There are many angles and avenues for researching keywords for your online marketing efforts. Some people focus on numbers such as search volume or keyword competition. Others might focus on the tools you use to dig up obscure keywords to target. While these may be good keyword metrics to consider, focusing on the keywords themselves should be the most important focus.
You can optimize difficult or easy keywords and high or low search volume phrases, and each will help you reach different levels of success. But choose the wrong keywords and you’ll see your marketing campaigns go a whopping nowhere!
Why Core Terms are Important
Using the research tools available, it’s not difficult to come up with lists of hundreds or even thousands of keywords on any given topic. But before you dig too deep, you need to first get your keyword foundation. This foundation is the “core terms” that will be the basis for all your research efforts moving forward. Get the core terms wrong, you get your keywords wrong.
Most site owners can easily come up with a handful of “keywords” that they want to optimize off the top of their head. However, there are likely dozens of core terms you can find that are relevant, before you ever go digging for more varied keyword phrases.
To put it simply, a core term is really nothing more than the core topic of a page of your site. However, due to the nature of searchers, you may find several relevant core terms that fit a particular page. An example of this might be “clear cards” vs. “transparent cards.” The searcher for either of these is really interested in the same thing but they are using two different words to describe their desire.
Both of these core terms will become the basis for future keyword research. Each core term is likely to produce a list of ten to a couple thousand of keywords that contain each word of the core term.
How to Find Core Terms
Before we get to the keyword research tools, the best place to start is doing some old-fashioned brainstorming and sight-seeing. Each of your pages should have a core topic. It might be “batteries” or “motorcycle batteries” or even “honda motorcycle batteries.” But each of these phrases can be a core term unto itself, producing long lists of phrases to optimize.
Secondly, you can look at what your competitors are doing. Look at their navigation categories to determine what words they are using to drive traffic to their categories and sub-categories. This gives you key insights as to what your competitors consider their core terms.
Once you have these lists, then you can turn to keyword research tools such as Wordtracker or Google’s Keyword Tool. These tools are great for finding core terms with similar meaning that you may not have thought of, such as our example of “clear” vs. “transparent” above.
In the Google tool above, if you perform a search for “clear cards” and then exclude the word “clear,” you can scroll through to see if there are any other words that might mean the same thing. In my results, I see the word “transparent,” but also “translucent.” I now have a new core term that may produce more keywords!
In Wordtracker, you need to go to the “quick research” tab at the top, then to the “related search” tab when selecting which tool to use. Wordtracker gives more results, but nothing’s more insightful than Google. Using both can often lead to unique terms you may not have considered before.
This is a very simplified case where a thesaurus might have done the trick. But more times than not, using keyword research tools for core term research is a real eye opener. For example, your “pet feeder” may also be known as a “pet food dispenser.” Your “dog waterer” might also be searched as a “dog fountain.” I could keep going but we don’t have all day!
Each core term can be represented on a single page of your site surrounded by additional related phrases that also contain the same words. “Simple” core term research can produce a plethora of valuable information that can establish the framework not just for optimizing a site, but also for building your site’s navigational elements to drive searchers to the best page possible.
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