Keywords are a channel to your prospects. They represent the linchpin between what people are searching for and the content you are providing to fulfil that need. Optimizing your webpages for relevant keywords is the most effective way to get get found by the people that are looking to buy your products or services.
If you do not know the words and phrases that your ideal target customer is using to search for what you’re selling, then you will not be able to optimize your content to be found by your target audience. Consequently, you’ll be practically invisible to the very people that are searching for you online. This is why keyword research is fundamentally important for any lead generation activity especially SEO, social media marketing and PPC advertising.
Google is powered by the Hummingbird algorithm, which is driven by semantic search technology. Semantic search is an intelligent search process that seeks to generate more accurate results by focusing on intent and the contextual meaning of keywords being searched for rather than simply looking for web pages that have been optimized for the keywords used in a search query.
With semantic search, rather than attempting to match the individual keywords used in a search query with the page most optimized for the keywords, Google looks at the bigger picture. Google looks at the entire site as a whole and what the overall keyword theme of the site is. This is why it’s very important that to build your site around your primary keyword to form a strong based keyword theme, leaving no doubt in Google’s eyes exactly what our site is about. You need to make Google understand the relationship your content has to relevant queries that are being searched for.
When looking for the most relevant web page for a search query, Google looks at the intent of the searcher and the semantic relationship between words used in the search query and the words used in a specific page’s content. Pages that incorporate LSI keywords to establish the relationship between the search terms and the website’s content will rank higher for that search term.
Using the Keyword Planner
The keyword planner is the most popular keyword research tool on the web. It is a great tool for finding closely related search terms.
For example, if you sell vacation packages, simply type in “vacations” into the Keyword Planner, and the tool will show you all of the types of vacations that people have shown interest in. Doing this research will ensure that the actual vacation packages that you sell are directly aligned with what people actually want, rather than what you assume they would want.
For projects that require more in-depth content however, you’ll need to take a completely different approach to the keyword research process.
Understanding Proof Terms
Proof terms are the niche vocabulary that is naturally expected to appear in any article about a given topic. They include synonyms and LSI keywords, which are closely related keywords and phrases that are semantically related to the topic you’re writing about.
An article with its natural vocabulary has a better chance of being ranked for its target keyword. On the other hand, a page without LSI keywords and phrases or proof terms may end up in Google’s supplemental index because it doesn’t contain the niche vocabulary to demonstrate that it accurately and authoritatively covers the primary topic.
Consider the following example:
Say you wanted to write an authoritative article about English football. There are specific keywords and phrases that you must talk about in the article for it to rank on semantic search engines for the keyword: “english football” and related terms.
In the old days prior to semantic search, if you wanted to rank an article on Google’s front page for a particular keyword, one tactic that worked really well was to keyword stuff the entire webpage. This meant adding the exact match keyword to all of the various elements of the webpage (URL, metadata, images, heading tags and content) and then building tons of backlinks to the page using “english football” as anchor text.
The article didn’t even need to be well-written or comprehensive as long as it was “keyword-rich”. This is why Google’s front page was heavily dominated by spam for a period of time. Semantic search which is powered by the Hummingbird algorithm was specifically designed to put a stop to that.
Today, if you want to write a comprehesive and authoritative article about English football, you will need to identify the niche vocabulary for that topic. These are the words and phrases that a semantic search engine naturally expects to see in an in-depth article about the subject-matter. These terms will typically appear in the top 10 articles that are ranking for the search term.
If those terms don’t appear in your article, Google will conclude that the article was not written by an expert, but by someone with limited knowledge of the subject. Consequently, the article will not be ranked high enough to be visbible to users.
Creating Niche Topics
When performing keyword research for this article, the best strategy would be to begin by identifying the niche topics of the article. This process would be more effective in finding the topic’s niche vocabularly rather than simply plugging “english football” into keyword planner and working with what you’re given.
For example, in your article about English football, your niche topics would be things like Cup Competitions, The League system, History of English Football, European competitions, Stadia in England, etc. You can then use the Keyword Planner to search more narrowly for terms that are relevant to each topic.
Unless you already have a deep knowledge of English football, you’ll miss out on a ton of keywords if you had not identified the niche topics. If you’re an expert in the field you’re writing about, you will automatically and naturally use these theme words and phrases as you write.