There’s keyword research. There’s a keyword strategy. And then there’s a darn good keyword strategy. In today’s article, we’re aiming for the latter.
Believe it or not, a lot of marketers just come up with a massive list of keywords and haphazardly plug them into their content. And then they wonder why their rankings aren’t going up.
Keyword strategy is where the money’s at. The best thing about it is: A few hours of focused research is all you need. And, with the help of a few handy tools, you can cut that time in half.
Today I’ll show you how to create a keyword strategy in which you’ll learn:
- The exact keywords you should be targeting, and why
- How each of them will add value to every stage of the buyer’s journey
- Which content opportunities to pursue based on your keyword strategy
Let’s get right into it.
Table of Contents
What Is a Keyword Strategy and Why Does It Matter?
A keyword strategy is a data-driven method to identify which keywords you should target to rank organically in the SERPs. It matters for three main reasons:
- It helps you rank for terms you know your ideal audience is already searching for.
- A solid keyword strategy, if properly revisited, will give you a steady supply of content for months.
- It’s a tactical approach you can stand behind, especially when reporting your rankings.
- You can use it to drive your entire content strategy.
Now, let’s address a key question: How many keywords should be included in a keyword strategy?
The answer is: not many. In fact, for your strategy to be effective, it shouldn’t include more than a few keywords.
Because later, you’ll get to turn each keyword into its own topic cluster, which will be effortlessly linkable to related content. And that’s when things will start gaining traction.
How to Create a Darn Good Keyword Strategy
Where Do You Currently Stand?
This is your jumping-off point. What keywords does your website currently rank for? They’ll give you a big edge, as people are already finding your website through those exact terms.
To optimize your efforts, it’s generally a good idea to improve existing keyword rankings before focusing on new ones.
(If your site still doesn’t rank for any terms, that’s okay too. We’ll talk about keyword-finding methods in a moment.)
Tools like Growthbar will tell you all about the keywords you currently rank for in Google’s top 100 results. You’ll be able to see the pages ranking for that specific term, best ranks, current ranks, and other important information.
Where Do You Want to Go?
In the journey to finding profitable keywords, KPIs will be your tour guides toward clear goals.
And I mean clear, like increasing your monthly organic website traffic to 10,000 unique visitors in, say, six months.
I have a couple of questions for you:
- What’s the reason why you’re building a keyword strategy in the first place? What do you want to achieve?
- Is it more leads?
- More paid conversions?
- Increased brand visibility?
Asking these questions will help you pinpoint the KPIs to track.
Now, a quick example: Let’s say your clear goal is to increase online sales by 25% within the next quarter. You want to understand how effectively your keyword strategy drives your online sales.
In this case, you’d be looking at metrics like conversion, click-through, and bounce rates.
While KPIs will vary across businesses, tracking your keyword rankings is essential for anyone developing a keyword strategy. It may sound self-explanatory, but improved keyword rankings serve as an indicator that your SEO strategies are working while declining rankings typically signal a need for adjustments.
Without defining specific goals and the KPIs to monitor them, you’ll have no clue whether your efforts are paying off.
Brainstorm Keyword Ideas
Now, it’s time to get creative (within reason). This is keyword research at its most basic level: you’ll be selecting your seed keywords so that you can weed out the bad apples later.
So, where should you start with your list of keywords? And where do you find them?
It’s quite simple: any terms your target audience would use to search for your business will work. Fortunately, you have plenty of gems within arm’s reach. You can start by looking at:
- The current keywords you rank for. Not only can you optimize the content that already ranks for them, but you can use them to find related terms.
- Search engines, of course! Suggested terms and “People Also Ask” are the sidekicks of keyword research for a reason: they’ll give you hundreds of related terms to use.
- Your website. What topics do you create content around? What’s your website’s unique value proposition? Those are likely to be terms your audience has used.
- Testimonials and reviews. What do people who are familiar with your solution say about it? How do they describe it? Swipe those terms.
- Chat transcripts, demos, and call recordings. These are less common yet valuable sources for mining unfiltered language regarding your solution.
- Competitor websites. This is useful if you still don’t have a website or are looking to triangulate your data. Apply the same research you’d do on your own website to a competitor’s website.
- Customer surveys or interviews. Customer interactions are by far the most enlightening in terms of finding out how your audience describes your solution.
Think of this stage as writing a first draft: just pour out all of your ideas, and don’t worry about fixing anything for now.
For instance, let’s say that you’re a fitness equipment retailer. A few keywords you could get started with are:
- Home gym equipment
- Fitness machines for sale
- Strength training equipment
- Cardio workouts at home
If you’re short on time and need some AI help, Growthbar’s AI Assistant can create one for you. Just go to Tools → Chat and ask it to help you create a topic map with seed keywords.
While Developing Your Seed List, Remember the Buyer’s Journey (The Funnel)
When writing content for a whole website, you’ll be writing for different types of people:
- Those looking for information regarding the problems your business solves while still being unaware of your solution.
- Those looking for information regarding your solution, specifically.
- Those looking to compare your solution to competitors’ solutions.
- Those who are ready to buy from you.
Your keyword strategy should encompass the entire funnel, so that your website can drive traffic from all four corners.
The previously mentioned keyword list fulfills different intents:
- Fitness machines for sale: This keyword targets users who are actively looking to purchase fitness equipment.
- Strength training equipment: Targeting this keyword can attract visitors interested in weights, benches, and related products so they can compare your products against competitors.
- Cardio workouts at home: This one can attract users looking for cardio workouts to do at home. Within the content, you can naturally plug in product information for those who want to dive deeper into your site.
By the way, it’s a good idea to explore branded keywords (terms that include your brand name), particularly for the searchers who are already aware of your solution.
Keep Two Eyes on Competitors’ Rankings
You won’t be covering all bases with your keyword strategy unless you spy what your competitors are up to. This way, you can ethically swipe their strategies or improve your own.
If you want to gain a competitive edge, it might be worth looking at Growthbar’s Site Inspector at SEO Tools → Site inspector. So you can discover:
- Their organic traffic, to benchmark your current performance against businesses in your industry.
- Which keywords they’re targeting and ranking for, so you can find relevant terms you might have overlooked.
- Which profitable keywords they’re bidding on (if you’re also focusing on paid traffic)
- Their backlinks, so you can uncover gaps in your own link-building strategy.
Which revenue-driving keywords are your competitors using in their strategy?
If you want to find out and include them in your own, Growthbar’s Keyword Roadmap will uncover massive content opportunities based on competitor data.
Go to SEO Tools → Keyword Roadmap. This report analyzes thousands of your keywords and your competitor’s keywords.
Then, it uses the keywords’ monthly search volume, estimated difficulty score, cost-per-click (CPC), and existing ranking positions to determine an Opportunity Score for each.
Keywords with a high Opportunity Score are the ones that can bring in the most revenue with the least amount of work. If the high-opportunity keyword is your competitor’s, you should create new content surrounding that keyword. If the keyword is one your website already ranks for, you should optimize your existing content to rank higher.
Narrow Down Your List
Now it’s time to “kill your darlings,” as William Faulkner would’ve said. Strategically narrow your list to focus on the most important terms for your business goals.
Hone in on the keywords that are highly relevant to your business, have reasonable search volume, and fit naturally within your content.
Start by reviewing your keyword list and assessing:
- Monthly volume, or how many searches this term gets a month
- Keyword Difficulty (KD), or how hard it is to rank for this specific term
- Relevance, or how well it fits into the context of your business
- Search intent, or the “why” behind the search
Again, you can use any Keyword analysis tools for that purpose. Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz…it’s your call. If you’re using Growthbar, you can also use the Keyword Research tool at SEO Tools → Keyword research to analyze your KWs, both for organic and paid traffic.
The key lies in finding the “sweet spot” between search volume and keyword difficulty.
Your keywords shouldn’t be too broad that they’re too competitive (or satisfy unrelated search intents) and not too narrow that they’ll only be able to support a single piece of content. You need to strike a balance.
For example, “gym equipment” is a broad keyword with mostly commercial intent (people looking to compare gym equipment brands). According to data from Semrush, it’s a hard one to rank for.
While broad, you can use it as a launching pad to target less competitive variations, like “gym equipment names.”
Suddenly, it’s possible to rank for a related keyword by creating a beginner’s guide for gym equipment names and their uses.
On the flip side, the keyword “dumbbell exercises for rotator cuff injury rehabilitation” is too narrow. While it would make a very targeted one-off blog post, we’re talking about researching keywords that will support your content strategy at scale.
For an effective content strategy, it’s often more productive to focus on higher-impact keywords and topics you can use in the long term.
Listen, long-tail keywords are golden. And so are head terms.
I’m not telling you to dismiss them entirely, seeing that a complete keyword strategy will typically include a healthy mix of both. If you want to reach a highly motivated audience with a narrow term (considering people search for it), by all means, go for it.
Create Topic Clusters
A well-implemented keyword strategy is vital to building topical authority through topic clusters.
Topic clusters are a content strategy approach in which a central “pillar” page or post serves as the main resource for a broad topic, and it is linked to related, more specific pieces of content. Topic clusters matter because they:
- Help search engines understand content relationships, boosting your website’s authority and rankings.
- Logically organize content, making it easier for users to find relevant information.
- Cover topics in depth, demonstrating expertise and building trust with your audience.
So, let’s say you’ve done all the previous research and targeted the keyword “workout essentials.” Cool.
In this case, here’s what a topic cluster could look like:
- The main article as the “pillar” topic, which would be titled “The Ultimate Guide to Workout Essentials.”
The topic cluster articles could be:
- “Top 10 Must-Have Fitness Equipment for Home Workouts”
- “Choosing the Right Workout Clothing: A Comprehensive Guide”
- “Essential Supplements for Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition”
- “The Importance of Hydration During Exercise: Tips and Recommendations”
- “Gym Bag Essentials: What to Pack for an Effective Workout Session”
Each cluster article should naturally link back to the pillar content, creating a unified content structure that benefits both users and search engines.
But of course, coming up with blog post ideas can be boring, even for the most seasoned content marketers, which is why AI is here to help.
If I wanted to generate blog post ideas from any term, I’d go to Growthbar’s Blog idea generator at AI Tools → Blog Ideas. Instantly, I’d get a big list of ideas to use or brainstorm with.
Create Awesome Content
You’ve got relevant keywords for your business. You’ve also got your topic clusters. Way to go!
Now it’s time to either:
- Start optimizing existing pages that already rank for the keywords in your strategy
- Creating outstanding content using the blog post ideas you’ve generated
“Optimizing” could mean a lot of different things. While it could simply mean refreshing outdated content with updated terms, it could also mean going back to the drawing board. It’ll depend on whether your current content is in sync with your keyword strategy and the needs of your target audience.
If you’re serious about implementing a darn good keyword strategy, you and your team will be creating plenty of content moving forward. Got a content workflow in place? If the answer’s no, it’s a good idea to use tools like Trello to manage your team’s operations.
Plus, you should be creating comprehensive content briefs and outlines – not only to ensure your keyword strategy and content are well-coordinated but also to keep everyone on the same page.
As for the writing process, the first drafts shouldn’t take you a ton of time. With GrowthBar’s Blog post generator, they should take you, at most, a couple of minutes.
Go to AI Tools → Blog post generator to find everything you need to create a blog post, end-to-end.
Track Your Progress
In Growthbar, you can track your rankings at SEO Tools → Rank tracker. That’s where you’ll find real-time insights on your monthly traffic, as well as your keyword rankings. Because knowing how your keyword strategy stacks up against your goals is crucial to adjusting your efforts over time.
Much like any SEO effort, a keyword strategy isn’t static. For fast-growing businesses, it’s a good practice to revisit and update your keyword strategy at least every three to six months.
Circumstances beyond your control (such as industry changes and user behavior shifts) will always be running in the background. That’s why you should look back on your strategy whenever you:
- Launch new products or services
- Enter new markets
- Spot significant/uncommon changes in your website’s performance or ranking
Be sure to remove or replace low-performing terms with relevant alternatives, rinse and repeat. After all, an updated keyword strategy is what drives well-targeted, authoritative content that smashes business goals.