Keyword research started out as the benchmark of the SEO industry. That is because search engines constructed a system that revolved around users entering a query into a text field, hitting enter and receiving a list of relevant results. Viola – search was born! It was a boy, a girl, twins, triplets and all the rest of it.
Twenty years later, it’s not just about a keyword. Now search starts as part of a buyer’s journey. That is what is less well known (but starting to gain traction) and needs to be explored.
The Buyer’s Journey Defined
A journey for the buyer has always generally been about three stages: awareness, consideration and decision.
The beginning stage where a potential customer realizes their need but doesn’t know how to resolve it yet. Search terms here are usually question-based around a particular area.
This stage is where a potential consumer has defined their need and is searching specific solutions to help resolve it.
The decision stage is where businesses should focus their attention. This is where consumers are ready to buy and are doing product or vendor comparisons by researching reviews and looking at pricing information.
Probably creating content for your customers too early in the journey will mean lower conversion rates from visitor to customer. Some could also argue that you could also potentially be missing out on people who will become customers if you don’t. Further possibilities to gather these people into your conduit include offering white paper downloads to capture user’s information or social media follow opportunities via Facebook, Instagram, Google Ads or other retargeting platforms if they are still in the beginning stages of their searches. This may contribute to helping them revisit your site once they make a final decision.
Putting it into practice
Keyword research should fall into a document somewhat like this:
1. Harvest keywords
The first step in the process is what you are already familiar with – create a batch of keywords from the client or other stakeholders that the site would like to rank for and make that your seed keyword list. This is normally a minimum of 15–20 keywords but can be more if you’re dealing with multiple product lines.
2. Expand the list
Once you have that keyword list, it’s time to utilize the tools your team has used in the past. It’s always advantageous to roll through Moz Keyword Explorer, Answer the Public, Keywords Everywhere, Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Google Ads, ranking tools and SEMrush. These might just bear fruit that your team has not yet considered that could be gold.
3. Filtering out irrelevant keywords
Once you’ve increased the seed keyword list, you can begin to filter out keywords that will become useless. It is labor-intensive and involves sorting through rows of data. Use Moz’s Keyword Explorer, filter by relevancy and work your way down the list – this should get the job done.
4. Pull in data
After expanding the seed keywords out, Keyword Explorer’s handy list function will help you to break things down into separate topics. You can then export that data into a CSV and begin combining it with other data sources. Using SEMrush API access, Dave Sottimano’s API Library will save you time or you may want to upload the keywords into the Keywords Everywhere Chrome extension and manually export the data and combine it all together.
5. Align phrases to the buyer’s journey
The next stage of the process is to start categorizing the keywords into the stage of the buyer’s journey. All keywords don’t always fit into a predefined stage. You could also find keywords that may be in awareness/consideration or consideration/decision. Just use your judgment for your industry.
Once you have a solid list, put it to good use within your content pages. Ensure they are used in content that is ranking organically and that aligns well with what your company is actually offering. This will lead to repeat customers and high rankings. <End Game> #Goals