Content marketing is both science and art. Content needs to be relevant, engaging, and have a hook. There are also technical elements to consider. One aspect of content creation that requires both is SEO. Keywords need to flow naturally while also having the right volume, intent, and placement. To ensure both parts are seamless, it’s important to understand the concept and practice of keyword targeting.
That said, we also need to recognize that Google is constantly evolving their algorithms and things change. So, what’s new related to the importance of keywords that your content team should know? Let’s dive in and find out.
The Five Components of Keyword Targeting
There are a vast number of keywords you can use in content planning. That’s true even for the most niche industries. As an enterprise responsible for various products or services and multiple personas, you may have thousands on your list.
However, not all of them will be worth the effort. As you gauge which keywords should be your focus, you’ll look at five elements:
This equates to the monthly average number of unique searches for a term or phrase.
Keyword Difficulty (KD) Score
KD is a number between 0 and 100. The closer it is to 100, the more competitive it is to rank for it.
This is a subjective evaluation of if the keyword pertains to your company and audience. Not all associated terms will.
For example, medical database and physician database seem similar. They mean completely different things. A medical database is a tool for physicians to use in diagnosis. A physician database is a repository of doctors that a patient would use.
Using city names or ZIP codes doesn’t apply to every company, but it does to many that only seek customers from a specific area.
The intent of a searcher is another important aspect of your SEO strategy. It means what the intention behind the search is, and there are four categories.
- Informational: “I want to learn about something.”
- Commercial: “I want to explore options and purchase something.”
- Navigational: “I want to go to a specific website.”
- Transactional: “I want to buy now.”
Depending on which category the keyword falls under determines how you’ll use it in your content. Not every term or phrase neatly fits into one of these four options.
In considering these five criteria, the sweet spot is a keyword with:
- Over 100 searches a month (or more, depending on how broad your audience is)
- Mid- to low-range competition
- Relevance to what you sell and who buys it from you
- Location-specific verbiage, if applicable
Pro Tip: Create a master keyword document that includes all the information noted above. Also, input your organic rankings for each at least every 30 days. Be sure to update volume and KD every three months and keep adding new keywords.
Consider How People Search
Searchers aren’t just typing in terms. Voice search has a market share of 20 percent in the U.S. With the rising adoption of digital assistants and smart speakers, many simply ask a question as a means of searching. As such, that has an impact on keyword targeting.
Your keywords will need to be questions or phrases that mimic how people speak, not how they type. That usually means the keywords are long tail, which means a searcher has a specific intent. Adding voice search to your SEO will only grow in importance. Check out the video below from Semrush for pointers.
Pro Tip: Watch the trends around the long-tail question keywords you’re targeting. Look for patterns that might provide insight into how your content aligns with the audience’s needs.
Keywords and the Fragmented Customer Journey
Another must-know for keywords in 2022 is considering the fragmented customer journey. The path customers take to purchase is no longer linear. Instead, buyers move in and out of the journey, researching, evaluating, and back again.
As such, you’ll need to consider how you target keywords to keep up with this roller coaster. Also, if the buying cycle is longer for your product or service, the more chaotic it becomes. Alas, there are ways to capture attention, and a lot of that goes back to the types of intent addressed earlier.
Segmenting your keywords by where someone is in the funnel can also be effective. For example, someone searching for ways to streamline accounting workflows is looking for solutions, not necessarily a product, so they’re researching and becoming aware. The person that searches enterprise accounting software for healthcare is ready to evaluate and likely move toward a purchase.
Pro Tip: Align your content calendar with each stage of the sales cycle and identify keywords that would be more applicable to each.
Track Keyword Ranking to Understand Trends and the “Power” of Ranking for Terms
Your position rankings, which you can track through tools like Semrush or Ahrefs, show how you’re competing organically. Ideally, you always want to be on the first page. Remember, SEO is a long game, so rankings fluctuate.
What’s important here is how you rank for keywords that drive purchase intent. Which leads from organic SEO deliver revenue? Once you know that, those keywords and optimizations associated will be a priority.
In defining content marketing ROI, MQLs (marketing qualified leads) that come from organic rankings are quantifiable.
Pro Tip: If you see rankings slip on keywords that drive revenue, check in on the content first and determine if there are any optimizations to make (e.g., improve readability, add length, insert more internal links). You can also redistribute through social media or email marketing for a boost.
Keyword Targeting Is Fundamental for Content Marketers
Keywords will always be an essential part of content. While you want to write for humans first and Google second, you can’t deny the value of high rankings. With these tips and a strong strategy, you’ll continue refining and optimizing.
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