Is keyword research a waste of time?

Jul 12, 2019 by
Is keyword research a waste of time?

The internet is currently used by around half of the global population and reaching those billions of people means cutting through the noise. The best way to do this is to keep in touch with your audience.

It used to be that the best way to do that was to make sure your keywords were helping your marketing team to understand exactly what they were marketing and how wide they were building your conversion rate optimisation (CRO) funnel.

However, whilst we might have been told for the last decade or so that researching keywords was always the first big step to take on any digital marketing campaign and that our content would only rank well and be relevant if the keywords that led to it was perfectly pitched, is that still true today?

What is Keyword Research?

Starting with the basics – fundamentally speaking, keywords are the search terms used to rank websites on search engines that can (despite the name) be more than one word. Researching keywords means to research the words that users might use to search for your business. For example, if you are a carpenter from Birmingham, a common keyword would be, “Birmingham carpenter.”

In this case, it’s relatively simple to choose keywords, as you are offering something very specific. The real artistry in the practice is in researching keywords that rank highly but also have relatively little competition.

Keyword research is about researching your target market and understanding what they are searching for, how many of them are searching for it and the format they want their information in.

Roughly 90% of users use search engines (primarily Google) as a gateway to the internet, and every search is done using a keyword. That keyword is ranked by an increasingly complex set of algorithms that are sifting through vast waves of information that are indexed relating to their popularity.

Is it Still Useful?

It used to be that without a well-researched ‘good’ keyword, your site is destined to be forever lost in the fog. For blogging, however, whilst it is still an undeniably important aspect of SEO and in catching organic traffic, it is not the be-all-and-end-all that it once was. These are the things that will separate your blogs from the cookie-cutter content.

Unfortunately, the primary reason that keyword research is largely inconsequential in today’s SEO landscape is that unless your domain authority is already through the roof then you’ll never be able to realistically target the best keywords anyway. The big boys will have already snapped them up long ago. So, what should you be doing instead?

The Keyword Research Alternative

Back when keyword research was the ‘bee’s knees’ the internet simply wasn’t quite as vast. Today though, it’s an incredibly competitive environment. Even using keyword research tools, you’ll be unlikely to find a relevant keyword that doesn’t totally dominate, no matter how many hours it takes. If you have no chance of ranking, why bother?

Long-tail keywords are more likely to harbour decent results, but it’s still more beneficial to make sure you instead focus your energy on producing great content with a dynamic range of keywords instead of poor content, centred around two or three keywords that everybody else in your sector is using too. Ultimately, when it comes to SEO in 2019, great content always trumps heavily-researched keywords.