Keyword research and content in search engine marketing

Keyword research is the tool that search engine marketers use to classify, understand, and adapt to the search behavior of target markets. It tells us what consumers want from us, and helps us to formulate meaningful responses. A great way to think about it is to imagine every search query as a request for information or a request for an offer to sell, that you have a chance to bid on. Your bid should constitute a compelling solution that stands out against competing offers AND match the search terms that people use that search for offers in your specific niche.

Search Engine Marketing relies heavily on keyword targeting. Using this method, we analyze what keywords are popular in search queries related to our client’s business. Keywords relevant to a client business are grouped into segments based on intent and market segment.

B2B consumers in different industries may search differently for the same type of consumables, and people also use different phrases when they are searching for information than when they are ready to buy. A myriad of other factors influences how people search, including their location, who and what influenced their need for the good, service, or information, or how they want to use the product or service.

It’s these nuances that keyword research seeks to uncover. Good keyword research always starts with an accurate description of what a business does and what they do well so that we can get the message out to the people that matter.

The Role of Content in Search Engine Marketing

Marketing is a competitive effort, and to stand out from the crowd, your content must not only frame your offer in a meaningful way but also fit into your target market’s problem-solving process. This begins at the need recognition phase, where the potential customer recognises the problem, a goal state where the sale takes place, the number of steps before a solution can be reached, and the challenges along the way that will affect the choice of solution.

Your target market’s problem-solving model (or customer journey, if you prefer painfully overused marketing jargon) is captured in what search engine marketers call an information architecture or content model. A content model contains all the content types that relate to your ideal customer’s problem-solving model, including web pages, blog posts, PDFs, images, and metadata. It provides a logical structure to the content you publish online.

A search engine marketer’s brief to a copywriter typically consists of a schematic of the content model, the topic and keywords for each web or blog page in the content model, a description of the tone, aim and target market of the content, a description of the relevant offer/s, preliminary research, and links to competitors content on the topic.

Once your content has been created, you can start to promote it through paid search or SEO. I once had an instance where the social media department promoted shipping from China to Australia in a social campaign for a freight forwarder client. It was never discussed with the search department at the agency and there was no landing page/content to cater to such a campaign. It is also unthinkable for a paid search specialist to create any campaign that does not have an underlying defined offer. This will most likely result in an utter waste of money and resources. Google and Facebook will take your money and send you clicks at highly inflated costs or from totally irrelevant users. Reducing the cost of acquiring a lead, whether the cost consists of the management fee for SEO or the combined advertising platform budget and agency management fee, is an integral part of maximising the number of leads for a client’s budget.

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