Voice search. Auto-complete. The Answer Box. Hummingbird. Rankbrain. All of these developments make search better for searchers. They also force brands to do what many have never done before: explain, in great granularity, why their products deserve to be consumed. This explanation is carried out by creating a corpus of content sufficiently comprehensive to be considered relevant by search engines when users type in a wide range of very specific queries.
In this article, I’ll show you how you – and/or your brand — can become more relevant to these very specific, conversational queries, whose share of query volume is expected to grow in 2018 and beyond.
On Beyond Keywords
Until very recently, it was fairly easy for any brand to determine the kind of content it should be producing and distributing. Using Google and 3rd party keyword development tools, marketers developed keyword lists, figured out which would deliver the most qualified traffic, and structured content around them.
This worked for a long time. But today, it’s more complicated. Why? Two main reasons:
- Saturation of the SERPs. With thousands of content marketers competing to organically dominate SERPs by targeting the same high-volume commercial keyword sets, it’s practically impossible for new marketers to compete.
- Shrinking organic real estate. Google has radically reduced the number of organic slots for many high-volume keyword sets. (For quite a good number of competitive keywords, organic real estate begins on Page 2 of the SERP).
Google’s motivation for changing things (beyond its primary goal of making life better for searchers), is to encourage marketers to pay for clicks instead of relying on organic placements. But not every marketer is in a position to spend many hundreds or thousands of dollars each day on these clicks. For those whose constrained budgets limit them to an “organic only” approach, a more productive approach involves creating and distributing content likely to show up when people make very specific questions about the products and services you sell.
Let’s get hyper-specific. Say you’re selling home theater systems. Well, on Google’s SERP results for the keyword phrase “home theater” are pretty well saturated with ads. But results for more specific queries, including “home theater repair,” are less so. And results for detailed questions about home theater, for example, “what kind of wiring must I use when installing home theater” are – if not wide open, open enough for you to take a shot at. By creating specific content tailored to these specific queries, you have a chance – over time – to begin to appear for these queries. Yes, query volume will be lower for these specific terms, but the traffic you get will be highly qualified, and a sufficient mass of content (say 50 articles addressing different specific questions) will result in a healthy flow to your site.
Building Content for Specific Searches
Keyword research tools and/or Google Search Console can often reveal these specific queries. But sometimes you have to dig deeper – in fact, you might have to dig into offline repositories to come up with a truly comprehensive list of words and phrases. Here are some additional sources for discovering your own unique set of words and phrases you can craft content around. In many cases, you won’t have to hunt far to find them.
Your own customer support. Your customer support people are “in the front lines” with customers each day. Consequently, they are in an excellent position to know about the precise words and phrases used in complaint/service calls. In many instances, this language may be very close to that used by searchers interested in your products/services.
Online research tools. You’ve probably noticed that Google’s Auto Complete feature (formerly called Auto Suggest) displays a list of popular searches before you’ve even completed your own, making it valuable for brainstorming. But what’s even better is a site called AnswerThePublic.com, which aggregates these entries. Type in any search term and you’ll get a list of frequently-asked questions about the term. This feature is a terrific way of discovering questions you can structure your content around.
Product support literature. Most products come with a user manual compiled by the manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or integrator. These can be gold mines for the kind of granular information likely to be used in a query using conversational keywords.
Focus group transcripts. Many firms conduct focus groups with customers in which are discussed questions relating to how customers use, view, or otherwise regard your product or service. Being able to study the actual language used by “real people” can often provide powerful (and often suprrising) clues about how people will search for your products/services online.
Social media and internet forums. The internet has always been a place for people to solve technical issues – often in real time – about an astounding range of products and services. These may represent rich repositories of specific words and phrases pertaining to products/services you sell, so pay attention to the conversations occurring there.
Kevin Lee is Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Didit a leading digital marketing and technology firm. While Didit started in SEO in 1996 and PPC in 1998, over the last 5 years Didit has made 11 acquisitions to transform itself into a full-service marketing firm. Kevin and his biz partner coined the one-stop-shop strategy BigTique due to the fact that internal experts in each marketing discipline are at the client’s disposal. Kevin continues to invent new technology platforms for Didit and new marketing ideas for clients. Kevin also co-founded We-Care.com which has generated over $8 million for nonprofits via cause-marketing. Kevin Lee, is a true Digital Marketing pioneer and gives back to the industry via books, speaking engagements, and 780+ published columns. Kevin received his MBA from Yale University. Kevin lives in Scarsdale with his wife Dr Allison Kahner and two kids.