When you say SEO, you automatically think of keywords. Almost every client that contacts my agency, Idunn, to help them with SEO content writing has a huge list of keywords that they want to rank for.
But there are two big problems with such lists: they are usually both useless and nearly impossible to rank for.
Allow me to explain.
I strongly believe that organic traffic is not a goal in itself. It’s a vanity metric. The actual goal is to generate sales. Organic traffic may boost your ego, but it won’t pay the bills.
However, when you choose the right keywords, you can generate sales through SEO.
Let’s say that you have a bakery. You bake the most amazing chocolate cake. Of course, you want as many people to learn about it, to visit your website and to buy it.
What should you optimize your content for? If you said “chocolate cake”, read on.
User intent – the cornerstone of any successful SEO endeavor
Ask yourself this: what does a user who searches for “chocolate cake” really need? Do they want a recipe? Do they want to buy one? Do they want to simply look at what their diet doesn’t allow them to eat?
And there is your problem with broad, generic keywords.
They are not rooted in user intent.
The rise of mobile search and voice-assisted search has taught users that specific queries bring specific results. So, if they want to bake a chocolate cake, they will search for “how to make a chocolate cake from scratch” or “chocolate cake recipe”.
Those who want to buy a cake will search for “best bakery near me” or “best chocolate cake in Tampa Bay”.
Simple queries may bring traffic. However, in competitive industries, this traffic will cost you an arm and a leg.
But more importantly, they will not bring business in through the door. If users in Minnesota see the website of a bakery in Tampa Bay among the top results, will they buy? Of course not! Irrespective of how delicious their products are and how well they are marketed.
When you start your keyword research, always consider user intent.
This is the first step of every successful marketing tactic, SEO included. Learn how your users search and what they search for. Don’t be tricked into optimizing for short keywords that bring you nothing but brand awareness and that cost a fortune.
Optimize for what really matters for your business.
Let’s take a look at some of the tools that can help you do that.
Top tools to refine your keyword research
I cannot stress this enough: tools are there to support you, not to do the thinking for you. In fact, I have noticed that marketers seem to forget that they need to optimize their content for humans, not for Google bots.
Use the tools below, but filter all their results to match what you know about your buyer persona. This is where marketing expertise comes into play. And this is why, at Idunn, we prefer to hire SEO copywriters with marketing background. Anyone can learn how to insert and look for keywords. But only writers who understand marketing know how to make them work for a business.
These are some of the tools we use at Idunn, both for our in-house SEO content and for our clients’ content:
1. Good old Google search
Yes, a plain Google search can make a world of difference. It’s free and it’s very relevant (as long as you do it in a private/incognito window).
Take a look at the first results that pop up when you type in your keyword. Can you write better content than what currently ranks in the top results?
If so, you’re on the right path. If not, you need to find another keyword.
Next, take a look at the “related searches” section at the bottom of the results page. This will show you a few similar searches to your own. You can use those queries as additional keywords in your content.
SEMrush is a paid tool, but even a free account can give you some useful information. Type in your keyword to find related keywords, create a free blog template or check the progress of your website or a certain page.
SEMrush is a very complex tool, so it will take some time to learn how to use it to its full potential. But it’s worth it.
3. LSI Graph
A free tool, LSI Graph helps you find LSI keywords that boost your content’s optimization. Simply input your keyword in the search bar and you will receive a list of more LSI keywords than you can use.
A word of caution: you don’t have to use them all. As I said before, think about your user’s intent. Not all those keywords match your goals and your buyer persona’s needs, so filter them wisely.
4. Google Suite
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are excellent (and free!) tools to monitor your progress.
Here’s a pro tip: go to Google Search Console and find those pages that don’t rank high enough yet. Then use the tools above to come up with additional keywords and information to update those pages or blog posts.
It can take you less than a day to change the ranking of a page.
No tools can substitute a good marketing strategy. At best, you will find yourself with hundreds of thousands of views per day, but no purchases or no leads. And this should never be the goal of SEO. Every marketing tactic should always be aligned with your business goals.