Keyword Research Basics Part 2: Developing Your Keyword List Like a Professional

In my previous post, I mentioned that there’s more to keyword research than just picking some words out of a hat. That doesn’t mean there is no place for brainstorming in the keyword research process. The first step to keyword research is to put together a list of keywords, of course!

SearchEngineLand’s Jenny Halasz has an excellent set of questions on how to research keywords. I’ve turned the tables on these so you can ask yourself these questions and get good results, and I’ve provided a hypothetical example to help step you through the thinking behind each step.

How would you describe what your business does to someone that has never heard of you?

If you sell golf lessons, you might think that it’s a good sales pitch to tell customers that your lessons “will keep players off of the range and on the course,” or that they’ll “sink more birdies and play under par.” How many people seeking golf lessons would search for those terms, though? Wouldn’t a beginner be more likely to search for “improve your golf swing” and “become a better golfer?”

Part of online marketing is appealing to visitors that have no idea who you are and what you do, even if your products and services are specialized for a particular audience. Cut through the jargon and buzzwords in your content development, and focus on keywords that are accurate and universally understood. Building a real-world “elevator pitch” will help you focus on the keywords and phrases that matter the most in your business.

How are your offerings special? What makes your products or services stand out from your competitors?

If you take pride in selling golf lessons that are half the price of competitors’ golf lessons, your keywords can become more focused and more valuable. Instead of focusing on optimizing for “golf lessons,” you can now focus on optimizing for “cheap golf lessons.”

Stating your core values and competitive edge will help you with keyword targeting: getting specific, higher-conversion keywords out of your generic keyword lists. Fewer people may search for “cheap golf lessons,” relative to “golf lessons.” By simply adding “cheap,” it implies that they want to convert on something cost-effective, which is exactly what you offer.

What are some similar products or services that you don’t see as a competitor?

Your golf lessons would be impossible without a good set of golf clubs and golf balls—suddenly your keyword possibilities open up to include all of the various pieces of equipment your customers will need. You’ll need a venue to boot, so you can optimize your golf lesson keywords to specific local courses, driving ranges and pro shops, as well.

Complimentary products and services make excellent alternative keywords. These will help you pull visitors in from sources you might not normally tap into, and they will give you additional content marketing material to work with.

What are your most profitable products or services? Which services do you focus on the most, when, and why?

If you make the most money from your two-week golf classes, you can optimize your keywords and advertisements to attract people towards that package. You’ve enticed them with your best deal, but if they don’t have the time or money for two weeks, or want something more intensive and longer, you can provide other packages.

Even if you offer other services, you should devote the majority of your resources to promoting your most valuable packages. This ensures that the traffic you attract comes into your website already interested in your best product. Getting new visitors on-site is your biggest challenge. Remember that visitors can browse your other offerings once they arrive.

What are your ten most important keywords?

Are your golf lessons offered to people within a certain distance of you? Which cities do those people live in? Do you want to emphasize your low prices? Do you offer discounts for students? Might you potentially want to rank for golf equipment in the future, or are golf lessons the only product you want to offer in the long-term?

Determining your top ten keywords forces you to prioritize what’s most important to your business, and it will help you determine the keywords you believe will help you achieve your goals most effectively.

Turning Your Keyword List into a Keyword Strategy: Long Tail and Generic Keywords

Now that you’ve got a list of well-planned and thoroughly brainstormed keywords, it’s time to find the ones that will do the most work for your website. Do you have enough long tail keywords?

“Long tail” keywords are longer than your typical one or two word generic keywords, and they help you focus on attracting traffic from customers that are more willing to convert. Fewer people will search for these longer keywords, but long tail keywords help you earn more valuable conversions. The closer a search user is to your exact long tail keyword in their search terms, the closer they are to wanting to convert on your products and services. Long tail keywords make excellent PPC keywords, as they are not only going to cost you less money each month, but the visitors you get from them are more likely to spend money with you.

More people will search for the shorter, generic one or two word keywords, and these will likely attract more traffic, but not necessarily more conversions. They make bad PPC keywords because they’re more commonly searched, meaning they will be way more expensive per click. Optimizing your web content with these broad keywords doesn’t cost anything, however, and helps you rank better in Google.

That’s a lot to take in for today, so in our next segment, we’ll tackle data-driven keyword research. Only the most experienced content writing service could show you how easy keyword research can really be, so stick with us and we’ll help you buff up your keyword development practices.

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Andrew Glasscock is currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated with a BA in English, specialized in Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing this past May. Along with copywriting, he loves being an improv comedian, playing frisbee, and dogs.

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  1. [...] Keyword Research Basics Part 2: Developing Your Keyword List Like a Professional This is part 2 in a series on a simple methodology for picking keywords to pull in likely buyers. Put yourself in the target’s shoes, and select long, differentiating keywords that are meaningful to your prospects. You may not generate as much traffic, but you’ll like the traffic you generate, because it will result in increased sales. Read Andrew Glasscock’s entire post to hone your keyword skills. [...]

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