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What Is Keyword Research?

As a website owner, you know that you have to do certain things to, and with, your website in order to obtain favorable placement in search engines, and to start receiving traffic. This to-do list for your website includes SEO, link building, and arguably the most important of them all -- keyword research. However, what is keyword research, and what kind of a role does it play in your website's success?

Keyword research defined

In simple terms, keyword research is the act of analyzing a keyword, or keyword phrase, to determine its viability in helping you to achieve your website's search-engine ranking goals while focusing your keywords to draw the interest of your intended demographic. In other words, keyword research helps you to identify keywords that you should use to reach your market through search engines, and it helps you to identify keywords or phrases that you should incorporate into your search engine optimization and search marketing strategies.

Because of the role that keyword research plays, it is something that you should do before you start to optimize your website, and before you start building links to your website. In fact, it is highly recommended that you perform keyword research before you even start to setup your website -- this way, you can avoid poor user targeting, and can actually save yourself a great deal of time, and stress, by maximizing your website's potential from the get-go

The many faces of keyword research

Many website owners mistakenly assume that keyword research is a one-time deal -- they identify good keywords, and then they use the keywords on their website -- end of story. However, this is not even remotely accurate, at least for website owners who want to maximize their online earnings potential.

See, keyword research should be an ongoing part of your overall marketing strategy, much like SEO and content development. The reason that ongoing research is important is because, even if you start your website with competent keyword research, this does not mean that your targeting can't be improved. Additionally, peoples' searching habits change over time -- just because a certain keyword or phrase brings in paying customers today, does not automatically mean that this will be true 10 months down the road. If you want your website to be the best that it can be, in terms of search engine rankings, and your visitors' conversion rates, you need to continually practice keyword research.

The two types of keyword research

In a general sense, there are two types of keyword research. Now, if you wanted to get technical, you could break this down even more, but for simplicity's sake, we'll focus on the two general types: external keyword research and internal keyword research.

  • External keyword research is research that is performed using various keyword tools and software, either free or paid, which can outline the general lay of the land. This type of research relies strictly on third-party tools, metrics, and statistics, and can give you the estimated search volume of a keyword, how many competitors there are for a particular keyword phrase, and so forth.

  • Internal keyword research is research that is performed based on your website visitors' habits -- which keywords people use to find your website, and which keywords lead to a desired action taking place on your website. Unlike external keyword research, internal keyword research has little to do with the overall popularity of a particular keyword; rather, it has everything to do with identifying keywords that result in sales, signups, leads, or whatever metric you use to identify a positive end-result.

While keyword research plays many roles for today's website owners, and the term can have multiple meanings -- the most basic definition of the term sums up the whole of its purpose quite nicely: keyword research is a way to help you identify keywords that will help you achieve your desired search engine rankings, while increasing your search-to-website conversions. It's as simple as that.

If you have a website, you may be interested in our keyword research services.

If you want to research keywords on your own, check out this keyword research software.