Keyword planning offers a pragmatic framework for segmenting and understanding the intent of potential customers. Every day, new potential customers search the internet for keywords directly or tangentially related to your business. It may sound like a lot of work, but with the right tools, keyword planning is much easier than you think. Before we dive into the tactics, it helps to understand a little background on the different types of keywords and why they're important.
Two Main Categories of Keywords
In the post on goal-setting, you set your one primary goal for the purposes of this course and, hopefully, your near-term business growth. That goal will determine the metrics you need to measure. It will also determine the type of keywords you will target: transactional or high-intent keywords vs informational or top-of-funnel keywords.
Going back to our example business, Nate's Nice Tea, we can easily identify some transactional or high-intent keyword phrases:
- best green teas
- buy bottled tea online
- where can I get bottled green tea
The potential customers searching for these keywords are ready to buy. If we imagine all of our customers as a funnel, these folks are near the bottom, close to making a purchase action on our conversion page:
Other keywords might be more informational or top of funnel. For example,:
- what are the benefits of green tea
- how much caffeine is there in green tea
- what factors affect the taste of tea
These potential customers aren't ready to buy yet, but by answering their questions we'll establish ourselves as a friendly and authoritative resource in a confusing world. Someday, when they're ready to buy, they'll know where to look!
For effective keyword planning, you want to come up with a base of a few dozen keyword ideas that fit in the category that matches your goal. For example, if your goal is Growth & Awareness, you would want to focus on informational keywords.
To become a keyword idea-generating machine, check out the tools and tactics below.
The MacColl Method
Eric MacColl, who managed keyword research at Scripted and Lyft, has a battle-tested approach for generating keyword ideas. Apply the tactics of each of the following tools to hone your keyword ideas list:
Google Keyword Planner / Keyword.io / Wordtracker
- Research keyword suggestions
- Compare keyword volume
- View historical trends for a keyword
- Compare similar keywords to see which are more popular
Google Suggest and Related Searches
- Start typing a keyword phrase to see Google's autocomplete suggestions; experiment with using special characters like "_" and "-"
- Check the bottom of Google search results pages for a given keyword to see related searches
SEMrush / SpyFu
- Identify your competitors and see the keywords for which they're ranking in organic search
- Research the keywords on which your competitors are bidding in paid search
Buzzsumo - Explore the content that is being produced about a keyword or topic
Quora - Explore questions being asked about relevant topics and create content that answers them
People are predictable. No matter your business model, the same phrase structures or keyword modifiers are common across industries. Here are some keyword modifiers that often drive search volume:
- where to buy [x]
- [x] near me
- the best [x]
- [x] interview questions
- [x] checklist
- [x] tutorial
- difference between [x] and [y]
- [x] tips
- how to [x]
You can adapt these to your business and feed those keyword phrases back into the tools above to generate even more keyword ideas. For Nate's Nice Tea, we plugged the following phrases into the tools above to produce these additional keyword ideas:
- what's the difference between black tea and green tea
- how to brew green tea
- the best bottled green teas
So you can follow along and see how effective these tools can be, here are some keyword ideas we generated for Nate's Nice Tea using the exact methods we just outlined above.
Prioritizing Your Keyword Ideas
Now that we have all these keyword ideas, how do we know which ones will be effective for us? With Moz (formerly SEOmoz), you can upload your keyword list to get some metadata on it, including an Organic CTR score for each keyword, which measures how likely you are to get traffic from it. You can then export this list, sort it by Organic CTR, and then use SEMrush to track your position and traffic on the most opportune keywords relative to competitors and industry thought leaders. These benchmarks will give you a clearer picture of what success looks like.
If you already use Moz and SEMrush, perform the above on your own. If you aren't familiar with Moz or SEMrush, or if you want more help with keyword research and planning, sign up for an upcoming webinar.
- Focusing on either informational keywords or transactional keywords, use the tools and tactics outlined above to come up with at least 30 keywords to target.
- Upload this list to Moz to get metadata on each keyword, then export it and use SEMrush to track your position and traffic on each keyword.
- For help with keyword research or using Moz or SEMrush, sign up for an upcoming webinar.
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