If there’s one word every business owner or marketing professional knows, it’s “keyword”. Since the introduction of internet marketing, keywords have been the number one way to reach out to potential customers.
How Keywords have Evolved
Over the years, the whole concept of catching customers’ attention with specific terminology has evolved, with long tail keywords adding precision to our business outreach, and shorter terms making us more competitive in our niche.
But for as much effort as you might have spent in playing the keyword game to gain the attention of search engines and potential customers, have you considered what you can learn about your customers from keyword analysis? The truth is that this is a two-way street! Keeping an eye on your keyword performance can tell you just as much about your customers as it tells them about your business.
What Does Keyword Analysis Entail?
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is very dependent on keywords- those words, phrases, and terms that identify what your business is, and how it can assist people through your niche.
In the beginning of online marketing, keyword saturation was the name of the game. Business owners found as many ways as possible to fill their sites with every possible keyword variation in order to gain the attention of search engine crawlers and customers alike. Over the years, this process has evolved significantly.
While these phrases are still incredibly important, we’ve learned that quality of traffic is just as important as quantity, and started to search for the “sweet spot” between content that is interesting and authoritative, and the melange of keywords that will help our sites rank in SEO.
Read also: how to optimize your site for the search engines
Goals of Keyword Analysis
The goal, therefore, is to find the words and phrases that customers are using to find your products or services. You might be thinking that this would be best handled with a crystal ball, but the process is actually more intuitive than you might guess!
Granted, the process will take some time and effort on your part. While there are plenty of websites available that will help you analyze your choice of keywords, they can’t help you understand who your customers are, and what they want. That comes through a little research between you, your customers, and your keywords.
Getting Started with Keyword Analysis
Keyword analysis doesn’t require magic insight or the powers of divination. Instead, it requires thinking like a customer.
This is less daunting than it may seem. After all, you’ve been a customer a time or two, haven’t you? And as a business owner, you’ve already researched and discovered what problems your product or services can solve. Now it’s time to put this information together and turn the process inside out. You’re about to think like your customers.
One really great tip to starting this process is to search for your product. Don’t specifically search for your product by name: that would be too easy. Instead, consider the process of the customer funnel, and search for your product as a customer would at each step.
For the purpose of this analysis, let’s simplify the stages of the customer experience.
First, there’s the pre-consideration stage, where individuals may only be aware that a problem exists. They haven’t fully considered the problem, but they’re looking for a variety of ways to alleviate the difficulties they’re currently experiencing. Next comes the true “shopping around” experience, in which options are fully evaluated and compared. Lastly, there’s the process of purchasing and aftercare.
When it comes to keyword analysis, most of us actually start in the middle: where the customer has identified the potential solutions to their problem, and they’re looking for options that fit their needs. That’s a perfectly fine place to start, as it allows you to work forward and backward to consider each stage of customer needs.
Let’s say that your business sells party supplies, specifically platters and trays meant for displaying food. You might start with search terms like “platters for party foods”.
The Method for a Perfect Search
One way to use search terms to discover what your customers are thinking about when they use specific keywords is to enter these terms into Google or Amazon, then pay close attention to what predictive text pops up. In this example, type in “platters for” and see what options pop up. Make note of everything that comes up as a suggestion!
Next, type in your keyword, then scroll to the bottom of Google. Here, you’ll find a collection under the heading “Searches Related to… ”. This tells you what customers have in mind when they enter your keywords. Take a good look at these terms.
Are they on par with where you thought customers would be when they search the terms and phrases you thought of?
Repeat this exercise with all of your main keywords. Then start to tinker with long-tail keywords. These are longer phrases that further define what your business does.
For example, you might enter “handmade wooden platters for parties and special occasions”. Again, this is not a quick exercise, but as you do this, you are learning how customers in your niche are using search engines to find what they want. And more importantly, you’re learning how your business fits into this process.
Related Keyphrases and their Role
However, as noted earlier, this only takes you to the middle of the customer experience, in which they know what they want, and they are trying to locate a specific product. What if they aren’t quite sure that they want a handmade wooden platter for their party?
This is where those related search terms may come in handy. Perhaps a related search was “what foods do I serve at my party?” This gives you a great opportunity to capture people who are at that pre-decision stage.
You can use this information to write a blog post about choosing foods to serve at a variety of special occasions. You can link to this post on your social media and more, so that when users search for things to serve at their party, they are guided to your authoritative site, complete with decorative platters that enhance the experience.
Putting It All Together
So you’ve thought like a customer, and you’ve got tons of ideas about future blog posts, and put together a list of potential keywords that customers might be searching for. What does it all mean?
The next step is taking this list to a keyword analysis site, such as Google Ads or SEMrush. This will help you gauge how spot on your thought process is, and potentially give you a leg up on your competition. What are some of the most popular long-tail keywords in your niche? How do the words you came up with rate? Here, you’re looking at the final steps of the customer experience: what works, and how it worked.
Read also: getting started with Google Ads
So now you put it all together. Start with what you learned from your Google and Amazon searches. What are people searching for? What types of problems do they have? How are people searching for solutions to those problems?
Next, how are they searching for your specific product? The searches you conducted with your existing keywords should help you discover that.
Lastly, what are the tried-and-true keywords that bring customers through the sales funnel and to your purchase page?
Once all is said and done, you have just taken the process of keyword analysis, and matched it to the steps your customers travel down to reach your website.
Though we previously understood keywords as ways to help customers understand our businesses, it turns out we can use these terms and phrases as a way to better appreciate how customers approach their search.