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Intro to the Keyword Universe

March 10, 2020
Erik Hinds

The universe in which we draw our target terms can be very large. Choosing the appropriate terms comes down to 4 key considerations:

  • How the key term aligns with your business’s offerings
  • How the key term aligns with the searcher’s intent and context
  • The potential volume of search traffic
  • The level of ranking difficulty

It is very important that you choose the wording most aligned with your customers’ language and not your own. 

The way you should work your keyword strategy is to start by choosing a “head term”. Head terms are high volume, 1 or 2 word keywords. They are the most difficult to rank for and the traffic that results from these tends to be fairly general in audience.

After establishing your head term, start researching longer, more nuanced phrases around that term. Those with 2-3 words are called “body” keywords and 3+ words are called “tail” keywords

Here are some examples:

Head: Clock Radio

Body: Clock Radio iPhone

Tail: Clock Radio with iPhone Wireless Charger

 

Head: Financial services

Body: Retirement financial services

Tail: Financial services for retirement planning

 

As you can see, the more words a search query has, the more specific the searcher’s intent. The search volume for tail terms is much much lower, but the searcher is likely a more qualified prospect. 

After assembling your keyword universe, it is time to align these terms with your content marketing plan.

Content Marketing Plan

In order to rank a webpage for a keyword, you have to have content published around that term. SEO only exists in what search engines can read from your website. 

When defining a SEO content marketing plan, you will need your defined keywords as a starting point for topic generation. The most effective approach that will have the most impact is the hub and spoke model.

What is the hub and spoke model?

The hub and spoke model of SEO is the practice of clustering content topics around a central theme. The central theme (head or body keyword) is the hub, supported by a number of related content pieces. The goal of the model it to become an authority for the hub term. And to do that, you must thoroughly explain the subject and answer the questions of searchers. 

Even if a subtopic doesn’t exactly match your product or service offerings, you are trying to build your overall authority.

SEO strategory graphic

When generating topics for your model, keyword research can help be your guide. You can use Google’s own real-time search suggestions to get an idea of what people are searching for around your search term. 

 

Google search results autocomplete

 

Other tools, like SEMRush, BrightEdge, Moz and Answer the Public can find questions around a term. (But that’s a topic for another blog post.)

Sometimes it may be helpful to write a very big, comprehensive piece on your hub topic. Then take that long form content and break it into smaller chunks and publish those. Smaller chunks of the larger piece can be published in multiple formats and on different channels:

  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Slideshares
  • Guest blog posts

Any time you can write long form content and repackage and republish parts, you are saving yourself time and getting maximum value out of your investment.

SEO, Content Marketing and Website Structure

With your content marketing plan defined, determining how it fits into your website structure can be a bit confusing. Websites don’t exactly follow a hub and spoke model, websites follow a hierarchical model. 

Hub pages should connect content from across the website, no matter where it resides. Related content like blog posts, product pages, press releases should all be referenced from the hub page.

It is crucial that you cross link your supporting content to your hub pages, and vice versa. This will help pass authority from one page to the next.  

 

Risdall’s Guide to an Effective SEO Strategy explains the main concepts everyone should understand about SEO and the essential components that should be in every SEO plan. Click here to download your copy.

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