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How to Find the Right Keywords for Your Content Marketing Efforts

Keyword research is a critical piece of creating an effective content strategy. By using the right keywords, you’ll increase the visibility of your content and drive even more traffic to your website.

But how do you find the best keywords for your audience?

There are a number of great tools available for both the novice and the expert search engine optimizers to use that can make the process of researching keyword phrases easier and more effective. How should you use these types of tools to create your content strategy? Why does knowing how many searches there are for a specific keyword or phrase help you outline what your blog should be posting about?

Brainstorm a list of possible keywords

Before you can start monitoring conversations and doing keyword research, you need to brainstorm a list of possible keywords. Keep these ideas in mind:

  • As internet marketers, we tend to get stuck inside of our own industry’s jargon. What you and your colleagues think of as keywords may not necessarily be what your prospective customers are using when they perform their searches.
  • Think about topics that interest your audience in general, those that both directly and indirectly relate to your business.
  • Most people are looking for knowledge to address their concerns, so it’s helpful to look at a search request as a question. If you can provide useful answers to them, you’ll soon find that the likelihood that these visitors will become customers or clients increases greatly.

Use social media to monitor conversations – and get keyword ideas

One effective way to get down to the “street level” and better understand how your clients think is to become active in a variety of social media tools and communities. A good place to start is to use Twitter’s search function by putting in a specific topic or key concept that you are focusing on. See how your customer is talking about the concept.

You can also use to peek at related conversations across multiple social media channels at once.

Monitoring social media for topics that interest your audience has two advantages:

  • If you’re paying attention to what is being said around some of the topics and concepts that directly and indirectly relate to your business, you’re more likely to be aware of the subtle differences in how your intended customer might phrase a search request. As mentioned, folks don’t know the jargon and industry vocabulary that you and your coworkers take for granted.As mentioned earlier (but it’s so important that it’s worth repeating), when developing your content strategy, if you focus on insider language, you’re not really going to be able to take full advantage of the traffic that could be generated for your site, for free, by the search engines.
  • You can get immediate insights into trending topics affecting your business. By understanding what’s going on in conversations of potential customers, you can develop rich answers to their most pressing questions.

Use the right tools for SEO keyword research

As you grasp what is really being asked online about your business and its offerings, you can use any number of other free and low-cost online tools to enhance your strategy for developing and promoting content on your website.

Google Wonder Wheel: This is a great place to start to compile your initial keywords for further evaluation. It’s simple:  just type in your basic search and see a number of possible keywords that Google thinks are related to the search term you entered. To see a more robust list of possible search terms that Google thinks are related to your original search query, select Related Searches in the left column.

Adwords Keyword Tool: Understanding which keyword phrases are being searched most, while also having the least amount of competition, greatly enhances your ability to produce content that can satisfy those seeking answers to their questions. Finding this information can be done quickly and simply by using the Adwords Keyword Tool. You’ll want to determine which keyword terms have the highest search volume, with the most specific or “long tail” wording related to your topic.

SEOMoz Keyword Difficulty Tool: Get a more accurate idea of where the competition is in an organic search rather than using only the pay-per-click model as Adwords does. (Note: A subscription is required.)

Organize your keyword research

I find it helpful to lay out a spreadsheet to compare the data all at once.

I suggest creating a new spreadsheet each time you create a new project and identifying one primary keyword for each page of content to be placed online. Then when the content is created, it can be easily optimized for that particular keyword phrase.

Here is the data I would track for each keyword:

  • Local Search Volume: the number of searches the keyword is getting from your locality
  • Global Search Volume: the number of searches the keyword is getting globally
  • Keyword Difficulty: the percentage of difficulty; the lower the percentage, the easier it will be to rank in the search engines for this phrase

The ideal keyword phrase considers these factors (and will be indicated by green shading across all three rows or at least the two you deem most important for your particular project) and will also illustrate the intent of the searcher. Therefore, it will perfectly describe the content you’ve produced and promoted.

What other suggestions do you have to discover the right keywords for your content marketing efforts? Share them in the comments below!