Finding the right keywords to target should usually be the first step when beginning your next writing project for a B2B client.
You could just ask your client which keywords they want you to focus on… they might already know! But if they are unsure or clueless about keywords, it’s time to do your own SEO keyword research.
In this article, you’ll read about:
- What keywords mean
- Why SEO keyword research is important
- Short-tail vs. Long-tail keywords
- And 5 FREE keyword research tools you can start using today
What Are Keywords?
Here’s an easy-to-understand definition:
Keywords are ideas and topics that define what your content is about.
In terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), keywords are the main words and phrases in web page content that make it possible for people to find your client’s website via search engines.
A well-optimized website for search engines speaks the same language as its potential visitor base with keywords for SEO that help connect searchers to your site.
Why Is SEO Keyword Research Necessary?
Keyword research in Search Engine Optimization is as vital as oxygen is… for a human being. It’s the first step for developing successful SEO for your client’s website.
Keyword research provides you with specific search data that can help you answer questions such as:
- What are people searching for?
- How many people are searching for it?
- In what format do they want that information?
Researching keywords gives marketers a better understanding of how high the demand is for specific keywords. Plus, it will tell them how hard it would be to compete for those terms in the organic search results.
Their results will point them in the right direction for their optimization efforts.
Choosing the Right Keyword for Your Client’s Website Page
To find just the right keyword or keyword phrase that will optimize your web page for search results, you need to do a little homework first.
First, put yourself in the person’s shoes, searching for something your web page would solve or provide for the searcher. What are they trying to accomplish?
Also, take a look at the primary purpose of the web page. For example, usually the Home and About pages are where potential customers go to do basic research about a company. And an FAQ page can be more about finding answers to clients’ questions after they have purchased a product or service.
Short-Tail vs. Long-Tail Keywords
Another way of looking at keyword selection for your web page is in the concept of short-tail keywords vs. long-tail keywords. To get a visual idea of what this is about, check out the infographic below:
The short-tail keywords are represented in the “fat head” above. These are also known as “seed” keywords and have lower buyer intent. Examples could be searches for these more general keywords:
- accounting software
Although short-tail keywords are searched for many times more than long-tail keywords, remember that the competition for the best rankings for these shorter keywords is fierce!
Long-tail keywords contain both “seed” keywords and “modifiers.” These have higher buyer intent and less competition for search engine rankings.
Here are some examples using the seed keywords above:
Longer Tail/Chunky Middle
(in 11.5% of searches)
- Wood-working machinery
- Accounting software for e-commerce
- Trademark and patent lawyer
(in 70% of searches)
- Wood-working machinery for lumber mills
- Accounting software for e-commerce under $500
- Trademark and patent lawyer near me
If you can optimize your web pages for longer-tail or even long-tail keywords, you’ll have a better chance of ranking higher with Google searches. But as discussed above, just make sure the long-tail keyword chosen has at least some volume of searches — or your optimizing efforts could be a waste of time!
Find the Right Keywords with These Five FREE Keyword Research Tools
There are many SEO keyword research tools to find relevant keywords for your article or web page. Some of these tools are free, and others are paid tools.
Below is a list of five free keyword research tools that are easy to use:
1. Google Autocomplete
Google Autocomplete is a function of Google Search. It shows keyword suggestions as you type your search query in the Google search bar. Here’s an example from a search for “rollover 401K”:
Keywords you see in Google Autocomplete come from the actual searches people make on Google. You’ll see the most popular and relevant searches in the Autocomplete results.
Google Autocomplete is one of the best available sources of keyword ideas! Using Google Autocomplete, you can understand what keywords people are searching for and use these keywords to create content that will get more visits from people doing Google searches.
2. Google Related Searches
Another easy-to-use keyword research tool is Google Related Searches. Enter a keyword or phrase into the search engine and scroll to the bottom of the page. There you’ll see searches Google has determined are closely associated with your target term.
Staying with the same search query as above, here’s what a Google Related Search looks like:
This is a simple and free way to find related keywords to incorporate into your content, strengthening the signals you send search engines and improving your SEO.
3. Answer the Public
An excellent way to find long-tail SEO keywords is by using the free keyword finder Answer the Public. Enter a target term first. Then like magic, this tool will quickly crank out every useful phrase and question people ask around your keyword.
This is another excellent way to find dozens and dozens of themes and topics for your content. You can even sort the results by whether they are questions (i.e., how to, when to), if they include prepositions (i.e., for, can, with), and more.
4. Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends
This is also known as Google Ads Keyword Planner. Note: You need to have a Google Ads account to use this (but you don’t have to buy any ads to access their Keyword Planner). With this free tool, you can get search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you’re considering. The Keyword Planner will also tell you if the competition for the keywords you are considering is High, Medium, or Low.
To get an idea of how Google Keyword Planner works, see the example below with the same “rollover 401K” keyword used in the search bar:
Use the Keyword Planner to flag any keyword candidates on your list that have way too little (or way too much) search volume to be useful.
Many marketers combine this tool with Google Trends. This companion tool can help you determine which terms are trending upward and are thus worth more of your focus.
Here’s how you could use both Google tools together:
Say you have a particular keyword you think would work well for your customers, but the Keyword Planner shows the search volume is too low to be workable. But don’t toss this keyword away yet! If Google Trends shows it’s trending upward, this keyword might be something you should use in your content now — and reap the benefits later.
5. Using Your Mind…
Even with using all the SEO Keyword Research Tools listed above, sometimes you can come up with just the right keyword for an article… on your own!
If you have a lot of experience in your client’s industry, or even just life experience, you can consider what you might search for if you were one of your client’s customers. What intents would you have where the subject or products offered would be a solution?
As you work with your client, you may just have the right keyword appear before your eyes! For example, a particular pain point could be mentioned that screams for a web page or article to be written about it.
Or you could talk to folks in the customer service department. Ask them what questions their customers ask. They will tell you questions that come up again and again. The relevant keywords are right in these questions!
Even More Options
There are even more research tools available for SEO keyword research than those mentioned above. This process can become complex and time-consuming — but try to keep things simple with your end goal in mind, and don’t get bogged down!
If you enjoy working with social media apps such as Twitter, they contain tools that measure keyword usage for B2B topics you want to write about. These tools will show how people use keywords in day-to-day interactions. For an interesting article about this from AWAI, see How to Use Social Media for Keyword Research and Content Creation.
Keyword Research Takeaways
If you use the concepts discussed in this article, in combination with some of the keyword tools, you can come up with just the right keywords for your client’s articles or web pages.
The only way to honestly know which keywords will work is to try them out! Go ahead, use the best keywords you’ve researched and found in your next piece or web pages. Then have your client let you know if their traffic has increased. Remember to exercise some patience, as experts tell us it could take one to three months to see a difference.
Some clients may ask you to get a “ranking on Page 1 of a Google search” for specific keywords they have picked out. This request is based on a misunderstanding of what’s possible as you have no control over what Google does.
No one can “guarantee” a Page 1 ranking. Instead, tell these clients that they will see more traffic coming to their website or blog through your SEO efforts. More traffic equals more leads and sales. And this is what your client really wants!