From Compass To GPS: How Keyword Research Maps Your Marketing Campaign

Car with compass in GPS holder

The number one influence in building a successful online marketing campaign is keyword research. Your keyword strategy is the blueprint that guides the direction of your content to increase the type of traffic that produces leads and new clients.

Keyword research allows you to gain insight on what content is needed to satisfy the demand of search queries made by potential clients. Think like your client to develop content that touches on their needs. The main objective when achieving and maintaining competitive rankings is satisfying the search intent for key-phrases that attract visitors who convert to clients.

Keyword research to make your compass spin…

  1. Enter your coordinates: Leverage the power of geolocation
  2. Chart your destination options: Choose your seed keyword
  3. Avoid traffic hazards: Identify the search horizon
  4. Map the destination routes: Create content that converts
  5. Stay on course: Measure your performance

Enter your coordinates: Leverage the power of geolocation

Take advantage of local search traffic by optimizing your website in Google My Business. There is a load of traffic to be taken advantage of because of the proximity factor that has become the largest factor in local search. Local searches are defined as any keyword search that includes “near me” or (keyword) + (city). Optimize your website to include your location and list your business in the GMB index so you can take advantage of any keyword searches that take place in close proximity or in your city.

Google My Business screen cap for custom posters search

Chart your destination options: Choose your seed keyword

The first task in developing your strategy is to identify the keyword options that are available. Keyword tools will provide you with more detail in generating a keyword report, and for this example, I am using a tool called SECockpit. Here I would simply plug in a basic seed keyword to get hundreds of related keywords that will help to guide me in choosing a term that will have a high search volume, low competition while still providing the most relevant traffic that will convert to sales.

Suppose we use a poster website as an example and we begin our keyword strategy running a keyword report using the seed keyword “poster.”

Keyword report for the keyword "posters"

The objective when choosing a seed keyword is to maximize the monthly volume of traffic with visitors who are a good match for your business. Make the best selection by balancing between the cost per click, the volume of searches and keyword difficulty.

The cost per click (CPC) is an indication of whether money is being made from the traffic of that keyword. The CPC is the average dollar amount of what vendors pay for one click from the traffic that the keyword represents. A higher cost per click indicates a higher commercial value.

The keyword difficulty indicates the level of competition associated with a first-page position. Keywords and phrases that show high volumes of traffic, with a low value of keyword difficulty and a high cost per click are ideal to include in your strategy. In the image above the keyword difficulty is represented by the orange bar labelled “Top Results”.

The report above will show that the seed keyword “posters” get the most searches by far, however, the competition is also the highest making it more difficult to rank and eliminating it as a potential option. It appears that “custom posters” is the best option because it provides the most search volume in comparison to the level of competition. The cost per click is 2.5 times higher than the term “poster” because it is more focused on a specific search intent making “custom posters” a search term that converts more frequently.

Keep in mind single word keywords include a wide range of possibilities in search intent. It’s impossible to discern whether someone who searches the term “poster” is looking for posters of superheroes or music bands. By choosing keywords that narrow the possibilities of search intent we reduce the competition and increase conversions. A visitor who finds your site by typing in a search term that specifies exactly what your site offers is a perfect example of satisfying search intent.

Avoid traffic hazards: Identify the search horizon

The traffic your website receives may be much lower than stated on a keyword tool report if the organic click-through rate is low. This value represents the total clicks that are made to organic listings out of the total search volume.

The featured snippet has been appearing more frequently and will continue to absorb the number of clicks in specific searches as voice searches continue to rise. Compare the monthly volume of traffic against the number of clicks to the organic results to get a more accurate idea of the volume of traffic that is actually available in an organic search listing. Keyword Explorer is Ahrefs keyword tool that includes the number of clicks made to the organic results.

Ahrefs keyword report for custom posters

Understanding the landscape of your search results page is vital to the success of your campaign. The possibilities are numerous based on how people search, what people search and how Google displays the results. In the example below, note that the entire top fold of the search results is video, ads and a “People also ask” question and answer box.

First page results for the keyword french press coffee maker

If the first page of results displays a video carousel, followed by ads and local listings before the organic results then the best way to compete for that search term would be by ranking a video, paying for an ad or optimizing specifically for a local listing. Identifying the landscape will indicate the method of marketing you choose to accurately position your website to capture more traffic.

Map the destination routes: Create content that converts

How will your clients find you? What will they type in the search box to find the perfect solution? Start simple, and list phrases that are most likely being used to describe your offering. Use different versions of keywords that have the same search intent. Search engines assess websites by determining if there is a strong relationship between the intent of the search and the solution the website provides in answering the query.

A contributing factor to the success of your strategy is that you get in the minds of your clients to understand where their motivation is coming from in searching for your product. When you are in touch with their needs, it becomes much clearer how they would search for solutions.

Create content that satisfies search intent by using resources such as Google Suggest, Wikipedia, forums, and social media. Using Google Suggest will develop seed keywords into long tail key phrases. Just type in your keyword in the search box and record the phrases that appear as suggestions from the drop down. Choose phrases that match the search intent you’re aiming for on your page. Type in who, what, where, when, and how plus your keyword to see what Google suggests as popular searches.

drop down for who custom posters

What custom posters drop downhow custom posters drop down

Alternatively, you can perform a search with your potential key phrase and scroll down to the bottom of the page where it says “People also ask” as well as “Searches related to (your keyword)

people also ask section

Wikipedia is a resource you can use to build great keyword ideas that support your main keyword. If you search your keyphrase in Wikipedia you will find loads of information about your keyword but even more impressive is the gold mine of keywords found in the table of contents. Each of the links found will contribute to providing comprehensive coverage of your selected keyword.

Wikipedia contents screen shot

Forums and social media platforms can serve as resources to pinpoint the exact issues that drive search intent. By joining groups that are related to your keyword you can scan through threads and pick up loads of questions asked firsthand by people who are in need of solutions. Include solutions to these specific problems in your content to increase the value of your page and engage visitors who appreciate a detailed response to issues that are in touch with their needs.

Another example of a potential idea for a subheading “How to improve the quality of your images”Reddit screen cap of image quality discussion

Stay on course: Measure your performance

Evaluate the effectiveness of your keywords and content by measuring the performance of your website through Google’s Search Console. Under the performance tab, you are able to view the performance data which includes the number of impressions for specific keywords, clicks made to your website for each keyword, the click-through rate, and average position held for each keyword. A low click-through rate indicates that there is minimal engagement from the traffic you’re generating. This would require you to re-evaluate whether your content is satisfying the search intent.

google search console screen cap

Upgrade your compass to GPS

Keyword research forces a deeper understanding of how to provide solutions to search intent. Aiming in a general direction will not get the same results as a well-mapped plan that accurately places your content in front of the best matches for your website.

Avoid generalities and vagueness in the direction you choose and be precise with who you market to and how you present meaningful content that serves your clients needs. Apply these tactics in your keyword research to enhance performance and achieve specific marketing goals that contribute to successful marketing campaigns.

Christian Carere

Christian Carere is an SEO specialist and the founder of Digital Ducats Inc. specializing in search engine optimization services. His company offers services to improve traffic, generate leads and new clients.

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