Keyword Research Trends That Matter In 2017

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Despite what you’ve been hearing, keyword research isn’t dead. Without keywords, there is no SEO… right? Let’s look at the facts.

93% of online experiences in 2016 started with a search, and search starts with words. Keywords will remain relevant as long as people use words to interact with search engines. The only thing that has changed are the additional factors that have influenced how we use keywords for SEO.

The truth is that search engines are no longer looking only at keywords, but also value many other factors. Keywords are now just a miniscule part of the pie. That is not to say that keyword discovery isn’t important. In fact, it is important in the way you go about it: we need to go levels deeper – to the precise level that users are searching for; and search engines are indexing for.

This post will focus on the three main focuses of valuable keyword research in 2017:

(1) user intent
(2) long-tail keywords
(3) Google voice search

User Intent

User intent is critical to keyword research and discovery in 2017. Marketers need to understand how to work together with search engines to provide the content users really want. After all, it’s not about attracting visitors to your site, but the right kind of visitors.

So what exactly is user intent? User intent refers to “a user’s ultimate objective or goal” in making a search query. Every single search query has an intent, a goal, perhaps a problem the user wants to solve.

For example, a search query of “Chicago to New York” gives me flight schedules. Adding “travel” to make it “Chicago to New York travel” does not only provide me with flight results, but bus and car information as well.

Adding one word to a search query greatly impacts the results of the search as Google automatically recognizes the change in intent. In fact, Google refines its algorithms 500-600 times a year to get user intent right. And if Google is focusing on it, so should you.

You need to make user intent central to your keyword research. It is critical that you understand your user’s goals when they make search queries. This understanding or lack of it could make or break your organic traffic.

The great thing is that user intent is pretty easy to figure out the longer the search query is. Long queries give us a lot of information on what a user exactly wants so we can give it to them. They also enable us to get targeted organic traffic for long-tail keywords. Speaking of which…

Long-Tail Keywords

I’m sure you’ve heard long-tail keywords uttered over and over again by marketers in 2016 (and even before). It looks like it’s set to dominate 2017 as well. I’m sure you’re already familiar with long-tail keywords, being that you’ve been focusing on them, but let’s cover the basics first before we delve into how to successfully incorporate it in your SEO strategy.

What are long-tail keywords? Long-tail keywords are search terms with four or more words. In fact, 51% of all search queries in 2016 contained four or more words (source).

So where should you start off on finding relevant long-tail keywords for your business? Well, you need to first find actual terms that are being used in your specific industry or field.

You don’t need to use the expensive keyword research tools to get a good list of long-tail keywords. There are some free keyword research tools that will give you a good list to start with. Keyword Finder (suggests long-tail queries and search volumes but only allows a few daily searches) and Keyword.io (suggest long-tail queries but does not provide search volumes) are free (but limited) tools you can start off with if you’re on a budget. And of course there’s always Google’s very own Keyword Planner that’s integrated into Adwords.

By far the best premium keyword research tool is Moz Pro’s Keyword Explorer. You start by searching your main keyword and it will return a comprehensive list of keywords that you can rank for relevancy and search volume. From there, you can go down the list and pick out the long-tail keyword phrases or search queries. The great thing about the Keyword Explorer is that you can click on any long-tail keyword to generate a new list of queries related to that keyword. The new list features more long-tail queries than the initial list.

Google’s Voice Search

Perhaps the most interesting development in keyword strategy is Google’s voice search and natural language capabilities. According to Google, 20% of mobile searches are now voice searches! This trend is quickly taking and has prompted Google to create answer boxes and Knowledge Graph panels. Here you can also find a fun infograph regarding the matter.

Let’s take a look at how natural language, both spoken and typed, has changed search. For example, users, like you, used to search for “keyword research”, but now ask, “what is keyword research?” or “what is the most effective keyword research strategy?” You can see the change from keywords to long-tail keywords or queries. Voice search capability is quickening this development in SEO content marketing.

Google voice queries are rising in popularity and will only continue to do so in 2017.

Google voice queries are quickly rising in popularity and will only continue to do so in 2017.

So how can you keep up with this development to plan an effective SEO content marketing strategy?

(1) Look at the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for your industry or brand and match this to your existing content. Do you have pages or posts that address those questions? If so, make sure that the questions are put forward in a very natural way and are highlighted on the page.

(2) Create an FAQ page for questions that you can answer in a couple of paragraphs. Answer the questions in clear, concise and natural language.

(3) Try and come up with long-form content for the questions by breaking them up into “What, when, why, how, who and where?” components. Create subheadings for each so that search engines can index them and users can easily find the content.

Wrapping Up

A good understanding and grasp of user intent, long-tail keywords and Google voice search will help you better refine your keyword, and overall SEO, strategy for 2017. Start to figure out what your audience really wants so you can begin communicating with them in the best way as soon as possible.

Arnaud, a foodie from Bruges, Belgium, is the editor for the Semper Plugins blog. He also manages the translation teams for All in One SEO Pack (over 58 languages!).

29 comments on “Keyword Research Trends That Matter In 2017
  1. Khidir says:

    what you tell us is true, only if there is a tutorial how to search his keyword

    • Arnaud Broes says:

      You can easily use Google Keyword Planner to track and discover new keywords that fit your brand or business.

  2. Kale Alarm says:

    Thanks for sharing your nice experiences. My cms is wordpress and I use wp-smush to optimize images. I pay attention keyword density and I write related keywords to header and content. But my organic hits doesn’t increase.

    • Arnaud Broes says:

      Keywords don’t mean a thing unless you write quality content and content readers actually search for. If you do, try to focus on longtail keywords as competitors may already be attracting most of organic traffic.

  3. Ben says:

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with the public. This is where i get stuck sometimes. I am looking for a domain name for a travelsite i am working on right now. The problem with traveling is that your domain name must be short to remember, but i would like to use a longtail keyword for my seo. I did the keyword research for profitable and buyer keywords but i am in doubt and a little bit afraid to use the longtail words for my travelsite. Do you have any suggestions or tell me what you think?

    Kind regards,
    Ben
    The netherlands

    • Stalyn says:

      I don’t see no information, just a link to main site and you have to register. Looks like spam to me.

    • Ricardo Penders says:

      Hi Ben, I’m from The Netherlands too.

      I read your comment here and I want to help you understand this keyword research a little bit better… You can still use longtail keywords for your website and have a completely different domain name which should be as short as possible, what you didn’t understand is that your domain name and the longtail keywords you want to rank for are separate ranking factors on the search engine results pages.

      My own website is the perfect example because my domain name doesn’t have anything to do with internet marketing whatsoever and you wouldn’t be able to make any connection between my domain name and the keywords that I’m ranking for.

      My domain name is soharddbwarez.com and I still rank on page number one for many keywords in my internet marketing niche, that’s because I’m using the name for my brand and Google likes branding very much and will rank your longtail keywords which should be used as blog post titles and should be in your content of your website.

      So domain names can be anything you want and longtail keywords shouldn’t be used for domain names but in the content of the website, many people get this totally wrong.

      I hope this was helpful to you and if you need help or have questions you can contact me via my website or via Facebook (my username = Ricardo.Penders.1982)

      Ricardo Penders CEO
      _SoHarD_dB_w@®Ez_

      • Mike says:

        This was very considerate and generous of you to provide these insights from your personal experience with long tail keywords SEO and your site. I appreciated this, Ricardo.

      • Eric says:

        Very cool ,thank you , i will try it in my website,im new at learning this stuff

      • Josephine says:

        Interesting and helpful,

        I understand what a brand is but what Markers does Google call a Brand?

  4. Shakir says:

    this is bigger news because i was focusing on keywords

  5. Ian Orford says:

    Great article Arnaud, the interesting thing is, there used to be a tool you could use ‘back in the day’ to measure ‘buyer intent’ for a keyword. You put your keyword in and it gave you a percentage measure of how high the searcher using the keyword, or keyword string had an intent to buy. or how imminent their intent was. You get some interesting results right now if you do a Google search for ‘buyer intent keyword research’. I also found your comment that the Moz keyword research tool was the best. How did you arrive at that conclusion? I have recently seen it in 3rd place in a very detailed survey, behind Long tail Pro and AHREFS keyword tool.

  6. Sarah Charmley says:

    Some great points in this article, Sarah.

  7. shimul bala says:

    Thanks for sharing your excellent post …i really appreciate for this post

  8. Shoaib Raza says:

    Great aricle i am bigneer web develper and i am using worpress form this imformation is new for me and also helpful. I have question that is google show different results to mobile users because now today’s mostly traffic comes from mobiles.

  9. arvin says:

    Thanks for sharing this honestly the main majority only long tail was i am doing right now because i have few niche are actually rank in first page with long tail.. it takes few months before they rank.. base in my experience also social signals help to boost their rankings.

  10. Stalyn says:

    Thats for the recommendations, will try them.

  11. Maxine says:

    I use Semrush to look at my keywords.
    Great article by the way

  12. Ben says:

    Nice article, it seems that the best option right now is to focus on questions in content. 20% of voice searches was quite shocking for me. People really use it?

  13. Satish Kakri says:

    Change is happening fast. Everything is changing faster than one can imagine. Thanks for sharing information which is very helpful in keeping oneself updated with the latest trends. Thank you.

  14. Isaac says:

    i’m learning and writing SEO, i need help in growing to become better, can you please help me with notes and pointers on what am suppose to do?

  15. Barbara DiLucchio says:

    I am trying to change the Title and Description and for some reason, it is not allowing me to change it. When I first started modifying it I could do it but when I didn’t like the results and wanted to change those 2 values, it is acting like a non-changeable column. This is the Pro-version of All in One. I would really appreciate any suggestions that anyone can give me.
    Thank you very much,
    Barbara

  16. Kristine says:

    I really hate pressing to page 2, 3, 4 🙁
    Why you are not publish the article just on one page?

    Thanks

    • Arnaud Broes says:

      Hi Kristine
      We publish paginated content because this increases load times on mobile devices and makes it easier to read our content for most of our users.
      Some don’t like paginated content, but most do.
      Arnaud

  17. Micah Cotrell says:

    Can you tell us what major changes are projected to occur with Google regarding over all content, videos, pictures, links etc.

  18. christopher brennan says:

    i think the reality is that keywords and niche search quantities are totally underestimated by the article writer.
    if the niche is small enough then you can own a search term regardless of algorithms simply by owning an emd.

    this is not rhetoric, i make a living from google using emd’s

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