9 Reasons to Take Keyword Research Beyond SEO

keyword research
When the marriage of Content + SEO + Social became official back in about 2009 (although some states still don’t recognize it) the act of keyword research became a vastly different animal.

While SEO pros still use keyword research today as a means of identifying terms and phrases to use to optimize pages on a website, the act of keyword research implies so much more in the modern marketing world.

Today, I use the art of keyword research to:

Optimize existing content – relying heavily on the Google Keyword Planner tool and the paid ad sets function in particular I try to determine key foundational phrases to build our entire online presence around. Obviously this is work is informed by our marketing strategy and some understanding of who we are trying attract and what we want them to do.

Conduct on page optimization – Again, relying pretty heavily on data from the Google Keyword Planner and competitive research using tools like MOZ, keyword research is used to work on under the hood things like title tags, alt image attributes and page descriptions.

Spot opportunities for new content – Most of the folks I’ve worked with over the years don’t have nearly enough content or in some cases any content focused on some of the most important and most profitable aspects of their business. I use keyword research to help build a content strategy.

Create content themes – I’ve long promoted the use of an editorial calendar as a tool to help properly build out your content and publishing routine. After brainstorming with a client’s team, I turn to keyword research to start building editorial themes. I then take my proposed theme list to BuzzSumo and start looking for the most shared content around these themes. I might also create content alerts for my themes in BuzzSumo so I can start passively monitoring when my themes are written about.

Build influencer lists – Once I know what my themes are going to be for the year I know that I want to start building lists of individuals who can support those themes. I believe that building industry influencer lists based on content and keyword themes allows you to create a more focused list than one that relies simply on large followings as a metric. My go-to tools for this step are BuzzSumo and Inkybee. I might also employ the MOZ Followerwonk tool to help segment Twitter lists and followers.

Build journalist lists – Just like the step above I always want to use my keyword themes to help identify a small list of journalists that might be influential in spreading the word. Once I create the list I generally create a Twitter list and employ BuzzSumo alerts to get notification when one of my journalists puts something out. I might also employ a tool like Toucan that sends me alerts when any journalist puts a query out matching my keyword phrases.

Build blog lists – Often times the best way to learn about an industry or keep tabs on what my clients, competitors, influencers and journalists are doing on a day to day basis is to create lists of blogs for each and add my keyword research to help identify new voices writing about my terms. I use BuzzSumo and Inkybee to help turn up these new blogs and then employ Feedly to easily group and scan these blogs.

Build guest lists – Another tactic that bubbles to the surface during this expanded view of keyword research is that of building lists of potential guest bloggers and potential blogs where I might try to place my content. Again, my key themes are at play here once you have a good idea of your themes you can start to unearth people who like to write guest posts and places that accept guest posts. One trick is to simply use your keyword phrases with the added term “guest post” into BuzzSumo or Topsy and see what turns up.

Build link lists – I’ll end up with a core SEO tactic that I believe is so much better informed by keyword research coupled with many of the elements above. Using tools like the MOZ Open Site Explorer you can easily build a list of backlinks to your competitors, but by thinking in terms of content themes and all of the list building and networking involved in previous steps you start to build a much more organic and potentially more useful list of backlink opportunities.


Winning the Game of Search with Tools

Winning the game of organic search comes down to three essential activities.

1. Figuring out what to write about in order to rank well for your key terms – Keyword research
2. Figuring out what others are doing that currently rank above you – Competitive research
3. Figuring out how to build authority for your content in the eyes of search engines – Link and networking research

While there are potentially dozens of elements that go into each of the points above for the most part this is the game. This also explains why content and social are foundational aspects of SEO today.

In an effort to do all that figuring out above you must employ a toolset that makes it easy to do keyword research, optimize every bit of content, spy on competitors and network to increase links and authority for your content.

Below is a list of tools I use for these activities. I wonder if you might add or share your favorites.

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