You likely know keyword research is the first step in search engine optimization. The keywords and phrases related to your products and services attract online users to your website where they’ll ultimately decide whether or not to contact you. If you know you should do more to drive people to your website but are unsure how to do keyword research for SEO, try these tips.


Ask Google

Enter your brand name, products and brand-specific services in Google’s search bar, but don’t search. Wait to see what Google offers you. Predictive search fills in the initial query with keywords and phrases it calculates match your search intent. These predictions are based on your own and other users’ Google search histories. The goal is to provide users with more specific search parameters to return results that best match their intent. You’ll find similar suggestions in Google’s related searches, a list of clickable links at the end of the page.

Google also gives users the option to ask another question in the middle of the page through its related questions search results. Opening any of the related questions creates a featured snippet response chock full of keywords you should consider.

Other types of search results, such as images, YouTube videos, reviews and shopping results, not only give you an idea of the keywords and phrases surrounding your brand name, products and services, but also provide insight on what users are truly searching for. If shopping results appear in Google and you don’t have an ecommerce site, you’re missing out on more than traffic to your website. You’re missing out on revenue.

Take a list of the meaningful queries that appear after (or surrounding) your name, products and services.

Check Your Website

Our April aviation-specific digital marketing survey showed aviation marketers are using Google Analytics or other measurement programs to track website traffic. Employing Google Analytics on your website is the easiest way to see what keywords and phrases are driving organic traffic.

Google Analytics acquisition metrics provide the queries users searched to get to your website. The majority of these keywords will be branded, especially if you haven’t optimized for non-branded product and service keywords. For example, an OEM will see multiple queries for its name and specific aircraft, but it might not find many associated with the generic MRO services it offers.

Look for those generic, non-branded keywords here – and then check your average position. Top three is ideal, and anything higher than 10 needs work. Make it easier for those determined Googlers to find you.

Consider the Competition

When you conducted your first Google search for your products and services, did you appear in the results? Who else did? Your competitors might be far behind or way ahead of you when it comes to optimizing their websites for the keywords and phrases you share. For those competitors who are lapping you on the track, what terms appear in headlines and the body copy of the website? Do they have a newsroom? Is it updated regularly with the guides and tools your customers are searching for? What content are they sharing on their social media channels?

You’ll collect a great deal of insight on needed optimizations from an audit of your top three search competitors – likely those ranking first, second and third in search results for your products and services. Don’t forget to check the search ads. Who’s paying for those keywords you want to rank for?

These three methods are beginner keyword research tactics. The kicker? They’re manual. A human must perform each search, take down keywords and phrases – we recommend using a series of spreadsheets – and calculate the need for those keywords manually. The tools Google offers up in its top 10 search results hasten the research process and do the calculations for you. Moz and SEMrush are popular SEO tools. Sign up for a 30-day trial if you feel like getting your feet wet.

Whether you use a software or conduct manual research, investing time and resources in keyword research offers more benefits to your brand than just increasing your Google search rank. It also directs content creation and targeted advertising. Consider it your foundation for success.

This column originally appeared in the August 9, 2018, issue of BlueSky News.