The Changing World of Keyword Research

Considering the seismic shifts in SEO that occurred last year, what’s the best way to handle keyword research for 2014? Here are some of the major trends that Australian SEOs can use in identifying the best keywords for their clients’ websites.

User Intent

The user is at the heart of all SEO so it makes sense that all research should start with him. We need to determine exactly what’s he’s looking for and what terms he’d enter into a search engine to locate his target.

One thing to bear in mind is that concepts rather than keywords are a more accurate indicator of searcher intent. This is at the heart of topic based SEO, something last year’s Hummingbird algorithm change was geared towards.

To take advantage of this, you sites need to offer more comprehensive information about a topic, and not just focus on individual search terms.

Conversational Search

Another Hummingbird related concept is that conversational search. An increasing number of searchers nowadays aren’t typing in one or words as in the old days. Frequently, they’ll input long queries and even complete questions.

One way to try to capture some of this traffic is through the use of long tailed keywords. You can research these phrases in a variety of ways. The simplest is through Google’s auto complete feature.

For example, go to Google and type in, say, ‘best Sydney restaurants’ and you’ll get a drop down box with such phrases as ‘best Sydney restaurants by the water’ and best Sydney restaurants for lunch’.

Either build whole new pages on these phrases (if relevant to your client) or incorporate them into longer pages. This will help you rank well for a broad range queries and not just the exact match gems of traditional SEO.

These phrases are also a good way to identify content gaps for you to capitalise on.

Related Keywords and Concepts

Google is increasingly able to comprehend keyword semantics. Imagine you were searching for ‘cheap Sydney floorings’. You might well up at a site dealing with ‘budget tiles’ or ‘low cost carpets’ where the term floorings was nowhere to be found. Nonetheless, your result would be relevant to your search.

One way to enhance your content for such searches is by ensuring you use ample related phrases and synonyms. This way, you’re theming your pages rather than focusing on specific keywords. Not only does this appear more natural (to both humans and search engines), it also allows you to rank for a wider set of terms.

Keyword research will always remain at the heart of SEO. However the way it’s applied and used is changing. Be sure you stay on top of the trends and adapt your working methods. Only then can you help your clients rank well in the long term.

About Nathanael Vanderkolk

Nathanael Vanderkolk is the Director of the Smart SEO Company, a SEO Agency in Sydney, Australia. Smart SEO Sydney has a keen awareness of the latest approaches to online marketing. Follow him on , Facebook and Twitter.
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