When it comes to digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), keyword research on the search queries your target customers are Googling is like the foundation of your marketing house. If you don’t do it properly, problems will arise in the foundation later on down the road.
When you do keyword research correctly, you’re empowered to create targeted content that resonates with your target audiences, drives traffic, and increase conversions.
In this blog, we share why keyword research is critical and how to do it to maximize web traffic and awareness for your brand.
Defining Your Target Audience and Marketing Goals
Simply going for high-volume keywords during the keyword research process is like shooting in the dark. You want to pick a mixture of keywords that are most relevant and beneficial to your target audience and ultimately drive the content strategy for your marketing goals. To do this, you need to:
- Define your target audience and ideal customer personas
- Determine their pain points in the customer journey
- Identify what value you can offer them through content
- Set measurable goals for reaching your target audience
Identifying Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and Search Intent
Before starting keyword research, ask yourself:
- Who am I trying to target?
- What kind of people are they?
- What are their needs and desires?
Once you have a clear understanding of your potential customers and what they’re looking for, you can begin to develop a marketing strategy that is tailored to reach them. This will include defining specific goals such as increasing brand awareness, generating leads, and increasing sales.
NEXT STEP: Use our helpful guide on identifying your ICP.
Determining Your Marketing Funnel Stages and the Keywords That Align with Each Stage
Start by mapping out the customer journey and identifying which keywords are most relevant to each stage of the funnel.
- If you want to target people who are just starting to learn about your product or service, you would want to focus on keywords that relate to the top of the funnel (TOF) such as ‘why do I need this’ or ‘what is this product all about?’
- The middle of the funnel (MOF) keywords would be more specific, such as ‘how to use this product’ or ‘what features does this product have?’
- The bottom of the funnel (BOF) would focus on keywords related to buying decisions such as ‘best price for this product’ or ‘where to buy this product.’
By targeting the right keywords at each stage of the funnel, you can create content that is highly targeted and relevant for each stage of the customer journey.
NEXT STEP: Use our helpful guide on how to do a customer journey exercise.
THEN: Use our handy reference on how to map topics to funnel stages in your customer journey.
Tools and Resources for Keyword Research
Once you have identified your target audience and goals, the next step is to use keyword research tools to identify the best keywords for achieving those goals.
Most keyword research tools allow you to enter specific keywords that you’d like to target, and then generate a list of related keywords with various metrics such as search volume, estimated competition, and cost-per-click.
The keywords you feed the tool are critical so they should reference your key offerings and be in line with the same naming conventions your ideal customers use.
So for example, if one of the key services in your list of keywords is “B2B copy writing,” yet your ideal searcher refers to it as “conversion copy” you’ll get better results in organic search using the search terms they’re using.
If you’re not quite sure, there are many different tools for conducting keyword research that can help you better define your core keywords before running your research.
A few examples include Google Keyword Planner, Answer The Public, Google Trends, Google Analytics, SEMrush, and Ahrefs.
You could even start with Google search and analyze the keywords used by highest ranking content in Google search results (SERP).
As we feel that GKP, SEMrush, and Ahrefs are the best keyword research tools, we’re going to talk a bit more about how we use those tools.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool from Google that helps you identify keywords related to your business. You can use it to discover new keyword ideas, get historical statistics such as search volume and competition, and even get detailed estimates for running a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign on Google Ads.
SEMrush is a popular tool that helps you uncover new keywords and gain insights into your competitors’ strategies. It provides keyword research, competitive analysis, and backlink analysis, among other features.
Ahrefs Keywords Explorer
Ahrefs Keywords Explorer provides an extensive list of related keywords, search volume data, keyword difficulty scores, and more. You can sort keyword ideas depending on your location or the keywords used by competitors.
When you’re ready to take it to the next level, see our in-depth guide on utilizing Google Search Console to enhance your SEO efforts.
Tips for Using Keyword Research Tools
Once you identify the best tools for your keyword research, it’s time to start using them. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your keyword research tools:
- Locate seed keywords: Start by entering seed keywords that will help you generate a list of related keywords to explore. Don’t worry if the list is too broad. This is simply indicative information.
- Check for keyword difficulty scores: This metric will give you an idea of how difficult ranking will be for a particular keyword. If you are just starting out, it’s best to focus on keywords that have a lower keyword difficulty score.
- Look for long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are often easier to rank for and can help you reach more targeted audiences. For example, instead of targeting a keyword such as ‘shoes’, you can target more specific keywords such as ‘women’s hiking shoes’.
- Analyze the competition: Most keyword research tools provide detailed data on how competitive a particular keyword is. This can help you identify which keywords are more likely to be successful.
- Check search volume: Make sure you check the estimated monthly search volume for each keyword, as this will help you determine which keywords are more likely to drive traffic.
- Use negative keywords: Negative keywords can help ensure that your ads and content are not appearing for irrelevant searches. For example, if you’re selling hiking shoes, you might want to add ‘sandals’ as a negative keyword. This will prevent your ads from appearing for searches related to sandals.
Tips for Conducting Keyword Research
Identify Seed Keywords to Find Related Long-Tail Keywords
Seed keywords refer to the initial keywords that you will use to begin your keyword research. To find seed keywords, start by brainstorming a few relevant topics related to your business, and then use online tools such as the Google Keyword Planner to generate a list of related keywords.
Once you have identified your seed keywords, you can use them to generate a list of related and long-tail keywords. A related keyword is one that has similar meaning or context to the seed keyword, while a long-tail keyword is one that is more specific and generally has lower competition.
For example, if you are selling B2B software for marketing teams, your seed keywords might be “marketing software”. Using this keyword with a tool like Google Keyword Planner can help you find related keywords such as “marketing automation software” or “email marketing software”, as well as long-tail keywords such as “enterprise marketing automation software.”
Analyzing Keyword Difficulty and Competition Level
This will help you identify which keywords are most likely to be successful. Most keyword research tools have a metric that measures the difficulty of ranking for a particular keyword, and you should aim to focus on keywords with a lower difficulty score.
You should also take a look at the competition level for each keyword you are considering targeting. This can help you identify which keywords are more likely to be successful, as well as which ones should be avoided.
Assessing the Commercial Intent and Potential Value of Specific Keywords
Commercial intent will help you determine which keywords are more likely to drive sales or conversions. For example, if a keyword has a high search volume but low commercial intent, it might be worth avoiding as it’s unlikely to drive conversions.
Finally, you should also assess the potential value of each keyword. This will help you identify which keywords are more likely to drive high-value customers, as well as which ones should be avoided.
For example, if a keyword has a high search volume and commercial intent, but the potential value of the customers generated from that keyword is low, it might be a good idea to avoid it.
Tips for Incorporating Keywords into Your Content Marketing Strategy
Once you have identified and analyzed the target keywords, you can incorporate them into your content marketing strategy. This includes optimizing webpages, landing pages, and blog posts with the target keywords, as well as creating content such as infographics and videos that are based on the target keywords.
Write Compelling Headlines and Titles That Incorporate Targeted Keywords
The title of your content is one of the most important elements, as it’s often the first thing people will see. Make sure you incorporate targeted keywords into your titles and headlines, as this will help your content to appear in relevant searches.
Include Keywords Naturally in the Body of Your Content
Keywords should be used throughout your content, but you should make sure to include them in a natural way. Writing content that reads unnaturally or is stuffed with keywords can actually be detrimental to your SEO efforts, as it can result in lower rankings and decreased user engagement.
Use keywords in meta descriptions and alt tags for SEO purposes
Meta descriptions and alt tags are two of the most important elements when it comes to SEO. Meta descriptions should include relevant keywords, as this will help your content to gain relevancy in searches.
Alt tags should also include targeted keywords, as this will help search engines better understand the context of your images.
Advice for Ongoing Keyword Research and Optimization
Content creation is an ongoing process and you should continue to research and optimize your keywords on an ongoing basis. Here are some tips for ongoing keyword research and optimization:
Regularly Reviewing and Updating Your Keyword Strategy
As your business grows and evolves, you may need to add new keywords or optimize existing ones in order to continue seeing results. You should take the time to review your keyword strategy on a regular basis and update it as needed. Maybe you’ll need to add new keywords, or you may need to change your targeting strategy in order to capture more relevant organic traffic.
Analyzing the Performance of Specific Keywords and Adjusting Your Strategy Accordingly
Analyzing the performance of specific keywords can help you identify which ones are performing well, and which ones need to be adjusted. You should regularly review your keyword performance and adjust your strategy accordingly. This could involve shifting your focus to higher-performing keywords or adjusting the way you use a particular keyword in order to boost its performance.
Utilizing Both Short-Tail and Long-Tail Keywords to Reach a Wider Audience
Using both short-tail and long-tail keywords can help you reach a wider audience. Short-tail keywords are often more competitive, but they tend to generate higher search volume. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are less competitive and attract fewer searches, but they’re usually better targeted and can result in more qualified leads.
To find the right balance between short-tail and long-tail keywords, you should analyze the performance of each keyword type and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Get Started with Interrupt Media Today
Interrupt Media can help you develop an effective content marketing strategy that incorporates targeted keywords and drives more qualified leads.
Our team of experienced content strategists will work with you to identify the best keywords for your business and optimize them for maximum impact.