Think Like a Customer: Smart Keyword Research Strategies
Feelings serve an important function. They act as an emotional weather report that alerts us when adjustments need to be made (or that we’re in imminent danger). Feelings are a wonderful thing…in our personal lives. In the world of digital marketing, however, feelings should take a back seat to cold, hard data. Particularly when it comes to keyword strategy. All too often, there is a disconnect between what clients think their customers are searching for and what they are actually searching for.
This is an inefficient approach to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Keyword research strategies must be grounded in searcher intent. Guessing at keywords will leave you scratching your head wondering what went wrong.
It’s Called Research for a Reason
Instead of guessing, or viewing the customer experience through an insider’s lens, you need to learn think like a customer. Fortunately, analyzing searcher intent doesn’t require the use of a crystal ball. There are many excellent keyword tools that provide a wealth of data about a particular keyword – metrics include search volume, keyword difficulty, CPC (cost-per-click), SERP features, etc. I personally prefer the Ahrefs keyword tool, but Moz, SEMrush, and Google Keyword Planner are also good tools. Regardless of which tool you use, the takeaway is that successful keyword targeting strategies are data-driven.
Pulling Back the Curtain: Understanding Keyword Research
Keyword research is a high return SEO activity with the potential to drive targeted traffic to your website. It’s no time for guessing. To get to the heart of this matter we need to do some digging to answer two questions:
What keywords are currently driving traffic to the site?
What keywords have the potential to drive traffic to the site?
Once you know the answer to the first question you’ll be closer to answering the second one. By pulling back the curtain, you can improve existing keyword rankings and develop strategies for new rankings. To rank for a particular keyword, you first need to know how keyword rankings work. Essentially, Google is in the business of answering customer queries. They aim to provide the most relevant answers.
How to Rank for a Particular Keyword
Once you have done some research into what keywords your site is already ranking for and determine which keywords to go after, it’s time to develop a content strategy that targets your desired keywords. Many clients don’t understand the relationship between content and keyword rankings. It’s impossible to rank for a term that isn’t strategically targeted on your site.
For example, let’s say you want to know the best food to feed your pet rabbit. You Google it. Google brings back 910,463 results about the best rabbit food. Most likely, the most useful answers to your question will be on the first page (this is SEO in action). You click on a couple of results until you find what you’re looking for, buy the rabbit food, and you and your rabbit live happily ever after.
How did this happen? From the standpoint of keyword ranking, this wasn’t an accident. Someone created quality content that exploited onpage SEO strategies in order to optimize the content to best answer your question. To accomplish this, they researched relevant keywords, found one that was reasonably attainable for the publishing website, and created excellent content that best answered the user’s questions.
While this process does not involve the use of a crystal ball, it does require anticipation, research, thoughtfulness, and quality content that thoroughly addresses the keyword in question.