Keyword research and strategies have always been an integral part of SEO. This is how search engines determine relevance, content schemes are driven, and how individuals will ultimately find your site.
Much in the way that search engines (and the Internet overall) are highly dynamic and always in flux, your keyword strategy should be the same. As various engines continue to refine search experiences, user expectations, search queries, query length and methods of searching, keyword strategies can become antiquated in a flash.
Today users don’t just have desktops and sub-par mobile browsers to conduct searches — mobile has transformed into high-powered, omnipresent computers that have dethroned desktops as the preferred search platform. Moreover, voice search has altered the online investigation landscape in a way that is irreversible. As these newer modalities continue to proliferate modern society and more contemporary approaches are developed, business owners and marketers must evolve keyword strategies to fit with the times.
Let’s take a look at how you can mature your keyword blueprint for the dawning of a new digital era.
Take the Long Way
It’s no secret that long-tailed keywords have become more prominent and powerful over the years thanks to the advent of the aforementioned mobile features. As mobile use continues to increase, these terms and phrases will only become more valuable. According to a Blue Nile Research study published in 2015, the firm noted that:
“Blue Nile’s research shows an exact 50-50 split between users who search in fragments (e.g. “swollen ankle”) and those who search in more fully formed terms (e.g. “causes of swollen ankle during sleep”). When it came to questions vs. statements, 27 percent of respondents phrased their query in the form of a question, with “How” being the most commonly used prefix.”
This same study showed that 50 percent of search queries contained four words or more. In regard to voice search, Greg Sterling of Search Engine Land noted in his SMX West presentation the average voice search query is five to six words in length. This means that effectively targeting single keywords is simply not as powerful as it once was. Does that mean that this strategy is now useless? No. It is just losing potency as long-tailed keywords grow in frequency.
The bottom line is that users want answers when they search and know that the more specific a query is, the higher the chances are of them finding the resolution they seek. Armed with this information, website owners and marketers must shift their focus from targeting specific keywords to answering questions, and to do that you must venture beyond Google’s keyword tool.
Employ the Right Tools
While Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends are still outstanding resources, there are a bevy of other alternatives to explore. With the idea that you must now seek to answer direct questions as opposed to simply targeting keywords, a new tool called Answer the Public is just what the SEO doctor ordered.
This U.K.-based tool (different countries can be chosen from the dropdown) is a highly unique way of identifying terms and phrases to add to your arsenal. After entering a keyword like “shoes,” Answer the Public returns a slew of questions related to your term in the form of a wheel organized by queries that begin with “where,” “who,” “what,” “when,” “why,” “which,” “how,” and “are.” There is also a second wheel formatted by prepositions “like,” “for,” “with,” “without,” “versus” and several others.
This is an invaluable tool because the results displayed introduce potential problems that your audience is encountering that you can then create content to solve. The drawback to this tool, however, is that no search volume data is provided, but this can easily be obtained from other tools like InstaKeywords.
InstaKeywords allows users to conduct basic and in-depth research on long-tailed keywords. Search the phrase you want to know more about and the tool will return various long-tailed phrases, cost-per-click information, local and global search volume and the previous month’s numbers.
Gather Right from the Well
No matter if you have a dedicated team, or it is just you, customer service is your eyes and ears. These folks have more intimate insights about your customer base than possibly any other team within the organization. The main issue is that there is often a large detachment between customer service and marketing, so these insights rarely make their way past support.
A great way to refine your keyword strategy is to consult with these folks directly. Anyone who is answering phones, running live chat conversations, or answering e-mails can give you feedback on the most common questions and concerns customers have, opinions about products, and what issues people have on the website.
Each answer you receive will assist you in bolstering your keyword list and creating valuable content to assist customers and rank in the Google SERPs. Alternatively, you could also frequent popular forums, communities and review sites within your industry to gain similar insights.
Search algorithms and behaviors are constantly changing as the surrounding technology continues to evolve. In today’s world, keyword targeting alone won’t cut it; you must be addressing direct problems with direct answers. Long-tailed keywords are the future of search as mobile ubiquity carries forth. Be sure to give searchers and potential customers what they want by creating valuable content that answers their concerns and you are likely to see your site rise in rankings.
What new ways have you improved your keyword strategy? How do you think mobile and voice search will continue to change the face of how query research is conducted?