Keyword targeting is an important part of search engine optimization (SEO). A major part of SEO is determining what your potential customers are searching for online and ensuring that the content you produce is relevant to that search and to them. Knowing what keywords you’re targeting, and then writing your content based on those keywords will help you better meet the needs of your potential customers and increase your visibility in search results.

What is Keyword Targeting?

Simply put, keyword targeting is using specific keywords in your content marketing (on your website, in blog posts, via social and pay per click ads, etc.) to ensure your content is the first result on the search engine results page. The goal with keyword targeting is to choose keywords that are relevant to your products/services as well as the search term(s) your potential customers are searching for.

Keyword Targeting Strategy

Like most things in marketing, developing a keyword targeting strategy begins with setting goals. What does your company hope to accomplish in the coming year? How is marketing going to help your company achieve those goals? Do you have a marketing strategy and marketing plan in place? Create goals that tie to the business goals and that are SMART—specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely. Make sure you include the long-term goals in your marketing strategy and the short-term goals in your marketing plan.

Once you have your goals in place, it’s time to conduct keyword research.

When beginning your keyword research, it’s important to note that there is a difference between keywords you could rank for and keywords you would like to rank for. For instance, if you are a realtor in Chicago, you may want to appear on the first page of results for the keyword phrase, “houses for rent in Chicago.” However, while the search volume is great for that keyword phrase, the competition is pretty steep. So, even though you want to target that keyword phrase, the likelihood of your website being on the first page of search results for that phrase is pretty slim. Instead, you may want to target “Chicago real estate market.” The search volume is lower for that keyword phrase, but the likelihood of being on the first page of search results is a lot better.

Researching keywords will help you determine what you can actually rank for with the right content strategy.

Tools to Help You with Your Keyword Research

There are a number of different keyword and SEO tools on the market. A couple that are fairly intuitive to use and will make your keyword research a lot simpler are the Keywords Everywhere plug-in and SEMRush.

Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere is a free plug-in for FireFox and Chrome that enables you to see real-time keyword data right on the search results page when you search for a specific keyword. It will also show you other related keywords and their data so you can choose the most appropriate keyword to use. It works for Google, Bing, Etsy, Amazon, Ebay, etc.

Using our real estate example above, when you type “Chicago real estate market,” into Google, Keywords Everywhere will tell you that the search volume for that phrase is 880 a month, the cost per click is $1.69, and the competition is .26. The competition score is a number between 0 and 1 with 0 being no competition and 1 being the highest amount of competition. When doing your keyword research, you should balance the search volume with the competition score. For this keyword phrase, the search result volume is OK and the competition is low, which makes it a good keyword target.

At the bottom of the search results page, you’ll also see a number of suggested keywords along with the search volume, cost per click, and competition for each keyword. If the keyword you searched for is not a good fit (the volume is too low/the competition is too high), then one of the suggested keywords may be a better alternative.

As you can see, Keywords Everywhere is a great tool to get a lot of valuable information with little effort.

SEMRush

SEMRush offers a lot of different tools for free. From a keyword standpoint, they have a visibility tracker that enables you to track up to ten keywords for free. The tool will then tell you exactly where you rank (the spot your webpage holds on the search results page) for those keywords and will update your position on a regular basis. You can use this tool to determine where you currently rank on certain keywords (if your ranking is beyond 100, then the position will be left blank) and it will let you know what specific webpage is ranking for what keyword.

You can use the visibility tool to better optimize existing pages and help you focus on keywords that are strategic and that you actually have a chance to rank for.

Developing Your Strategy

You’ve outlined your goals, researched your keywords, and have determined which keywords are both relevant to your company and your potential customers and which ones you have a chance to rank for. Now, it’s time to develop your actual strategy.

Take your keyword list and determine what pieces of content you could develop around those keywords that would be relevant to your customers. What questions are they trying to answer by searching for those keywords? One way to determine this data is to use the website Answer the Public. This website enables you to type in a keyword and it will return all of the possible questions asked related to that keyword. Once you know your questions, you can figure out what content will answer those questions.

Content can take the form of ebooks, blog posts, webinars, podcasts, educational videos, and more. The more relevant the content, and the more content you have around a topic, the more authority you will have and the more visible your website and your company will be in search results.

One thing to note is that each content piece should target a different keyword. So, even though your goal is to rank for “Chicago real estate market,” only one webpage/blog/etc. should be targeting that exact phrase. Your large content piece—a webpage, let’s say—should be targeting “Chicago real estate market” while a blog post on a similar topic could be targeting the keyword phrase, “Chicago apartments for sale.” This way you are not cannibalizing your efforts with targeting the same keyword but you are still potentially driving the same type of customer to your website.

The goal of your keyword targeting strategy is to create value for your potential customers by predicting their questions and needs and delivering answers through your content. It takes some research and insight into the intent of a search—what your potential customer is trying to find—and then marrying that intent with content that creates value. The preparation and planning that goes into keyword targeting will be well worth it when the right customers are visiting your site and doing business with you because you were able to provide answers to their questions.

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