The Art of Keyword Research: Building a Content Topic List

Search engine optimization is a big part of how your website will rank in the search engines. One way to get more visitors to your site is by ranking higher for keywords that people are searching for. 

Keyword research can be found all over the internet, but how do you know what topics are worth researching? This blog post will walk you through how to build a list of content ideas based on keyword research and how it relates to SEO!

What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the activity of looking for and analyzing search phrases that individuals use to achieve a goal, such as SEO or marketing in general. Keyword research can reveal queries to target, the popularity of these queries, their ranking difficulty, and more.

Why Is Keyword Research Important?

Keyword research is essential for determining which terms your target audience is looking for on Google. The data provided by Google’s search-monitoring tool can assist you in understanding the actual search terms that visitors use when searching for your products or services. This will help you create better content and develop a more successful marketing campaign. 

However, keywords themselves may not be as crucial to SEO as you believe.

We hear more and more that SEO has changed dramatically in the last ten years, with keyword importance becoming less significant to our ability to rank well for the queries people conduct every day.

To some extent, this is accurate; in the judgment of an SEO expert, using keywords that precisely match a person’s search no longer matters. Instead, it’s about whether or not a piece of content satisfies someone’s intent (we’ll discuss intent later on).

That does not imply, however, that keyword research is no longer relevant. Let me offer you an example:

The term “keyword research” might be used to describe a wide variety of techniques that involve determining what people care about and how popular those subjects are among your target audience. 

The term “Themes” refers to the things you wish to explain, such as topics – by researching high-volume-monthly keywords and categorizing your material into them, you may find and sort your content into the ones you want to cover. You can then utilize these themes to choose which keywords to look for and pursue.

How to Research Keywords for Your SEO Strategy

I’ll lay out a keyword research approach that you may use to get a list of terms to target in order to help you build and execute a solid keyword strategy that will allow you to be found for the search queries you truly care about.

Step 1: Make a list of key, timely subjects based on your existing knowledge about your company.

To get started, consider the broad categories for which you’d want to rank for. You’ll come up with around 5-10 subject buckets that you feel are critical to your company, and then you’ll utilize those topic buckets later in the process to help generate more precise keywords.

These are most likely the subjects you blog about the most. Perhaps they’re the topics that arise most frequently in sales discussions.

Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas to figure out what kinds of subjects your target audience would search for. For example, if you’re a firm selling marketing software (which, by the way, has some great SEO tools… but I digress), you might have categories such as:

  • “inbound marketing” (21K)
  • “blogging” (19K)
  • “email marketing” (30K)
  • “lead generation” (17K)
  • “SEO” (214K)
  • “social media marketing” (71K)
  • “marketing analytics” (6.2K)
  • “marketing automation” (8.5K)

Those numbers in parentheses to the right of each term are their monthly search volume. You can use this information to assess how essential these subjects are to your target audience and how many distinct sub-topics you’ll need to produce material on. For more information on these sub-topics, we’ll continue in step 2…

Step 2: Fill in those topic buckets with keywords.

You’ve identified a few topic buckets you want to focus on, so it’s time to figure out some keywords that fall into those categories. These are keyword phrases you believe are critical for you to rank for in the SERPs because your target consumer is undoubtedly looking them up.

For example, if I took the last topic bucket for an inbound marketing software firm — “marketing automation” — I’d come up with keyword phrases that people might use to search for information regarding that subject. These might be some examples:

  • marketing automation tools
  • how to use marketing automation software
  • what is marketing automation?
  • how to tell if I need marketing automation software
  • lead nurturing
  • email marketing automation
  • top automation tools

So on and so on. The goal of this stage isn’t to come up with the ultimate keyword phrases list. You’re only looking for a flood of terms you believe potential consumers could use to seek out content related to that particular topic bucket. Later in the process, we’ll trim down the lists so they’re not too overwhelming.

Although Google encrypts more and more keywords every day, one of the most effective methods to generate keyword ideas is to figure out which terms your website is currently being found for.

To figure out what keywords people use to access your site, look for the words they used in their search engine queries. To find this information, you’ll require website analytics software like Google Analytics or HubSpot’s Sources report. Dive into your site’s traffic sources and examine its organic search traffic bucket to discover the keywords that brought visitors to it.

Repeat this drill for as many topic buckets as you have. Also, if you’re having trouble coming up with relevant search phrases, contact your client-facing counterparts — those who work in Sales or Service — and inquire about the keywords that their prospects and customers use. These are usually excellent starting points for keyword research.

Step 3: Understand How Intent Affects Keyword Research and Analyze Accordingly.

As I stated in the previous section, one of the most critical variables for your ability to rank well on search engines like Google is user intent. It’s more important that your web page solves a searcher’s intended problem than simply incorporates the keyword the person used these days. So, how does this alter your keyword research?

Sometimes it’s simple to take keywords at face value, and this is something that keyword researchers have known for a long time. Unfortunately, keywords may have various meanings beneath the surface. Because the intent behind a search greatly affects your ranking potential, you must be more vigilant in how you interpret the keywords you target.

Let’s assume you’re looking for the keyword “how to start a blog” as part of your research for an upcoming article. A searcher’s intended purpose behind a keyword will determine the direction of your piece, whether it’s a blog post or the whole blog website.

Do the searcher’s goals include learning how to establish a blog post from scratch? Or maybe they just want to know how to set up a website domain for blogging purposes. If your content plan is only targeting people interested in the second, you must verify that the keyword’s meaning is adequately clear before committing to it.

To find out what a user’s goal is in a term, just put the keyword into a search engine and see what kinds of results appear. Make sure Google’s type of content is closely related to the sort of material you’d want to produce for the term.

This is a clever idea that may have already occurred to you while performing keyword research. If not, it’s an ideal way to finish those lists.

Take some time to consider the related search terms that come up when you input a keyword into Google if you’re having trouble coming up with more keywords for a certain subject. When you submit a phrase to Google and scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page, you’ll see some related searches suggested. These keywords might cause you to consider alternative keywords that you should think about.

Do you want to earn an extra reward? Try entering some of those same search terms and see what they suggest.

Best Keywords for SEO

Understanding that there are no “best” keywords, just those that are highly searched by your target audience, is vital. It’s up to you to devise a plan that will help you rank pages and generate traffic with this in mind.

The most important keywords for your SEO strategy will be based on relevance, authority, and volume. You should look for highly searched phrases that you can possibly compete for given your current circumstances.

  • The level of competition you’re up against.
  • Your ability to create content that is of greater quality than what is currently ranking.

Keywords made simple

The art of keyword research is how you find the right terms to target for your content. It’s how you get found online by potential customers who are looking for what you’re selling. This article has shown how to use insights into how people search, how they behave on websites, and how they think about topics around which blog post ideas can be built. 

You should now have a list of keywords in various stages of completion, all targeted at different demographics with varying levels of the intent behind their searches. These will form the foundation on which your SEO strategy is based.

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