You’re always taking a bit of a gamble when undertaking DIY projects. Some people are great at them and end up with shows on HGTV or with very profitable Etsy stores. Others end up as one of the hilariously bad Pinterest fails of the world. Whether you’re a DIY pro or a DIY heck-no, an area you definitely don’t want to DIY nose-dive into is your company’s website.
We talk to clients every day who insist that they’ve conducted their own keyword research for their websites. While that might be so, I’m here to tell you that when it comes to optimizing your content to strengthen the power of your website, you need to make sure you’re conducting keyword research in a very specific way.
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Keyword research should be approached with the intent to identify content creation opportunities. Instead of focusing on transactional queries, such as consumers searching for a service, company, software, etc., it’s important to look deeper and examine what consumers seek answers to, or simply what they search for to help them better understand a topic.
By identifying these types of keywords and creating content that relates to them, a company can put its website in a great spot to generate relevant search traffic to certain pages that will educate its audience. This offers ample benefits, including generating trust and authority with your audience and with search engines, which can result in improved content marketing metrics like increased site traffic, keyword rankings, and even conversions.
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Conducting keyword research specifically for bettering your content is a different animal from generic keyword research. That’s why we don’t always love the results we see from DIY approaches. However, we understand that sometimes it’s the only option. If you must DIY your keyword research, here are some things to keep in mind:
Analyze your current keyword rankings to give yourself a picture of what a search engine associates your website with. This will give you an idea of how much your website is or isn’t helping your business from an organic search perspective. At Influence & Co., we’ve seen clients rank for thousands of relevant keywords, as well as instances of a site ranking for zero keywords, which is never ideal.
Going through what keywords your competitors rank for is a great way to see how you stack up against them. While a good chunk of those keywords will end up being irrelevant, there is likely a lot to learn about the relevant keywords they do rank for. You can use these findings to identify content opportunities that would be relevant to your business. If you don’t have content on that topic, you have an opportunity to create some. If you have content on that topic but it doesn’t rank particularly well, that may be an opportunity to go back and update that content according to some of these findings.
By leveraging the power of a spreadsheet, you can organize and conduct research to identify keywords that you and your competitors don’t already rank for. These findings are extremely valuable, as they present opportunities for you to create new content that will have little to no competition for search rankings. You’ll rank higher because you’re the only one in your space going for those areas and no one else is fighting for the rankings.
When it comes to identifying content opportunities for your website, there is no better place to start looking than the questions people ask about your industry. If someone is asking a question, he or she is seeking an answer. If these questions are within an area your company is qualified to talk about, it’s important to create a piece of content that provides information to help those searchers.
To avoid cluttered data, comb through everything and group similar keywords together, which will make navigation much easier. To identify more opportunities, you can also get a gauge on similar keywords that consumers search for that yield the same type of information. For example, say your consumers search for information on what machine learning is, the advantages of using it, techniques used, and measuring ROI. Identifying keywords from those search queries will present an opportunity to create a high-level blog post that addresses all of those points and utilizes those keywords. From there, you could create more in-depth resources that speak on those individual subtopics and that live on their own pages.
We’ve all heard it before — in fact, we all may be guilty of saying it ourselves: “We just created a bunch of content to have something.” While this is better than not creating any type of content at all, creating content just for the sake of creation means you’re likely missing massive opportunities to attract and educate readers. In some cases, simply using keyword research to inform and optimize existing content can make a huge difference.
Keyword research can be tedious and time-consuming. When doing an audit, it’s important to spend the time up front to identify as many relevant keyword opportunities as possible. While you should do fresh research when it comes to optimizing each piece of content, you should also have a large repository of research already done that helps inform that topic.
Sometimes, you’ll identify keywords that may not exactly align with what the company offers. You may not be directly focused on these related keywords, but addressing them to some degree can still help capture relevant eyes. Content that falls into this category reaches a broader audience and could reach people who didn’t know that they should know who you are and what your company does.
A prime example is a client of ours in the fitness industry mentioning that its audience frequently searches terms — like "How to lose weight in a week" — that contradict what the company preaches. While this is not a practice the company supports, it does want to reach the people who want answers to related questions. By thinking about what its target audience actually searches for and using those queries as part of its keyword strategy, this company can craft content that educates searchers on the subject and pops up when those searches occur.
We’ve found that when a client or potential client has done its own keyword research, that research almost always ends up being rooted in a transactional approach. Keyword research done correctly should include not only keywords related to the services a company provides, but also keywords related to that company’s area of expertise or industry. This will uncover topics that consumers need illuminated with more content and will therefore identify potential blog content you could create to answer those queries.
While DIY projects might work out well in some categories, you shouldn’t risk your company’s content to lackluster keyword research. Keep these dos and don’ts in mind if you choose to embark on the keyword research journey alone.
I'm the director of digital marketing at Intero Digital's Content & PR Division. I enjoy sports, traveling, the Lake of the Ozarks, spending time with family and friends, and whatever else life throws my way.