As marketers, we have the challenge of knowing our target audiences. We somehow need to find ways to map out what these people are thinking. Then we must find the means to convert them into loyal customers.
One of the best ways to gain insights into what people want or need to know is through keyword research to uncover the questions that our potential customers have, and use this information to create content that addresses their needs.
As you look for keywords, also do competitor research to see how your peers are performing. You’ll often get other content ideas from them.
Before doing keyword research, one should have a really good understanding of the products/services on offer, as well as a deep understanding of the industry. Experience of using keyword research tools is also important.
Before we discuss keyword research, we’ll cover a few concepts including:
- Fat head and long tail keywords
- Keywords and unique selling propositions
- Keyword variations
- Qualities of great keywords
Keywords and queries can often point to where a person is in your marketing funnel. For example, the query; “cheap CRM” might not indicate an immediate intention to buy. However, a query like “Free trial (Brand_name) CRM” may show that a person is closer to deploying a CRM. We call this keyword intent.
As you study queries and keywords, consider where they sit in the funnel so that you can create a robust content creation and distribution schedule.
So let’s crack on and explain some of these core concepts then.
Core concepts in keyword research
Fat head and long tail keywords
Fat head keywords are not specific enough in many instances. For example, a keyword such as software engineering is quite ambiguous. The searcher could be looking for a course, a service provider, or a guide on how to engineer software. When you type a topic into a keyword research tool, you’ll often get a mix of fat head keywords that have broad meanings and long tail keywords which are more specific.
Sticking to the example above, a long tail keyword can be “part-time software engineering course”
You can make keywords more specific if you know your audience well. Other criteria that you can use to segment and specify keywords include;
- Product/services and brand names
- Geographical area
- Searcher intent
Unique selling propositions
Look for customer inquiries that speak or can be answered by your key value propositions. Consider a university that has a value proposition of teaching updated courses. In many cases, people searching for universities will never type “updated engineering courses.”
However, there is some interest in colleges with modern engineering facilities. Such nuances may not apply to every instance. It’s great whenever you can find keywords that reflect a key product differentiator or value proposition.
Find out keyword variations using tools. For example, “hiking” and “hikes” are variations of “hike.” Once you have a collection of keywords, group them into topics. Topics are made of several related keywords and their variations.
Qualities of great keywords
A keyword list must always meet at least one or more the of the following conditions;
- Reflect user questions that seek for information
- Capture user intent. Intent can be informational, investigative, and transactional. You can find out more about keyword intent in this blog post.
- Have significant enough volumes to ensure somebody will find the content and benefit
- Have significant economic value to the business. Other factors like ranking difficulty notwithstanding, you can justify creating the content because of its importance.
So now we’ve covered these core concepts, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of how you leverage Google search data in order to do keyword research for content marketing. Oh and if you want to understand how to do keyword research for SEO in general, check out the linked blog post for a deep dive.
Conducting Keyword Research For Content Marketing
Since the goal is to find out what kind of information people want, the first thing is to identify places where we can find such information.
Keyword research resources can include;
- Specialised keyword research tools
- Social media
- Direct messages and email inquiries
- Google search
- Offline interactions with customers
Let’s look at each in turn then.
1. Specialised keyword research tools
There are many free and paid tools you can choose from. Free tools include;
- Semrush (free version)
- Google Keyword Planner
- Ahrefs Keyword Generator
- Moz Keyword Explorer
- Google Trends
- Question DB
Most free tools limit the number of keywords you can see or the filters you can set.
With most free tools, you cannot export the keyword lists. You can get creative by using the “print to PDF” feature on your web browser.
Google Keyword Planner allows you to export the lists in spreadsheet format.
When you pay for keyword research tools, you get much more functionality, including more keywords and export capabilities. Popular paid tools include;
As you pick keywords, list them in a spreadsheet and group them by topic.
2. Social media
Look at comments on social media posts and pick up frequently asked questions and inquiries. Do the same thing for your social media inboxes. You can search for specific words to find comments and messages that mention specific topics and count the frequency.
And if you can, check out your competitors’ pages to see if you’ll find useful queries and inquiries in their comment sections.
3. Direct messages
Many messages and emails ask questions you want to answer through content marketing. These could be old fashioned text messages or emails. When you combine the inquiry or question with the stage in the customer journey, you can create a great content strategy.
You also get some opportunities to understand why a customer asked the question. With that information, you can identify gaps in your landing pages, blogs, or even the PDF content that the lead could have downloaded.
It is a superb platform for identifying user questions. All you need to do is go to the website and type in a question or keywords. But we contend that it is an even better resource that shows how to answer questions. Answers that get the most upvotes can be a decent guide on the information you need to provide.
5. Google Search and Google Trends
These are quite different but similar tools. With Google search, explore the “related searches” section that usually appears at the bottom of each search results page. You’ll find similar queries that can help you find more keywords.
Visit the Google Trends website and type in the keywords or topics. You can also set the industry to ensure you get more relevant results.
6. Offline inquiries
A great marketer talks to the sales, product, and customer support teams. These conversations are helpful because they can:
- Give you insights on questions that people ask before they convert
- Give you insights about how helpful the current content is to people who are shopping for a solution
- Teach you about how potential customers perceive your products
So we recommend that as you work on content ideas, consider the sources of information that don’t sit in the tools you control or within the marketing team. These sources will give you topic and keyword ideas for your content marketing.
When doing SEO keyword research, the initial focus is often on keywords that are easy to rank. That is a sound strategy. But when you wear a content marketing lens, you want to answer questions that most of your audience is asking. So even if the keyword difficulty is high, you might still want to create content around the keyword.
The beneficiaries of this content will be those who visit your website, whether through organic search or any other traffic source.
At Superb Digital, we have keywords on the brain. Whether it’s identifying how to optimise a website’s service or product pages for high-intent transactional searches or developing strategies for top-of-the-funnel thought leadership content, we can do it all (we also have a fantastic team of copywriters, who can create the content by the way).
If you’d like to find out more, why not book a strategy call with us today.