SEO Keywords = Customers
Before you start to dive into the nitty gritty of title tags and HTML, it’s important not to skip an important step:
Customer and keyword research.
Here’s where you figure out what your customers search for… and the exact words and phrases they use to search. That way, you can rank your site for things that your customers search for every day.
Sound good? Here’s exactly how to do it.
If you already run an online business you probably have a good idea of what your target customer looks like.
(Also known as a “Customer Persona”.)
Here’s an example:
This type of customer research isn’t just to help you create products that people want. It’s also a super important part of SEO and content marketing.
To succeed with SEO, you need to create content around topics that your customers search for.
And unless you know who your customer is, it’s almost impossible to understand the types of things that they search for (more on that later).
The best way to dig deep into your target customer? HubSpot’s Make My Persona tool.
This nifty-free tool helps you create a customer persona, step-by-step. At the end of the process you’ll have a detailed avatar that you can refer to again and again.
Now that you have a customer personal, it’s time for the next step: keyword research.
Here’s where you drill down into the exact words and phrases (search queries) that customers type into the search box.
In general, keywords tend to fall into two main buckets: keywords people use to find what you sell (Product Keywords).
You also have keywords your target audience uses when they’re not specifically looking for what you sell (Informational Keywords).
How about an example?
Let’s say that you run an eCommerce website that sells tennis shoes.
Your bucket of product keywords would be things like:
- Tennis shoes free shipping
- Nike tennis shoes
- Tennis shoes for flat feet
On the other hand, Informational Keywords are things that your audience is interested in when they’re not necessarily searching for shoes:
- Second serve tutorial
- How to stop unforced errors
- Proper backhand form
- How to hit a topspin serve
And to succeed with SEO, you want to optimize pages on your website around both types of keywords.
That way, when your customer searches for your product, you show up in the search engine results.
And for keywords that your customers use when they’re NOT looking for your product or service, you show up for those too.
Keyword Research Tips
Here are a few tips to help you find keywords.
First, use Google Autocomplete.
You’ve probably noticed this feature already.
Whenever you start typing something into Google, you get a bunch of search suggestions:
I recommend typing keyword ideas into Google and jotting down any suggestions that come up.
Second, type words and phrases into Answer The Public.
This free tool is GREAT for finding informational keywords.
For example, if you run a blog about the Paleo Diet, you’d type “paleo diet” into ATP:
And it will pump out questions that people ask around that topic.
For example, one question I found was “will paleo diet increase cholesterol?”.
That question is an awesome topic for a blog post or video.
Next, use a keyword research tool.
Keyword tools can help you figure out how many people search for each keyword and how difficult it will be to rank on the first page of Google for that term.
In other words, they can help you choose the best keywords from your list. There are a million and one keyword research tools out there.
Here are a few I recommend checking out:
- Keywords Everywhere Extension
- Moz Keyword Explorer
- Seed Keywords
But the best all-around free keyword tool is Google’s Keyword Planner.
Even though Keyword Planner was designed to help people with Google Ads campaigns, it can still help you find keywords for SEO.
All you need to do it enter a product keyword or informational keyword into it.
You’ll then get data on that exact phrase (like a search volume range)… and a list of related keywords.
The search volume range is kind of a pain. But it does at least give you some idea of how many times that keyword gets searched for every month.
If you do want more exact search volume data, you need to run a Google Ads campaign.
You can also use a 3rd party tool (like Ahrefs, SEMRush, etc.) that have more precise search volume info.
In general, I wouldn’t worry about the ranges. They’re still helpful for figuring out relative search volume between different keywords.
In other words:
Use the ranges you get in the GKP to figure out which keywords get tons of searches… and which keywords don’t get searched for very much.
Finally, if you’re new to SEO, you want to focus on long-tail keywords.
Because long tail phrases are less competitive.
Once you get the hang of SEO, you can start targeting more competitive keywords. But when you’re just starting out, stick to long tail terms.
For example, when I started my blog, almost 100% of the content I put out was designed to rank for long tail, informational keywords, like “How to get high-quality backlinks”:
As my site’s authority increased I went after shorter phrases that were more competitive, like “backlinks”:
If you want to see the exact process that I use to find keywords, I recommend setting aside a few minutes to watch this short video: