Keyword research will identify your competitors. To start identifying your competition enter your keywords in Google Search and check the search results. Before I go through the process of good competitor research, you need to consider two main approaches:
- You can pick a number of direct competitors and analyze what they are doing SEO-wise.
- Research every keyword on your list and see who the top ranking competitors are and what they are doing to rank for that specific keyword.
I advise the second approach because it allows you to tie your competitor research directly to your own keyword strategy. Moreover, I’ll show you later, your keyword competitors may not be limited to a number of companies which resemble you closely. You will see your competition may be much broader than you think. On the other hand, to properly assess your market position analyzing your close competitor’s entire website can be a great strategy. Furthermore, knowing what external links they receive from other websites could be of great help when you build your back links. However, in terms of competitor research approach, focusing on every keyword on your list makes the most sense.
Keyword Strategy Factors
Each keyword requires separate research. For example, big companies can focus on head terms. While smaller companies often have to settle for crumbs. A good strategy for small companies is to identify a “sweet spot.” This is a keyword with traffic potential and competition where you have a reasonable chance to rank in the top 3. When you do the keyword research, do not concern yourself with a few key competitors in the market. Instead continue to research every keyword individually and identify the top ranking competitors.
Keep in mind that empires rise and fall. New opportunities may arise over time. Therefore, keyword research is an ongoing process you should repeat multiple times per year. There are many factors that influence search volume. For example, presidential election may change what people search for (i.e. Trump, Bernie, Biden). As a result, news stories focus on particular topics often change from time to time. You may be able to relate new trends to your own business. Consequently, what people search for changes so you need to track your keywords.
Language is a factor. It is much harder to rank for head keywords in English than in Dutch. Local businesses do not need to rank top 3 for keywords worldwide. A local business is more successful when optimizing local SEO so you rank for local searches. Google is getting better at recognizing when someone has a local search intent. For example, if you google “dentist”, the first search results are dentist in your local area. Moreover, when you type “dentist” in google, the search bar auto fill function will suggest “near me” to help Google understand the searcher’s intent to find results near the current location. However, you should not use keywords like “near me” in your keyword list, because “near me” is not something you can optimize for since it is relative to the searcher’s location. You should optimize for local SEO separately using a different list of keywords.
How to Optimize for Local SEO
A local business should optimize local keywords so that you will appear local searches. There are several ways you can optimize for local searches. For example, a local coffee drinker in Tampa, FL may search for “coffee shop Tampa.” Furthermore, it is important to use keyword variants. For instance, “cafe Tampa.” In some cases, you might want to include your location on the page title tags. In addition, make sure your business name, address, and phone number appear in easy to read and index format (text not image). Most importantly, add your site to Google My Business and verify your location.
To improve your chances of ranking for local searches you will want a local SEO professional to optimize your website. LocalSEOCorp.com will code data in Schema.org so Google will see the following on every single web page:
- Name of your business
- Type of business
- Physical location
- Opening hours
Moreover, LocalSEOCorp.com takes care of all that technical stuff for you under the hood:
- KML File generation and automatically adding these to your XML sitemap (needed for Google)
- Address output in Schema.org format
- Showing opening hours (with Schema.org output)
- Showing GoogleMaps instantly on your website, including a route planner
- Submitting all of this technical data to Google
Don’t worry if this specialized local SEO stuff sounds confusing: LocalSEOCorp.com fixes it for you.
Understanding Keyword Research Results
As mentioned early, your keyword competitors may be broader than your direct competitors. If you sell electric vehicles and you enter “electric vehicles” into google, the first search result is Wikipedia. The second result sells EV cars. However, they also provide information about electric car technology. Likewise, if you use keywords related to other kinds of technology such as “genetic testing”, “5G”, and “flash memory” you get similar google results which rank sites with information over retailers. Therefore, if top keyword competitor results on Google provide information, then information is the type of content you should provide. However, if you do not want to provide informational content, then chose other keywords which result in retailers. On the other hand, informational content can be a great way to funnel visitors to your products later.
Keyword Research Insights
By researching keywords you will discover the types of content (informational or retail) likely to reach your audience. Every keyword you research can be categorized by the resulting content. In order to out rank the competition, your results must be better. In other words, your page must have the same type of content (informational, for example) and be better in all other ways: graphics, photos, readability, internal linking, and SEO.
So you need to consider your own resources. Can you produce better content than your competitors? If you answer yes, then you may be able to rank top 3 for that particular keyword. Once you have done the work of researching all (hundred or more) keywords and assessing your potential to compete on each keyword, then you can assess the resources (time and /or money) needed to obtain top 3 ranking. Moreover, does your site fit with the results you find? For example, you may have a retail store, but keywords results in purely informational search results. In this case, you have the wrong keywords.
Keyword research is the first step to successful SEO. Your next step is to develop the content that matches these keywords. Get more information about digital marketing.