A colleague from a related discipline approached me the other day, excited that she had completed her first blog post. She wanted to know what keyword she should use before she published the post. You know, from “the keyword list”. (My inner content marketer indulged in a deep sigh and a tiny eye roll.) When my eyelid stopped twitching, I started asking her all the questions she should have been asking herself before she wrote her blog post.
I explained (gently, I hope) that when it comes to keyword research, it helps to do things in order. As I was walking her through the process, it occurred to me that even among marketers, there still exists the notion that we should be creating content that focuses on the product or idea that WE want to talk about, rather than being true to a content strategy that revolves around what potential customers need and are searching for.
So, how do you perform keyword research for your content marketing strategy that is, you know, strategic?
- First, you think about your buyer persona. Who are the individuals most likely to be doing research on your business and why? What questions are they asking as they move through the buying process? What kind of problems can you solve for them? When are they searching? What need or want can your business fulfill?
- Then, you think about the kind of leads you want your content to attract. Not every visitor to your website will turn into a lead. In the early days of digital marketing, just getting traffic to your website was considered a big win. Traffic is important, of course, but business owners now realize that online window shoppers alone don’t pay the bills. You need to create content that will attract genuine leads that will eventually convert into sales.
- Then, start your keyword research. Go to your Keyword Research tool of choice (there are many free and pay versions available) and create a list of keywords related to points #1 and #2. Find out how much traffic there is for the words you think your customers would be searching. Even more important, identify how tough the competition is for those keywords. Remember that Google is now particularly partial to giving good rankings to “conversational” search (long tail keywords, whole questions, and locally relevant keywords). For example, here are some results from the Google Adwords Keyword Planner.
- Then, brainstorm about topics that take into consideration #1, #2, #3. Find the common ground and determine what topics you could write about that would satisfy each.
- THEN, start writing. Make sure you use those keywords and keyword phrases in your content and headlines.
Good keyword research is not a list of words that you can shoehorn into your copy after it’s written. Nor should your keyword research be static. We all know that in business these days, things change, and they change quickly. Products and trends that didn’t exist six months ago can suddenly emerge. Your content marketing strategy needs to be flexible enough to adapt to the current business climate and your keywords should reflect that.
Ultimately, your content marketing strategy and the associated keyword research should be devoted to growing your business by attracting qualified leads to your website. For more information about developing an effective content marketing strategy and measuring the effectiveness of your own content, download our FREE Content Calendar and Goals Template today and start creating content that delivers measurable results.