Keyword research is the foundation of SEO. Without it, an SEO strategy cannot exist. Simply put, it requires research into the types of words and phrases people type into Google Search, and how often they do so.
In New Zealand, this is especially interesting. We have far fewer people using Google than other larger countries. In the United States or Europe for example, large companies have huge teams working on keeping their top spot in search results.
In New Zealand however, there are lots of keywords up for grabs that haven’t been completely secured yet. For certain industries, you may only require a relatively small investment in SEO before you start moving towards that top spot.
What is SEO keyword research?
SEO is about ranking in Google Search results, and good keyword research will tell you what to try to rank for. You may already have an idea of what keywords you want to rank for, and that’s a good start. At the end of the day though, you’re guessing that people are actually searching for those terms. There’s no point guessing what keywords to target when we have the tools to help us decide.
However, keyword research is a volatile science. It changes day to day. People may search for high fashion outfit inspiration in September, and Halloween costumes in October. They may search for movie tickets on Fridays, and for new jobs on Mondays. Search trends change with the times.
Not everyone uses the same search terms either. One person may search for ‘bottle shop’ while another may search for ‘local liquor store near me’. Recognising these variations and comparing their search volumes is the first step in SEO keyword research.
What tools can I use for keyword research in New Zealand?
There are many platforms that exist to help you with this, but the good ones aren’t cheap, and the bad ones aren’t worth it. For advanced keyword research you’ll want to contact an SEO with access to, and knowledge of, the tools required.
Paid SEO tools for keyword research in NZ
- SEMrush – Easy to use with lots more valuable features than the keyword tool.
- Ahrefs – Similar to Semrush but with key feature differences.
- Moz – Similar to those above, but with a subjectively better keyword research tool.
Free keyword research tools for keyword research in NZ
- Ubersuggest – Fast and simple keyword research.
- AnswerThePublic – More creative long-term keywords and phrases can be found here.
- Google Trends – A good look across regions and keyword trends over time.
There’s an easy way and a hard way to go about keyword research. The easy way gets you near-instant results with fairly accurate data. The hard way involves a deeper dive into user intent behind the search. This method involves strategically compiling a list of high-value keywords based on more detailed audience targeting, conversion rate, and other factors.
Here’s the easy way:
The easiest way to perform SEO keyword research in New Zealand
- Go to https://app.neilpatel.com/en/ubersuggest/keyword_ideas
- Check the country selected is New Zealand, or select your target location.
- Type the keyword you most wish to rank for in the box and submit.
- View your results.
Use this list to find keywords and variations that you may not be able to think of, and note their average search volume per month. This is the fastest method to capture what is essentially the essence of keyword research for SEO. Find the terms that most people are looking for, and create content on your website to match.
Is it the best method? No, but it’s super effective.
I’d recommend the easy method for any small business owner building their first website. It’s also a great way to kick-start SEO on a website that hasn’t yet had any optimisation work done. The easy method is perfect for picking up on any ‘quick-win’ opportunities, and helps build a basic SEO performance boost while more in-depth SEO is in the works.
Now for next-level keyword research.
Advanced keyword research for New Zealand websites
Businesses with an established online presence have generally implemented basic keyword research. They know their target keywords, and have used common SEO tactics to achieve some level of ranking. It’s likely they have a handful of page 1 rankings; maybe even top spot for a non-branded term. Good job!
Such results are possible with some basic keyword research and targeted on-page SEO implementation. For those NZ companies with more ambitious SEO targets, more advanced keyword research is required.
Now obviously I can’t go into too much detail about what methods I use for advanced keyword research. There are certain methods I use that I don’t want to give away so easily…trade secrets if you will. Regardless, I’m happy to give a few tips that will point you in the right direction of more advanced keyword research.
Use all the tools at your disposal
All the keyword research tools that I listed above have different ways of obtaining their data. None of them are 100% accurate. Advanced keyword research therefore requires a holistic approach.
Rather than taking the results of one tool as gospel, perform your keyword research through a number of tools and compare results. Averaging the results across all platforms will give you a much clearer picture of the search landscape.
Size doesn’t (always) matter
It’s one thing to target keywords with high search volumes. It’s another to actually achieve a page one ranking. I say page one because let’s be honest, nobody is clicking over to page two of search results.
For example, the keyword ‘SEO’ has 2,400 searches per month in New Zealand. That’s a decent amount, and at first glance may seem like a good keyword for me to target. If I can rank seowriter.co.nz on page one, I’ll probably get a whole lot of traffic.
There’s two problems with this logic:
- The top spot is held by Wikipedia, and the rest of page one is dominated by large SEO agencies. For me, and seowriter.co.nz, there’s no chance of beating them.
- This keyword is not going to be used by my target audience.
The first point is always worth considering. Ask yourself, “Can I compete with whoever is ranking on page one?”. Remember, large companies often have entire teams of people working on their keyword rankings. If the answer is ‘no’, you have to think smarter.
The second point is even more important. You have to think about what people intend to find when they submit their search.
Understanding the intent behind a search is critical when undertaking keyword research. SEO falls under the digital marketing umbrella, and thus you have to think like a marketer. What does that mean? It means putting yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Ask yourself, “What is my ideal customer going to type into Google Search?”.
For me, my audience is made up of businesses that need more traffic to their website. They may not have even heard of ‘SEO’ before, and they certainly aren’t just going to type that single word into Google search. Combine that with the fact that most websites will never outrank Wikipedia, and you’ve got a recipe for failure.
Think about your business, your audience, and what keywords you want your audience to find you with. Type those phrases into Google and see who pops up. Can you compete? Do you think your SEO budget is comparable to the company holding the top spot? If so, create content to match the search query.
If you can’t rank for the most popular keywords, what can you do?
Long-tail keyword research
You’ve probably guessed by now, but the trick to competing in search results is by targeting more than one word. Keywords or ‘keyphrases’ longer than two words are known as ‘long-tail keywords’. They often have less search volume than shorter words and phrases, but are much easier to rank for.
It’s hardly considered ‘advanced’, but long-tail keywords are the bread and butter of SEO and they can align perfectly with audience intent. For example, rather than targeting just ‘SEO’, I target phrases like ‘common SEO issues’, ‘what is SEO?’, and ‘SEO in New Zealand’.
Keyword research is as complicated as you can make it. The more you learn about SEO, the more understanding you will gain around how people search and what they search for. Advanced keyword research comes from diving deeper into user intent, and finding as many long-tail keywords/phrases as possible.
Hint: AnwerThePublic is great for long-tail keyword research!
Understanding your customer
Keyword research benefits from understanding your customers in detail. Use Google Analytics, GSC, and customer outreach to find insights.
- Look at the search terms that users are already finding your site with.
- View the queries that your website visitors type into your website search box (if you have one).
- You can even send surveys to existing customers just to further understand how they think.
All these things combined (and more!) will guide your keyword research and SEO strategy moving forward.
Your potential customers are searching for solutions to their business problems, their pain points. They type in queries they have about their business. “How can I do x?”, “What is y?”, or using this post as an example, “SEO Keyword Research for New Zealand Websites”.
The point of keyword research for SEO
The point of keyword research is to guide your content creation. That’s blog articles, news updates, and even product pages. Create content on your website that answers common search queries. Use these keyword research strategies to show you how people are searching and also what they’re searching for. First gain an in-depth understanding of your target audience through the strategies mentioned above. Then, create content that answers their questions and solves their problems directly.
If you need help creating said content, doing advanced keyword research, or optimising your website for SEO in general, contact the SEO writer.