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Essential Keyword Research Strategies for SME

Keywords in black, highlighted in yellow

Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) mistakenly believe that effective SEO is all about cramming popular keywords into their content. This approach often leads to disappointing results and frustration. To truly succeed online, you need a strategic approach to keyword research. This comprehensive guide is here to debunk the myths and provide you with the essential keyword research tips and strategies tailored specifically for SMEs. By the end of this keyword research guide, you’ll have the tools and knowledge to enhance your SEO efforts and attract more targeted traffic to your website.

'One does not simply' keyword meme

Understanding Keyword Research

Keyword research is the process of identifying and analysing the terms that people use in search engines to find information related to your business. It’s a critical component of SEO that helps you understand what your potential customers are searching for.

Why Keyword Research is Essential for SEO

Effective SEO and keyword research enables you to optimise your website content, making it more likely to appear in search engine results pages (SERPs). By targeting the right keywords, you can drive more organic traffic to your site, increase visibility, and ultimately boost conversions. For SMEs, this can be a game-changer in a competitive online landscape. To learn more about the significance of keyword research, you can visit Yoast’s guide on keyword research and HubSpot’s beginner’s guide. 

Keyword Research Tips for Small Businesses

1. Identifying Your Niche and Target Audience

Start by clearly defining your niche and understanding who your target audience is. This will help you identify the keywords that are most relevant to your business and audience.

2. How to Determine Keywords Relevant to Your Business

Use keyword research tools to generate a list of potential keywords. Look for terms that are relevant to your products or services and have a good balance of search volume and competition. Don’t forget to consider long-tail keywords, which are longer and more specific phrases that can drive highly targeted traffic.

3. Long-tail Keywords and Their Importance

Long-tail keywords may have lower search volumes, but they often have higher conversion rates because they target users who are further along in the buying process. For example, ‘best organic coffee shops in Sydney’ is more likely to attract ready-to-buy customers than the generic term ‘coffee shops.’

4. Analysing Competitor Keywords

Look at the keywords your competitors are targeting. This can provide valuable insights into what’s working in your industry and help you identify gaps and opportunities. Tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs can help you with competitor analysis. Below we go into more detail about how you can perform a competitor keyword analysis. 

Analysing Competitor Keywords

Understanding what keywords your competitors are targeting can provide valuable insights into effective strategies and help you identify opportunities to improve your own SEO efforts. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to analyse competitor keywords:
  1. Identify Your Competitors
Start by identifying your main competitors. These can be businesses similar to yours in size and industry. Look for those who rank well in search engines for the keywords you are interested in. Tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs can help you identify your competitors based on shared keywords and traffic sources.
  1. Use Competitor Analysis Tools
Once you have a list of competitors, use tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz to gather data on their keyword strategies. These tools can show you which keywords your competitors are ranking for, along with metrics such as search volume, keyword difficulty, and the estimated traffic those keywords bring in.
  1. Analyse Keyword Performance
Look at the keywords your competitors are using and note which ones are bringing them the most traffic. Pay attention to:
  • Search Volume: Higher search volume indicates more potential traffic but usually comes with higher competition. 
  • Keyword Difficulty: This metric shows how hard it is to rank for a particular keyword. Focus on finding a balance between high search volume and low difficulty. 
  • Traffic Potential: Some keywords might not have a high search volume but could still drive significant traffic due to their relevance and conversion potential.
  1. Examine Competitor Content
Visit your competitors’ websites and look at how they are using their keywords. Consider:
  • Content Quality: Is their content well-written and informative? High-quality content often ranks better. 
  • Keyword Placement: How are they placing their keywords in their content? Look at title tags, meta descriptions, headings, and throughout the text. 
  • Content Length and Structure: Longer, well-structured content can perform better in search rankings. Note how they organise their content, use subheadings, and include multimedia elements.
  1. Look for Keyword Gaps
Identify keywords that your competitors are ranking for that you are not. These gaps can represent opportunities for you to create content and target keywords that your competitors may be overlooking. Tools like Ahrefs’ Content Gap and SEMrush’s Keyword Gap can help identify these gaps.
  1. Monitor Changes and Adapt
SEO is dynamic, and your competitors will continually update their strategies. Regularly monitor changes in your competitors’ rankings and keyword strategies. Tools like SpyFu and Raven Tools can provide ongoing insights into your competitors’ keyword performance. Practical Example: Using SEMrush for Competitor Analysis
  • Enter Competitor’s Domain: Start by entering your competitor’s domain into SEMrush. 
  • View Organic Research: Navigate to the ‘Organic Research’ section to see the top organic keywords that your competitor ranks for. 
  • Analyse Keyword Data: Look at the search volume, keyword difficulty, and the positions that your competitor holds for each keyword. 
  • Check Backlinks: Examine the backlinks your competitor has for their high-ranking pages. Quality backlinks can significantly impact keyword rankings. 
  • Identify Content Opportunities: Look at the content that is ranking well for your competitors and identify opportunities to create better or more comprehensive content.
By systematically analysing your competitors’ keyword strategies, you can gain valuable insights to enhance your own SEO efforts, fill gaps in your content, and ultimately improve your search engine rankings.

Steps to Developing a Keyword Research Strategy

Keyword research and analysis is essential to creating an effective strategy. Here are some simple but effective ways to start your keyword strategy: 

  1. Brainstorming and Initial List Creation: Start by brainstorming a list of keywords related to your business. Think about the terms your customers might use to find your products or services.

  2. Using Keyword Research Tools: Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs to expand and refine your list. These tools can help you identify additional keywords and provide data on search volume and competition.

  3. Evaluating Keyword Difficulty and Search Volume: Assess the potential of each keyword by looking at its search volume and difficulty. Focus on keywords that have a good balance – high enough search volume to be worth targeting, but not so competitive that it’s unrealistic for your site to rank.

Creating a Keyword Map for Your Content

Organise your keywords into a keyword map. This involves assigning specific keywords to different pages on your website, ensuring that each page is optimised for a unique set of keywords. This helps avoid keyword cannibalisation, where multiple pages compete for the same keyword, diluting your SEO efforts. 

Keyword Mapping Example Using Google Sheets

Common Keyword Research Mistakes to Avoid

Overusing or Stuffing Keywords

Keyword stuffing is a major no-no. It not only makes your content difficult to read but can also lead to penalties from search engines. Focus on creating natural, engaging content that includes keywords organically.

Ignoring User Intent

Failing to consider user intent can result in high bounce rates and low engagement. Make sure your content meets the needs of your audience and aligns with the intent behind their search queries.

Failing to Update and Adapt Your Keyword Strategy

The digital landscape is constantly evolving, and so should your keyword strategy. Regularly review and update your keywords to stay relevant and competitive.

Implementing Keywords in Your SEO Strategy

Ensure that your on-page SEO is on point by following these best practices:

  • Title Tags and Meta Descriptions: Include your target keywords in title tags and meta descriptions, but keep them natural and compelling.

  • Headings: Use keywords in your headings (H1, H2, H3) to signal the main topics of your content.

  • Keyword Placement and Density: Use keywords naturally throughout your content, including in the introduction, body, and conclusion. Avoid keyword stuffing.

Enhance Readability and Engagement

To enhance readability and engagement, break up your content with subheadings, bullet points, and images. Use short paragraphs and sentences to make the content easy to digest. Incorporate multimedia elements like videos, infographics, and images to make the content more engaging and informative.

Optimise for User Experience

Ensure your content is optimised for a seamless user experience. This includes:

  • Fast Loading Times: Slow pages can frustrate users and negatively impact your SEO. Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to check and improve your page speed.

  • Mobile-Friendliness: With more users accessing content on mobile devices, it’s essential to ensure your content is mobile-friendly. Use responsive design to make your site accessible across all devices.

  • Internal Linking: Use internal links to guide users to other relevant content on your site, which can help keep them engaged longer and reduce bounce rates

Update and Refresh Content

Regularly update and refresh your content to keep it relevant and accurate. This can involve adding new information, updating statistics, or expanding on topics to provide more value to your readers. Tools like Google Search Console can help you identify pages that need updating based on performance metrics.

By focusing on these optimisation strategies, you can create content that not only ranks well in search engines but also provides real value to your audience, driving engagement and conversions.

To Wrap Up

Keyword research is a critical component of any successful SEO strategy, especially for SMEs. By understanding the nuances of keyword intelligence, developing a strategic approach, and implementing best practices, you can significantly enhance your online visibility and attract more targeted traffic to your website. Remember, effective keyword research is an ongoing process, so keep refining your strategy based on performance data and changing trends. For a broader understanding of SEO, check out our Comprehensive Guide to SEO for Small to Medium-Sized Businesses. Now, armed with these tips and strategies, you’re ready to take your SEO efforts to the next level.

If your SME needs help with your keyword research strategy, contact us. Sydney Digital Marketing is here to help you navigate the complexities of SEO and achieve your business goals. 

Article by

Grace Pizarro

Content & Copywriting Specialist

Meet Grace, our in-house marketing and sales intern who has a love for everything communication. From blog posts and social media creation, to SEO research and competitor analysis, she enjoys leveraging AI and the latest technologies to elevate brand identity and help companies stand out from the crowd.