A different way to look at keyword research

A different way to look at keyword research

The topic of keyword research is over saturated with guides and tutorials that will gladly teach you HOW you can search for keywords (and this is not another one). You will learn about dozens (if not hundreds) of tools that will help you find THOUSANDS of “low-hanging” fruits.

They will provide you with detailed instructions on how to use each of those tools. If you would like to learn how to do keyword research – don’t worry. Read a few of those articles and you will become an expert of using all kinds of keyword research tools.

I have personally read every single keyword research guide from all biggest SEO-blogs like:

And yet this topic was (and still is) one of the hardest to grasp and fully understand.

These blogs provide great value, but there is one thing that has always bothered me. While they put a lot of focus on answering HOW you do keyword research, there is little to (often) no answers WHAT you are supposed to be looking for. This topic is often limited by such vague terms as:

  • buyer intent keywords
  • informational keywords
  • local keywords

This terms do provide some sort of “blur” image of keywords and their types, but in my opinion that’s just not enough to help a beginner understand how to do keyword research for their website.

Your keyword research should be based on the buying cycle

Source: business2community.com

See, when psychologists and marketers partied together, they came up with this concept they called “buying cycle”.

It doesn’t look like a cycle to me, but anyway, it’s a bunch of stages that a person goes through before he or she makes a purchase.

Learn more about the buying cycle here.

It has a different number of the stages depending on how deep you want to dig in, but essentially it can be narrowed down to something like this:

  • Unawareness
Billy has back pain, but it’s not bad enough so he doesn’t pay attention to it. Sally is a smoker. As with other addictions, Sally doesn’t realize that he has developed one until its negative consequences become too obvious.
  • Awareness
Billy’s back pain starts bothering him more so he finally realizes he has a problem. However at this point Billy doesn’t know anything about ergonomic chairs. Sally’s smoking causes serious problems to his health, and he finally realizes that he’s in trouble. However, Sally doesn’t know that there are special programs that help smokers quit.
  • Consideration
Through a random Facebook Ad or Youtube suggestion Billy finds out that there is such a thing as ergonomic chair. He is interested in buying one, but wants to spend his money wisely and does a research on the product, reads reviews and comparisons (hello Amazon Affiliate). Sally finds out about quit-smoking programs and also does his research to find the best one.
  • Purchase
Billy knows what ergonomic chair he wants. He’s holding his credit card and all he needs is that “Buy now” button. Sally did his research as well and he’s looking for that “Enroll now” or “Sign up now” button.

Each of these stages has a different intent and different types of keywords behind it.

If Billy is in only in the “awareness” stage (meaning he doesn’t know anything about ergonomic chairs) there is no point to shove your “Buy now” button to his nose.

Billy will not buy the chair because he doesn’t know anything about them or in the fancy marketers’ language “Billy is too early in his buying cycle”.

In the same way, if Billy is ready to buy – he doesn’t want to see your “best” or “how to” articles because he already knows that, he just wants the big, red “Buy now” button.

How do you know WHAT keywords to look for?

As we just learned, different buying cycles have different intent and different types of keywords. 

The rule of thumb here is that your keywords and content should match the intent of the searcher.

A single page should have a single intent.

  • Awareness stage

Since the searchers in the “awareness” are looking for a solution to their problem, they will be using these types of keywords:

  • How to
  • Best way to
  • Ways to
  • I need to
  • Tips to/for
  • Strategies

These types are usually (but not always) the least competitive and are great for blog posts.

Not only these articles can educate your visitor about their problem, but also they can become a valuable link asset, attracting a lot of natural links.

Whether you work on client’s local website, your own affiliate website or e-com – it never hurts to have a blog with useful and interesting articles.

  • Consideration stage

As mentioned earlier, in consideration stage the person already knows the problem and the solution to it. He or she is doing the research in order to buy the product or service that will fit his or her needs best. At this stage common types of keywords are:

  • Review
  • Best
  • Top 10
  • Comparison
  • Specific brand name (“Nike” or “Toshiba”)
  • Specific product (“Macbook Pro” or “Samsung Galaxy”)
  • Product category (“Wordpress hosting” or “tennis shoes”)
  • Cheap/cheapest
  • Affordable
  • Product x vs product y (gibson les paul vs epiphone les paul)
  • Product under/for something/someone (best gopro for drones/under 500/for beginners)

These types of keywords are most common for affiliate or e-com websites.

The competition for these keywords depends on the niche: some are easy, some are hard AF.
  • Purchase stage

Purchase stage is when the person is ready to buy right now. Here are the keywords people commonly use at this stage:

  • Buy
  • Coupon
  • Discount
  • Deal
  • Shipping

This stage is the most lucrative (and most competitive) since the people using these are literally ready to make a purchase. These types of keywords are usually targeted by e-com sites.

To sum up

When doing keyword research for a page, first ask yourself who this page is for – people in “awareness”, “consideration” or “purchase” stage?

Usually it’s pretty obvious, but I have personally come across a decent amount of big websites that don’t understand their target audiences, trying to educate people in “purchase” stage or pushing their “Sign up now” or “Buy now” buttons to someone who’s just looking for information.

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