As a student, trainer and content marketer, the one challenge I’ve come across often with newer digital marketers is keyword research. Sure we know that this is the first step anyone should take but the question that seems to stay is “how do I go about doing my keyword research?”
Let’s Forget the Tools and the Guides and Focus on the Key Issue Here…
A common issue among new marketers is this new spirit raging within them to go out and conquer the entire digital market. Alright I’m exaggerating it a bit here, but when presented with the search volume from their favourite keyword research tool, they’re left there thinking of which keyword to target.
Let’s take everyone’s favourite free research tool, by the all time favourite search engine Google, the keyword planner. Recently introduced to encourage users to use their adwords account, this is still a highly useful tool for any new researcher. Back to our topic on hand, suppose I wanted to decide on selecting suitable keywords for my digital marketing business, naturally I would type ‘digital marketing’ into the search field and be presented with the following.
Interestingly, the term ‘Digital Marketing’ is slightly lower than the term ‘Internet Marketing’. So as a new marketer, it is tempting to target internet marketing isn’t it? Let’s put the content writing aside first and look through both keywords, which will be the better keyword term to target?
And the answer is…
It really depends on what is your marketing purpose. Surprised? A common mistake most beginners make is to look through all the keywords and select only those with higher search volume.
Because logically those terms will be able to bring more traffic to my website wouldn’t it?
Allow Me to Break Conventional Research Wisdom
While search engine optimization (SEO) is a technical process to push my search engine results page (SERP) ranking up to the first spot, if we were to look at the larger picture, we’ll being to realise that our goal is to attract more human readers not search robots.
(Ground breaking information isn’t it? I know!)
By using black hat, white hat and all the remaining multi-colour coat of internet marketing, we can draw thousands of web visitors to our website. But can we keep them or get them coming back a second or third time?
Here’s where the marketing aspect of researching comes in. We need to understand why our readers are reading our content in the first place.
It might look like a psycho class 101 but this is where the beauty of content marketing research comes in. We want to understand our target audience to better serve them great content.
Introducing the Marketing Funnel
Simple as this sounds, it is really a powerful tool to help us take keyword research to another level. There are many explanations on the marketing funnel but it does help us put things into perspective.
Imagine 3 levels of a funnel, let’s call it the top of the funnel, the middle of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel. Naturally a funnel purpose is to collect as much liquid as possible to flow into a bottle.
And the same holds for digital marketing. Because with the different levels of keyword, we’re trying our best to pull in as much traffic as possible and lead them into the bottle which is our lead capture page.
So how does our keyword research fit into this funnel?
1st Level Keywords – Top of the Funnel
Right at the top of the funnel is the opening. All data are collected and passed through here. Likewise for your readers, this is the first phase of their research, the collector. Notice I said it is their first phase and not yours.
Because ultimately it is your readers who are looking for relevant information online. At this level, they’re still keying in terms that are very generic to aid their searching process. Things like ‘marketing’, ‘internet marketing’ or ‘research strategies’ would be part of the collection.
While this is where most of the search volume are going to appear, they’re also not targeted. This means that majority of the traffic you generate from these keywords, after a long time and setting you back financially, are not interested in your product or services.
Doesn’t seem very worthwhile does it? But let me point out that it is still useful to have some of this data, because for your static web pages, you might want to use these terms to draw a larger audience of readers.
We’ll probably have to go into keyword match type to understand this a little better but for now, the thing to take away here is that at the top of the funnel, we’re trying to collect as much traffic and filter out the top traffic.
2nd Level – Middle of the Funnel
After eliminating the first internet searchers, we now have the next tier, the analyst. They have an idea of what they’re looking out for and have narrowed it down to a few brands.
At this stage of the game, they’re trying to decide the brand that will be able to give them the information they’re looking for. Naturally they’re a more targeted bunch and the competition will be easier to hit as compared to the 1st level. You’ll want to look out for these group of readers and offer them content that will help them decide on your offer. For instance, these very article you’re reading is meant to help readers decide if my website is offering good value to them. (I do hope it does.)
When preparing content, you’ll need to think about your readers who are at this stage and what can you offer them that makes them running back for more.
3rd Level – Bottom of the Funnel
If ever you’re just starting out and don’t have the resources or time, this is probably the level you want to invest yourself in. You might have heard of another common term ‘long tail keywords’ and this is where you’ll find them in abundance.
At the bottom of the funnel, your readers have an idea of the exact information they’re looking for. They’re now looking for someone who can give them a detailed explanation on their query. In the case of product or services, they’re looking to make a purchase.
By this point of the game, they’ve already decided on choosing you. Either because you’re the best in the industry or there is no one else around. In any case, you’ll want to look for specific phrases to target these group.
At this point you may be thinking that there isn’t going to be a lot of traffic here and you’re right. But remember that this group of readers are already considering your services which makes them the most valuable of the lot. After all as a business your aim is revenue isn’t it?
Which Level of Keywords Should You Target?
As always, if you have the time and resources, it is good to target every single keyword possible. But as a start, it is always good to work on the 3rd level of keywords which are easier to rank for and are also more targeted. The content you’re providing should also be structured to cater to all 3 levels of readers. But more on copywriting in a separate post.
The overall takeaway is to understand the reason behind why a reader is keying in a certain keyword in the search engine. Because while it is a system, your readers are real human being and they’re looking for an answer to a certain question or problem. Remember that your readers should always come first and aim to provide great value to them.
Next time we’ll look deeper into each of the 3 levels and how to tell which level your keyword result falls under.
How do you conduct your own keyword research? Do you meet difficulties or have some good examples? Share with us in the comment area below.
Image Source: Image via Flickr by Cambodia4kidsorg