Stop and for a moment, imagine yourself standing in the Library of Congress surrounded by thousands of books. You are looking for one book on a specific topic, and yet you have no idea how to find that book in the sea of books in front of you. So you head over to the ‘Information Desk’ and ask for help. The first thing the Librarian does is point you to the Catalogue, the index of everything held in the Library, and she recommends you undertake a search.

The whole world wide web is the equivalent of the Library, and Google is your catalog provider. There is only one difference and that is: Google uses multiple keywords or phrases in its index. It’s a little different from the way library books are cataloged, although not that different.

It is valuable to determine which keywords or phrases you are going to build your content around. What is the critical information you have for the users of your website? What topic do you want people to come to your site to learn about?

Why build a keyword list

In last week’s article, we talked about the importance of focusing content on your user, the person coming to your site. You need to think like them and ask, “What is it THEY want?”

Today with the web containing so much information, the aim is to get your site as high as possible in the Google search rankings and ultimately search results. If you write or develop content for your website with no core focus, it is not as likely to rank, and that could mean it ends up on page 347,346 of the returned results for a search.

Not what you want at all. Therefore, the best thing to do is do some research on Google and create a keyword or key phrase list. This list will be the key topic, topics, or phrases that a visitor to your site is likely to search for on the Internet.

Here’s how searches have changed.

There is some interesting information in an article by Siteground that tells us that:

  •   “Google sees about 15% of brand new searches each day. This tells us keywords are always changing, and keyword research should be done often.”
  •   “Ahrefs analyzed 1.9 billion keywords and found that 92.42% of those only receive ten or fewer searches per month. This tells us to consider keywords of all volumes and not just the ones with massive search volumes.”
  •   “Ahrefs also discovered that 29.13% of keywords with 10,000+ monthly searches are made up of three or more words. This points us to long-tail (aka longer phrases) keyword phrases.”
  •   “8% of all the search queries made on Google are phrased as questions. This tells us we should not just look at simple phrases. We also need to think in terms of questions that use who, what, where, when, and how.”
  •   “One-third of the search queries made through Google are at least four words long.  This again reinforces the need for long-tail search terms.

Siteground makes a point of saying, “These last two data points are important because they illustrate a shift in search.”

Stop and think for yourself. Several years back, you might have pulled up the Google search bar and typed in one word to find what you were looking for, but what do you do now? Don’t you type in a phrase or a question?

Your keyword strategy needs to be the starting place.

The Hubspot team has laid out an excellent process for developing a keyword strategy that ultimately helps you pull together a solid list of keywords. And that list is what will help you deliver on your marketing strategy.

Step one in their process is to “make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business.” Notice the two words ‘important’ and ‘relevant.’ Stop and brainstorm the most critical topic or topics you are covering or the areas you want to be found in.  Hubspot suggests thinking about topic areas you want to be ranked for, then grouping these into specific buckets. You might find 5-10 topic areas that you want to rank for.

The next step is to consider the keywords used in each of these topic areas, and remember here you need to think in terms of phrases just as much as single words. This process will provide you with a key list of keywords/phrases to focus your marketing content.

Think like your audience.

In our previous post about the Google Algorithm, we talked about how to be more focused on delivering the best possible content to a user to answer their question. The Hubspot article also talks about ‘User Intent and how it is essential to factor that into your thinking.

User intent is now one of the most pivotal factors in your ability to rank well on search engines like Google. Today, it’s more important that your web page addresses the problem a searcher intended to solve and carries the keyword the searcher used. So, how does this affect the keyword research you do?

It’s easy to take keywords for face value, and unfortunately, keywords can have many different meanings beneath the surface. Because the intent behind a search is so vital to your ranking potential, you need to be extra careful in interpreting the keywords you target.

The basic idea is to be your primary customers or clients. What is going on in their mind when they go to Google to search for you?  What are the questions they would have that you have the answers for? What problems can you solve for them?

Remember that the more specific you can be, the more likely you are to attract the type of people you want to be your customers.

Don’t forget the alternative keyword phrase options.

When thinking about keywords or phrases, you will likely think of a question in the positive. That’s great, and what about considering some of the alternate words, such as the opposing position. Often, we don’t realize that people searching for us might not be in the place to be searching using favorable terms.

For example, if someone was feeling very low and wanted support to shift that feeling, would you have an answer to their problem?

So consider if there is even one alternate phrase that might drive additional traffic to your content and add it to your list. Try that phrase out and see what the analytics show you.