You can debate until you’re blue in the face whether keywords are dead or still important for a successful SEO strategy.

It comes down to this: search engines still need some way to figure out what your site is about. Until search engines become psychic, they still need keywords as a guiding tool.

Now, the days of stuffing keywords and ranking well are gone, after all, search engines are getting smarter. But good keyword research can still yield positive results for your digital marketing ROI.

If you’re new to the game and have no idea where to start, or you’re a novice who’s unclear whether you actually know how to research keywords correctly, we’ve got your back.

What is Keyword Research?

First, the basics. What is keyword research? This definition is more important to your understanding of keywords in SEO than you might think.

Keyword research is when people use keywords to research the actual search terms people type into search engines. Basically, it’s the fine art of figuring out what your customers are looking for when they open Google.

This information shapes your content strategy. This ensures your customers find your site when they search for answers to their most pressing questions.

Why Do You Need Keyword Research?

That’s all fine and good, but why do you need keyword research?

It’s simple. By doing keyword research, you can figure out the search terms your audience is actually using. That way, you can optimise for those search terms and make sure your company shows up when they search.

It seems pretty basic, but many companies are guilty of using certain terms online to describe their products. Some of these don’t match their target audience at all. So instead of attracting the audience they’re looking for, they get an audience that isn’t interested in buying.

And until search engines start using sorcery to figure out where to display your site, you still need to rely on keywords to ensure your site gets indexed correctly. So if you want your blog to get read across the Internet, you need to incorporate keywords.

Keyword Terms You Need to Know

Great, so it’s time to start researching, right?

Hold your horses, cowboy.

Before you venture into the brave new world of keyword research, there are a few basic terms you should understand to make your research more productive. Otherwise, you could wind up doing the search engine equivalent of reading an advanced electrical engineering manual (i.e. missing 90% of the context).

Short-Tail vs. Long-Tail Keywords

The most basic terms to understand are short-tail and long-tail keywords. Specifically, the difference between the two.

Short-tail keywords only contain one word, which means they result in broad searches with a ton of search results.

Long-tail keywords are more specific. They contain a minimum of two to three words in a phrase that help narrow down the search.

For example, “vegetarian chilli recipes” would be a long-tail keyword, while “chilli” would be a short-tail keyword.

Short-tail keywords are good for driving traffic, but if your site is new to the game, long-tail keywords are better for bringing a target audience to your site. Plus, short-tail keywords can become expansive fast because of the search volume.

Keep in mind that any of the other types of keywords listed here, by definition, are also either long-tail or short-tail keywords.

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