The secret behind grabbing your target audience’s interest lies in understanding how they search for and discover information on your brand. Keyword research provides data-supported answers to questions about popular search trends and the ways people prefer to consume content. These answers open doors to shape content through the mind of a consumer.
Adopting your target audience’s search mindset and practices will help your brand conquer SEO. Here are several effective tactics for performing keyword research and using it to craft meaningful content, as well as missteps to avoid.
Be curious. Start by asking questions about your customers. This will give you a better grasp on what motivates their buyer journey.
Many business professionals shortcut this process because they underestimate the value of listening to the consumer’s voice. But the most potent SEO results are driven by audience intent. With a firm understanding of who your customers are and what their goals are, keyword data can be applied to launch campaigns supported by personalized, well-reasoned keywords.
Consider Frankie & Jo’s SEO journey. This dietary-need-friendly, Seattle-based ice cream shop set a goal to boost their organic search frequency. Before achieving this mission, they needed to be familiar with who their customer base was. They started by asking questions like:
- Which ice cream flavors, desserts, or snacks do people search for?
- Who searches for these items?
- Do people search for these products on a seasonal basis?
- What terms, questions or media are used to search for ice cream?
- Are these potential customers local, national or international?
As you collect this data, ask yourself how to position content to align with your target’s search behaviors.
Uncover new search terms. How you communicate what your business does may differ from how your audience perceives it. The first step in good keyword research is learning how the public searches for this information.
Brainstorm top-of-mind terms that describe your products and services as well as any other important information offered by your website. Once you compile this list, enter the terms into a keyword research tool. This will offer additional relevant keywords, questions, topics and average monthly search volume, which can help dictate keyword search variations.
Take a wedding florist as an example. Using a keyword research tool to seed keywords for this business (e.g., "wedding," "florist") will uncover other favored search terms—"wedding bouquet" and "bridal flowers," for instance.
When considering alternative keywords, pay attention to search volume. Although it is ideal to adopt terms commonly searched by your audience, targeting less competitive, low search volume terms may work to your favor depending on your goals and resources.
Don’t overvalue high-volume keywords. Taking advantage of highly used keywords comes at a price: High search volume terms take more work to reach elevated rankings. Search volume has a direct relationship to competition levels and the amount of work needed to attain organic success.
This difficulty increases through SERP features like featured snippets, knowledge graphs and carousels, which take up valuable real estate on results pages. High-volume keywords are usually won by prominent brands, leaving smaller businesses who also use those same keywords struggling to be ranked. Shooting for keywords with extreme search volume poses the danger of not attracting any traffic to your site. Focus instead on less competitive, specific, ready-to-convert search terms, also known as long-tail keywords.
Take advantage of the long tail. Many businesses idolize high-volume search terms because they represent significant traffic numbers. Realistically, these keywords make up only a marginal amount of total web searches and are often defined by vague consumer intent. This means that targeting these popular terms will attract visitors with goals that do not likely align with your content.
Take the search term "pizza." Someone who looks up "pizza" may have intentions that range from finding nearby restaurants to checking nutritional facts or seeking a homemade recipe. Businesses targeting popular terms via casting a wide net fail to receive attention from their target market and risk getting lost among the masses. Conversely, lower-volume terms are valuable targets. They have better conversion odds because searchers are more direct and deliberate. Someone browsing Google for “shoes” may just be window shopping, but a consumer who searches “best price red womens size 7 running shoe" will likely leave the site having made a purchase.