Competition: It’s great for free market economies, NFL games and sales teams, but it’s not so great when it comes to targeting keywords for your business’s inbound marketing campaign. Only 10 lucky pages make it to the first page of a search engine’s results, and when you consider that the term “competition” delivers more than 1 billion page results, the odds are overwhelmingly not in your favor.
Ready for some more mood-dampening news? Almost 90% of people only look at the 1st page of the SERPs, with the top listing in Google’s organic search results receiving 33% of overall traffic and the 2nd listing receiving 18% of overall traffic. This is all building up to say this: It’s absolutely essential to get your content on the first page. If not, you’re as good as invisible, losing 90% of your potential readers who will never travel outside page one.
Don’t drown in despair yet – you can get your content to rank on the first page with some smart keyword research. You just have to understand that when it comes to keywords, competitiveness is king.
From Seed To Vine: Broad Keywords Vs. Long-Tail Keywords
Broad keywords are exactly what they sound like. General words that cover a broad expanse. Broad keywords are usually short – only one or two words long. Let’s see what happens when a broad search is performed for the short keyword: screwdriver.
Since it’s hard to parse out the searcher’s intent from the sole word screwdriver, you’ll notice that the results for this searched term turn up both tools for fastening screws and alcoholic drinks made from orange juice and vodka. Beside the ambiguity of the term, the SERP’s top spots are reserved for the heavy hitters – the big names in the industry: Home Depot, Stanley Tools, Craftsman, Liquor.com. Anyone searching for just screwdriver is most likely in the earliest stages of the buyer’s journey, just looking to gather information.
Long-tail keywords are a string of several words that are more targeted and specific in their intent. We can grow the original seed – screwdriver – into a vine by adding onto it: #2 x 6 in. Phillips-head screwdriver with rubber grip. Anyone searching for this long-tail keyword is most likely in the latest stages of the buyer’s journey. They know exactly what they want and their credit card is probably already in their hand.
As you begin your keyword research, you’ll want to target long-tail keywords over broad keywords.
Value Over Volume: Be Wary Of Keywords With High Monthly Search Results
Naturally, shorter search phrases are searched more often than longer phrases. The word “screwdriver” is searched more than 27,000 times a month. From a marketing perspective, this probably sounds enticing. There is clearly a high demand for this term. But if you’re having this thought, so are thousands of your competitors – all struggling to rank for the same generic keyword. There’s no need to toil in vain. Not only are your chances of ranking for a highly searched keyword infinitesimal, but it’s also not a smart use of your resources.
Here’s an experiment. Try typing a keyword into your go-to search engine. Notice any paid ads above and to the right of the organic search results? The presence of paid advertisements generally indicates that the keyword you’re searching for is highly competitive and has a high search volume. Use this as a litmus test for keyword difficulty.
Think Like Your Customer: How To Expand Broad Keywords Into Long-Tail Keywords
Want to find your keyword sweet spot? Get inside your buyer persona’s head. If you were your target customer, what would you be searching for? Consider the problems they want solutions to. Think about what areas they want more information about.
Let’s say you’re running a florist shop that primarily sells different varieties of roses. Sure, you could try to brainstorm keywords that are strictly about roses, bouquets and flower arrangements, but challenge yourself to think outside of your literal keyword terms. As you begin to think like your target customer, you may come up with these ideas:
- Best gift ideas for Valentine’s Day
- Different ways to say I’m sorry when you’ve made a mistake
- What should you do when your girlfriend is mad at you?
In addition to using buyer personas to guide your keyword research, you can also springboard off keyword suggestion tools, which auto generate related keywords for you. However, keep in mind that keyword suggestion tools don’t understand your buyer personas, nor do they know which keywords are relevant to your content.
Let’s use workers’ compensation lawyers as an example.
When you type workers’ compensation lawyers into a keyword suggestion tool, you may get some of the following related results:
- Workers’ comp lawyer salary
- Workers’ comp lawyer fees
- When to hire a workers’ comp lawyer
If you’re a workers’ comp attorney looking to boost your brand recognition and represent more clients, the first 2 suggested terms won’t be very helpful to you, and the 3rd term is most likely far too competitive for you to rank for.
But when you begin to think like your buyer persona and target more specific, less competitive search terms, you may come up with some keyword topics that you could work with:
- How to navigate complex workers’ comp insurance company practices
- What are the next steps after you’ve seen the appointed workers’ comp doctor?
- What should you do when a new physical problem stems from an old injury?
Check The Analytics: Using A Keyword Difficulty Checker
Once you’ve come up with a list of long-tail keywords that one of your buyer personas could reasonably use to find your products or services, it’s time to run them through a keyword difficulty checker. Take your pick – there’s Google Analytics, SEMRush, Moz.com, HubSpot’s Keywords tool, Ahrefs and dozens more. These tools will give your inputted search terms a difficulty rating; the higher the score, the more competitive that term is to rank for.
Keyword competitiveness depends on many factors, from your website’s authority and the number of indexed pages your site has, to the quality of your content and how competitive your industry is. If you’re an accountant, your field’s keywords are going to be much more competitive than the keywords that a dollhouse furniture maker would be targeting.
If you select keywords with low-to-medium competition that your target customers are searching for and begin to build your campaign around them with relevant blog posts, offers, landing pages and CTAs, you should begin to see results very soon.
Before you know it, you may even win the coveted #1 position on Google.
Want Extra Help With Ranking?
We get it – keyword research can be difficult and time-consuming, but it pays off with increased site traffic, more conversions and improved search engine ranking. If you’re juggling your inbound marketing strategy and struggling to find time to complete everything, let us take some responsibilities off your plate by handling the content creation side of things. We offer 3 affordable monthly blogging service packages, so you can choose as much or as little content as you need.