If you’re looking to grow brand awareness, increase your blog subscribers, and drive more traffic to your website, content marketing and SEO are two of the most critical marketing channels to focus on.

In fact, content marketing and SEO work in tandem, each supporting the other’s growth.

Every page you have on your website is another opportunity to rank in search results. So, by continuously creating new content and building a dedicated landing page for each piece of content you create, you add more pages to your site. Each page you create will have its own unique page name, meta description, and URL – all fundamental SEO elements that help you rank for a given keyword.

In other words, you can use content marketing as a way to rank for more keywords, and you can use keyword research as a way to fuel new ideas for your content marketing.

Your keywords provide the foundation for this symbiotic relationship between content and SEO.

Now the question is, of course, how do you choose the right keywords? If you haven’t had much experience with keyword research, not to worry. Let’s take a look at a simple step-by-step approach you can use to identify new, strong keywords to incorporate into your content strategy.

5 Simple Steps to Build Your Keyword List

  1. Know which keywords you already rank for.

Start by benchmarking your current SEO standing. To get a sense of what keywords you’re already ranking for, and how highly you’re ranking for each, use a free tool like SpyFu, HubShout, or SEMrush.

These tools will also allow you to see who your top competitors are when it comes to your organic keyword rankings, how many of your keywords your competitors also rank for, what sources your inbound links are coming from, and recent changes in position for your top keywords.

  1. Brainstorm a list of relevant but untapped keywords.

Take a look at the keywords that you’re not already ranking highly for. These could be ones that are being placed on page 2 or 3, or they could be keywords you haven’t focused on at all yet.

Come up with a list of keywords that might inspire new content pieces. Keep in mind that your content should always be valuable and relevant to your audience, so you’ll need to choose keywords accordingly. Write down several that are relevant to your business, but haven’t been incorporated into your marketing yet.

Example: Let’s say I own a coworking space in Boston.

Weak keywords: coworking space, coworking boston, coworking places

Strong keywords: best office spaces, how to be more productive, meet other startup founders

Each of the latter keywords are related to my business, but also allow me to explore new topics that I may not have written about yet.

  1. Use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool to get suggestions.

If you don’t already have one, create a free AdWords account. Under “Tools,” you’ll find the Keyword Planner tool.

Use the first option to input one of the keywords from your list in Step 2 and get suggestions for similar keywords. The tool will likely produce several hundred results, and for each keyword, will tell you its estimated monthly search volume and how competitive the keyword is.

Test out various keywords from your list to get a broader range of suggestions and discover new keyword opportunities.

  1. Refine your keyword list.

Once you have a list of keywords from the Keyword Planner tool that you want to work with, download it to an Excel file.

The keywords that will be the best fit are ones that:

  • Are relevant
  • Have high search volume
  • Have low competition

In other words, you want to identify the keywords that a lot of folks are searching for but not a lot of other advertisers are bidding on. This will give you a big advantage and help you rank for these keywords faster.

In Excel, select your data set and sort by Avg. Monthly Searches (high to low), and then by Competition (low to high).

Then look for the keywords that match all three criteria – again keeping an eye out for keywords that are relevant but untapped.

From these, create a refined list of the top 10-20 keywords you’d like to work with.

  1. Incorporate your keywords into your content marketing.

Once you’ve identified your top 10-20 keywords, brainstorm some new content you can create around them.

For example, if I select “shared work space” as one of my keywords, I might choose to write an ebook called “15 Must-Ask Questions When Searching for a Shared Work Space.”

I would then create a dedicated landing page for this ebook, including the keyword “shared workspace” in the page title, meta description, page content, and URL, in order to optimize the landing page for SEO.

That’s it! Pretty simple, eh?

There are plenty of other keyword tools out there, so feel free to work with whichever one suits your preferences. The important thing is to keep the keyword discovery process in motion to always be expanding your content strategy and improving your SEO.

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