GPO Guide to Customer-Optimized Keyphrase Research
Is customer-optomized keyphrase research part of your content strategy?
Stop writing content for the sake of content! If you’re looking to be found by searchers, then keyphrase research is an essential step in creating your brand’s content strategy. No matter if you’re unfamiliar with keyphrase research or you’re looking to take your content strategy even further, this guide has everything you need to know about keyphrase research.
What Is Keyphrase Research and Why Is it Important?
Keyphrase research is the process of discovering and analyzing the keyphrases related to your brand that potential customers are searching for. These words and phrases give insight into the ways users might find your business, and they set a solid foundation for your content and SEO strategy.
You might be thinking, “But wait, I already know what keywords I want to rank for. Why should I waste time researching instead of writing?”
What you want to rank for and what your audience is actually searching for are often two different things. Keyphrase research lets you know exactly what terms and questions you should be optimizing your content for. Without it, you are essentially playing a game of darts while blindfolded, hoping you hit the bullseye.
Know Your Business and Your Customer
Before you can begin your keyphrase research, you need to know your business and your customers. Your strategy should be aligned with your business goals and how your audience interacts with your brand. Whether you work in-house or for an agency, the below questions will help you better understand your business (or your client’s brand) and guide you in the right direction while creating a content strategy.
- What products/services does your business offer?
- What are your overall business goals?
- How do customers search for/find your business?
- Why do customers purchase your product or service?
- What problem(s) do you solve for your customers, or what need(s) do you meet?
Create a List of Potential Keyphrases
Once you have a deeper understanding of your business and audience, you can use the information you’ve gathered to create a list of potential keyphrases. To build this list, you will want to think of topics related to your business, take advantage of keyword tools, look at what your competitors are doing, and examine what’s working (and not working) for your business already. You can even ask your customer service team about the language customers use! Don’t worry about creating a final, polished list just yet. You’ll come back and narrow down your keyphrases later based on factors like keyword difficulty.
Brainstorm Topics Related to Your Business and Customers
You know your business. You know your customers. It’s time to come up with topics that matter to both. For example, if you own a store that sells tires and offers tire services, potential keyphrases related to your business could be “tire shops” or “tire rotations.” Think about the related phrases and questions your customers might be searching for, such as “tire shops near me” or “how often do I need a tire rotation.”
Use a Keyword Tool
There are many great keyword tools out there that will help you come up with other variations and related keywords. Moz and Semrush are two of the most popular SEO tools, and two that we love at GPO. These tools also provide other important data that will help you later when you narrow and refine your list. Most SEO tools require you to pay for a plan, but many offer free trials so you find the right fit for your business.
You can also use Google itself to find potential keyphrases. Type your keywords into Google and look through the “Related searches” section and the “People also ask” widget. These will show the other ways users are searching for your topics and phrases. Answer the Public is another great resource that lets you type in a keyword and see the related phrases and questions searchers are using for their queries.
What Are Your Competitors Doing?
You never want to copy your competitors exactly, but examining what they’re doing and how they’re performing can help you formulate your own SEO content strategy. Go through their blogs and see what topics they are writing about. Do you have keyphrases related to those topics included in your list? If you have an SEO tool that does competitor analysis, take a look at how they’re ranking and what they’re ranking for. This will give you ideas for other keyphrases to target.
Look at Your Existing Organic Traffic
Just like you should look at what your competitors have done and are currently doing, you should also be looking at your own site. Use Google Analytics, Search Console, or other tools to analyze how your website is performing. What pages bring in a lot of organic traffic? Do similar topics keep popping up? Are you already ranking well for certain keyphrases? What variations or related keyphrases can you target? Do you have pages that aren’t performing well? Can you boost these by optimizing them with the right keyphrases?
Clean Up Your Keyphrase List
You’ve compiled your list of potential keywords, and it’s probably big and daunting and you don’t even know where to begin with creating content. Fortunately (or unfortunately, if your fingers are itching to hit the keyboard), we’re not quite at the writing stage yet. First, you need to weed through your list and pick the keyphrases you want to prioritize and target.
Analyze Search Volume and Keyword Difficulty
When deciding which keyphrases you want to target, two metrics you should focus on are search volume and keyword difficulty. Search volume shows how many times a keyphrase is searched for within a specified time range, while keyword difficulty determines how hard it is to rank for a keyphrase. Generally, the higher the search volume, the more competitive a keyphrase is.
You might be tempted to go for phrases with the highest search volume, but you probably won’t be able to rank high for those. You also need to consider which phrases are more likely to lead to a conversion.
A keyphrase like “dresses” will have a high search volume but be extremely difficult to rank for. Plus, the searcher might just be browsing out of boredom. On the other hand, a keyphrase like “cheap navy blue dresses for wedding” might have a lower search volume, but the searcher is likely interested in making a purchase.
Target Long-Tail Keyphrases
There are two main types of keyphrases: head and long-tail. Head keyphrases are broad, generic terms usually only a word or two in length, like “shoes.” These have the highest search volume but will be harder to rank for. Long-tail keywords are more specific and usually contain more words, like “non-slip shoes for restaurant workers.” These have lower search volumes but also tend to be easier to rank for. The best strategy will be to start with long-tail keyphrases to gain traction and earn small victories then target head phrases later for bigger wins.
Pay Attention to Seasonal Trends
You might notice some keyphrases have seasonal spikes. Don’t ignore this. Noting seasonal trends can help you prepare content months in advance and get ahead of the curve. If you’re doing keyword research in March, but you notice the search volume for “all weather tires” has spiked in November for the past few years, don’t dismiss it just because it’s not relevant at the moment. You can create a blog post about all-weather tires ahead of time and roll it out around November when interest in the topic is at its highest.
How To Write Search Engine Optimized Content
Now that you have your polished list of target keyphrases, it’s time to start creating content. But how do you turn those keyphrases into blog posts and product pages?
Group Similar Keyphrases Under One Topic
You don’t need to write a new blog post for each individual keyphrase. Instead, group similar keyphrases together and come up with blog topics that can include those phrases. For example, a post about changing a flat tire can include phrases like “how to change a flat tire,” “how long can you drive on a spare tire,” and “flat tire repair near me.” You should also think about any existing blog posts you have that can be reworked with your new keyphrases.
Focus on Search Intent
As Google has gone through updates to create a better search experience for users, they have shifted their focus away from just matching keywords. Now, Google cares more about whether or not you’re matching the intent behind a user’s query. There are four main search intent types:
- Informational: This is the most common type of search. Users are either looking for a specific answer (“how to change motor oil”) or general information (“world war i”). Searches with an informational intent are also one of the easiest to optimize for featured snippets
- Navigational: These searches are made when users are trying to get to a specific site (“facebook login”)
- Commercial Investigation: When searchers have the intent to buy a product or service but aren’t sure which brand or business to choose, they’ll complete this type of query to compare solutions (“moz vs semrush” or “iphone12 reviews”). This is also where a lot of local searches will land (“best coffee shop in Seattle” or “battery checks near me”)
- Transactional: This is where conversions come in. Transactional searches are made with the intent to complete an action, such as signing up for a mailing list, purchasing a product, or making an in-person visit (“buy amc theatre tickets” or “search engine journal newsletter”)
Those long-tail keyphrases we mentioned earlier? They will be easier to determine the search intent for. If someone searches for “pizza,” you don’t know if they want information about pizzas, a recipe, or to buy one. However, if they search for “pizza delivery near me,” you know they are ready to find a restaurant and order a pizza.
The more specific the keyphrase is, the easier it will be to craft content that matches the search intent. A blog post will be good for informational and commercial investigation queries, but a product or location page will work best for transactional searches.
Quick SEO Content Writing Tips
You have your polished list of keyphrases, you’ve grouped them by topic, and you’ve determined the search intent. Finally, you can put your fingers to the keys and get typing. Here are some quick tips to help you along the way:
- Don’t rely on text alone — add photos, charts, videos, etc. when you can
- Avoid keyword stuffing (overusing keyphrases/not incorporating them in a natural way)
- Keep the language simple — aim for a 7th or 8th-grade reading level
- Add title tags, meta descriptions, and alt-text
- Breakup content to be skimmable (use H2s and H3s, bullet points, numbered lists, etc.)
- Include keyphrases in the title and headers
- Link to internal product pages and blog posts when possible
Let GPO Help with Your SEO Content Strategy
Need a content strategy worth writing about? Contact the GPO team to see how we can help with your brand’s content — from optimized product and location pages to keyphrase-rich blog posts!