Keyword research has existed provided that the SEO industry has. Search engines built something that revolves around users entering a term or query into a text entry field, hitting return, and receiving a list of relevant results. As the internet search market expanded, one clear leader emerged — Google — and with it they brought AdWords (now Google Ads), an advertising platform that allowed organizations to seem on search results pages for keywords that organically they may not.
Within Google Ads came a tool that enabled businesses to check out how many searches there were per month for every query. Google Keyword Planner became the de facto tool for keyword research on the market, and with justification: it was Google’s data. Not only this, Google gave us the capacity to gather further insights as a result of other metrics Keyword Planner provided: competition and suggested bid. Whilst these keywords were Google Ads-oriented metrics, they gave the SEO industry a sign of how competitive a keyword was.
Associated with obvious. If your keyword or phrase has higher competition (i.e. more advertisers bidding to seem for that term) it’s apt to be more competitive from a natural perspective. Similarly, a term that has an increased suggested bid means it’s more apt to be a competitive term. SEOs dined on this data for decades, however when a started digging a bit more into the data, we soon seen that while useful, it wasn’t always wholly accurate. Moz, SEMrush, and other tools all started to produce alternative volume and competitive metrics using Clickstream data to provide marketers more insights.
Now industry professionals have several software tools and data outlets to conduct their keyword research. These software companies will simply improve in the accuracy of the data outputs. Google’s data is unlikely to significantly change; their goal is to market ad space, not make life possible for SEOs. Actually, they’ve made life harder by using volume ranges for Google Ads accounts with low activity. SEO tools have investors and customers to appease and must continually boost their products to lessen churn and grow their customer base. This makes things rosy for content-led SEO, right?
Well, not really.
The problem with historical keyword research is twofold:
1. SEOs spend a lot of time thinking about the decision stage of the buyer’s journey (more on that later).
2. SEOs spend a lot of time considering keywords, as opposed to categories or topics.
The, to its credit, is doing a lot to tackle issue number two. “Topics over keywords” is something that is not new as I’ll briefly arrived at later. Frameworks for topic-based SEO have started to seem during the last few years. This really is a step in the best direction. Organizing site content into categories, adding appropriate internal linking, and understanding this one piece of content can rank for all variations of an expression is becoming much more commonplace.
What’s less popular (but starting to get traction) is point one. But to be able to appreciate this further, we ought to dive into what the buyer’s journey actually is.
What’s the buyer’s journey?
The buyer’s or customer’s journey isn’t new. In the event that you open marketing text books from years gone by, get yourself a college degree in marketing, or even just carry on general marketing blogs you’ll see it crop up. There are plenty of variations of the journey, but each of them say a similar thing. No real matter what product or service is bought, everyone undergoes this journey. This might be online or offline — the main difference is that with respect to the product, person, or situation, the quantity of time this journey takes will be different — but every buyer undergoes it. But what exactly is it, exactly? For the goal of this short article, we’ll concentrate on three stages: awareness, consideration, & decision.
The awareness stage of the buyer’s journey is comparable to problem discovery, where a possible client realizes that they have an issue (or an opportunity) but they might not need determined just what that is yet.
Search terms at this stage in many cases are question-based — users are researching around a specific area.
The consideration stage is in which a potential consumer has defined what their problem or opportunity is and has begun to look for potential solutions to greatly help solve the issue they face.
Your choice stage is where most organizations focus their attention. Normally people are ready to purchase at this stage and in many cases are doing product or vendor comparisons, looking at reviews, and searching for pricing information.
To illustrate this process, let’s take two examples: buying an ice cream and purchasing a holiday.
Being low-value, the former isn’t a really considered purchase, but this journey still takes place. The latter is more considered. It may often take weeks or months for a consumer to choose on which destination they wish to visit, let alone a hotel or excursions. But how does this affect keyword research, and the information which we as marketers should provide?