Keyword Research for Modern Search Engine Optimization

August 26, 2015   //   Digital Marketing, , , ,

If you’ve ever wondered, “Why am I not showing up in Google for my primary keywords?” You’re not alone. Everyone wants better search ranking and they’re looking to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for answers.

The trouble is, SEO keeps changing! In the beginning, there were keywords… lots of them, all over the page. This made it easy for almost anyone to start stuffing and ranking. Today, the method to increase ranking potential is much more complex. Even if a page does not include the exact keyword used in a search query, it may still rank higher than a page that does. Given this change in Google’s algorithm, it’s natural to wonder: Do keywords still matter?

SEO Is Not Dead

As long there are search engines and you want your business to be found in them, SEO will always exist. The methods may change, but the goal remains the same. As the complexities of Google’s ranking algorithm continue to evolve at great speed, appointing a dedicated SEO expert has become a necessity for many organizations. Even Google is seeking an SEO expert to increase rankings for its own products pages!

If you’re looking for help researching, evaluating and placing keywords on your website for better optimization, there are some steps you should consider beyond just researching keyword volume and competition.

What to Consider When Doing Keyword Research

Target Audience

Keyword research no longer begins with a keyword. It begins with the user. Google says it themselves:

People communicate with each other by conversation, not by typing keywords – and we’ve been hard at work to make Google understand and answer your questions more like people do.

– Amit Singhal, Senior Vice President of Google

Before you even begin plugging keywords into research tools such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner, define the demographics of your audience, such as age, gender and geographical location. More importantly, understand what they need, their pain points, and how your specific products or services can give them what they want. This means searching for the most relevant keyword phrases and using them naturally in your content instead of employing the same strict keyword over and over again. By beginning your keyword research with the user, you’re not only writing content your target audience will love, you’re writing content the search engines will love as well.


There are more than 6 billion searches conducted in Google per day. Over the years, that adds up to a massive amount of information Google can use to understand how certain phrases tend to predict other phrases. This allows Google to move beyond its dependency on keyword frequency alone and utilize more complex algorithms in the form of Term-Frequency Inverses-Document Frequency (TF*IDF).

Term frequency (TF) is how many times a term is used on a page proportional to the length of the page. This helps identify keyword stuffing. Inversion Document Frequency (IDF) measures the importance of a specific term for relevancy based on the entire web. Keeping this measurement in mind, you’ll want to avoid keyword stuffing while also examining synonyms and language that is semantically related to your primary keyword in order to provide better contextual signals to search engines.

Keyword Placement

Every website is made up of different parts: header, body content, images, sidebars, footers and more. Search engines give higher priority to the content that populates certain areas of a webpage. For example, if you are optimizing for your Pet Store business, placing the keyword phrase “Chicago Pet Store” once in the HTML tag, once in the header and once in the body content is more effective than stuffing it 10 times in a single paragraph.

Google uses signals in the HTML of your website to identify where the prominent areas of your page are located. Header tags, HTML titles and schema tags are ways to help the search engines understand the context of your page. Whether you’re building a website from scratch or looking for ways to enhance your website for SEO, it’s important that the development team is working side-by-side an SEO specialist to ensure search engines are able to find and index the most important pieces of content.

Want to Learn More About SEO and Digital Marketing Strategies?

Utilizing these keyword research techniques to identify and implement keywords will give your website some powerful contextual signals. However, this is just the first step in search engine optimization. There are many other factors that also contribute to the ranking potential of your website.

For more information on search engine optimization, web design and digital marketing strategies, attend one of our Chicagoland SEO and Internet Marketing events. This complimentary event is a great opportunity to begin the conversation around keywords and SEO, and see what actually works from today’s market leaders.

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