Picking Your Ideal Keyword: Our System To Rank Your Post On The Top Spot

Ranking for any decent keyword (like most kinds of SEO) is difficult, but essential if you want to bring in any kind of significant traffic. Not only do you need to be certain of the keyword you need to target before sinking effort into ranking for it, but you also need to judge just how much that term is worth and therefore how much time and money you should put towards getting to the top spot in Google.

Thankfully, back at Process Street, we’ve already dragged ourselves through the coals of keyword research so that you don’t have to. In our time striving for gold we’ve managed to rank our posts for high value broad terms such as employee onboarding and Dropbox vs Google Drive, so we know a thing or two about choosing and targeting the best keywords for your given situation.

In this post you’ll get a thorough rundown of how to pick your ideal keyword to target for your content, before you kick off your killer social media checklist.

Generate Your Potential Keyword List

First up, you need to generate the potential keyword list for your content. Whilst it may seem like a no-brainer, this initial step of the keyword research process is incredibly easy to mess up, as you need to make sure that you’re not missing any potentially killer terms to later analyze.

For example, let’s say that you’ve got a piece of content (either complete or just planned out) which is all about reducing churn. You’ll want to include terms such as “reduce churn”, “reducing churn” and “how to reduce churn”, but did you ever think about including “reduce customer attrition”? Sure, it may not be quite as popular as your basic “churn” keywords, but the point of this process is to find the best one for you to target, not the most popular.

One of the best ways to find out how the audience for that term (you know, the people you want to read your content) words their search is to look up the wikipedia page for the topic, and then search Quora with the various terms you are shown. This way you not only cover the technical version of your keyword, but you’re able to see which of these terms are more popular in action, and what these terms mean in a human way.

Put Everything Through Google Keyword Planner

So you’ve got your list of potential keywords (be it 50 or 1,000); now it’s time to put them all through Google Keyword Planner. It’s a brilliant free tool which you can use to quickly analyze the monthly search volume and rough competition behind each of your keywords.

Our team will usually export a csv of our list of keywords, import it into GKP, analyze them for search volume, sort them from highest volume to lowest, then export them back into our spreadsheet as a csv.

Depending on the quality of your original keywords, this may cut out a significant portion of your list, as many may not have any monthly search volume at all. No matter how relevant or high intent (more on intent in a second) a keyword is, if there’s absolutely no volume behind it, then it’s not worth your time.

Judge The Intent Behind Your Top Terms

Your list should have thinned out a little, but now you need to start cutting a swathe through the rubbish by judging the intent behind each term. By “intent” I mean the desire of the person searching that term to read your content or purchase your product (depending on what your ultimate goal is).

For example, somebody searching “what is onboarding” will probably only be looking for a short description. If you were to target that keyword with an article selling onboarding software, the audience’s intent wouldn’t match up, and you’d get a fair chunk of them bouncing straight off your page when they see what it’s about.

This is crucial, because a high bounce rate will make Google think that your page (probably quite rightly) should not be ranking for that term, and push you down below other, more relevant results. This also means that if the quality of your content isn’t high enough to satisfy the audience’s intent, your bounce rate will speak to Google in much the same way.

So, how do you judge intent? Well, as a general rule (with plenty of exceptions, mind you) the higher volume and fewer words in a search term, the more unfocused the intent will be. This means that the keyword “onboarding” will have a much more general audience than “how to onboard a remote employee”.

This is where judging your content comes in. If your content closely matches the intent behind a specific keyword, you’re going to get a higher engagement with your audience and Google will reward you by bumping you up in the search rankings. Not only that, but you’ll succeed in converting more of the average search volume — after all, volume means nothing if the majority of it doesn’t benefit you.

Knowing this, judge the intent behind your results and start to pick out a top 20 accordingly.

Take A Closer Look At The Difficulty

The final thing to consider before putting your content to work is the difficulty of your top results. In general, a low difficulty will mean that it will be easier to rank for a term, but just like a high volume this can be deceiving. For example, a keyword may have a high difficulty rating despite being low volume; this will usually indicate a valuable keyword (usually with a very high intent).

The best way to judge keyword difficulty, therefore, is to keep in mind the volume and intent of the keyword, along with the quality of your content and the resources at your willing disposal. If your site already has some power behind it (eg, your domain authority is decent) then difficulty will be a bit less of a barrier. Similarly, if you have connections or regular guest post slots which would be willing to take a link back to the new content, you’ll have another immediate boost.

Most importantly, know that difficulty should be broken down a little more than GKP can provide. Our team prefers using Ahrefs to break down the strength of the current top results for each of our top 10 keyword choices, which we then use to make a final decision on what keyword we will be targeting.

Kick Off Your Promotion Process

Once you’ve picked your ideal keyword, balancing volume, intent, and difficulty, it’s time to optimize your content for said keyword and kick off your content promotion process. That means submitting it to your content calendar, social media, social bookmarking sites and anything else which can give your content a visual boost.

Here’s to a bright future of ranking for some killer keywords!

Guest blog post bought to you by;

Benjamin Brandall

Head of content marketing at process.st Personal blog: benjbrandall.com Twitter @benjbrandall

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