We're all starting to learn that the changing face of SEO means that the better your content, the higher the ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). That doesn't mean that you can't still get ahead through better utilization of keywords, though.
Understanding how to use the right keywords to create content that drives traffic is still an essential component of a good content marketing and SEO strategy.
Rather than using traditional methods of finding keywords, such as Keyword Tool or Google Adwords' Keyword Planner, fresh techniques should be employed to go beyond the basic and overused results being populated. While these more well-known / out of the box tactics are great for beginners, they rarely delve deep enough into what your audience is really looking for, or provide the competitive edge you need in rankings.
These four keyword research tools can be helpful in crafting content that's designed to drive targeted traffic straight to your blog, website, or product pages:
Using Amazon Reviews for Keyword Research
Turning to Amazon for keyword research can be a time-consuming process, but can result in a well worth it surge of targeted traffic when done correctly. Using Amazon as a keyword resource is done by scouring through reviews, a process often colloquially referred to as 'review mining.'
Copywriter and content marketing pro, Joanna Wiebe, describes the concept behind review mining best-"Instead of writing your message, steal it. Steal it directly from your prospects."
'Stealing' your keywords-or a keyword phrase-directly from your customers or prospective customers is smart for a couple of reasons. First of all, you're giving your customers exactly what they want (after all, they're the ones who said it first!).
Secondly, taking what's been said requires virtually no creativity on your part; instead, you're just mirroring what your target audience says right back to them.
What's a good tactic for review mining?
Start by finding your product, or a product that's similar to the product or service for which you are marketing, on Amazon. For this example, we'll use mops. Not the most glamorous of products, but still relevant. You're a business that sells mops; you want to find strong keywords that will effectively target prospective customers.
Find a mop that's similar to yours (or is yours) on Amazon, and read the reviews.
As you read through reviews, use this Google Spreadsheet for keyword research and make note of strong words or phrases, emotional triggers or comments that are repeated. For the reviews above, some words or phrases that stand out are:
Eco-friendly mop (short tail)
Lightweight mop (short tail)
No streaks mop (short tail)
Microfiber mop head can be washed (long tail)
Picking up any small amount of dirt (long tail)
Can moonwalk after mopping
Then, use the above keywords or keyword phrases--or even just one really good quote, like the moonwalk after mopping--to create your content. According to Joanna Wiebe, when this tactic was applied to generate content for a rehab facility called Beachway, the result was a more than 400% increase in clicks, and more than 20% increase in lead-generation form submissions.
The key to success behind using Amazon for review mining is to focus on what people are saying. Before conducting a review mine, ask yourself: who are my target customers, what is their problem, what solution can I offer, and what piece of content can I provide?
Using the Quora Community for Keyword Research
Quora is a question-and-answer website, completely user-run; i.e., users ask the questions; other users answer the questions. You can use Quora to search a topic that's within your business's niche, identify keywords in questions related to that topic, and then cross check those keywords with Google's Keyword Planner for relevancy.
Depending upon which ones you identify to be most relevant, you can craft content that utilizes those keywords. Much like the Amazon method, using Quora as a keyword research tool provides you with insight into exactly what users are already searching for.
For this example, let's pretend your industry is within the cooking niche. To begin, type the word cooking in Quora's search bar - the most popular search queries on that topic will appear.
Then, choose a niche question or keywords from a niche questions and run it through Google Adwords or Keyword Tool. "Common cooking mistakes" would probably make for a great content piece topic.
The results are a lot more robust than your average search, and make it easier for you to generate more original content pieces than the same played-out ideas saturating the web.
From the list above, you could use one of the most commonly searched terms, like "Common Cooking Mistakes and How to Fix Them," or "Common Cooking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them" as the foundation of your next article.
Using Basic Google Search for Keyword Research
With Google's Keyword Planner being the go-to (and slightly overused) source for so many performance marketers these days, the value of a simple and basic Google search is often overlooked. There are two awesome ways that Google can be used an effective keyword research tool to created targeted content.
First, Google Autocomplete: the feature of Google search that automatically fills in what it thinks you're going to type based on other common search queries, as well as your own search history.
Let's use the phrase, "How do I..." as an example.
If you're in a specific niche, you can use Google Autocomplete to find out what questions users are asking. These questions on their own often make great blog or article topics.
To use the cooking example again, consider:
Remember, questions that users ask are your customers' and potentials' problems; they ask the question to find a solution. These types of keywords fall under informational intent, and when you can write an article on a user-specific problem, that's great content marketing.
The second way to use Google for keyword research: Google related searches. At the bottom of a Google SERP, there is a list of related searches. These related terms can be used as keywords to generate content topics.
This is similar to autocomplete. Take a look:
You can use the above--which remember, are commonly searched terms (what the user wants to know), to find keywords or get topic ideas. If you want to find out how frequently searched each term is, you can still run it through Adwords to determine average monthly searches / competition, and whether it's the right keyword or phrase to focus your efforts on.
Using Yahoo! Answers for Keyword Research
Yahoo! Answers is often dismissed as a quirky and erroneous source of user-generated information. While it may not be the best place to turn in a situation where an expert opinion is of need-it is a fantastic place to:
- Find real people with real problems (your target audience)
- Learn what your target audience is talking about
- Gain access to a wide range of information within your niche
Oh, and Yahoo! Answers also has more than seven years' worth of data to dig through, meaning that you'll have no shortage of material to research and use to target traffic.
How does the process of using Yahoo! Answers work, then?
Begin by typing an issue or niche topic into Yahoo! answers. For this example, we'll use the phrase, "dog training."
From the get-go, you can use Yahoo! Answers' autofill feature to learn what people are asking / talking about.
Scour the questions in your niche, and keep an eye out for specific problems. The below is a great example -- the user wants to know how to house train their adult dog, a common problem amongst canine owners.
In addition to keeping an eye out for problems, and creating a thorough list of those that you find, try to extract common words and phrases. For this example, puppy, dog, eliminate, house train, and potty train are the most common words used.
You can use this audience problem to create a piece of content like, "Three Tips for Housetraining Your Adult Dog." Within your own article or blog, incorporate the most commonly used keywords and keyword phrases that you extracted from users' questions and answers.
Apply Keywords to Content to Drive Targeted Traffic
There's no doubt that conducting thorough keyword research is a time-consuming process.
So is it really worth it?
According to the data, yes.
In one example provided by expert Neil Patel, long-tail (four keywords or more) search keywords increased traffic to his website by 91%. While you shouldn't expect a near 100% increase by incorporating keywords chosen to drive targeted traffic, there are few who would make a claim against the essential nature of good keywords and keyword phrases.
After you find your keywords using the tools above, make sure you incorporate them into your content naturally and effectively for optimal success. Keywords should make their way into a content piece's title, into the section headings (h2s), and spliced carefully throughout the article or blog in a way that reads naturally.
For more tips on finding keywords that will drive traffic read Outbrain's article on How to Choose Keywords that Will Drive Your Content Strategy.
What other tips for conducting keyword research that drives targeted traffic to your content would you add to this list?