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Where Keyword Research is Heading in 2017

Keyword Strategy 2017 - The Modern Marketer Blog

Marketing Strategy

Where Keyword Research is Heading in 2017

Trends and Topics Instead of Keywords

I watched an awesome video of Ryan Stewart from @hellowebris earlier this summer about how he took his ecommerce experiment “Laces Out” from 0-15k+ in traffic in 30 days. He said something in the video that summed up what I’ve been preaching heavily all 2016 on the Modern Marketer:

“Stop basing everything off of keywords. Keywords should support the context of a users intent. We live in a world where there is this ebb and flow of trends, interests, and behaviors online.”

That should be your only concern. Not keywords. Not keyword research.

…and trust me, I get it.

It’s nice to use programs like SEMrush and plug in a keyword like “chocolate chip cookies” to see a keyword overview that looks like this:

Keyword research in 2017 - The Modern Marketer Blog

…and it’s nice to then look at the full keyword report and realize that there might be an easier opportunity to rank for “gluten free chocolate chip cookies” with 8,100 searches as a longer phrase rather than “chocolate chip cookies” with 201,000 searches.

Full keyword research report - The Modern Marketer Blog

…and it’s nice that when I run a search report on “gluten free chocolate chip cookies” I can clearly see what brands are ranking, in order, down to the exact url of the page/content ranking for that keyword phrase.

Top 20 ranks for a keyword - The Modern Marketer Blog

Heck…it’s REALLY nice that I can click on ANY url ranking for the keywords that I want to rank for and see exactly how and why they are ranking for those keywords. I can see traffic, backlinks, SEO structure, referring domains, etc.

…and it’s nice that then I can deploy my SEO and content marketing strategies against this research.

…but, it all gets old and tiring and useless and irrelevant.

We are living in a digital world with trends moving so fast that by the time Google picks up on them (let alone third party SEO tools) we’ve moved on.

That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to user intent. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to the CONTEXT of your content, like I explained way back in episode 27 of The Modern Marketer Show:

So, I urge you in 2017 to create content (of all forms) that has actually context behind your users intent. That’s why people care, read, share, consume, buy and so forth. Context.

In 2017, base your content marketing on:

  • topics
  • trends
  • user intent
  • user behavior

….because that is all that matters.

Paid Keywords That Match The Buyer Journey

Your advertising campaigns should compliment the buyer journey. You should already know this and be practicing it in your business. And it’s simple—you start by targeting users based on keywords that match where they are in their journey of awareness, consideration and decision.

That’s a mouthful, I know.

But let me explain.

Many of you know the buyer journey, and many of you know the A.C.E. digital sales funnel that my team and I follow at DPA for all of our marketing efforts. Together, it looks kind of like this:

A.C.E. Digital Sales Funnel for Keywords - The Modern Marketer Blog

That being said, when our team creates an advertising structure, we create:

  1. target keywords in the awareness stage of the buyer journey
  2. target keywords in the consideration stage of the buyer journey
  3. target keywords in the decision stage of the buyer journey

Then, inside each of those campaigns we have ad groups to support different keyword match types and keyword targeting.

On the path to purchase there is always a message, a thought, a pain point, an opportunity, a keyword, or a phrase that correlates with your user. Your job is to find out what those are and meet them with value, wherever they are in their journey.

The small to medium sized businesses who truly grasp this concept are the ones who achieve profitable growth.

If You Have a Location, Tie It In

I was reading an article recently on the Impact Branding & Design blog (still one of my favorite inbound agencies out there) and they were talking about tying in location to your keyword strategy.

This is huge.

For those of you reading this who have physical locations, it’s important that you also come up with localized versions of your top level keywords.

So, essentially, we just talked about above how you should do your keyword research to compliment the buyer journey. There are pain points and opportunities to be met in each stage of 1) awareness 2) consideration and 3) decision—it’s your job to make sure that not only are you serving that online, but locally as well.

This is an instance where we would use SEMrush for that competitive intelligence, locally.

Relevancy Will Win in 2017

In the beginning of this article we talked about using topics and trends instead of simple keyword research.

This is a tactic I used heavily last year for a lifestyle/fashion brand centered around outdoor sports. We were always finding what was trending with Google Trends and other 3rd party tools through “social listening.” Because of that, in 45 days we took their traffic from 1,000 daily unique visits to 4,000+ daily unique visits.

The thing that I love about targeting ‘trending’ keywords is that it’s responsive to attention and as you all know, attention matters. So, I would highly encourage that you use Google Trends to track what is going on in the digital world specific to your niche.

Why does it work?

Trends are relevant.

It’s also a great idea to add some social listening to your strategy. You can use any number of tools for this: Sprout Social and Hootsuite are two tools we use heavily for social listening.

Social listening is simply defined as “the process of monitoring digital conversations to understand what customers are saying about a brand and industry online.”

When you listen on social media and then engage, you set your brand/organization in a position to gain the trust and mindshare of your audience. Without a single keyword.

Why does it work?

Social listening is relevant.

For those of you that run PPC campaigns, you understand the importance of relevancy. You get scored on it. It raises and lowers your costs and impressions—it’s truly the mantra of PPC. Both on Adwords and in Facebook Advertising. A really cool trick to hack (if you will) the relevance score is to use DKI or dynamic keyword insertion.

For example, if you were selling beauty products on Adwords, you could type something like “Buy {keyword: lipstick} online” and then Google would pull from your list of keywords to match the search query of the user, and if it couldn’t match anything, it would just populate “lipstick”.

That way, if someone searched “buy lipgloss online” and it was in your keyword pool, it would show up in your ad—hence, keeping your relevancy scores high. This also works really well for landing pages, and dynamic keyword insertion integrates seamlessly into landing page software like Unbounce.

You can also do location based dynamic keyword insertion so that way if people search from a certain location, the text on your landing page changes to match the location they searched from.

You can also change the keywords on your call to action buttons, or even pass through url parameters on your forms so that way if “Justin” fills out your landing page form, the thank you page says “Thanks Justin… We will be in contact shortly…” or whatever their name is.

Why does it work?

Dynamic keyword insertion is relevant.

Conclusion

My point in this last section of the article was to show you a few random examples of getting your content in front of people without technically using keywords. Keywords are still important, yes, but far more relevant than keywords are:

  • topics
  • trends
  • user intent
  • the buyer journey
  • relevancy

In 2017, do yourself a favor and do less keyword research and pay more attention to what is actually happening in your digital space. You will make much more progress with your marketing initiatives.

Lead strategist at DPA Marketing & Media. I have a love for my family, for people in general, and for growing brands online. Let's connect!

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