6 Tips to Nail Your Keyword Research Strategy for SEO & SEM

Any smart digital marketing strategy starts with knowing your audience personas and understanding how to get their attention. And an effective way to communicate with your target audiences is through keyword research. 


Keywords are specific words or phrases that users search for when trying to find something online. Keywords are critical in guiding the content across all your digital marketing platforms to boost your organic search rankings

For example, if you sell banana shorts — y’know, shorts with bananas printed all over them — then you probably want to include words like “banana” and “shorts” in the product description, title, and metadata, so that when elusive banana short seekers enter their fruity search requests, your website shows up front and center.

Keywords are also key in crafting your SEM ad copy. When you Google something, the first few results are almost always paid advertisement or sponsored placements. The specific ads you see are a result of a correlation between the keywords you typed into your search, and the keywords the advertiser used to set up their ads on Google.

You can’t take advantage of all these digital marketing techniques if you don’t have a solid and effective database of keywords. You need a list of keywords that relate to your brand, products, and services, and your corresponding target demographics’ interests and online behavior.

The more precise your keyword list, the better — conversion rates are higher when your keywords match a searcher’s intent. For example, if someone searches “shorts” and finds you, the chance they will convert (aka buy) is low because they aren’t necessarily looking for banana shorts. If they search “banana shorts” and find you, though, you’re bound to be making banana bread in no time.

The good news for you is that here at BKMedia Group, we know exactly how to make a killer keyword list. The even better news is that we aren’t stingy about sharing our expertise with like-minded marketing mavens such as yourself.

From understanding your target market to researching the competition and finding your niche, here’s our guide on how to make the perfect keyword list for digital marketing.

1. Understand Your Target Market

If you don’t have a dialed-in understanding of your target marketing personas, it’s time to take a big step back and do a little detective work.

If you sell fruit-themed shorts, start by asking the following questions:

  • What is the age, income, and location of people searching for shorts covered in a beautiful fruit print?
  • What keywords do people use when searching for fruit shorts?
  • Why do these people want fruit shorts? Is there some weird social media viral thing you don’t know about? Is it related to a cultural trend or event? Is National Fruit Short Day a thing?
  • Why are you selling fruit shorts? What’s your brand’s origin story, and what drew you to this incredibly niche product? (Seriously, we’re really curious).

You’ll be able to provide ballpark answers to some of these questions on your own through your sales experience. We like to use a data-driven approach to fill in the blanks and get a detailed picture of our clients’ audience personas, which you can learn more about here »

The rest can be answered with the help of keyword research tools, which brings us to our next tip.

2. Tap Into a Keyword Research Tool

A keyword research tool is an online engine that allows you to enter a keyword or phrase and get all sorts of stats related to it — like how popular it is and how many other sites are relying on it.

With a keyword research tool, you can learn the following about a keyword:

  • How often do people use the keyword or phrase in online searches?
  • How much competition is there for it?
  • What are similar keywords to consider?

A keyword research tool is likely to show you that “shorts” is searched a lot and that a lot of sites are using that keyword. So unless you’re the most popular seller of shorts in the world, you might want to look for some alternative more specific variations to find keywords for which there is less competition.

Additionally, most keyword research tools will provide a long list of similar keywords that you may not have considered, ones that may suit your product more closely while simultaneously attracting less competition.

Some essential keyword research tools to check out include Wordtracker, Google AdWords Keyword Planner, and Answer the Public.

3. Look for Trends on Social Media

Your social media channels are powerful tools to learn more what your audience cares about. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter can provide useful insight into what people are talking about — including search phrases. 

Start by going to the platform your customers use the most (whether it be YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.) and look into trends and popular hashtags. If you can find trending topics related to your product or service, consider embedding corresponding keywords into your website copy.

Twitter provides a handy “trending” sidebar on the homepage, or you can search for trending keywords and hashtags in the search bar. How you fit the trends of the day into your brand and marketing is totally up to you.

For example, if #CuteMonkey is blowing up on Twitter this week with endless videos and tweets about cute monkeys, then promoting your banana shorts with “The Perfect Pair for the Cute Monkey in Your Life” might not be a bad title for a landing page or blog. Because monkeys like bananas. Get it?

The ways these platforms provide trending insights is always changing. Facebook recently removed Graph Search and Trending tools, which can make it harder to find out what’s hot on the platform on any given day. 

That’s just part of the game, though. These platforms are always subject to change, which is one of the many reasons hiring a digital marketing firm such as BKMedia Group is a smart choice — we stay on top of the changes and how to work with them so you can focus on your business.

4. Find Your Niche Keywords

If you sell fruit shorts, then you probably want to make sure when people search for “shorts” on Google, they have a chance of finding your orange and pineapple-laden cutoffs.

The problem is, there are a lot of people selling shorts out there — Google turns up nearly 7 billion results. 


Above: Google results for “shorts”. Absolutely no fruit shorts. This is a problem.

And there are a lot of different kinds of shorts. Running shorts, denim shorts, short shorts, cargo shorts, and those weird shorts with the zip-on pant legs, just to name a few.

But your shorts are unique. That’s why you need to find your niche keywords to avoid getting lost in a sea of dads looking for cargo shorts or gym rats on the hunt for the perfect pull-on moisture-wickers.

Keywords can be divided into three different categories of increasing specificity: 

  1. Broad
  2. Chunky Middle
  3. and Long Tail

These category names refer to the specificity of keywords and phrases you’ll find in each. Examples:

  • Broad: “shorts”, “clothing”
  • Chunky Middle: “fruit shorts”, “shorts with fruit on them”, “fruit print clothes”
  • Long Tail: “boutique banana shorts”, “pineapple print shorts”, “clothes for national fruit day”

If you only use broad keywords, you’ll never stand a chance against retail monopolizers. But despite their clout, the big guys don’t offer slick banana shorts like yours. Make sure your target audience knows what you’re selling by leaning on those chunky middle and long tail keywords that speak directly to your niche audience.

Pro tip: Conversion rates are higher among people who find you through long tail keywords. This is because your content directly fulfills their very specific search phrases. A word of warning though: relying too heavily on long tail keywords makes it less likely people will find you at all, which is why the chunky middle is equally important. 

5. Research the Competition

As we made clear in the previous tip, the right keywords can help you stand out from the competition. There may be 10 other retailers selling banana shorts, but only yours feature a fashion-forward trim and 100% organic cotton.

One way to find keywords that’ll help you beat out your competitors is to start with their keywords and then improve upon them.

It’s simple to figure out what keywords your competitors are using. Head over to their website and look for words or phrases that are repeated in URLs, page and product titles, tags and categories, and page copy. Words that appear in 2 or more of those places on any given page are likely keywords.

Once you’ve compiled a list of keywords your competitors are using, run them through a keyword research tool (explained above in Tip #2) and see if you can come up with some alternates that will put you on top of the heap in people’s search results.

6. Nail the Landing with Your Content

Choosing the right keywords is essential to reaching people online, especially on search engines. 

When BKMedia Group was tasked with increasing organic search traffic for our client Carefree Dental, we set to work by doing our keyword research and then building out their website with original content that featured those keywords. The result? A 384% increase in traffic.

But keywords can’t help if your content doesn’t provide the appropriate follow-through. All that increased traffic to Carefree Dental’s site is pointless if their services don’t fulfill what their customers need.

That’s why it’s critical to not only understand which keywords your target market is using, but what their intent is. 

At BKMedia Group, we have an intensive client on-boarding and persona development process to understand the needs of the people we’re working to reach. That work proved essential with Carefree Dental — the increase in traffic also resulted in a 47.5% increase in sales, a stat which shows we understood how to align Carefree’s offerings with customer intent.

Of course, creating the perfect content to match user intent only comes with the combined decades of experience you’ll find with BKMedia Group. This is just one reason to hire a professional digital marketing firm such as ours.

Learn more reasons why your content strategy needs a professional copywriter »

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