Writers ask me about keywords, and it makes me wince. Usually they’ve got a client who’s carrying on about rankings. The goal of “ranking” for keywords is a fool’s game: the days when you could con Google or any other search engine with keyword spam have long gone. That said, keyword tools are nevertheless vitally important.
Keywords reveal searchers’ intentions — they’re a starting point for content
Keep in mind:
- Your client’s goals
- The product your client is promoting
- Your client’s audience
Keywords are a huge topic. Big tip: keywords are NOT a shortcut to creating content. The content factories which churned out “keyword content” are closed.
Let’s look at three tools; they’re free.
Ubersuggest: a fun overview of search terms
Ubersuggest has a tagline: “Suggest on steroids”, and that’s about right. When you start typing in Google’s query field, Google makes suggestions: you can cycle through the alphabet. Ubersuggest saves you typing time. Enter any word related to your client’s business, and you’ll see keywords, listed via the alphabet.
It’s a good starting place for brainstorming, and getting content ideas. You can save the list of keywords to use later; in practice however, you’ll rarely do that.
Grab a few ideas, and enter them into our next keyword tools.
KWFinder: “long tail” keywords — grab ideas
KWFinder is a good basic keyword tool. Enter a couple of keywords you’ve found via Ubersuggest, and see what happens. You can do five free searches a day. If you need more, their Basic plan is inexpensive.
Tip: KWFinder is useful to mix and match keywords. Check out your client’s analytics program to see what his website visitors are searching for. Remember that keyword tools are historical: they can only show you what people have searched for in the past. Your client’s logs will tell you much more.
Indeed, they may even tell you that your client’s positioned himself for the wrong audience. That’s common. Your content will help him to get on track, and start attracting the right audience.
SEMrush: see what your client’s competition is ranking for on Google
SEMrush is useful to see how your client’s website measures up to others in his industry. You’ll see which keywords a competitor ranks for (ten keywords in the fee version of SEMrush), how much of their traffic is organic search and paid, how many backlinks they have, and much more.
SpyFu — see how and where money’s being spent on keyword advertising
When you’re thinking “show me the money” SpyFul is invaluable. It shows you who’s spending money on keywords, what the keywords are, and how much money they’re spending. If you enroll in our Article Fire Storm workshop, you’ll even discover how to mine SpyFu for prospective clients. Companies which are spending money on paid search are open to a content strategy which will help them to not only potentially save money, but also get a bigger return on the money they’re spending now.
Keywords aren’t everything: use your head
To repeat. Keywords aren’t a shortcut to content. They’re a compass. They help you, in many ways, however your brain is your most important tool.
Please don’t fall into the “keywords for content” trap. If you go that route, you’re crippling yourself as a writer. You’re a savvy writer. Use keywords as a basis for research: remember, searchers’ intentions are what matter, and so are your clients’ goals.
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If you’re writing for the Web, or want to, content is HUGE. That said, few writers know how to develop content strategy for their clients in 2015. This means that the field’s wide open, and ready for you. Students love the workshop: content is huge fun, and very profitable too. Join us.
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