1. Keyword Research
Let's start by demystifying keywords.
Keywords are words or phrases that your target audience uses to learn more about your business. Typically, it's best to target several keywords or phrases that reflect purchasing intent from a new website visitor.
The best keywords for ultra-long content are questions that require in-depth explanation and examples. That way, you'll have plenty to write in response to each keyword.
On the other hand, yes-no questions are often bad unless you plan to go into a huge amount of detail about why someone should or shouldn't do something in your industry.
Regardless of your choice, you have to start the same way — brainstorming.
Take some time to look up keywords in your industry.
If you're a heavy machinery dealer, "heavy machinery" is a good starting point.
If you're a flower shop, "buy dozen roses" could be a good fit for you.
There's no guarantee that these keywords will work for you, but they don't all need to be winners. You just need a seed list of keywords to start the research process.
As you brainstorm, it's also important to consider the type of keywords you list.
Long tail keywords vs. short tail keywords
First, you have short tail keywords (phrases that are only one or two words) that get a lot of searches, but they're too general to send qualified traffic to your website.
Second, you have long tail keywords (phrases that are three or more words) that get highly-targeted traffic to your site, but only a few people search them every day.
Unfortunately, 99% of businesses can't rank for short tail keywords because industry giants already dominate them in search results.
For example, if you search the term "soft drinks," you will find that search engine results are dominated by informational results from sources like Wikipedia and Britannica. On top of that, you also have Coca-Cola, Walmart, and Amazon in search results as well.
That means it'll be exceptionally hard for a convenience store, grocery store, or any other kind of business to rank for that keyword. Even if you could, Coca-Cola and Walmart are trusted names when it comes to consumers, which would make it even harder to get visitors to your site.
That's why long tail keywords are so important.
Long tail keywords are naturally specific since there are more words in each phrase. So maybe you can't rank for "soft drinks."
But could you rank for "soft drinks vendor in [your city]?" Or maybe "independent soft drinks?"
These keywords may not apply to you directly, but they demonstrate the thought process you need to think of keywords that would be valuable to your business.
If a short tail keyword doesn't work for you, think of how you can make it more specific. Then consider if you can vary it any other ways to make it appeal to new groups of customers.
By repeating this process, you can create a thorough keyword seed list that will help you further develop content for your industry.
But there are three things to keep in mind as you create your list. Your keywords should be:
- Relevant to your industry
- Used in search engines
- Helpful to potential customers when answered
We'll start by targeting keywords related to your industry.
How to find relevant keywords
Now that you have your keyword seed list, it's time to narrow your list to keywords that you know will earn results.
Here, we'll touch on three of the best tools you can use to do that. All of them are free or at least offer free trials.
First, Wordtracker is one of the most thorough and informative keyword tools available.
Wordtracker takes a keyword and shows several different data reports.
It shows keyword suggestions, which are variations of your original keyword, next to a graph of search frequency over the last 12 months.
They also show search engine results page (SERP) previews, Amazon interest reports, and YouTube keyword usage.
All in all, you get a complete look at the data behind a single keyword on Google and several other major websites. That gives you a great idea of what that keyword can do for your business, how hard the keyword would be to target, and possible results it could earn.
Second, Ubersuggest is probably the most popular keyword tool for marketers.
Ubersuggest takes a keyword and looks at hundreds of possible variations. It also organizes them in alphabetical and numerical order, and you can download your results to store the list as a spreadsheet.
They also create a word cloud for you so you can see which words show up most frequently in certain phrases. That can tell you what most people want from a particular keyword whenever they look it up online.
Last, you can look up individual keywords in Google or Google Trends to look at current search results and search volume.
Third, we have Keywordtool.io, which is also just called Keyword Tool.
Here, you can choose the search engine you want to research (usually Google), type in a keyword, and see hundreds of variations.
These variations also come with search volume estimates, cost-per-click (CPC) estimates, and competition estimates. CPC and competition typically apply to pay-per-click advertising (PPC), but they're also indications of a keyword's popularity.
You can then use that information to determine how hard it will be to rank for certain keywords, and you can spot smart alternatives for your business.
Altogether, these three keyword tools can help you narrow your seed list so you only target keywords with lots of potential for return.
As you grow your site, you'll be able to target more competitive keywords since your brand will have more recognition online.
But if you're just starting a site, it's smart to narrow your keyword list to the easiest ones that can still get you returns.
Now that you have your keywords, it's time to determine the format you'll use to target your keywords.