Getting one of those coveted top spots on the search results page requires more than just a dose of good luck. In addition to high-quality content, you’ll need a targeted keyword strategy that’s specifically geared to connect with your audience. The better job you do choosing your keywords, the better chance you’ll have of popping up at the right time (and in the right spot) for a conversion. And with your site ranking high in search results, you have an increased chance at driving traffic and converting that traffic, growing your email list in the process. 

Seventy-one percent of marketers said that strategic keywords are their number one tactic for their SEO strategy. And considering that 70% of marketers see SEO as being a more effective form of digital marketing than PPC, there’s clearly a good reason to put effort into choosing your keywords wisely.

Keyword research is an essential part of any content and SEO strategy — and it’s a bit more involved than just brainstorming what questions your audience might be asking online. In this blog post, we’ll go over how to perform effective keyword research so you can increase your rankings over time and get your content in front of prospects and leads. 

Know Your Industry

Start out by identifying the general words and phrases that define your industry. These will serve as a jumping-off point for your keywords and can also be used to guide your overall content strategy later on.

You probably already have a pretty good idea of what the best phrases and terms are when it comes to your industry, but to cover all of your bases, talk to your sales team as well. They can usually offer additional insight on what your prospects, leads, and customers want/need to know more about. In addition, look at what your competitors are doing and what kind of content they’re producing. All of this should provide you with an excellent foundation for kicking off your keyword strategy.

Write Down the Terms That Best Describe Your Company

You’ve collected words and phrases that define your industry, so now it’s time to look inward and do the same exercise specifically as it relates to your brand. This may include more local terms or terms that are directly tied to your product or service. Try to work backward from how someone might find you online and build as robust of a list as you can. These terms might not be keywords, but can be combined with industry terms to lead a searcher to your page.

Define Your Goals

All strategies require a full picture of what you’re strategizing for. You’ll likely have a few different — yet equally important — goals when establishing keywords, such as driving more traffic to your page, generating more leads, and establishing thought leadership within your field.   

These goals are tantamount to establishing a strong keyword strategy, helping direct your efforts, and narrow in on where you really need to focus.

Mind Map Your Topics

A mind map is an excellent exercise for keyword research and is based on what you learned from the steps above.

To do it, start with a broad topic idea and then branch it out into subtopics. For example, if you’re marketing a company that offers moving services, you could start with the broad topic of “packing” and then branch off into things like: 

  • Packing supplies
  • Packing tips and tricks
  • Packing up appliances
  • Packing on a budget

Each of these subtopics offers a ton of content potential, and each represents at least one keyword that you can try to rank for.

Use Keyword Research Tools

There are a ton of keyword research tools out there, including both paid and free options. Choose one or two that align with your budget and your overall objectives, and play around so, you get a feel for what each tool has to offer. Some of the most popular ones are Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, Ahrens, Moz, and Wordstream.

Establish Search Intent

Search intent is the reason that someone is searching a phrase in the first place. There are four main types of intent: 

  • Informational – to learn something
  • Navigational – to get somewhere
  • Transactional – to buy something
  • Commercial – to research a specific product or service

Establish intent as it relates to your goals and your topics. This will help you narrow down modifiers for your term, like “how,” “where,” “why,” and “best.”

List Your Keywords

You’ve got a ton of information to go off of now, so it’s time to list out your keywords. Use your keyword research tool to brainstorm keywords based on topics, modifiers, and intent, and then use these keywords to guide your content strategy.

Finally, do some competitor analysis to see who is already ranking for these keywords and what you might be able to do to produce content that’s better than theirs. Now you’ll have all of the information you need to plan out content and put SEO into action.