Being able to drive traffic to your website is critical for business-to-business marketers in the digital age, and keyword research is at the heart of this process. In short, keyword research is vital for your B2B inbound marketing success, as it is going to be key in drawing potential customers to you.
Understanding Keyword Research
In the past, people turned to numerous different reference sources (e.g., encyclopaedias, phone books, business directories, etc.) to find needed information. Today, most people go straight to Google (or another internet search engine) and type a few keywords into the search engine that describe what they’re looking for and the problem they need solving.The trick for marketers at B2B companies is to figure out what problems potential customers have and therefore what words and phrases are they searching for when they are looking for a solution to this problem. Marketers need to put themselves in the shoes of their customers and identify with their challenges in order to better understand what they are seeking – and therefore what words they are searching for on the internet.
Your goal is to be able to build content around what those would-be customers are looking for, which includes utilizing the keywords that they are most likely using as a part of your website and content marketing strategy. Then, when people type those words or phrases into the search engine, your site turns up in their search results. This is the easiest and most effective way to drive traffic to you.
Bear in mind, though, this is not just a popularity contest. You could use the keywords that people type into Google most frequently, but if they don’t have anything to do with what you are selling, then those visitors to your website aren’t going to become customers.
Your aim is to capture the visitors who are going to really want what you have to offer – they just need a little help finding you. Keyword research can help make that happen.
Broad Versus Long-tail Keywords
When talking about keywords, some people assume you mean short descriptive categories like “jeans” or “blue jeans”. But most people don’t use such broad, general terms when typing a search. Anybody who has ever used a search engine will know that typing “jeans” will bring up millions and millions of results that they simply don’t have time to sort through.
That’s where long-tail keywords come in. Long-tail keywords are the more lengthy and specific search phrases that people make when they want to zero in on what they are really looking for. For instance, a phrase like “boys acid wash Levis jeans size 12” is an example of a long-tail keyword. Nearly ¾ of web searches are for keyword strings like this.
The point of long-tail keywords is that the traffic they draw will be more relevant since the search term is more specific. That specificity also means that fewer competitors will be using the same keywords, meaning that your content has a better chance of ranking first in the search results.
You also should focus on long-tail keywords in your research because the people using them already know what they want and are therefore likely closer to being ready to make a purchase.
When and How to Choose the Keywords That Will Be at the Heart of Your Content Marketing Strategy
Keyword research informs your entire inbound marketing strategy, so it should be at the forefront of your mind from the very beginning. Your website is a key part of your content marketing, so you should also be considering keywords when you are beginning the web development process – don’t wait until after the website has already been designed! If you make it an integral part of development from the very start, then your site can be structured to attract your potential customers and address their needs.
To actually select the best keywords to use, there are many methods you can employ. Creating buyer personas is an important technique that is critical in content marketing, as that gives you an opportunity to think about who your customers are, what their needs and pain points are, and what they are most likely to be searching for based on those challenges and needs. Try to imagine yourself as the customer and think of what types of search terms you would use if you were them.
Try making a list of topics that are associated with your business and its offerings. Next to each topic, list possible keywords and phrases that might relate to that subject. All the while you should have in the back of your mind what your buyer’s problems might be and what they would be searching for in their quest to solve those problems.
Also be looking at your closest competitors and noting what types of keywords they are using. This can provide some inspiration and ideas for what search terms are proving successful for other businesses in your sector.
Ultimately, choosing the most valuable keywords can take quite a bit of work. There may be some trial and error involved as you choose the most promising search terms, test them, and then repeat the process.
Useful Online Tools for Doing Keyword Research
If this process of keyword research sounds a little daunting, even a bit too technical for some B2B inbound marketing professionals, fortunately there are a number of excellent tools available online to assist you in research, analysis, and keyword selection.
The Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool is the first stop for many B2B marketers looking for keyword suggestions. Furthermore, this tool also provides estimates for search volume and how much it could cost to run a campaign.
Google Trends allows you to enter keywords that you are considering so that you can find out how much interest there is for them on the web, and what is driving that interest.
To discover what the competition is up to, enter a domain name using the SEMrush Competitive Data tool and get a list of the top keywords being used by that particular website.
SEO consultancy Moz offers a Keyword Analysis Tool that can tell you approximately how much effort it will take for you to get a high ranking on a particular search term. The reason this is useful is because if you find, for instance, that a company much larger and more well-known than yours is already dominating the rankings for a certain keyword, it just might not be worth the time and expense for you to compete on that search term.
Hopefully you found this ‘beginner’s course’ in keyword research for B2B inbound marketing helpful. But if you need some more help - download our beginner's guide to keywords now!