Keyword research forms the core for web content.
Keywords are the words and phrases people use when they’re searching for information. In the e-Commerce world, this means describing products and services offered from the cloud.
You want keywords and phrases in your content that are:
- Used in search, and
- Accurately reflect what you’re selling
Sprinkle these words and phrases throughout your content. Because your content will be descriptive rather than informative, keywords should be reflected in the categories you use to sort products on your site and in the URLs as well.
Why Research Keywords?
If you keep up on SEO trends, it’s easy to wonder why anyone should bother with researching keyword. Google absolutely hates keyword stuffing (the overuse of keywords and phrases) and will downgrade sites it feels are guilty of doing this.
What it wants is authoritative, well-written content that’s relevant to the search.
But take into account the way Google and other search engines–including those embedded into social media platforms–operate: they send out bots to crawl over the web, looking for clues that indicate potentially good resource. Keywords are one way to let the bots know when they’ve found one.
So it’s logical to put keywords and phrases within content. Just do it sparingly.
Keyword Research is More Than an SEO Tool
Although keyword research is part of an SEO strategy, the two impact websites in very different ways.
Keywords and long-tail phrases describe the products and services delivered by an e-Commerce site. They including descriptions of the service or product(s), the intended target audience, and especially unique aspects that differentiate from similar businesses. As the SEO guru Neil Patel observes, keywords are the blueprint for all your digital content–sales and marketing content, social media messaging, even photos and videos you post on your site and social media.
SEO is a collection of steps that boost a website’s visibility in the search process. Page download speed, site navigation, and use of images, are among the thousands of items within the every-changing Google algorithm. Keywords and content don’t affect all SEO, but they are essential to boost aspects of content including these two areas writers may overlook or not have access to boost:
- Images should always be captioned, preferably with a keyword.
- Alt content, which is read aloud to sight impaired people to describe an image, should also include a keyword, although the content should be different from the caption.
These seemingly steps can help get those bots’ attention as they populate search engine response pages, or SERPs.
Keyword Research Begins With Putting Yourself in the Customer’s Seat
Think about how customers can find you who don’t know you by reputation or recommendation – or even those who have heard of you but can’t remember your business name. Or consider someone who’s buying the type of product or service you sell for the first time. What keywords do you think they will use to find you?
General keywords tend to only be helpful for general knowledge. For example, let’s say you sell calculators. It won’t help you much to use the keyword “calculator” because you will be probably be buried by Texas Instruments wholesalers.
Plus, most customers probably know if they need a specific feature on a calculator, so they search in what amounts to long tail keywords. In fact, just about all web searches are conducted with two or more words.
So you’ll want to add more description to your keyword, creating long tail keywords, or keyword phrases like these:
- Graphing calculator
- 3D graphing calculator
- Best graphing calculator engineers — using the word “best” will pull up reviews
- Graphing calculator app
Be sure to create a keyword phrase for special services you might offer, such as videos on how to use different calculator. This could be a selling point to parents of middle school math geniuses who don’t understand why such an expensive calculator is necessary!
There are no hard and fast rules for long tail length. Generally, four to five words will do the trick. Anything longer might not even exist as a search term.
Where to Find e-Commerce Keywords
You may already be familiar with keyword research. However, it’s a somewhat different exercise for e-Commerce, although the same tools are used. What you want are keywords that will convert a searcher into someone who visits your website or a landing page you’ve created if you’re running an advertising campaign. You want keywords that really spur action.
A Google Analytics account for your e-Commerce site will identify the top ten search terms that are being used to find your site. If you don’t have an account, it’s free; all you need to do is establish a Gmail account. Then link your e-Commerce site to Google Analytics, and it will begin gathering data.
If you already have a Google Analytics account, go to it and look for Acquisition on the left side toolbar. Click on Queries, and you will see the top ten search terms used to get to your site.
Here are ways to identify, create, and test keywords and keyword phrases for their potential.
1. Look at Amazon Product Descriptions to Find Long Tail Keywords.
There are a number of tools that help you identify keywords. But first, you want to know exactly where your e-Commerce site falls within your industry. Digital marketing expert Alex Chris suggests going to Amazon, particularly if you’re selling products. There, you can do a deep dive into Amazon’s categories and subcategories to see where you belong if you were selling on Amazon.
Look at the product titles and descriptions of items similar to what you sell. They will likely include long tail keywords you can use as well. Also look at the “People Also Bought” suggestions for cross-selling ideas.
2. Identify Keywords and Phrases to Use.
Now search your keywords and see what kind of returns you get. In other words, Google it.
You’ll notice that Google will try to guess what you’re getting at as you type in the search box. It’s reviewing past searches to see if you’ve used this search or something similar in the recent past. The same will happen when customers search for products and services like yours–Google will look at indications of past preferences.
There’s really no way to overcome this, particularly for people who are searching in your industry for the first time. But having the right keywords, great content, and strong SEO practices will make it more likely that they will find you.
Google will correct typos or unusual language you put in. This may change some of your assumptions. So many words are spelled and pronounced the same but have two or more meanings. Remember, it’s only been in the past decade that people started thinking of “cloud” as something other than weather-related.
You will also see if your phrase is used at all. Phrases that do not show up probably aren’t being used by people conducting searches, or at least not enough to make an impact. Unless you’re really on to something new and exciting, you may want to drop such phrases, at least for now.
Be sure to look at the “People also ask” listing that often appears after the paid search results, and the related searches listed at the bottom of each SERP. They can help you refine your phrases.
3. Use a Keyword Tool or Keyword Planner
Keyword tools and planners are services that show the search volume, or popularity, of keywords and phrases within a given search engine. The more popular a word or phrase, the more expensive it is and difficult to rank well in it.
Like a Google search, these tools and planners will also offer data on similar searches. Many will plugin the current Adword cost, a helpful indicator of how valuable a search term is and whether it’s too closely associated with a given brand.
You can incorporate some of this function during search. I like the extension Keywords Everywhere, which works on Chrome and Firefox. It will list the search volume for your keyword or phrase and similar ones, the current cost per click in Google Adwords for each, and a gauge of advertisers (competitors) who are running campaigns on each one, ranked from 0 to 1. (Neil Patel recommends using this in conjunction with Google’s keyword planner.)
Keyword tools show how a keyword or phrase is trending for a certain number of days, highlight negative keywords to avoid, and keywords to boost PPC campaigns.
Some popular tools and planners include:
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner — Free with Gmail account; you will have to set up an actual account and create an ad (just don’t activate it and you won’t be charged)
- WordStream — Free and paid versions
- Moz Keyword Explorer — Free 30-day trial
- SEMRush — 10 free requests with registration
- SEOChat Suggestion Keyword Finder — Free
Google’s keyword planner also lets you drop in a URL, so you can see what keywords and phrases people use to find your competitors. You won’t get their statistics, but you’ll get some more insights.
Remember to conduct regular keyword research. As Patel observes, it’s a way to “keep your ear to the ground,” — or in this case, to keep your store in the cloud!