Strategic Keyword Research for SEO

Monday, 23rd May, 2022

Strategic Keyword research is essential for your SEO strategy. Strategic keyword research is the starting point to generating high-quality content that’s relevant to your buyer persona.

Choosing the right keywords

Strategic Keyword Research Process

Your tactical keyword research informs the wider strategic keyword research that applies to your business as a whole, eg. a strategic keyword phrase for a florist in Cheshire, UK could be “florist in Cheshire”, and a tactical phrase could be specific to a product or a service that is offered for a short period of time, such as “valentines day roses”. While the specific flower in the phrase might change, the phrase continues to relate to the industry.

Strategic Keyword research is a mix of science and art, it can be achieved through a three-stage process.

Stage 1 – Keyword brainstorming

Start with an initial brainstorming of keywords and keyphrases. Keywords are inspired by customer needs, as well as your products and services. Look at a thesaurus to help you to find synonyms for words that you have selected. For example, for someone interested in having their house rewired, they might search for “house rewiring”, “property rewiring” or “rewire my home”.

List all terms related to a site topic, then use a range of other related and extending terms to enhance relevance. For example, ‘house rewiring’, ‘property rewiring’, ‘rewire my home’, may also be likely to be found when searching for ‘home electricians’, or ‘house renovations’.

Stage 2 – Keyword Refinement

Many online tools are available such as Ubersuggest, Moz, and Ahrefs to help with your strategic keyword research. These tools provide relevant data such as the number of searches performed each month, keyword popularity, and competition.

Stage 3 – Keyword prioritisation and selection

Now that you have a long list of potential keywords, you need to prioritise the value of the term based on the buyer persona’s preferences and goals. There are four aspects to keyword selection, sorted by priority.

  1. Relevancy
  2. Specificity
  3. Popularity
  4. Competition

Relevance to Business Goals. From the strategic keyword research, use your judgment and understanding of the buyer persona to define an initial set of keywords. You can use a ranking system that rates items from ‘0’ to ‘3’. A score of ‘0’ is irrelevant and a ‘3’ is very relevant. The higher the relevance, the better.

Specificity of the keyword. In general, the longer a keyword phrase, the more specific it is. When you rate a term, the longer the phrase, the higher the score. For example, using a scoring system of 0-3, assign a score from ‘0’ to a single long word to ‘3’ for the longest term in the list. Understand the importance of the user’s intent behind different types of keywords.

Popularity of the keywords. Average monthly search volume is a good indicator, but it can be influenced by seasonality, eg. “valentine`s day flowers” in the UK has a high search volume in January and February, but not much volume in other months.

Competition for the term. Data regarding competition for individual searches comes from paid search results (PPC), so it’s a less useful indicator of competition for organic SEO. Google AdWords and other tools, including MOZ, offer similar indications of competition through their keyword difficulty tools. Apply your own scores using this priority: the highest competition attracts the lowest score for the keyword phrase ‘0’. The less difficult a keyword phrase the higher are your chances to rank in the SERPs – assign these keyphrases a score of ‘3’.

Calculate the Scores for your Keywords

The strategic keyword research is done. After scoring all keyword terms based on the four priority criteria, you now add your scores and use the total of each term as the determinant for a keyword`s inclusion. High-scoring terms primarily indicate which terms should be selected for individual pages, while low-scoring keywords can still be used, but can be used as secondary support terms.