will look for similar keywords that may be relevant to your online store. These tools can help you with this:
- AdWords Keyword Planner - this is a free tool that helps you find out how many times per month someone is looking for a keyword. In the column 'Competition' you'll see how many other companies are advertising for the keyword. This is an indication of the popularity of a keyword: a keyword with a high search volume and a lot of competition will not give you a good position in Google very soon. A high search volume and not a lot of competition will help you to get a good position.
- Semrush - I really like this tool myself, because it gives a deeper insight into your competition.
- UberSuggest - a very simple tool that gives you lots of keyword ideas.
- Keywordtool.io - a tool that looks a lot like UberSuggest. I would suggest using either one of these two.
- Google Trends - this tool shows the popularity of a search query and if it has been searched for more or less in previous years.
- Suggestions in Google's search bar - when you type a search query into Google, suggestions will be presented automatically. Also these suggestions are based on previous search queries of other Google users. Moreover, suggestions are being shown at the bottom of every search results page.
Step 3: search based on these search queries in Google
Select a dozen keywords and search based on these keywords in Google. Check who are your competitors for these keywords. Click on the search results and see what the pages of these competitors look like. Are search terms being repeated? Where are they repeated in the text? How many times? Also the source code of the page can give away something of the optimisation process your competitor follows. Right-click your mouse and show the source code of the page (on a Mac this is called 'Inspect Element'). Search for a meta title and meta description. Are keywords being mentioned here? Think of how you would approach this. Check out this article called The 25 most important KPIs for your online store.
Step 4: test these keywords with AdWords
Do you want to quickly find out if your keywords are doing their job? Test it out with a small AdWords budget of - for instance - €50 per month. If you set your keywords to 'Exact Match' and measure conversions via AdWords or Google Analytics, you can see if keywords lead to purchases in your online store.
Step 5: identify the value of a keyword
So, let's say that an ad in Google AdWords is being shown 5,000 times after several search queries. These are called impressions. Not every person that sees an ad will eventually click on it. Let's say that 100 people will click and will therefore visit your online store. If 3 of these visitors will place an order for a total value of €300, the average value per user will be €3 (order value divided by the number of visitors). This way you can calculate what an additional investment in this keyword will bring you in terms of turnover.
Step 6: estimate the effort needed to get a good position
A good position does not just depend on yourself, but also on your competitors. If you have many competitors for a keyword - something that you can easily discover with the Google Keywords Planner and Semrush - then it will be harder to get a good position. After all, you will have to collect more links to your web page and optimise your page better than your competitors are doing now.
Not just the number of competitors is important, but also the size of those competitors. After all, it will be harder to defeat Zalando than a small online merchant. The answer to this is choosing a combination of longtail and short tail keywords. The short tail keywords are meant to get more visitors, that will return at a later stage to buy your products, while longtail keywords are meant to stimulate sales.
Tips for implementation
The most effective way to add keywords to your online store is per page. That means you optimise one page for one keyword or a small set of keywords that are comparable. You should try and add this keyword to your page title, the URL, the meta title and description, subtitles and repeat it in your text (make sure that the text remains easy to read).
Evaluation and optimisation
After you've added the keywords to your online store, you need to analyse your current position for the keyword. This can be done manually, or with a tool like Google rank checker or tools like Traffic Travis for PC users or Affilorama for Mac users. Based on the results you have two options: you can either further optimise the page by repeating the keyword or making it more prominent on your page, by adding more text to the page (while repeating the keyword) or by collecting more links to the page. But let's discuss that in a follow-up blog post!
Do you have any keyword research tips that should be added here, or would you like to share your own experiences? Please leave a comment here!
About the author
Bertram Welink is a marketing manager at SEOshop. In the past he has worked in Dublin for Google and Yahoo!, but has been living in the Netherlands for quite some time now. Bertram enjoys writing about entrepreneurship, e-commerce, online marketing and organises monthly webinars in liaison with SEOshop partners. He's also head of the international marketing team.