Keyword research is an important aspect of any online marketing campaign, whether you're looking for information in the search engines to help fuel your future content or you're looking to better focus a paid search campaign around the topics your audience is researching. By now there isn’t a question of if you need to research keywords to inform your approach to marketing, but there is a debate on the best practices of going about it.
Traditional Keyword Research
Keyword research has mainly been performed by
SEO strategists and marketing professionals by measuring the search volume of popular keywords using an analytics tool or planner. While these techniques should still be taken into consideration as a part of the overall process, it is also important to keep the focus of your content on the preferences of your readers and the relation to your company’s offerings.
Reader-informed Keyword Research
With the rise of social media and
branded online communities, more people are online and active than ever before, providing more data and insights to inform your keyword research. The market is constantly getting more and more competitive and the importance of finding the correct keywords is paramount. In a way, your keyword research proficiency can make or break your online efforts.
To better work through these challenges, conduct your keyword research with information from your actual readers, consistently monitor your results and adjust your keyword strategy as necessary.
1) Develop Buyer Personas
The number one contributing factor to the success of your keyword research is your audience, so the trick is figuring out what they are looking for when they are searching. To begin to understand this, you should develop a clear idea of who your customer is and how they behave.
Begin by mapping out your
ideal client or buyer persona. Write down some key information about who this person is and their most common behaviors.
For example, take note of their occupation, age, gender, salary and education level to start.
The goal here is to learn more about a potential buyer and how they might search for your type of products or services, then cater to these preferences and not focus so heavily on the volume of search for certain keyword phrases.
Get as in depth as possible and write down what their challenges may be and how your company can best fulfill these needs by focusing your content around keywords related to the issues they are regularly facing. Then ask your existing customers to fill out a questionnaire or survey to validate the information you’ve mapped out about them.
Repeat these steps as necessary for the
different types of customers that you are looking to attract to your website. When armed with this data, you may find that it easier to cater your keywords to a client that you can relate to and you can begin monitoring their behavior and interests by finding people that are similar through social channels.
2) Set Up a Focus Group
Additionally, you can gather more information about your target audience by managing a focus group.
Keyword research isn’t the only goal of the focus group, learning about your customer can only help your company continue to grow and improve its offerings.
Invite a variety of people to participate; yes you want to focus on the wants and needs of your target audience, but don’t be afraid to include people that may not fit your demographic as well to give you a wider range of data to work with.
Sometimes you’ll discover new opportunities in unexpected places.
To manage a focus group, you should have a list of questions ready to help guide the conversation and generate the most valuable information. Your questions should help you determine what your audience is looking for in your business, which can help you choose what keywords to focus on moving forward.
Considering asking questions that both focus on their needs individually and questions that pertain directly to your business products or offerings. For example:
- What problems or challenges do you face?
- How do you generally go about solving these problems?
- What tools and solutions do you currently use to resolve these issues?
- What differences do you see in our offerings compared to competitors?
- How would you use our products and what setting would you use them in?
This is a small sampling of what can seem like an endless amount of questions to ask, but the idea is to keep your questions focused on your business to discover the wants and needs of your market and learn how to articulate this information as you're conducting keyword research for your content in the future.
3) Connect with Your Audience on Your Website and in Social Media
Perhaps running your own focus group is out of the realm of possibilities, since they can be resource intensive.
However, there are other strategies that you can leverage to make more informed keyword decisions.
engaging with your readers through blog comments, discussion forums, with tweets and by listening to
conversations across social media.
In most cases, people are open to connecting with you if you are genuine and offer a solution to their problems.
Pay close attention to their discussion topics, the questions they ask and the content that they choose to share and interact with.
Social listening can make it easier for your business to gain insight into what your audience is looking to accomplish when they are performing a search as well as other benefits such as their opinion on your new product or service offerings or even insights on an area of business your company should consider exploring in the future. This can be as simple as doing a
search on Twitter to see what kinds of conversations are happening about your industry.
Armed with these insights, you can begin to conceptualize a few action items for your keyword research to help better position the content you’re producing and distributing for your audience. Continue to design your content that is based around your findings to better cater to your audience and monitor how your new keywords are performing over time, while still keeping in mind search volume for these key phrases.
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For example, if you find that your audience has been having frequent discussions about a controversial topic within your industry, this can be an indication of a strong search topic and adapting your content and keywords around some of these topics may help increase your visibility in the search engines for certain content types. By listening to your readers to inform your keyword research, you can better adapt to upcoming trends and concurrently build a stronger SEO strategy.
Now It’s Your Turn
What challenges have you faced while conducting keyword research? Have you found other innovative ways to use find and use high performing keywords? Where would you start looking to find out what your audience is searching for online? Share your thoughts below.
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