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You would be hard pressed to find a digital marketing tactic more effective than SEO when it comes to gaining the type of online recognition your business needs to stand out. As of 2016, an incredible 93% of all online experiences begin on a search engine results page (SERP), so it’s critical that you optimize your site to play into the search engines. How well you can anticipate what those keywords might be will play a role in determining whether that theoretical customer knocks on your door or that of your distinguished competition. This is where your keyword research will come into play. 

While it may seem overwhelming at first glance, keyword research is actually a fairly straightforward process–provided that you approach things from the proper angle. If  you’re not sure where to start or you just need a little guidance in your research, the following seven tips will help to strengthen your research skills and go a long way toward making sure you leave your competition in your dust.

7 Places to Start to Strengthen Your Keyword Research

1. When In Doubt, Reference Your Competitor’s Keywords

Regardless of the industry you’re in, it’s exceedingly rare for two businesses to be created completely equally. If you take a look at your closest competitor, you’re likely looking at a very different organization–even if they’re ostensibly selling similar products and services as you. However, the only asterisk to that comes down to your keyword research. Because both you and your competitor are likely trying to reach the same audience in roughly similar manners, you can absolutely leverage this to your advantage.

For example; does your competitor seem to be ranking higher in general searches than you, no matter how hard you try to come out on top? While currently frustrating, the good news is that they’ve just given you a perfect keyword template you can reappropriate for your own uses. Pay attention to the searches your competitors’ are performing exceptionally well in; then try to reverse engineer the techniques they’re using by taking a look at their pages. Which keywords are they targeting successfully? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can apply them to your own SEO efforts to give your website a much-needed boost.

2. Find Hidden Long-Tail Keywords

When it comes to keywords, it’s important that you resist the urge of assuming that you only need to target one or two-word phrases. While it’s true that an electronics dealer in Cleveland can focus on keywords like “electronics dealer” and it will certainly prove helpful, long-tail keywords bring with them a host of different benefits you can’t afford to ignore. Long-tail keywords are typically three and four-word phrases that are incredibly more specific to whatever you’re selling than a one or two-word phrase. These are the perfect way to target customers who are already later in the buying cycle. 

Shorter keywords target people in the beginning of their journey and those who are doing general research; ie, “electronics dealer.” Someone that already knows what they’re looking for is more likely to search in more specific ways, like “electronics dealer Cleveland home theater system.” If you focus on discovering hidden long-tail keywords, you have a chance to essentially leapfrog your competition and connect directly with the more qualified side of your audience at this essential point in their journey.

3. Select Your Niche & Stick With It

Even if you have one hundred direct competitors selling the same products and services to the same audience, there will still always be something about your organization that makes you unique. When it comes to keyword research, figuring out what this is and using it to your advantage is a perfect way to stand out in a digital forum.

Finding a niche and committing to it isn’t just a way to differentiate yourself from competitors–it’s also a great way to build trust and establish credibility because your audience is looking for experts when it comes to your specific subject matter. Use four or even five steps as opposed to the traditional three step keyword rule (Category, Niche, Sub-Niche) to hone your keyword targeting in a way that attracts the right kind of attention.

4. Remember Your PPC Performance

Keyword research can occasionally feel like you’re searching for a needle in a haystack–in the dark–but with the right tool like AdWords at your side, you don’t have to feel lost for long. The fact of the matter is that you just don’t have enough time to try one keyword string after another to see what works in real-time. Instead, plug your keywords into AdWords and look into the analytics Google has on them. Test variations upon variations, paying attention to what works and cutting loose what doesn’t.

5. Geo-Targeted Search Terms are Your Friends

Thanks to the mobile revolution of the late 2010’s, geo-targeting became more efficient and feasible than ever. The vast majority of people who visit your site are doing so on a powerful little device that, among other things, has a GPS chip built inside. It would be a shame not to use that fact to your advantage.

Geo-targeted search terms present the perfect opportunity to get specific with your keyword research in a whole new way. To continue with our previous example, start going after location-specific phrases like “electronics retailer Cleveland Ohio” or “electronics retailer Berea Ohio.” Most people who perform a search on a mobile device are significantly more likely to visit the store they find within 24 hours. Relying heavily on geo-targeted search terms will help to make sure the store they find is yours.

6. Look Into Relevant Keyword Trends

If you’re interested in better understanding keyword trends, think about trending topics on a social media site like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. Each time a subject matter or celebrity/influencer is trending on social media, you’ll see them in “Trending Topic” results or hear about them “going viral.” This is because that person/business is suddenly getting a lot of attention and more accounts are talking about them or watching their content more than ever.

Keyword trends are similar, but you have to actively tie them back into your business. Take the keyword research that you’ve already done and try to tie in those trending topics into your existing keywords and phrases. Doing so again will help you target the intersection of people who are interested in your product or service and those who are interested in whatever pressing issue happens to be making waves that day, week, or month. 

7. Leverage Seasonality Whenever Possible

Most businesses have “busy seasons” and “slow seasons;” it’s just how business works. This is a concept that you can and should absolutely leverage in your keyword research, provided that you go about it in the right way. Think about the periods of the year when your business is truly its busiest. Use long-tail keyword variations that play into what makes those seasons unique. If you sell flat screen TVs and the Super Bowl is coming up, you know you’re about to get hit with a rush of customers; targeting “flat screen TV deals Super Bowl” during this time will give you a better chance at finding people shopping for that particular reason.

Whether you feel confident enough to get started with your own keyword research or you’re more confident that you need a professional to handle your keyword and SEO efforts, RefractROI’s digital marketing experts are here to help. Contact the RefractROI team to handle the hard work of your site’s keyword research and boost your organic traffic today.

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