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SEO Best Practices: Is Keyword Research Good and Current?

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Is keyword research good and current

Keyword research is a cornerstone of SEO best practices for any company doing business online. But it’s not a “set it and forget it” situation. It needs ongoing attention, adjustments, and refinements to get your webpages better positioned in Google and Bing search engine rankings.

Here are some questions to answer as a team with your sales staff, marketing team, and performance marketing agency at the table.

Is Keyword Research Up to Date?

The first question that comes up for many of our clients is, “How often should we evaluate and update our short and long-tail keyword research?”

We recommend making adjustments across the board once a year at a minimum. But if you work in a fast-changing industry or are ahead of the market on a product or service rollout, we recommend evaluating keywords quarterly to ensure you’re staying at the front of the pack.

What Metrics Should I Focus On?

It’s a good idea to focus on search volume when it comes to keyword research. Use questions like these to determine how to make adjustments as you set up your keywords and track keyword data:

  • What’s the overall search volume for keywords most relevant to what you do and the products you make?

  • How has the search volume increased or decreased over time?

  • Are there variations of the keywords that perform better than others?

  • Are there industry-level, product-level, and service-level keywords represented?

  • Are your keywords a good mix of general and technical?

How Do I Group and Prioritize Keywords?

If you’re starting from scratch, use your site menu as a guide. What product and service keywords are there? Start with those. Then build them out for sub-service pages and relevant content pages (blogs, how-tos, and so on).

Between 20-100 keywords per category is a solid start that will give you an accurate understanding of how optimized your content is for search engines.

Keep keyword variations in a content marketing spreadsheet so you can see a variety of relevant options at a glance to include in your content. Include keywords and search terms that have higher intent, like “healthcare it near me” or “painting contractor Nashville”, so you can get your content and search advertising campaigns in front of people who are ready to buy and need help making a final decision.

What Keyword Tools Should I Use?

When compiling keyword research reports for our clients, we use a combination of keyword tools, including SpyFu, SEMRush, and Google Keyword Planner.

Here are the pros and cons of each:

  • SpyFu: SpyFu is ideal for competitor research with tons of functionality and tools, and lots of keyword ideas. If you’re new to SEO, it may not be clear which keywords to focus on just by looking at the dashboard, and the number of options and tools can be a bit overwhelming if you’re just getting started with search engine optimization.

  • SEMRush: SEMRush is your friend when searching for high-value, high-potential keywords, which is especially helpful for pay-per-click (PPC) campaign planning. It’s user experience is a bit confusing if you’re new to the interface.

  • Google Ads Keyword Planner: This is a surefire way to set yourself up for success when creating PPC campaigns within Google Ads, but may be a bit limited in scope on its own depending on the rest of your keyword strategy.

How to Streamline Keyword Research

It’s a good idea to have a regular schedule for monitoring keywords. While you only need to make major adjustments a few times a year at most, it’s still a good idea to check your SEO dashboards once a month to notice any broad upward or downward trends. It may be a good idea to integrate keyword tools, or to work from a single dashboard, so all your keyword data is in one place and easy to act on.

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