How to Choose Keywords that Will Drive Your Content Strategy

|Will Fleiss

Keyword research informs content strategyEveryone knows that keyword research is the foundation of any SEO strategy, but content strategists too often forget how keyword research can and should be a major driver of your content marketing strategy.

Content created from keyword research will continue to provide value months and years after people stop sharing your content on social media, driving your cost per acquisition through the floor and your content’s life time value through the roof. You don’t even have to compromise your creative genius or your pristine brand image. I promise.

How to Choose Your Keywords

In order to understand how keyword research drives content marketing, you must first understand how it works. In a nutshell, it’s the process of discovering the words and phrases your target customers are using when they search for your business and other tangential topics related to your business.  In addition to uncovering the actual words and phrases real people use to find products and services like yours, keyword research reveals data such as the number of times a keyword is searched in a specific month and how that number changes by location.


The Best Keyword Research Tools

There are a multitude of tools available for conducting keyword research, here are some of the best and most popular:

1. Google’s Keyword Planner Tool

2. WordStream Free Keyword Suggestion Tool

3. Keyword Spy

4. Bing’s Keyword Research Tool

5. Übersuggest

Write About What Matters to Your Audience

Keyword research takes the guesswork out of what your audience cares about. For example, a company promoting diet plans might logically assume that its users are interested in “diet plans for losing weight”, but a search on Google’s Keyword Planner Tool for “why am I not losing weight” reveals phrases with higher search volume like “losing weight fast”, “best way to lose weight” and “best diet to lose weight”.

adwords keyword research screenshot


Start With Compelling Headlines

In addition to choosing the write keywords, using engagement data from our internal research will help you craft headlines that will capture your audiences attention and increase traffic to your content. Follow these simple tips:

1. Get the length right. Research found headline that are 16-18 words get the best click-through-rate.

2. Use negative superlatives. Headlines with negative superlatives (“never,” “worst”) have a whopping 69% higher CTR than headlines with positive superlatives (“best,” “always”).

3. Don’t be bossy. Headlines interpreted as pushy have a 20% lower CTR than ones without words like “must” or “need.”

4. Don’t be spammy. While this seems obvious, consumers are getting quicker at spotting spammy content. There are certain words you should avoid to keep potential readers from moving on.

Brainstorm New Content Ideas

Say you’re crafting content about a new recipe book you’ve published that’s full of seasonal recipes with ingredients like pumpkin and apple. Type “fall recipes” into the Google Keyword Planner Tool, and you’ll get a big list of keyword variations that looks something like this:

recipes keyword research adwords


Basically, you’ve just been given an excellent list of ideas for blog posts and other content, such as:

1. Healthy fall recipes

2. Easy fall recipes

3. Fall party recipes

4. Fall appetizer recipes

When you feel like you’ve exhausted all interesting possibilities, Übersuggest is another goldmine of new content ideas. Just plugin a keyword and it will spit out all of the Google Autocomplete keyword variations if you were to add every letter in the alphabet to that keyword. Check out the “fall recipes” keywords + l, m, and n:

fall recipes keyword ideas


Identify the Content Format Your Audience Wants

If you’ve done all the right research and have crafted a solid content strategy around targeted keywords, don’t risk losing your audience by offering it up in the wrong format. There are tools to help you identify the specific formats your audience prefers, too.

Google Trends, for instance, will show you how much traffic is heading to video sites like YouTube for specific keywords, and comScore offers insights into media consumption. Additionally, researching modifiers like “free e-book” and “free tutorial” along with your keywords in the Google Keyword Planner Tool can sometimes show a demand for certain content formats.

Find Targets for Content Promotion

Keyword research doesn’t begin and end with the actual words and phrases people are typing into the search box, much like content marketing doesn’t begin and end with content creation. Once you’ve identified keywords to drive your content production efforts, deeper research reveals key targets for promotion.

Say you’re going to write about the latest innovations in data center technology. In your search for the most viable keywords, you’ve identified a few key experts that consistently rank well in the SERPs for your target keywords.

Google SERP keyword example


You might interview someone prominent in the industry, or you might reference articles from peer blogs for some cross-promotion or a content outreach campaign. There are many ways to tap into industry influencers as part of a content marketing campaign, and keyword research enables you to quickly pinpoint thought leaders in your niche.

When it comes to content marketing, there’s far too much competition out there to rely on a mere hunch to drive your strategy. Keyword research tools are readily available, putting valuable keyword data at your fingertips, ultimately leading to a measurable ROI on your content marketing. Ditch the wait-and-see approach and start feeding your audience with the right content, at the right time, in the right place.


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Will Fleiss

Will Fleiss

Will has been doing online marketing for 10+ years, spending time on the agency-side at BKV, Ogilvy, and Converseon and... Read more

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  • somesh| October 31, 2014 at 1:01AM

    wordtracker is also a famous free keyword research tool


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