Search marketers agree that keyword research is a critical part of a successful SEO strategy. Without proper keyword research and tracking, your roofing business is unlikely to get very far off the ground on a digital level. Keyword research is the backbone of all successful internet marketing and it is changing all the time, with the most recent development being the need to implement keywords that are specifically targeted towards voice search.
What are Keywords and What is Keyword Research?
Simply put, keywords are the terms and phrases used to target a specific audience or group of people for organic and paid search.
For example, a keyword for your residential roofing business might be “residential roofing.” This term would serve to target potential customers searching for things such as “residential roofing contractors in my area,” “residential roofing in [location],” etc. You get the picture.
Of course, keyword research isn’t quite as simple as picking a few standard roofing terms and adding them to a spreadsheet. There are different types of keywords, different ways of tracking keywords, various ways to optimize for keywords and many different tools to discover keywords.
Ideally, keywords should correlate with searcher intent in order to get the highest click-through percentage, and because of this, keyword research naturally and easily flows into content development, link building and ultimately affects the overall health of your website. That sounds like a lot, but don’t worry, all of this is why this little guide exists.
In this article, I will walk you through keyword research: the best ways to benefit from it, the best free tools to use for it, and how to use those tools effectively. You will learn how to create high-quality content based on keyword performance and the best methods for optimizing your current content to meet its highest ranking potential.
Finally, I will end this guide by going over the newest development in search that is shaking up the SEO world: voice search. It is my hope that by the time you are through this guide you will have a better understanding of not only how keyword research can benefit your roofing company, but also what it takes to create a successful keyword research strategy.
How Does My Roofing Company Benefit from Keyword Research?
Keyword research is one of the most fundamental components of search engine optimization. This means that in order for your roofing company to rank organically in search results, a well-developed keyword strategy is essential.
Your website and individual pages are indexed among millions of others, all of which can have very similar information. So how do you rank above these other millions? How do you make your page and your company be seen above the rest? For roofing companies, the basic answer tends to be a combination of domain authority, page authority, local optimization, and content-to-query relevance. Establishing content relevance is where keyword research comes into play.
When new information gets put out onto the web, Google (as well as other search engine) bots will find and crawl that new page or site. This is called indexing the page. While crawling, the Google bots analyze content to determine subject, information quality, and relevance to various search queries. This is where keyword optimization becomes crucial to ranking.
By targeting specific keywords on your pages or post, you can coax the search engines into noticing that your page has specific, quality content about a topic matching your keywords. Upon noticing this, the search engines will rank your piece above others with lesser-quality content. Ultimately, this means that when potential clients are searching for a roofing contractor your company gets noticed above your competitors.
How to do Keyword Research: Tools and Strategies
Now that you understand the necessity of keyword research, you are probably wondering how you’re supposed to do it! There is a wide range of keyword research tools available to business owners, marketing experts and professional SEOs. Some of these tools are only available by paid subscription, but many tools out there are free for the public to use, and new ones are popping up everyday as the industry changes. However, even with constant change in the SEO field, some keyword research tools and methods seem to remain strong over the test of time. These are:
- Google Search Console
- Google Adwords
- Google Search Suggestions
Google Search Console
Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) has been a staple instrument in every SEO’s tool box for years. This is a free tool offered by Google in order to track a website’s search traffic, data, errors and more. Through this tool, a knowledgeable webmaster can analyze how a site is viewed through Google.
As far as keyword research is concerned, Google Search Console should be a primary source for search data. Google will track and display actual search queries in which they show your site, the number of impressions your site had, actual click-throughs off of the query, and average rank for your site.
After conducting an analysis comparing the data for impressions, clicks, and rank, you will be able to dig deeper into the data set in order to discover pages that currently rank for queries and keywords you wish to target. After gathering this information, you should know exactly which pages to optimize for the new keywords you wish to target.
Paid ads are becoming a crucial part of any successful digital marketing strategy. Take a look at any Google search results page and it is easy to see where paid advertisements are taking over the top rankings. Paid ads will always appear before organic search results. Search engines, although a staple component in almost everyone’s lives, are really just businesses. Because of this, their primary goal is to make money, and advertisements are how they do this.
That being said, it is still possible to use the Google Adwords tool to benefit your organic search rankings. Google Adwords can be an excellent place to find potential keywords to try to rank for organically.
Gathering keyword data through paid advertising research is a great way to grow organic keywords. Often keywords will first be “discovered” as hot trends in paid advertising. Taking those trends and moving them into the organic field can move your ranking forward.
You can also use paid keywords as a boost for organic keywords in your campaign. Occasionally adding an organic keyword into the paid AdWords will bring higher rankings to organic search volume on that phrase or keyword.
The intersection of paid and organic is important and not to be ignored. Do not discount either option; it’s best to utilize all the tools available to bring traffic to your website. Without traffic through keywords, there can be no sales or leads!
Google Search Suggestions
After you have used Google Search Console and Google Adwords to create a base keyword list, your next step should be expanding that list to include variations and long-tail keywords. Google Search Suggestions is an excellent place to look.
To use this keyword research method, all you have to do is enter your base keywords into a standard Google search. As you enter your keywords, Google will suggest possible searches in a drop-down. Look through these and pick out keywords and phrases that apply to your company and brand.
Tip: After writing making a list of appropriate keyword suggestions, click into the search
for your base keywords and scroll to the bottom of the page for the additional keyword
Try to imagine sitting down to write new content for your roofing website. Do you know what you are going to write? Is that information going to be answering the questions that people want to know the answers to? Will people actually search for your content or be interested in reading it? This is where forums can be very helpful in content creation.
A forum is a community of people all interested in knowing about similar topics. People will ask questions to the forums and hope for a satisfactory response. Often, this means that these questions are not satisfactorily answered elsewhere, which gives your roofing company a perfect opportunity to provide an answer. After all, if one person is curious enough to ask, it’s very likely other people are going to be interested in the answer as well. You want your roofing company to answer questions that you know people are asking, and forums are the perfect place to find those inquiries.
Keyword Research and Content Development
Now that you have established a keyword list for your roofing business, you will need to write quality content utilizing those keywords for your site. Quality content is used to entice users into your site and ultimately prompt them to complete an action called a conversion. The way content accomplishes this ultimate goal is through keyword optimization. Keyword optimization is the term used to describe the process of carefully selecting and seamlessly layering chosen keywords and keyword phrases into a piece of content in order to find the target audience.
Without keyword optimization, you could have the highest-quality piece of writing and it would mean nothing, because it is unlikely to be found or read by the intended audience. Essentially, keywords act as the bait to draw the right viewers to your site. The right viewers, of course, are those most likely to convert. Keyword rich content is what we call optimized content.
Tip: Quality content needs to be the priority when it comes to keyword optimization.
Always start with high quality, original content that people are going to want to read
before baiting the hook with your keywords.
What is Quality Content?
There are a few guidelines when it comes to writing quality content for Google. First and most importantly, your content needs to be original. This simply means that the content is not plagiarized. Plagiarism is considered literary theft and is actually protected under US copyright laws, so not only is it immoral, but plagiarism is also illegal.
Second, and a little less straightforward, quality content needs to appeal to the audience you’re writing for. Ask yourself who your piece is meant to be read by. Are you writing to someone who is looking for tips to know when to replace their roof? Maybe you’re writing for someone wanting to know the difference between shingle and tile roofing options. This is your audience. Always keep your audience in mind when you are writing your piece. Use language your audience would be comfortable with and explain any language they might not understand.
After you have a clear understanding of the audience you are writing for, it should be easier to select targeted keywords. Choose keywords that appeal to the type of people you’re trying to attract to your site and match the tone you are trying to set for your piece
Tone is the last of the three guidelines for quality content. Tone is related to audience in such a way that audience can at times dictate the tone or the tone can help to dictate the audience. Tone can also be greatly affected by the subject of the piece, but it does not necessarily have to be (i.e. satire).
The tone of your writing simply means how you intend for your audience to read it. Is the piece meant to be comical, or serious, informational or inspirational, formal or informal? Perhaps the piece is meant to be a combination of two or more categories or something entirely different. Whatever your tone may be, it is important to keep it in mind while you’re writing. Failure to do so can often lead to inconsistency in your work, which can be jarring and off-putting to readers.
The World of Voice Search
The Google Algorithms
Like any truly healthy entity and growing industry, keyword research and content development is constantly changing, and it is up to content and keyword developers to keep up with those changes. Google’s frequent algorithm updates are more often than not the catalysts for the changes:
The first major change Google made to the content and keyword game came in the form of Google Panda in February of 2011. Google Panda put an end to the practice of keyword stuffing by calling for relevant content of high quality. Before 2011, keyword stuffing, or the practice of oversaturating a content piece with targeted keywords, was common practice in many SEOs’ repertoire. After Panda was released, SEOs were forced to change their strategy or fail in the new playing field.
Google EMD (Exact Match Domain)
Even after the launch of Google Panda, keyword stuffing did not completely die out in common practice. The release of Google EMD in September of 2012 acted as a supplement to Google Panda in order to prevent keyword stuffing within domain names. With EMD, sites with poor content could no longer outrank quality content simply because of an abundance of exact match keywords in the domain name.
Google Hummingbird was the first major advancement directed at the search queries themselves. Hummingbird ensures that the whole meaning of a search query is taken into account rather than just individual keywords. This opened the door to better Query to SERP (Search Engine Results Page) match based on the meaning of a query, and completely changed the way we use keywords and the way we search. The Google Hummingbird update in 2013 made voice search possible.
How do I Optimize My Website for Voice Search?
Voice search is a complex and relatively new development that is taking the SEO world by storm. Personal assistants are everywhere and people are quickly adapting to utilize them for their full potential. What once was used only as a glorified music player and to weather-checker is now being used for general search purposes, to perform market research, and even to complete transactions–all without ever looking at a screen! Voice search is changing the game for keyword optimization once again.
In today’s world of spoken commands and quick, concise answers, long-tail keywords are becoming more and more valuable and knowing how to properly utilize them is becoming more essential by the day. Long-tail keywords are highly specific keyword phrases that are more likely to correspond with the kinds of highly specific questions that make up voice queries. Voice search, long-tail queries, and the lack of an actual screen means that devices have to return answers that are precise and concise in order to fulfill their purpose. Generally, only one answer is returned and the conversation either springboards off of that answer or ends with that answer.
The question you must be asking yourself now is, “How can I make my content be that one answer?” That question is the key to optimizing your content for voice search. Google will return answers pulled from the content found within the first page of search results.This is called a rich snippet. The trick with rich snippets is that they do not have to be taken from the first result on the SERP, but rather any of the top ranking search results. This means that your roofing company’s FAQ page could rank third or fourth on the search results but still win the rich snippet. This implies that rich snippets are based more highly on quality of content and its ability to answer the question at hand rather than traditional ranking factors.
For your roofing company, what this means is a shift from the traditional techniques used to rank high in SERP results to having a focus on short, descriptive answers worth listening to. Certainly you will still want to be one of those top search results; there is plenty of value in that for traditional searching, but having that content that is optimized for voice search and rich snippets is becoming more essential every moment.
The world of SEO is always changing, and it’s up to you to make sure your company is ready for the changes that come by staying on top of the latest news and always being open to adapting your methods. If you’ve read this whole guide, you’re on the right track! If you have more questions about SEO, writing quality content, or digital marketing at large, get in touch with us at Art Unlimited!