You’ve got a straightforward system for finding keywords that work for you.
You’ve got a basic understanding of how to use social media search, Google Trends, and online keyword research tools to find the right keywords to use to optimize your site.
But you’ve still got some questions about how this research works in real life.
Let’s take this final article in my content marketing research series to walk through a simple case study that explains how one business owner conducted her own keyword research.
Meet Sarah Gabriele
Sarah Gabriele is a talented professional organizer in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Her specialty is helping people create order in their lives by making small, simple changes.
Sarah’s perfect clients are people who are ready to get their homes or offices in order.
Sarah has a (slightly neglected) blog, and would like to do better content marketing in 2013. One of her long-term strategies is to create online products and downloadable courses that feature her organizing advice, so she can expand her business beyond assisting local clients.
Sarah needs to do some research to figure out what keywords she should target for her website and WordPress blog.
1. Choose possible keywords to start your research
Sarah isn’t sure what exact terms people use to search for help with getting organized, so she’s going to take her best guess before she starts her research.
Her initial keywords will be getting organized, organizing tips, and how to get organized.
Sarah will use a spreadsheet to help her organize the results of her keyword research. You can use whatever works for you — spreadsheet, Word document, Evernote, or regular physical notebook or journal.
Now Sarah’s ready to move on to the next step — determining whether her possible keywords are a good fit for her content marketing strategy.
2. Determine the popularity and competition score of each of your keywords
Sarah’s going to use the Google Keyword Tool to check out her initial keywords. When she does her a search for the term “organizing tips” she gets the following results:
We can see that Sarah’s initial keyword, “organizing tips” is a low-volume, medium-competition keyword.
If Sarah has a global topic (which she does), we are looking for target keywords that attract at least 100,000 monthly searches. Lots of searches mean her topic is in high demand, and that people need information on that subject.
So what does that mean for Sarah? It means she probably needs to ditch her initial keyword, and move on to the next step — looking for other options.
3. Discover (and research) other related keywords
When Sarah uses the Google Keyword Tool, it suggests a whole bunch of related keywords that Sarah might want to check out.
We can sort our related keywords list by clicking on the column header that says “Global Monthly Searches.” This allows you to sort your results from high volume to low volume.
When she sorts her data, Sarah discovers these keywords that are high volume, low competition:
- how to organize (1,500,000 global searches a month)
- how can I get organized (823,000 global searches a month)
- organization systems (165,000 global searches a month)
Then Sarah uses these exact phrases as her next three searches in the keyword tool. When she does that, she discovers these possible target keywords (which are also high popularity, low competition):
- get organized
- how to organise (British spelling)
She adds all these possibilities to her spreadsheet or notebook, making note of their popularity and competition numbers.
Sarah has now narrowed her list down to five possible keywords that she’d like to examine further:
- how to organize
- how can I get organized
- organization systems
- get organized
- how to organise (British spelling)
Sarah’s next step is to check on trending data for those keywords.
4. Check the trending data on your keywords
Sarah can check out Google Trends to research the projected outlook of her target terms. For the sake of this exercise, let’s use:
- how to organize
- get organized
When she proceeds with her comparison in Google Trends, this is what Sarah sees:
Notice the way Sarah has “Forecast” checked in the upper right corner of this image — that allows Google Trends to show the outlook for that particular keyword for the upcoming year.
Sarah sees that “how to organize” has more overall searches, and is trending up, and “get organized” has few overall searches, and is trending down over time.
That information will shape Sarah’s final decision on what keywords she should target, so she adds that data to her spreadsheet.
5. Do some research on how your keyword is being used in the conversations that are happening on social networks
Next, Sarah is going to check on how people are using her possible keywords when they converse with friends and colleagues in social media networks.
She uses Twitter search first. Here’s the first page of results when Sarah searches for “get organized”:
Then she runs the same search from Google+ to see how people in that online network talk about getting organized.
When Sarah runs her possible target keywords through social networks search tools, she makes a very important discovery.
Apparently, when people use the term “organizing systems,” they sometimes use the terms to talk about workplace organization or human resource topics. Since she doesn’t provide information about that kind of organizational system, she deletes that keyword from her list of possibilities.
Sarah uses the information she gets from searching for her keywords on Twitter and Google+, and adds her notes and thoughts to her spreadsheet.
SUBTLE HINT: This is a great way to get blog post ideas, too!
6. Examine your research results, and choose the keyword(s) you want to target for your site
It’s a smart idea for Sarah to do some competitive research, and find out what keywords her competitors’ sites are ranking for.
She can also speak with some of her actual clients (perhaps some who found her through online searches) and find out what words they use to look for information about organizing and getting rid of their own clutter.
Then Sarah can choose a couple of keywords to target on her site, and begin the process of optimizing her website for those initial keywords.
She’ll need to keep gently tweaking her SEO strategy continually, making sure she’s being found for the terms she wants to be found for (and optimizing for new keywords as she discovers them).
How Scribe can help
In the future, Sarah might make a really smart business decision, and sign up for Scribe, our complete content marketing system.
If Sarah uses Scribe, her job becomes really easy — she does all her keyword research directly through her WordPress dashboard.
Scribe makes keyword research simple, efficient, and completely painless for Sarah. Instead of using multiple sites to conduct her research, Sarah’s got one easy-to-use tool that will give her all the information she needs.
Check out this screenshot of Scribe, and notice all the information included in the tabs at the top of the Scribe interface. Sarah can use Scribe to do her keyword research in one integrated place, then immediately optimize her WordPress pages and posts using her targeted keywords.
Check out our demo of Scribe to find out more about how it can help you conduct smart, efficient keyword research.
This is the final post of my content research series …
This post is the last part of our series on how to do effective research as a content marketer. If you missed any of the previous posts in the series, you can catch up here:
- Research Ain’t Easy (But It’s Necessary)
- A 6-Step Content Marketing Research Process
- Become a Content Marketing Secret Agent with Competitive Intelligence
- A 3-Step Process for Painless Keyword Research
- How to Find the Keywords that Work for Your Content Marketing Goals
How’s your content marketing keyword research going? Let me know in the comments!
About the Author: Beth Hayden is an author, speaker, and content marketing expert who specializes in working with small businesses. To find out how to get more traffic to your site by writing wildly popular blog posts, grab your free copy of Beth's report, How to Write Blog Posts That Go Viral.
Beth will also be attending the 2015 Authority Rainmaker event this May -- so make sure to come over and say hi when you arrive!