We are big fans of content strategy here at Digital Hothouse. There are very few of our clients that wouldn’t benefit from a content strategy in order to improve their overall topical relevance for the keywords we are targeting, provide valuable and insightful content for customers and improve the overall optimisation of their website.
Content is such a valuable asset for most businesses online. Not only does it provide real value to customers and prospective customers when done well, but it also offers up SEO benefits in the form of internal links, the opportunity to optimise your website for a broader range of topical keywords not to mention the improvement to the overall engagement metrics across your site.
Whilst content is undoubtedly important, the way you plan and create content needs to be strategic and well thought out otherwise a lot of hard work, time and energy may go to waste and instead of improving your overall optimisation, you actually make things worse.
That’s why it’s important to put keyword research at the heart of any successful content strategy.
You need to let the topics of your content piece be driven by cold, hard data, not by instinct.
There is no doubt that you know your audience better than anyone. And it’s also fair to say that you could create a content strategy and plan that includes a wide range of topics that are relevant to your audience.
Having a good idea of what your audience wants and knowing how exactly they search, however, are two different things.
That’s where keyword research comes in.
The value of keyword research
Keyword research is a key element of most SEO work. Understanding how people search for the products and services offered by your business is the key to maximising your potential to drive highly relevant visitors to your website.
It’s also important to understand the different types of keywords that are relevant to the different pages on your website. For example, a single “head” keyword is not really going to be that relevant for a blog post and it’s unlikely that a blog would rank for some of the high volume, high competition “head” keywords. For example, if you are a bathroom retailer, it is unlikely that would write blog content that would target terms like “baths”, “basins” or “taps” for example. These would be keywords to target with your product category pages as they provide a more relevant search result.
As part of your content strategy, you would want to identify the relevant “long tail” supporting keywords that are there to provide more relevance and more information for customers. Terms you might target with your blog could include things like “best freestanding baths”, “best basins for small bathrooms”, or “chrome taps under $50”.
These keywords provide supporting depth to the main “head” keywords you are targeting, and all those keywords have their own search volume and difficulty.
Recognising the value of the long tail
In a recent blog post, we looked at the value for businesses of targeting long tail keywords. Whilst many clients like to see that we are targeting head keywords with large search volume, as SEOs, we understand that these are becoming more and more difficult to rank for, especially if you are a small business or new to a market.
Instead, we seek out the value in the long tail.
The search volume for long tails keywords is often low. In some niche sectors, the terms that we might consider targeting will have an average monthly search volume of 10. This often means there will in fact be less than ten searches a month for those terms.
Whilst this doesn’t seem all that appealing, what you need to factor in is the intent. By the time people start to search for long tail keywords, they are usually way down the funnel when it comes to making a purchase. This means that their intent is way higher than it was when they might have typed in a head keyword.
Let’s use the bathroom example again. If I search “freestanding baths”, I am probably interested in learning more about them, finding out what sort of prices they sell for, what are the main brands, who sells them, can I go to a showroom locally etc. This is my learning phase.
Later on in the process, when I have done my research, maybe gone to have a look at a few, that’s when I want to find out where I can buy one at the best possible price. I might now know a brand I am interested in or a colour I really like or the type of feet I want. This is when my searches become more long tail. When I start to search for terms like “where to buy ideal standard freestanding baths with claw feet”, that’s when I am at the point of wanting to make a purchase. There will only be a handful of people searching for a term like that, however, the chance of making a sale if I can meet the search demand is extremely high.
Maximise your content ROI
When it comes to maximising the return on the content you are creating, you need to look to the long tail. Whilst individual long tail phrases may have relatively low search volume, cumulatively, those keywords can really add up to a significant number of monthly searches.
As we discuss in our recent post, Google’s natural language processing (NLP) has evolved to the point that they can understand the subtle difference between similar and related long tail searches.
As Google understands context better, the algorithm recognises that many variations of the same phrase or question are essentially the same.
This means we don’t need to create a new piece of content for every potential long tail keyword/phrase. We simply need to trust that Google will understand the similarities between our content and the many different ways in which people search, showing our single piece of content for tens, hundreds or possibly even thousands of keywords that share similar characteristics.
That means one well-written piece of content has the potential to rank for tens, hundreds or even thousands of long tail keywords, even if you are not specifically targeting those keywords in your content.
Over time, you should invest time into reviewing the keywords your content ranks for in order to ensure that you are optimising for the long tail keywords with the highest search volume as well as tracking new potential opportunities for keywords that you had not previously considered.
Creating great content is only one part of a successful content strategy. Keyword research should underpin that strategy and guide the direction of the content you are creating, helping to create value and drive highly relevant and motivated visitors to your site.
You still have to ensure you are creating content that meets their needs once they get to your site, however, understanding the keywords that are most likely to get them there is the first part of the battle.