Keyword research might be the most valuable method of creating effective, long lasting, focused content. That’s right, it isn’t the content itself, it’s this first, critical step in producing something of value. Why? Because keyword research is how you can create something that your audience is going to benefit from most. It’s your blueprint to great media, whether in a blog post, a video, a podcast or a social media update.
How does this relate directly to your content? Because finding the most powerful key terms is like getting direct insight into what matters to your audience and your industry. They wouldn’t be valuable keywords if they didn’t match up to what people are searching for. Getting a collection of the best key phrases is like striking gold… it shows you exactly what content to create to fit that need, while enhancing your searchability, traffic and authority.
The problem is that it’s one of the more difficult and time consuming aspects of data gathering. With keyword research, you’re sifting through a ton of information, not all of it relevant. Anyone who has ever used a keyword research tool (which we talked about in depth in the past) will know how overwhelming it can seem. There’s a variety of keyword research tools and you have to dig deep to find the best possible keywords that relate to your brand.
The bigger problem is that keyword research tools provide insight into already discovered opportunities, those that your competitors have access to. Those that lie on the surface. While you can’t really get around without using traditional keyword research tools when creating content, don’t forget that those are not your only sources of information.
Here are 4 avenues that you may not have explored before:
1. Turn to Your Own Customers
Your ultimate feedback thread comes directly from your customers. After all, who knows better than they do what it is they want to know, see, learn about or ask? That is why customer surveys are such a powerful marketing tool and big companies will pay good money to get their hands on every bit of data they can on their demographic.
Luckily, you don’t have to pay a marketing company big bucks to gather that info for you. All you have to do is set up a customer survey with purchases or visits that asks them for a minute of their time. Survey Monkey is a great affordable tool to run these kinds of customer surveys but there are many other tools you can try.
A couple of tips to keep in mind when making a customer survey:
- If you make it too long people won’t answer it, even if you offer an incentive like a discount or gift. In fact, only about 2% of customers take surveys anyway!
- A survey should take less than a minute to complete.
- You can offer them a text box for feedback but make the survey itself a simple click and answer to encourage people to take it.
Additionally, your own teams working with your customers on a daily basis can provide a ton of information on what types of topics and questions float in your niche. Use your preferred customer relationship management software to record this information and review it regularly. I like Salesmate for managing conversations with leads and clients and passing the information to other departments within the company:
2. Ask Random People
Venture beyond the usual. Go old school: Ask others how they search and the kinds of questions they ask.
Here are a couple of tools to help with that:
MyBlogU: Ask random people about the questions and concerns they have on specific topics. Looking out of the box always gives a fresh perspective. MyBlogU (Disclaimer: I am the founder) is a great way to do that. Just post a new project in the “Brainstorm” section, then collect responses.
Seed Keywords: This is a simple tool that allows you to discover related keywords with help from your friends and followers. Simply create a search scenario, share it on social media, and ask your followers to type in the keywords they would use to solve it.
Here’s an example of a Seed Keywords scenario:
[Seed Keywords begins with a query (see the screenshot above) then collects responses (see screenshot below) from your audience.]
3. Search and Monitor Twitter
While I’m a growing fan of Instagram, I still find Twitter to be one of the best research tools around, especially with the new extended word limit. Their live search gives you such a great way to investigate topics that your audience is discussing right now. It also isn’t as worn down as Facebook, which caters to an older demographic and is pretty much ignored by anyone under the age of 25.
Of course any social media platform can work this way, but Twitter is so open and alive that you will get a great deal of insight by using it.
I have already shared one cool trick in my previous article here: Use ? after a space following your query when searching Twitter and filter your search to real-time questions:
4. See What Your Competitors are Doing on Facebook
If you are looking for an older, more stable demographic then you may find them still using Facebook regularly. What topics come up most? What are people passionate about? What are they angry about? Excited for? Wanting to know?
Buzzsumo has a great Facebook search feature allowing you to filter your search to shared images, links, giveaways, videos and questions.
This always gives me plenty of ideas as to what sort of topics spur interest and how to word my titles better:
There are many more tools and ways to conduct keyword research, but these should get you started.
Have a tool that you think belongs on this list? Let us know in the comments!