I hate keywords. Yes, I just wrote the words that could very well get me kicked out of content marketing. You know what? Your prospects hate keywords, too. If you doubt those words, visit Google Analytics and look at your main product/service pages, then look for pages with the highest bounce rates.
Now visit the top three pages on this list.
You likely see something that reads like this: “Looking for cupcakes in Las Vegas? ABC cupcakes has the best cupcakes in Nevada.” Plug your products in for cupcakes, and you get the idea. I’ve audited websites with pages stuffed with 85 exact match keywords in 800 words of text.
This isn’t the “olden days” of SEO, so why are you still writing pages that read like they were written for the monster from The Odyssesy, not for humans? Please don’t say you’re writing to appease the Google robots. You think a company with a market capitalizing of nearly $400 billion doesn’t have sufficient technology to see through such crap?
They do, and so does your prospects, who likely never return after encountering such pages. There’s a better, easier path to successful content creation.
You Say Keywords, I Say Hummingbird
- As if they are the be-all and end-all for organic search and
- To an extent that ignores the needs of potential customers
To create content that moves the needle for our businesses, we must move beyond keywords and cater to the language prospects are using in organic search when looking for similar products and services.
When Google dropped in a supercharged new engine, Hummingbird, late last year, they gave content marketers a huge leg up with regard to content creation for their businesses.
With Hummingbird, conversational speech is now a biggest part of search queries, which should serve to make the searches more accurate.
Whereas in the past, a search for “The closest bakery that sells cupcakes on my house?” might have singled out only “sells” and “cupcakes,” now such a search is expected to take into account the likely intent of the user and return a result that ties in the location of your residence, a physical bakery and one that carries cupcakes.
This is good news for you and your business, for you can now get to the meat of delivering the information prospects and existing customers are searching for.
A Simple Content Creation Plan That Yields Big Results
This is a plan I’ve seen be effective for businesses large and small.
- Create a Google Spreadsheet that lists the main product/service categories of your business
- Share the document with everyone in the company, asking that they list questions they’ve been asked by prospects and customers under one or more of the product/service category headings
- When you’ve amassed a handful of questions under one or more of the headings, you’re ready to start creating content
Let’s say one of the questions reads like this: “How long will a mattress last?”
You could create a blog post: “How Long Should My Mattress Last?”
That turns into a blog series:
- “How Long Should My Mattress Last?”
- “What Can I Do To Extend The Life Of My Mattress?”
- “Does Turning My Mattress Help It Last Longer?”
- “Should I Expect A More Expensive Mattress To Last Longer?”
- “What’s The Best Way To Safeguard My New Mattress From Spills?”
That becomes an eBook: “The Five Things Everyone Asks After Buying A New Mattress?”
As you can see, this goes well beyond keywords, and the content you’re able to create extends well past blogs.
What I’ve seen is that once the Google Spreadsheet is created, team members continue to add questions daily or weekly, ensuring you never run out of ideas.
In addition to relying on the questions of team members, a few other places you should look include:
- Social media – (e.g., plug in your main keywords into the search function of the platform of your choice)
- Forums – (e.g., become an active participant on the forums in your vertical)
- Review and discussion boards – (e.g., these are full of nuggets from community members hungry for information)
- In-person conversations – (e.g., use a notepad or Evernote to jot down questions and comments you hear from friends and acquaintances)
Two quick points…
I’m in no way suggesting you turn away from keywords entirely. The plan of attack I outline is meant as an addendum to an overarching keyword strategy. Also, I’d would highly recommend you look into the Keyword Eye Tool, a new tool with a cool feature, Question Finder, that gathers informational queries from organic search. Matthew Barby has thoroughly covered the tool (see below), and I’ll be taking a closer look at it in the near future.
After reading this blog, I hope it’s a little more clear that you and your staff can create the content that compels customers to seek out your business.
I’d love to hear similar strategies you’re using successfully.