The day HubSpot announced they would be sunsetting their keyword tool was a dark day for me.
Until that day, I had absolutely depended on their tool for keyword research. I had never conducted any type of SEO-based research until we became a HubSpot partner, and it turned out I was really good at word vomiting terms into the tool and sorting them by search volume.
Then it was just a matter of scanning the search volume and difficulty and picking keywords in a sweet spot I could write blogs about. But alas, the internet is constantly evolving and that’s not how you rank in Google anymore. Google knew it. HubSpot knew it. The WORLD knew it. And I think I was the last to find out. It was devastating.
My point here is that I’ve had to learn to conduct keyword research without HubSpot’s easy-albeit-ultimately-flawed tool. It took me months to break it off with the keyword tool, but I’ve finally moved on to a better method that still helps me determine keywords around which to optimize blogs.
Here are my four steps to determining keywords to optimize my content around.
1) Determine your topic first
Based on your buyer personas, competitive analysis, and other types of strategic research, determine what YOU want to write about first, rather than basing your content on keywords you jammed through a tool.
Then, determine if this topic aligns with your site’s content. For example, as a marketing agency, Google wouldn’t rank us for a Google search on how to perform a triple axel in ice skating, no matter how much we optimized the blog about it. If your site doesn’t generally align with the topic the user is searching for, you’re out of the ranking before you have a chance.
2) Ask AdWords
The Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool has proven to be a lifesaver. Not only does it spit out tons of keyword suggestions based on your search term, it gives you an idea of the competition and a general search volume surrounding those keywords.
It’s not exactly the HubSpot Keyword Tool, but it gives you an idea of which keywords have more promise than others and can give you keyword ideas you may not have thought of on your own.
3) Run it by Google
And Bing if you’re feeling crazy. Plug some keywords around your topic into a search engine to see what the competition around that keyword is and if people are even searching for it. For example, if we wrote a blog about SEO for big corporations and Forbes, Entrepreneur, and SEOforbigcorporations.com already had content optimized to that same keyword, we should probably shift our focus to something with less competition.
Be sure to also check the Google AutoComplete and Suggestions at the bottom of the search results. This is based on algorithms and shows you terms people are actually searching for based on what you put in. Maybe one of those suggestions has less competition or is more aligned to your site content.
4) Analyze and decide
Once you have all this research, you should be able to optimize your blog based around a keyword with a topic relevant to your site with minimal competition and a reasonable search volume.
While I did love knowing that exactly 45 people searched my long-tail keyword every month and that it would be a 23 difficulty to rank for, this is a much better method of catching low-hanging keyword fruit. Then you can take your optimized blogs and create content clusters that REALLY up your SEO ranking.
Google is your oyster – now get out there and rank!
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