Is keyword research still important for SEO?

As we welcome 2020, over 63,000 searches happen in Google every second. And 82% of marketing professionals say that SEO is becoming an even more critical tool as we move into 2020. But a lot has changed in how people perform searches and how Google ranks contents. For example, an advanced algorithm no longer uses “exact match” keywords. More people are using voice search.

So with changes like these is keyword research still crucial for 2020 SEO? 

Here’s 10 reasons it most certainly is:

1. Collect Insights About Your Audience

In marketing, you gain customer insights in many ways. You probably already employ one or more of these tools to learn about your customers:

  1. Social media listening tools to understand what your target audience is sharing and saying on social media
  2. Surveys & Questionnaires
  3. Focus groups
  4. Online reviews

But none of these replaces keyword research. Keyword research involves looking at what people search for in search engines. Search engine queries represent a very different place in the buyer’s journey.

For example, people on social media are mostly interacting with friends and stay informed about news and topics that interest them. At the same time, they are casually exploring brands. Or they’re engaging with a brand they already know very well. But when someone searches for something on a search engine, they’re looking for something specific, such as:

  • Product or service
  • Local businesses address or contact information
  • Answer to a question
  • A better understanding of a topic, product, problem, etc.

For this reason, keyword research is essential in 2020 SEO.

2. Build Better-Performing Content

Insights are just a piece of the puzzle. You’ll use those insights to create content that people are looking for in search engines. Because your content is built around real-life problems, questions and interests, people actually find your content. They like, share and comment about your content. 

They appreciate the value that your content and brand add to their lives. This is what content strategy is all about.

3. You Show Your Audience You Understand Them

When you build better content around the topics people are looking for, your customers notice. Producing the industry content they’re looking for, demonstrates that you understand who they are and what they need in your industry.

Today’s customers want brands to be empathetic to their needs. They want brands to create products, services and content they need and want rather than creating these things and then try to “forcibly” sell them through misleading sales tactics.

4. You Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader

The trust you build with a keyword research-driven content strategy makes your brand the voice of truth and knowledge in the industry. While many people associate thought leadership with B2B marketing, it’s just as crucial in B2C.

Taking your place as a thought leader, makes people think of your brand first when they need something you have to offer. You stay top of mind. Regardless of your industry or the type of customer, that matters.

5. Keep Ideas Flowing

In the world of business, consistency is everything. If your brand falls off the map for a week, someone will quickly replace it.

So one of the top challenges that businesses face is being able to consistently create content to both improve the visibility of the website through SEO and maintain that visibility over time.

Like social listening, keyword research can provide you with endless topics for videos, articles, Instagram stories and more.

Is keyword research still important for SEO - Agile Marketing

6. Measure Brand Sentiment

Keyword research is just one more way to measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategies. If people are looking for your brand and branded terms directly, then you know you’re increasing the breadth and depth of your voice in the industry.

When you do keyword research, you can see how many people performed a given search. That’s a measurable number you can track over time.

Additionally, explore these keywords further to understand if people are saying positive or negative things about your brand. You’ll find news stories, reviews on review sites you may not have known existed, social media conversations and more.

7. Spy on the Competition

In the same way you measure your own brand sentiment, keywords tell you a lot about what’s happening to the competition. How is their “market share” of search engine mentions changing over time? And how are their customers speaking about them? Are customers unhappy with something? This may be an opportunity to show them why you’re different without appearing to exploit the situation.

8. Know Which Searches You (And Competitors) Appear In

Google no longer uses the “direct match” keywords that once caused businesses to use keywords like this in the text on their website. 

“Lawn mowing NSW”

But you can still see which keyword phrases return your website (or a competitor’s) in the search results through Google Search Console. And you’ll know how highly you and your competitors rank. This helps you better understand where you need to focus your SEO efforts to increase visibilities.

9. See Which Search Results Competitors Have “Hijacked”

We all do it in business. We use ads to bypass the organic visibility of a business. But you must know how your competitors are using AdWords to “steal” clicks away from your site.

For example, your website might have a solid hold on the number one spot for a particular keyword. Your website should get around 33% of the traffic from that search. But a competitor can spy on you too. They can place ads on keywords where you rank well to siphon your traffic. 

While it may seem underhanded, it’s just the nature of competition. And you should probably be doing this too.

10. Increase Efficiency & ROI

Some may question if keyword research is still important since Google doesn’t use exact match to rank your website. But the truth is, it’s more important than ever. There was a time not long ago where a company could simply focus on producing incredible amounts of content.

Some experts were recommending 15 or more blog posts a month. And those who published them did see some benefit from this strategy but at significant cost. It takes a lot of time and/or money to create 15 blog posts in addition to all the social media and advertising content you need to produce to have a well-rounded content strategy.

So it’s no longer about quantity but quality and real strategy.

Keyword research streamlines both content creation and SEO. That’s creating helpful content that people are actually looking for. Through keyword research, you know exactly what you need to do to get an ROI on your SEO strategies. That saves time and money.


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