6 ways to find the right keywords for your content

Are you stuck for content ideas? Do you want to boost your Google rank? Finding the right keywords can help you do both. Here’s how to track them down.

I’ve been a Web marketer for a long time. Having built my first website (DVD Verdict) in April 1999 and managed one of the larger SEO teams in the U.S. from 2006 to 2009, I’ve seen many changes in Web marketing.

Interestingly enough, there is one thing that hasn’t changed a lick in the past 14 years—keyword research.

Finding keywords is one of the most important (and most overlooked) aspects of Web marketing. I’m not going to try to convince you why keyword research is important; that’s an article for another day. Today, I want to help you find the right keywords.

There are many tools that can help you find the right keywords. Each tool has its own strengths, and you should include them in your workflow at different times for maximum benefit.

1. Google’s Keyword Tool

Technically this tool is designed for pay-per-click (PPC) usage, but it’s the tool most people use to begin their keyword research.

Run a search, and then refine that search to find a specific keyword or phrase that your site can compete for. Pay close attention to the monthly searches and competition level. The more times a word or phrase is searched, the more difficult it is to compete for it.

2. Google Trends

Enter a phrase or two to gauge the interest in those phrases over time. Pay close attention to related terms. Then, take those new ideas back to the Google Keyword Tool and gather more information.

This can also give you inspiration to write something that is on the upswing in terms of popular usage. See, for example, the screen shot below showing the relative usage of the term “search engine optimization” as compared to “content marketing.”

In the interest of full disclosure, do not read too much into the decline of “search engine optimization.” While that phrase is in decline, “SEO” still is used about 40 times as much as either of those two phrases.

Also, it’s worth understanding that Google Trends looks at the headlines of news articles as an indicator of the relative power of those phrases. Google Trends isn’t perfect, but it is a good idea generator-a place where you can be inspired and then go get more specific data about search volume in other ways.

3. Google Analytics

Once your site has been around for a while, it pays to check your analytics package, whether it’s Google Analytics or another program. Look for a search (or searches) that drove some traffic but could drive more.

This is more powerful if you register your site with Google Webmaster Tools. You’ll get search phrases and average rank right in Google Analytics.

4. Customer care team

Some of the best sources for finding keywords and phrases are the people who interact with your customers on a daily basis. Whether they are salespeople, account managers, customer service representatives or retail workers, they are the people who continually interact with your customers.

Ask them for ideas. Send them a survey asking for feedback and input. Take every question customers ask your company and consider writing a blog post to answer it.

5. Google search

Running searches and looking for content ideas is a great way to find good keywords to write about.

6. Competitor websites, blogs and industry forums

Keeping a finger on the pulse of your industry is a great way to find ideas for keywords and phrases. It’s helpful for me to have a Word document where I keep ideas as I stumble across them. It’s a pre-vetted list of blog post titles I can easily pull from.

This list will help you get down to business and write instead of conducting keyword research and killing off the urge to write. (Or is that just me who feels this way?)

There you have it: six great ways to find keywords to write about.

Whether you want to believe it or not, keyword research is the first step in any successful SEO or content marketing campaign.

What method or tool do you use to find keywords?

Sean McGinnis is founder of 312 Digital, a Chicago-based Web agency that provides websites, content marketing, SEO and a full suite of digital services to small- and medium-sized businesses. A version of this article originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical. (Image via)

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