Keyword research is about recognising customer- and user intent for a product or service and the explicit words and phrases used by the target audience when they want to satisfy that intent. Identifying these words and phrases, they then be used to create compelling marketing assets and messages that answer directly to the needs of the target audience. This post presents a simple model for keyword research that can be used for most marketing projects.
The key fundamental to any successful business strategy is to identify an unfulfilled customer need or problem and to satisfy this need by creating a product or service superior to anything currently on the market.
While thousands of books have been written on the topic of creating effective communication strategies, the fundamental principle is quite simple: understand your users’ or customers’ intent and set about satisfying that intent. In other words; understand the problem your customers want to solve using your product and then communicate to them in their preferred language (visual and/or text) that you have the solution.
The keyword pyramid
Keywords can be classified into three categories, each belonging to a different stage in the buying process:
- #Informational phrases and words that customers use at the start of a buying process; for example:
- Ideas for wedding dresses.
- Best travel locations for families with kids
- Safe family cars
- #Keywords that are solution seeking, for example:
- Vintage wedding dresses; what to think of?
- Hotels in Hawaii
- What to look at when buying a second-hand Volvo
- #Keywords with a high focus on buyer intent, such as:
- Sites selling vintage wedding dresses
- Best price for hotels in Hawaii
- Volvo dealers in …
While there are (almost) as many strategies for keywords research as there are marketers—and with a body of literature on the topic being least to say extensive—there are a few fundamental strategies that can be used for building an efficient keyword strategy.
A basic model for keyword research
The following section presents a simple but efficient keyword research process:
Every marketing activity should have explicit and stated goals which always should be quantified and linked to the long-term OKRs of the organisation. If, for example, a SEO-campaign is planned with the goal to achieve higher search rankings, it then should be stated “why” this is important, the “exact search position(s)” that the activity should generate, and “when” the goals should be achieved. It is also important to explicitly quantify “what monetary value” a higher search position should generate”; fundamental for calculating return-of-investment (ROI) and the CLV.
With an abundance of analytics tools available to track and measure the effects of marketing efforts, a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of individual tools is out of scope for this post. The key to an effective analytics strategy regardless of tools and budgets, however, is to have clearly defined campaign goals and a strong analytics strategy to enable tracking and reporting of these goals.
3. Spy on your competitors
Generating an efficient list of keywords is a tedious process which takes research, message testing, and extensive tweaking of the message. One method to save time and money when building strong and tested keyword strategies is to reverse engineering the strategies of close competitors using the following steps:
- #Competitor Keywords
- Using tools such as Semrush and SpyFu it is possible to quickly generate a list of the most efficient keywords used by competitors in their paid-search campaigns and in the copy of site content and social media.
- After aggregating the keywords used by one or more competitors, the next step is to group these into top, middle, and bottom-pyramid keywords.
- #Align to goals
- Having categorised the keywords, the list should be aligned to the stated goals and strategies of the organisation. All keywords that do not align with these goals should then be deleted from the list.
- A strong keyword- or keyword phrase is one that is used with high frequency by a target audience when searching for, or describing a product or product category. An efficient keyword from a marketing perspective, however, is a word or phrase that not only is used with a high frequency, but also has little competition. A good keyword strategy to aim for is a mix of general keywords and phrases, and a list of unique or ‘long-tail’ keywords used by few competitors.
One simple method of generating long-tail keywords is simply to aggregate a list of synonyms of the initial keyword list.
- #Number of keywords
- Every product and organisation should have one or a few strong, unique, timeless, and clearly differentiated keywords defined that are at the core of what the organisation stand for. These keywords should not change over time, and should constitute the basis of all branding- and identity strategies. For sales- or goal-driven market efforts the number of keywords, however, is mostly a matter of budget—the higher budget, the more keywords.
For organisations knowing their customer-life-time-value (CLV) and have analytics tools in place to measure the customer-acquisition-cost (CAC) of each performed marketing effort PPC included, the number of keywords also becomes irrelevant. When knowing the CLV and CAC for each marketing activity and campaign keyword, the main factor when planning and evaluating marketing efforts is the ROI and that the cost of acquiring a new customer (the CAC) through a marketing effort is lower than the CLV.
Keyword research is about recognising customer- and user intent for a product or service and the explicit words and phrases used by the target audience when they want to satisfy that intent. This post has presented a simple but efficient model for keyword research.