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You probably know the saying by heart already: Content is king. And if that’s true then keywords are kingmakers.
Keywords are search engine optimized terms that allow crawlers to determine what your content is about, and then rank them by comparing your content with other sites with similar keywords.
The right content marketing strategy that uses the power of keywords to the fullest will enable you and your brand to reach the audience that will ultimately make those conversions come frequently and quickly — that’s the ultimate goal, right?
Why should you even have a content strategy?
The amount of data in the world was estimated to be 44 zettabytes at the dawn of 2020. By 2025, the amount of data that gets generated each day is looking to reach 463 exabytes on a global scale. A zettabyte is 1000 bytes to the seventh power and an exabyte is 1000 bytes to the sixth power.
What this means for content marketers is that every time you write and publish an article, it’s bound to drown under the sea of articles being produced every day on every topic imaginable. The good news is that there are over 3.5 billion Google searches conducted worldwide every minute of every day. That comes up to 2 trillion searches per year worldwide and over 40,000 search queries per second. You can rank high on those queries. But first, you’ll need to put together a winning strategy.
However, there is a caveat that wouldn’t be fair to keep from you. And that is segmentation by language. According to the world economic forum, 80% of online content is available in just one-tenth of all languages.
This is one of the many reasons billions of people are still offline today. They still struggle to find the content they understand. For English speakers creating content online, this means the competitiveness in content marketing in English has only grown and become, for lack of a better word, harsher.
But not to worry, the majority of hard work is already done for you with the following seven steps that will help you create a winning keyword database. If you’re fed up with trying out the losing tactics and strategies, don’t hesitate to give these a shot.
Related: How to Create a High-Performance Content Strategy for Startups
1. Find out who your audience is and what they want to know
One of the best organic ways to learn what your target audience truly wants is to head over to sites that feature your audience’s questions. For instance, Reddit and Quora are awesome places to find questions from a wide audience.
Choose a topic that appeals to a wide range of people. But remember, go too broad and you might attract a lot of traffic. Be too niche and you risk hearing the sound of crickets.
The topic should be interesting enough to write a good 2000 words about. Interspersed with these words are opportune places to link to other articles on your site that will encourage your readers to stay on it a little longer.
Another way of understanding who your audience is and what they want is to hear from someone in sales or product roles. You can also listen to sale calls and note down the wealth of information that way.
2. Create a list of questions and categorize your keywords
Now that you have your initial question, you can create sub-questions. Sub-questions can branch into their own topics, from which you can create specific keywords.
The result of this step is a list of topics that represent the intersection between your buyer and your product, areas where you or a team member is an industry expert and concerns that are important to your buyer related to your service and/or product. This is where keyword taxonomy comes into play. A taxonomy is a tree-shaped scheme of classification that gets more specific as you move towards the ends of the branches.
For instance, you can plan out a baking blog with targeted keywords using the following taxonomic structure:
Baking > Cakes > Muffins > Chocolate Muffins > Cream-Filled Chocolate Muffins
3. Create a keyword list and answer your list of questions
To further expand on the previous point, start answering every question under every category (refer to your taxonomy structure). This will help you find the keywords that fit under each category. Again, take this time to brainstorm and draw from your own experiences and knowledge. Remember, the goal here is to win specific pieces of content through your keyword choice.
You should also be trying to create “linkable assets” with your article content. To put it simply, linkable assets are top-quality pieces of content that naturally attract backlinks or are meaningful and valuable enough for other people to link back to them in their own posts or share them on their social media.
Related: 5 Steps to Finding the Most Profitable Keyword
4. Write your content with value in mind
Writing your content simply means writing the answers to the list of questions and sub-questions you’ve discovered and listed for yourself and your brand. But don’t create an info dump or content that’s based on keyword stuffing. Take a look at a few tips that have proven to be effective for writing great content:
Use a mixture of short concise sentences and varying lengths of sentence structure
Keep your language simple and relatable
Use keywords in captions and image alt-texts
Use headings and sub-headings appropriately
Take advantage of “white space” by being mindful of paragraph density.
Use bullets or number lists
Be conversational and informative by using variations on first, second, and third-person sentence structure.
Link to related content pieces on your site
5. Check for the keyword search volume
You can easily check how much volume a specific keyword is getting in average monthly searches by using Google AdWords. Follow these steps:
Sign in to Google AdWords
Select Tools > Keyword Planner
Select “Get search volume data and trends”
Copy your list of keywords into the search bar
Download your results then update your keyword list
Related: 7 Common Mistakes Companies Make With Google AdWords
6. Score your keywords properly
Now is the time to prioritize your keywords. Score your keywords from 1-3 to keep it simple.
1 is for keywords that are closest to your goal. For instance, if you sell a line of organic skincare products, then the keyword for “best organic night creams” would score 1.
2 is the score you’d give for some sort of action taken without specifically looking for skin care products such as “How to remove acne scars.”
3 is for ambiguous steps that have more to do with research than buying a product (or potentially a service in your case). Think something like “What is a facial scrub.” The topic is relevant to you but you can’t pin down the real reason why the audience would be searching for those keywords. And there’s a chance that they might not turn out to be buyers.
7. Make sure to prioritize constantly
There’s no shame in throwing in the towel with “un-winnable” keywords when you need to cut your losses. But always be on the lookout for new and existing keyword opportunities.
Check to see if you’re currently ranking for specific keywords. Or, maybe you have a backlist of content that you want to rank for those keywords. There’s a good chance that you can optimize the content you already have to rank for your desired keywords in the future.
Essentially, the goal is to have your existing keywords help you rank better, drive traffic to your site and convert on your existing content.
New keyword opportunities
Don’t go fishing for new keyword opportunities before your content has a healthy amount of existing keyword opportunities. If you do, you’ll only dilute your current lists of keywords and risk dropping your rankings even further. Look for keyword opportunities in:
Finally, the great thing about keyword list building is that it allows you to be innovative and strategic with your time, your approach and your resources. If you have a small team to work with, consider the following:
Whether you’re looking out for winnable keywords or working to get more out of the content you already have, you can never go wrong by revising your current keywords every quarter and playing the balancing act between existing keyword opportunities and new keyword opportunities.