In a November 2016 survey by Ascend2 , marketers rated keyword research as one of the more difficult but most effective tactics for SEO:
Why is keyword research considered so difficult? Perhaps it’s because we’re trying to put ourselves in the mind of the searching customer without allowing our own brand and industry jargon bias to creep in. What keyword phrases would a prospective customer use to find websites like ours?
The first step to understanding the keywords prospective customers use is to step back and first understand the stages of the buyer journey. Research indicates that it takes as many as 16 or more marketing touches before a prospect becomes a customer, which means that customers likely use more than one keyword over time during that buyer journey.
To get started, let’s map out a basic buyer journey of three steps: Awareness, Consideration and Purchase:
Before a prospect can purchase your product or service, he/she has to be aware your brand exists and that you offer that product/service. This is the awareness phase. Keyword phrases used in this phrase are often broader in nature as a prospect begins to discover all of the options available.
Once the prospect is aware of your brand and products/services, the prospect begins to weigh the options available between your brand and others like yours. These searches are likely to be more specific in nature, possibly searching for specific characteristics of a product, for example.
When the prospect is ready to purchase, he/she is likely comparing final points, such as price, availability and shipping costs or the like. The choices have been narrowed to one product/service and the prospect will often search for specific product names.
So before you begin keyword research, consider the buyer journey and take that into account in your keyword discovery process.
Learn more about mapping keywords to the customer journey in my full post on Search Engine Land.
If you would like some help with keyword research, or would simply like to know where you stand from an SEO standpoint, check out our SEO audit services, as well as other SEO services we offer.