Keywords are those queries which your buyers type on search engines to reach out to you. These queries are nothing but the solution or information your buyer seeks before making a purchase decision. Just imagine if your brand comes up as an informative solution provider for most of the queries then how much benefit you can reap out of it!
That is why researching keyword is so important for your business. There are various methodologies to research keywords and different SEO marketers do research in their own way. There is no right or wrong method to arrive at targeted keywords. But the important point is that you should not separate this process without considering your customer’s needs and your business offering.
In my previous blog, I have explained the importance of defining buyer personas for your content marketing. The same applies for identifying right keywords as well. In this blog I will explain you, how you can never go wrong in researching right keywords using your buyer personas.
Step-1: Define your buyer personas
Buyer persona is the representation of your ideal customer which you arrive after thorough research on existing customers. This gives you a very clear understanding of what your customer thinks, behaves and the problems they face. This understanding is the starting point of your keyword research .Once you know your customers well, it is very easy to put yourself in their shoes and think the same way as they think. You can use many templates which are available online to define your buyer persona. You will also find interview methods and questionnaires for the same on various websites.
Step-2: Map buyer personas to their buying journey
Once you have defined your buyer personas, the next step is to map them in their buying journey. A buyer’s journey is the stages through which your buyer goes through in making a purchase decision. Typically, a buyer goes through 3 stages: Awareness, Consideration and Decision stage (although you can subdivide and make it 4 or 5)
The set of queries which your buyer might have will be different for each stage. Let me explain this with the help of an example. Suppose you are an LED lighting company and you have a buyer persona, Mr. Smith who is a facility manager for a mid-size IT company. He is in his mid-30’s and as a facility manager he is responsible to ensure that the entire office functions well, right from coffee vending machine to security of the premises. He directly reports to Head of Administration and his daily job includes interacting with multiple vendors for the supply and maintenance of various office needs. He has recently found out that his office energy bills are going up as number of employees is increasing and he needs to find out a solution for this.
Mr. Smith is our buyer persona and we will see, how he proceeds in his buyer journey and what set of keywords targeting will be ideal to convert Mr. Smith into a customer.
Step-3: Keyword identification for each stage of buyer’s journey
In this step, you need to research keywords for each stage of buyer’s journey. To arrive at it, think of what problems your buyer will go through in each stage. Categorise keywords into three buckets: Awareness, Consideration and Decision.
Awareness- In this stage, the buyer has a problem but don’t know how to solve it and is stranger to your company and the solution you provide. Here, you need to study all the problems which your customers might have related to the solution you provide. This will give you a broad set of keywords pertaining to personas problem.
Consideration- In this stage your buyer now knows the solution to his/her problem and now wants to know who can solve the problems in the most effective way. This is the most difficult stage to attract customers as they will consider your competition as well and you need to stand out amongst them. Here, study all the queries your buyer might have to arrive to a prospective solution provider. The queries in this stage will be generally more targeted at the solution your buyer is seeking.
Decision- In this stage, your buyer has shortlisted a few possible solution providers and is researching them on various parameters like customer support, service, product range, prices etc. to make a final purchase decision. Here, the keywords will be more specific around your company, products, and services. Make sure you have a great landing page for your products which provides all the relevant information to your buyer.
You will need the help of tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush Keyword Research tool or Hubspot Keyword App to arrive at a broad set of keywords. Research on all the short tail and long tail keyword phrases which are being searched. Google’s auto complete function and related search results can be very helpful to make sure that you cover everything that people are searching.
Let us understand this with the help of our example of Mr. Smith who is facing an issue of rising energy bills. We will put ourselves in Mr. Smiths shoes and analyse what possible queries he might have at each stage of his journey.
Awareness: Mr. Smith is aware of his problem i.e. high energy bills in his office. Now he wants to know how he can reduce his energy bill. Possible keywords he might search are:
How to reduce energy bills in office, Energy saving solution for offices, Energy efficient lighting, Energy audit for office, HVAC energy consumption, solution to reduce energy bill in office environment and so on.
Now use these and find the related queries as well using the tools mentioned.
Consideration: Now, Mr. Smith has learnt that one of the ways by which he can reduce his energy bills is by switching to LED lighting which can save energy up to 50%. In this stage, he will search for LED lighting solution and possible keywords could be:
LED lighting for offices, LED lighting for 2×2 tiles, Decorative LED lighting for offices, LED lighting suppliers, LED lighting for open office space, best LED lighting companies for offices etc.
Decision Stage: By this time, Mr. Smith has identified 2-3 companies who supply LED lighting for offices and can solve his problem. Now, he wants to know more about the companies, their products, reviews and way to contact them. The possible keywords in this stage could be:
X company LED light for offices, Reviews of X LED lighting, X vs Y LED lighting comparison, Products of X LED lighting company, X LED lights pricing etc.
Step-4: Segment your list of keywords
Now, by his step you have a segmented list of broad set of keywords. Next step is to make it concise and narrow it down to a more specific and relevant. This stage is more strategic and tactical in nature.
For identifying the right set of keywords, there are three important parameters you should consider: Average searches, Competition ranking, and Relevance to your business. Using these three parameters, you can further categorise your keywords in three brackets: Opportunity, Area of focus, Potential area of target and Ignore.
Opportunity: These are keywords for which traffic is low but relevance to your business is high or traffic is high but competitors ranking is poor.
Area of focus: These are keywords for which traffic is high, business relevance is high and your competitor is ranking well. For these keyword competition will be high and you cannot afford to miss it as your audience is searching a lot for it.
Potential area of target: These are keywords for which relevance to your business is low but competition and searches are high implying that this could be the area of focus in future for you. Other scenario can be that the traffic is low but your competition is ranking high and you expect that this number will grow.
Ignore: The keywords in this category will be those which are not relevant to your business and neither searches are high nor your competition is ranking for it.
Do this exercise for each stage of buyer’s journey. Now, you will have keywords which are to be focused and which are to be ignored. Use these identified keywords to attract and convert customers by making remarkable content for your audience.
Keyword research is the first and most important step for your content strategy. That is why it is very important to get it right. Using buyer personas can help you to get maximum results from your keyword research.