Posted by BritneyMuller
You, a content marketing ninja, are able to wield immense SEO reach with your content in ways most SEOs (*cough* like myself) can only dream of.
BUT, you’re not leveraging keyword research to your advantage!
The fact that you can discover how many people per month are searching for something, what words they’re using, and what questions they’re asking still blows my mind!
Keyword research doesn’t have to be a marathon bender. A brisk 30-minute walk can provide incredible insights — insights that connect you with a wider audience on a deeper level.
Why keyword research is essential [Case Study]
My previous company, Pryde Marketing, was not founded on out-of-this-world high-quality content. It was founded on leveraging online data strategically for private medical practices.
When we were hired to do keyword research for an MRI company, we discovered that hundreds of people a month were searching “open vs closed mri” but no one was providing any good answers, content, or photos for these searchers.
We decided to create an “Open Vs. Closed MRI” page for our client that, to our surprise, continues to see over double the traffic of the homepage. Plus, it’s brought in over 50k+ unique visitors.
We were not successful because we thought of this content idea.
We were successful because we listened to the keyword data.
5 keyword research hacks in under 30 minutes
Example client: Hunter & Company (Wedding & Event Planning)
Objective: Write better content for their website and assist with digital marketing efforts.
#1: Blog category keyword research
Having five to ten data-driven blog categories can help you rank for popular topics, allow readers to find more relevant content, and help to organize your blog.
Evaluate top industry websites (10 mins)
Identify the most common navigation items and blog categories on leading industry sites.
Advanced search operators (3 mins)
While exploring top websites, you can use advanced Google operators to dig deeper.
Google Suggest (10 mins)
Google “wedding” and don’t hit enter!
Instead, make note of the drop-down search suggestions. You can also search “wedding a” [don’t hit enter], “wedding b” [don’t hit enter], all the way through to z to get the most popular and/or trending wedding-related searches.
Now that we have aggregated keywords from the above tactics, we have a solid list:
wedding venues, wedding photographers, wedding dj, wedding beauty, wedding videographers, wedding bands, wedding budget, wedding invitations, wedding registry, wedding colors, wedding decorations, wedding party, wedding ideas, wedding cakes, wedding centerpieces, wedding hairstyles, wedding bouquets, engagement rings, wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, mother of the bride dresses, wedding rings, flower girl dresses, wedding accessories, wedding jewelry, wedding tuxedos, wedding registry, wedding ceremony, wedding reception, wedding cake, wedding food, wedding favors, wedding flowers
Keep up the pace — we can’t stop here!
Next, let’s determine which categories are most popular by average monthly Google searches.
There are two primary tools to view average monthly search volume (AKA to know how many times a query like “wedding flowers” are searched per month): Google Keyword Planner and Moz Keyword Explorer. (Check out GKP vs. MKE to learn more.)
Google Keyword Planner (5 mins)
Step 1: Paste your saved keyword list into the box under “Enter one or more of the following” and click “Get Ideas”:
Step 2: Evaluate and save search volume data while being mindful of the large search data ranges and limited data:
Note: Google will occasionally change your keywords to something different; “wedding videographers” was changed to “wedding videos” in this case. It’s important to be mindful of this as you’re deciding on the exact category names.
You should also explore the keywords below your immediate keyword search section. Sort by average monthly searches (highest to lowest) to make sure you aren’t missing any other big category items.
Moz Keyword Explorer (5 mins)
Step 1: Create a new list.
Step 2: Paste your keyword list into the “Enter Keywords” box:
Step 3: Take a quick water break, because KWE will take a minute to gather data. Once the data is in view, sort by and evaluate average monthly search volume:
Woohoo! We reached the finish line with two minutes to spare.
To finalize our blog categories, we need to ask ourselves two things: Which topics are the most popular and the most relevant to a wedding planner site?
With that in mind, you’ve chosen six of the most popular wedding topics and have nested several sub-categories within “Wedding Decorations” — brilliant!
- Wedding Dresses
- Wedding Invitations
- Wedding Photography
- Wedding Cakes
- Wedding Venues
- Wedding Decorations
- Wedding Flowers
- Wedding Colors
- Wedding Centerpieces
- Wedding Venues
#2: FAQ keyword research
Answering the most commonly searched-for questions about your product/service will provide value to your readers and solidify you as an industry expert.
Here’s how to gather the most commonly asked questions on a topic:
AnswerThePublic.com (10 mins)
Search for your product/service.
How cool is this snazzy question wheel?! While the visuals are fun, it’s easier to gather the questions by clicking the top-right yellow “export to csv” button and deleting non-relevant questions in a .csv or Google Sheet.
Moz Keyword Explorer (10 mins)
Step 1: Search and filter “display keyword suggestions” by “are questions”:
Step 2: Add relevant questions to a new keyword list:
Step 3: Add relevant AnswerThePublic questions to list:
I wouldn’t worry about evaluating search volume too closely for FAQs because questions are typically more long-tail (meaning they have lower search volume and are usually easier to rank for). In multitudes, these can be very valuable to your site.
Now you can start adding your newly discovered FAQs to an FAQ page (while trying to avoid duplicate types of questions):
#3: Competitive content research
Evaluate your competitor’s 10 most popular pages on SimilarWeb (5 mins)
This uncovers the specific type of content your audience is interested in. Here are the 10 most popular pages for One Fine Day Events:
Evaluate each of the top pages & gather 3 key takeaways (20 mins)
- The most popular “Gallery” page confirms that images are extremely popular in the wedding and event space. Maintaining an optimized gallery and incorporating more images into on-page content should be a top digital marketing priority.
- Interestingly, the “Preferred Vendors” page is a Category page! It’s something we should consider implementing on Hunter & Co. It would also be a great link building opportunity (to get vendors to link back to Hunter & Co)… but I digress.
- Testimonials are also be a top priority and live off the primary navigation.
Pro tip: Use Google Trends to evaluate seasonal searches and prepare competitive content months before it spikes:
#4: Expand your keyword reach
Expanding your page’s topical content will expand your digital SEO reach. This is why you’ll see definitive guides like Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO ranking so well, and for such a wide range of keywords (~1,665!).
Download MozBar (Chrome add-on) (1 minute)
Step 1: Activate MozBar. Enter in your primary keyword and click “optimize.”
Step 2: Click “On-Page Content Suggestions”:
Step 3: View the 23+ content integration ideas for your webpage:
Decide which topics you want to integrate (5 mins)
You never want to force non-relevant content onto a page for SEO reasons. Instead, look through the topics and think about which would provide value to your readers.
Then, devise a plan to naturally integrate those topics into the page’s content.
Topic integrations for the Hunter & Co. homepage:
- Wedding Planning Checklist (create a checklist page that’s linked to from homepage)
- Wedding Vendors (confirms our popular page strategy! Add a page link from the homepage)
- Wedding Venues
#5: Keep up with Google
We are seeing a big rise in “no-click” Google searches.
No-click searches occur when individuals search for something and find their answer, without ever having to click on a search result.
Example: If you search “Denver weather,” Google will show you an 8-day weather forecast for Denver. Most searchers are satisfied with that and leave, resulting in a no-click Google search.
No-click searches are rising because Google continues to provide searchers answers within search features such as featured snippets (answer boxes), People Also Ask boxes, knowledge graphs, weather forecasts, etc.
Know which search features show up most often for your keywords (5 mins)
Knowing which search features occur most frequently for your product/service-related searches can help you to steal search features by optimizing for them. Keep in mind that if you’re ranking on page one or two of a desired featured snippet search, you’re better positioned to steal that featured snippet than if you were on page 3+.
Remember our FAQs about “wedding planning” above? Twenty-four of 28 questions found in Moz Keyword Explorer have featured snippets (answer boxes) in their search results:
RealSimple currently has a large featured snippet for “wedding checklist”:
Looking more closely into that page, you’ll notice RealSimple’s <html> check-box markup and definitive style content.
Brainstorm a better (and more useful) wedding checklist (10 mins)
- Hire a freelance developer to create a beautiful, printable wedding checklist calendar that, once a reader enters their wedding date, populates with scheduled to-dos.
- Create an IFTTT (If This Then That) recipe to schedule Google Calendar To-Do Reminders based on the user’s wedding date.
- Provide a more detailed and more beautiful wedding checklist.
Now, my content marketing ninjas, go forth and tap gloves with a wider audience! Your content deserves it!
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