If you just launched your website, or you’re taking a fresh look at your current site, you may be thinking “how do I optimize my site for SEO?” And after a quick Google search or Youtube tutorial watch-a-thon, you also may be thinking, “oh I am so overwhelmed, nevermind!”
But don’t worry! Getting started with SEO can be painless and even a little fun. With all the advice, expensive and highly powered SEO tools out there, (like SEMRush, BuzzSumo, Crazy Egg, Moz… and it goes on…), you may be left wondering:
- Do I need to pay for a keyword research tool? (When you’re just getting started, no!)
- Is this going to be complicated? (It doesn’t have to be!)
In this post, I’ll first give you a little background on SEO, and then review my three favorite low cost and easy to use keyword research tools I recommend to my own clients, (and use myself!).
What is SEO, and Why is It Important?
SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to creating content in a way that will increase the quality and quantity of traffic to your website via organic search engine results. In other words, it refers to using keywords in your content that will help you appear at the top of a search engine results page.
The more visibility your page has in terms of search results, the more likely you are to engage with your target audience!
So, you understand what SEO means, but how does it actually work?
Simply put, a search engine like Google will use a bot to scan pages on the internet – they will literally go site by site – to collect information about them and add it to their index. They then use algorithms to analyze these pages so that they can be ranked in order of how they should appear in the search results for specific input (aka search terms people type into Google).
As these algorithms improve, search results have evolved to give users the most direct answers possible. The goal of the search engine is to keep users on the results page (by giving them the exact answer they were searching for), rather than driving them to enter another search.
How did Google know EXACTLY what I was looking for?!
You’ve probably experienced both scenarios before – have you ever typed a vague search into Google and been ridiculously impressed that the results gave you the exact answer you were looking for? While other times, you may have searched something only to not get your answer, and had to repeat your search a few different times before finding your answer or just giving up?
Google loves scenario #1, but scenario #2 isn’t great for you or for Google. Therefore, Google is always trying to improve their algorithms to find the best answers for people, and you (and your SEO strategy) are a vital part of the puzzle.
Why this matters to you as a business owner
Maximizing SEO is an essential aspect of digital marketing, because how else are people going to find your page if not from a Google search! Search results are the main source of website traffic for most brands, so making sure that you have visibility and rank higher in the list will help you surpass your competitors and improve your bottom line.
By properly researching which keywords your ideal customers are searching for, and incorporating those keywords across your website pages and blog posts, you’ll ensure Google is able to play the part of matchmaker – connecting your business’s website to the people who are seeking your help!
Need one-on-one SEO coaching, or a done-for-you solution?
Performing Keyword Research
So, how do you identify these magical keywords that will bring people to your website? Keyword research my friend! Keyword research is the practice of identifying common or industry-specific search terms and phrases that drive traffic to search engine results pages.
When you use a keyword tool to conduct research, the goal is to find phrases and words that are related to what your business is offering. The focus is on the searcher’s intent – what did they want to find when they entered those search terms into Google?
You also want to select keywords that are the right mix of volume (how many people are searching for the term?), competitiveness (how many other websites are also trying to rank for this keyword), and relevance (is this keyword an accurate reflection of my business and what my ideal customers are looking for?).
Keyword research tools will allow you to uncover a variety of keywords, as well as view search volume and competition data, to prioritize which keywords you want to rank for.
As a general rule, focus on broader keywords or keyphrases for your website pages, and more specific, “long-tail” keywords for blogs or more specific pages.
For example, “intuitive eating dietitian” is great for your home page, and “what is intuitive eating” would be better suited for a blog post.
My Top Easy-to-Use Keyword Research Tools
As I alluded to, it can feel pretty overwhelming getting started with keyword research if you focus on the wrong tools. Yes, the paid tools out there are great – they can help you watch keywords, understand more about how your website is performing in search engines, and uncover new long-tail keywords you hadn’t thought of.
But for those of you who are just starting out and looking to optimize your main website pages and a few blog posts, they are overkill and unnecessary. Instead, here are three of my favorite keyword research tools to help you identify the best keywords for your website!
Keywords Everywhere is a chrome extension that gives insight into competition and search volume, as well as related keywords while you search in Google. It gives you the information as you’re using the search engine, so you can type a potential keyword and see both the actual search results and the keyword data.
This is super valuable when it comes to keyword research since you don’t have to navigate to a different dashboard – it basically turns Google into a super-powered keyword research tool.
For $10, you can perform hundreds of keyword searches – making this a great place to start when working towards improving your understanding of SEO.
UberSuggest is a keyword finder that was developed by SEO expert Neil Patel. This platform blends keyword research metrics with insights on keyword difficulty and content ideas, which is especially useful if you’re also trying to come up with blog topic ideas.
This tool is free to start, but offers low-cost upgrades to perform additional searches and access a greater pool of data. Although this up-charge is very reasonable, you may find everything you need within the free version!
Keywords identified, check! Next step, optimize your website.
One of the best ways to get ideas for relevant keywords for your brand is to just use Google! Although this isn’t technically a keyword finder, it does the same thing for free.
All you need to do is search for something and you will see the top results – as well as synonyms and who else is ranking for that keyword. If the top sites listed are not relevant to your business, you may need to rethink using that keyword and try another one.
This is a great gut check to make sure a specific keyword makes sense for your business – something that data and numbers won’t make obvious.
Implementing SEO Keyword Research Findings
Hopefully, this guide gave you some insight into what SEO is, why it is important, and how to utilize free keyword research tools to help you improve your digital marketing efforts.
However, this is a complex topic and it often makes sense to hire a professional team that can deliver and execute full keyword research and SEO strategies.
Our mission at Whitney Bateson Digital Strategy is to empower you to understand and successfully implement digital marketing tools like SEO so you can reach your target audience and grow your business. Schedule your free discovery call to see how we can help!