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Importance of using keywords in your content marketing

20th Jun 2016
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Over the last several iterations of search algorithms at Google, content marketers have found that they need to be more and more cautious about how they use keywords to avoid having negative effects on the pages that they write. But choosing good keywords isn't just about Google's algorithms; in fact, if all you're thinking about is searchability, then you're already in the wrong frame of mind to write really great content.

Let's talk about five questions you can ask yourself to make sure you're using keywords in your content marketing the right way.

Are my competitors talking about this?

When you laid out the marketing subsection of your business plan, you (should have) identified competitors in your field. One way to make sure you're using good keywords is to keep an eye on your competitors and figure out what keywords they're using. You could do this by reading every blog in your industry on a daily basis, or you could use the tools available at Serpstat.

The tool provides complete data on URLs and allows to analyze separate pages as if they were domains. The overview page provides the total number of keywords on any page, preview the list of competitors and missing keywords that may drive your business.

keyword research tool

With just a few clicks, you can get a sense of what keywords your competitors are using, and how effectively they're using them. You might find a keyword that you can target more effectively than they can, or that you can spin differently to rank higher than them in search results.

Are my customers interested in this?

When you've identified something you want to write about, the next step is to look at how and why it will interest your audience. Is it something directly related to your field? Is this something that your customers won't know about, but should? Have your customers directly asked you to address this particular issue?

Once you know how your audience is likely to interact with any particular information, you have a big boost towards understanding what keywords to use and how to position them in your content to help drive shares and reads. Turn your ideas into content marketing machine and create something interesting for the web.

Is this trending?

On social media platforms, you will often see that a particular keyword is "trending," meaning that a lot of people are sharing information about this particular keyword. It can be tempting to jump onto keyword trends, but unless you are very sure that your company's mission matches what's going on with that keyword or hashtag, don't. Social media users have gotten incredibly savvy over the years, and they can smell a company hunting for a promotional opportunity from pages away.  If you have an idea for a new product, don’t jump on social media sites right away only because you feel you're missing something.

Now, if you see, for example, that a leader in your industry is trending, commenting on what they've done might be fully appropriate! But don't guess, and don't assume. When in doubt, walk away.

Is this a phrase that I can use naturally?

It's important to remember that there's a difference between how the average user searches and how content marketers research keywords. This has become especially true as Google has changed up its search to benefit voice search. While one might not type "Where is the best seafood restaurant in Vermont?" into Google's search, it's definitely a question that one might say out loud.

Where this can become a problem is when content marketers do keyword research based on the outdated strings model. They try to fit "Where is the best seafood restaurant in Vermont" into a headline, the first paragraph, and the final paragraph, without varying the phrase at all.

The more successful approach would be to break the keyword up, using phrases like "looking for restaurants" "great seafood dinners" "restaurants in Vermont" and "seafood in Vermont" throughout an article.  These are some areas where changes are required when optimizing a site.

Is this keyword specific?

If you run a small business that sells stationery, it can be tempting to try and become the #1 company for the keyword "stationery." The truth is that this is difficult, and we've generally found that even if companies can move the needle on this search, it's less helpful than using more specific keywords.

In marketing, we often talk about serving your "ideal" customer. Instead of trying to rank for broad categories, consider what keywords your ideal customer will be looking for. "Customizable stationery for weddings," "best children's party invitations," and "fun and funky stationery designs" are all options that might be better suited to a company – depending on its mission.

When completing keyword research, start with clear ideas about what you want to write about and why, then look backwards for keywords that will help you rank. What questions would you recommend entrepreneurs ask to find the best keywords for their marketing?

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