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 and these words and phrases can 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 of 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 anything currently on the market. While developing the solution to a problem (products and services) that satisfy customer needs is fundamental to any business strategy, communicating efficiently to the market that the solution exists is as important.
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 communicate to them in their preferred language (visual and/or text) that you have the solution.
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. These words can then be used to create compelling marketing assets and messages that answer directly to the needs of a target audience.
The keyword pyramid
Keywords can be classified into three categories each belonging to a different stage in the buying process:
- These are 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
- These keywords 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
- At the bottom of the buying pyramid are 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 points of strategy that can be used for building an efficient keyword strategy presented in the next section.
A 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 an 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 also when the goals should be achieved. Most important, though, is to explicitly quantify what monetary value a higher search position should generate which is a fundamental metric for calculating the 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 document. The key to an effective analytics strategy regardless of tools, project or marketing budget; though, is to have clearly defined campaign goals and tools of analytics implemented which enables tracking and reporting of the key metrics behind them.
3. Spy on your competitors
Generating a strong and efficient list of keywords is a tedious process which takes a lot of research, message testing and tweaking. To save time and costs one way to build a strong and tested keyword strategy is to reverse engineering the keyword- and marketing 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-pyramid, middle-pyramid 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 and all keywords that do not fit stated goal definitions should 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 have 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 to aggregate a list of synonyms to the initial keyword list.
- #Number of keywords
- Every product or company should have one or a few strong, unique, timeless and clearly differentiated keywords defined. These words are at the core of the brand and should not change over time and also should constitute the basis of branding- and identity strategies. For sales- or goal-driven market efforts the number of keywords, however, is mostly a matter of budget; the more budget, the more keywords.
For organisations that know 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 simply 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 have presented a simple but efficient model for keyword research.