Researching your keyword strategy is one of the most important tasks a business owner or marketing manager for a startup company can do to help generate a successful inbound marketing campaign strategy.
To start off you should create your keyword strategy around your buyer personas. In three simple steps these buyer persona profiles can be completed and prove valuable to marketing efforts now and in the future. Remember, they are living documents—always editable, and constantly growing. Start by defining these three categories below.
Side Note: For further reading, check out our blog: Back to The Basics With Buyer Personas. You can also download the Buyer Persona Workbook which includes tips to ensure you are asking the right questions during your persona interviews and surveys, formatting your persona research in a compelling way, using your buyer personas for segmentation, content mapping, lead nurturing, and of course—keyword research.
Segment by demographics.
Start developing personas by researching your existing customer base to identify the most common buyers of your products and services. You may have several different types of buyers, so give each one a detailed description, including a name, job title or role, industry or company info, and demographic info.
What are the biggest problems they are trying to solve? What do they need most? What information are they typically searching for? What trends are influencing their business or personal success?
Develop behavior-based profiles.
What do they do online? Are they active on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks? What kind of search terms do they use? What kind of information do they tend to consume online? Which of your products do they spend the most time researching? How do they use those products?
Once you have established your buyer personas, and understand who will benefit most from your products or services, it is time to define your value proposition.
Questions to ask when defining your value proposition include:
What products or services make your business the most money?
How does your sales cycle work?
Who will be consuming this content and how can you maximize your offerings to best suit your prospects or customers needs?
Next, gather a list of search queries a website visitor might use to search for your products or services. Then you can enter those keywords into the keyword tool of your choice (if you didn’t know, we are big fans of the HubSpot Keyword Tool), and review the report based on your chosen keywords.
Be sure your list is well balanced with short, medium and long tail marketing keywords. Although you may not try to rank for the short tail keywords immediately it is good to keep track of your progress over time.
It is much easier to begin ranking with long tail keywords than it is to jump out of the gate on a short tail keyword. Taking on the ranking challenge for a short tail keyword may prove time-consuming, difficult, and depending on the competition, nearly impossible. It is best to stick with keywords that are more brand-specific.
“Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.” — Wendy Piersall
Once you have developed a preliminary list of keywords, you must review each of them. You can do this by creating a list of objectives for each keyword. A few questions you may ask yourself during this process:
- Does this keyword fit within the themes of my website?
- What content should this keyword assist in producing?
- How will I leverage this keyword within my content strategy?
- What buyer persona(s) will this keyword satisfy most?
Essentially you want to complete a thorough plan of how each keyword will fit into your inbound marketing campaign strategy. You should determine what business goals it will most likely assist in achieving, and how and when you will utilize each keyword for each buyer persona, through each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Side Note: A professional image is necessary but you still want to avoid the dreaded corporate gobbledygook. What is gobbledygook you ask? Great question. These are jargon terms and phrases that have been overused and abused rendering them meaningless (you’ll find them mostly in high-tech industries, but everyone is an offender at one point or another).
The research doesn’t stop there. By this time you should have removed keywords that are not a good fit, and hopefully thought of a few more that may work well.
Now it is time to do a little digging.
And by digging, I mean a good old fashioned competitive analysis with an innovative inbound flair. This is not a task that should become obsessive, but rather completed any time your keyword strategy is adjusted.
Jump into the HubSpot Keyword Tool, and choose “Get Suggestions”.
Enter your competitor’s URL and click the "Get suggestions" button.
A screen will appear like the one below providing some of the top-ranked keywords on your competitor’s web page and respective monthly search volumes.
The keywords you gather in this hunt should be used as a guide and the information gathered can be used for benchmarks to monitor your keyword ranking progressions.
Today we want to remain focused on your brand specific keyword strategy.
Ask some of these questions as you compare your competitors’ rankings to your own.
- Are they duplicates?
- If so, does this really influence my business? Does this keyword pertain directly to their product or service? What about the target market?
- Are they truly the subject matter expert for that particular keyword? Is the keyword more aligned with their value proposition or mine?
- How much content do I have planned for this particular keyword?
You can infer the answers to these questions based on the amount of web content the particular competitor has in comparison to the amount of content you have published, or are planning to publish for this particular keyword. Another point to take note of is the frequency with which the competitor is producing content, and the quality standards they uphold. Are they using white glove SEO tactics? Do they understand what ranking is?
Once you have mentally noted the competitor keyword research you can divide and differentiate. This is the most important step for startups. If you are not looking at the way your product or service is being used by current and potential customers.
Be sure to re-evaluate these keywords every few months—once a quarter is a good benchmark, but some businesses like to do it even more often than that. – HubSpot
Keyword strategy, much like other tactics used in content and inbound marketing, strives for the goal of customer satisfaction.
Keep customers happy by providing the exact search phrases to meet their information needs immediately. If you follow these steps and get to know your customers, your website, and your competitors—you will have developed a productive keyword strategy.
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