How to Find the Best Keywords for Content

Creating content that engages your audience is the responsibility of creative marketers and content managers, but one of the sides of successful content is knowing what keywords your audience uses to find your content. In a blog post that likens creating content to baking cupcakes, fellow Bikini Marketer Lauren West emphasizes that research comes first. This research applies not only to the types of content that your audience wants, but how to best optimize your post with the right keywords.

Outside of using Google Adwords Keywords Planner Tool, two of my favorite tools to find keywords are SEMrush and Google Trends

Google Trends has a great user-friendly interface loaded with information surrounding the keywords you’re researching. It provides a chart which enables you to compare different keywords surrounding the same topic. For example, how do you know which keyword is best for optimizing an article about online school? It could be online school, online courses, online college, online degree program, distance learning or one of several others.

Below you can see the chart results that compare three keywords: online degree, online courses and distance education. The letters indicate mentions in news headlines, and the dotted lines represent the forecast for each keyword.

Keyword Comparison Chart

The chart indicates that “online courses” is the best keyword to use, both in current and forecasted comparisons. While that term is highly competitive, I now know using online courses vs online degree could eventually lead to more traffic if I’m willing to compete in the SERPs or if I’m just looking for the best way to word that particular phrase.

In addition to giving you a better idea of what terms are best, Google Trends also provides regional interest according to country and city, as you can see below for “online degree” and “online courses.”

Keyword Regional Interest online degree

Keyword Regional Interest

The differences shown here are significant, especially if your target audience is national or global. “Online courses” might have the most overall traffic, with much more global traffic sources. But if your target audience is exclusively a national one, then “online degree” might be a smarter keyword option. This feature is also very useful for localized keyword optimization.

At the very bottom of the Google Trends results, you’ll also find an area that shows top and trending queries related to each keyword, which is a noteworthy feature for time-relevant content, such as news and journalism content.

Long-tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords refer to the overwhelming percentage of search queries that are rare and are usually searched by people who are ready to buy in the sales funnel. These are long, specific queries people use because they want to find a very narrow list of results or even one specific product. Long-tail keywords do provide significantly lower traffic, but the trade-off is that they provide more relevant traffic that could lead to higher conversion rates.

Because so many people search this way – about 15-20 percent of all searches- it’s imperative to optimize content for long-tail keywords. This way your content has a higher chance of ranking well in search engines.

SEMrush is a paid platform that provides a pretty in-depth view of a site’s keywords, rankings, backlinks data, main competitors and competitor positioning, and much more.

Let’s look at a site to see a specific example of how to find long-tail keywords. McCall Handling is a fork lift truck dealer that offers operator training. For this site, I knew I wanted to create a long-form content page with graphics about lift truck safety. There are three main ways I go about trying to find the best keywords for ranking this page:

1) Type in my basic phrase “lift truck safety” and see what keywords pop up in the phrase match report and related keywords report. From there search for phrases (3-6 words) that have low competition but high traffic.

2) Based on the keywords from the step above, look at the sites that are ranking in top 7 (I check out both the actual page along with clicking on them in SEMrush to see what other keywords they rank for.)

3) You can also go to Google and type in what you believe your audience would be using as a search query to see what sites come up. If you take the top three pages and plug the URL into SEMrush, and you should get a list of ranking keywords for each of those URLs.

SEMRush Keyword Comparison

By now I have quite a long list, but throughout my research I record the traffic volume, competitor density (even though it is for ads), and number of results in an Excel sheet. From there I choose my top 3-7 keywords that are high in volume but low in results and competition.

There are many more ways and tools to find the best keywords for your content, but, whatever you choose, remember to use your main keyword phrase in your headline, URL, meta description and freckled throughout your content where it makes sense.