Here’s a mistake too many online marketers make: They finalize a marketing campaign or a new blog post, and then they find keywords and awkwardly plug them into the content. Are you guilty of doing the same? If yes, then you are treating search engine optimization (SEO) as an afterthought—and that often means wasting time, money, and energy.
Keyword research should always be one of the first steps in planning a content calendar. Bringing SEO early on in the project allows you to figure out who your online audience is, what content format appeals to them, what information they want to see, and where they are in the buying cycle. When all these are clear, you can design a more effective content strategy.
- Keywords are the foundation (not the ‘decoration’) of effective content.
You already know that most online experiences—most notably search—start with keywords. Effective content marketing therefore entails finding out what your target audience wants and needs. What questions are they asking online? Exactly what information are they seeking? The SEO keyword research process enables you to come up with ideas that answer those needs and ultimately create effective content. Keyword planning also lets you generate multiple content ideas for your editorial calendar.
- Understanding user intent helps you sell more.Keyword research does not simply mean finding out what words or phrases your users are looking for online. It also means discovering their intent.
If their goal is general acquisition of knowledge, then how-to guides with subtle sales pitches in the end may appeal to them. If their intent is to compare prices or features to make a purchase decision, you should concentrate on improving your user reviews and landing pages. Understanding intent ensures that your editorial calendar truly caters to your target users. It allows you to address your marketing messages to the right audience based on their current position in the buying journey.
- Early-stage keyword research ultimately improves ranking.
Keyword analysis can reveal Google’s ranking priorities for your niche or your industry, so you can tailor your content to boost your position in the SERPs. By doing it early on, you don’t waste time, effort, and money pursuing keywords that won’t bring in your desired results.
The most straightforward way to decipher a search engine’s algorithmic preferences is to look at the page-one top results and comparing consistencies such as page load speeds, publication dates, related topics covered, and visual media usage.
Are most of the top-rankers videos? That’s because Google users who search for those particular keywords prefer video content. If first-page results are dominated by infographics, slideshows, and tables, users prefer these types of visual content. Do long-form pages of content exceeding 2,000 words rank highly for your target keywords? This indicates that searchers are looking for comprehensive information—and that’s what you should give them.
By identifying top ranking factors, you can anticipate what your users prefer and create the right content format right away—on your first try. No effort is wasted.
Last-minute keyword research prevents you from fully exploiting the incredibly powerful insights it can provide. The earlier you bring SEO into the equation, the greater your chances of success. That said, you can still audit content that has already been published. Eleventh-hour SEO is better than no SEO. With a comprehensive audit, you can boost engagement in underperforming content.
Ready to make SEO a foundational part of all your content marketing projects? SEOValley can help set the direction. Contact us today.