Most small business owners are not proficient with keyword research. If you spend a little bit of time looking at the comments of any number of marketing blogs and forums, you’ll see story after story of websites that never rank for their keywords. And if they do, they never convert their visitors into subscribers or customers. The truth is – with the right approach and follow-through, keyword research can lead to an effective marketing campaign.
Most start with a specific niche, like “playing the guitar”. Then they open up the Google Keyword Tool, paste in their main keyword and look for terms that get traffic without massive competition.
They may even do a couple of “allintitle:” searches while they’re at it…
After that, they write or order a few articles, build some links, wait to start ranking and making money, and then get frustrated when this doesn’t happen. They picked the wrong keywords and now have wasted huge amounts of time on their website.
Keyword research is a big part of a reaching success. In a lot of cases, choosing the wrong keywords can be harmful to a website’s content development and strategy. Keyword research drives content strategy, which drives conversion rates.
Most marketers are doing incomplete keyword research. Proper research takes time and effort, but the following strategy is both effective, and fairly simple once you get into a rhythm. It also helps to use a good keyword research tool.
We Still Need Search Volume
Knowing the estimated monthly search volume of particular keywords does two things. The first is that it gives you an idea of the volume of traffic you can get if rank highly.
Second, is that knowing that a keyword gets a certain amount of interest can help to guide your content development efforts. From determining whether an article is even worth writing, to the headlines you use, search volumes provide valuable insights.
Choose your niche, figure out what sort of competition you are willing to deal with, determine the lowest amount of traffic worth your time, and then pick the right keywords.
Transitioning to Market Research
Niches can be broken down into relevant keywords. Relevant keywords can be broken down into relevant, topic based stories. Telling those stories requires that you know your audience.
There are two great places to get a feel for your market first. Number one is Quantcast, a provider of demographic data on websites and niches. The other is the trusty discussion forum.
Quantcast has long been a secret weapon of the most thorough marketers online. Knowing the demographic makeup of an audience is very powerful. Both content and product development depend heavily on this type of information.
Doing forum research is a pain, but it is still relevant and valuable in 2012, and will probably continue to provide value in 2022. Choose one or two and track the most popular threads, then move along.
We only want and need to track a handful of forum threads because we now have social media and a few easy tools to track the information most relevant to our needs.
Using Social Media Resources
Since so many online marketers seem to be a little squeamish when it comes to SEO, we still need to find a way to drive cheap, targeted traffic to our sites. Just creating useful content isn’t enough. It has to be the right kind.
Everyone knows about social media, but few have any idea how to make it fit their general marketing strategy. When it comes to research, there are three important tools to use.
One is Twilert, which sets up alerts on whatever keywords you provide to show what has been shared on Twitter.
The other is Sulia. Sulia lets you monitor what is going on in a Pinterest type of layout, with a storyboard feel to it.
Both of these are great to see what is happening on Twitter, and with Sulia, Facebook as well.
The last one is Topsy. Topsy is a social search engine that will let you enter either a URL, or a keyword, to see what is getting shared the most.
Keeping Up with the Action
This part is a bit boring, but simple to do:
- Set up a spreadsheet with keywords, traffic volume, and competition.
- Add in values for social media shares. While you’re at it, add the top ten most influential people in your market and track their sharing and interactions as well.
- Look for similarities in headlines and the types of stories that spur activity in your market.
- Start your own profiles, and begin sharing other people’s work, interact with them and get an even clearer overall feel for the “flow” of your market.
Take a couple of weeks to compile this information, then sit down and sort through it. Look for similarities in stories with a lot of social sharing and comments. Which types of discussion topics are active on forums? Pick out the items commonly repeated and figure out what they mean to your strategy.
Pro tip: For the big keywords, plan “clusters” of content around them. Use synonymous terms in your headlines, and make sure your headlines are both interesting, and appropriate for your market.
Keyword research goes beyond simple AdWords values and PageRank analysis. It goes much deeper into a market. Take the time to analyze and plan your strategy now, so you can launch to a flow of traffic, and begin making money much earlier with your next website.