Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your website’s visibility on Google. Maybe you’ve already gotten started on basic strategies to launch a strong SEO foundation, but the next step toward upping your agency website’s SEO game is to develop your content around what potential customers are searching for.
Most businesses have a general idea of the message they want to communicate to potential customers, including their services and industry knowledge. While this is a great starting point, most businesses forget to ask themselves the most important question: “Who cares?”
As a business, you know your value—but if you don’t provide this information in the context of a customer’s search, it may not be found. Plus, if you don’t do proper keyword research, you may miss valuable opportunities to weigh in on important topics.
So how do you know what people are searching for? First, it is important to understand the three main types of searches. These search categories will help you determine what is commonly referred to as search intent. Search intent helps define the customer’s frame of mind when searching for information and generally assesses where a customer is in the marketing funnel.
The three main types of searches are:
1) Navigational. Searches that occur when a person is looking for specific information. These customers usually have a specific brand or website in mind. An example of this is “Agency ABC contact info.”
2) Informational. These searches are high-level queries about a topic. The customer is usually higher up in the marketing funnel when searching these types of keywords. This includes searches like, “do I need motorcycle insurance?” “examples of business insurance claims” or “best home insurance in Maryland.” The searcher is still in the research phase and needs more information before they are ready to buy.
3) Transactional. Transactional searches are queries that indicate a person is ready to make a purchase, which is much further down the marketing funnel. This may include things like, “car insurance quotes” or “get home insurance.” These customers generally understand the benefits of the product or service they are looking for and need less high-level education.
Get Started with Keyword Research
Before you jump into researching specific keywords, make a list of all the topics you think are relevant to your business. This can include your main product lines, FAQs from your current customers and industry trends you are discussing internally. This will give you a starting point when you begin your research using a tool.
SEO keyword research tools will help you assess the average monthly search volume of a specific keyword, determine any seasonality, and discover related keywords. Some more advanced tools may even give you specific content ideas or tell you the current results appearing for that keyword.
One of the easiest ways to get started for free is to search for topics on Answer the Public. This tool allows you to search for high-level topics like “home insurance” or “business insurance.” Based on these high-level topics, it will give you popular questions around these keywords. For example, two results for “home insurance” include “why home insurance is important” and “what home insurance covers.” This gives you a specific question your content could potentially answer.
More specific keyword research that includes monthly keyword volume and level of difficulty may require a paid tool. Some of these tools include SEMRush, Moz Keyword Explorer, or Ahrefs. When using a tool like these, one of the most important data points will be the average monthly searches for each keyword.
A keyword with high monthly searches means more potential customers are searching for that term. However, this can also increase the level of difficulty for your pages to appear for this word. It is also important to keep in mind that phrases with three words—”long-tail keywords”—may have lower search volume. However, long-tail keywords are more specific and often result in higher click-through rates. You will want to choose a mix of long-tail keywords and more competitive, high volume terms.
It is also important to watch seasonal trends. For example, keywords related to boat insurance may be more popular in summer than in winter.
Assess the Competition
Once you have your keyword list, search for each keyword on Google to see what types of content are currently appearing. Make sure to search in incognito mode or a private window so that your past browser history doesn’t affect your results.
Rank your keywords in order from the ones that result in the weakest search results to the strongest search results. An example of strong search results would be three or more blogs or pages that fully address the search query. You want to look out for opportunities where you can create a better piece of content that more fully answers a search query.
Keywords that do not have strong results may be easier to rank for. This can help you prioritize the keywords you want to focus on and thus your content creation efforts. This doesn’t mean you should not go after competitive keywords, but it will help you set priorities and expectations.