When it comes to keyword research, there are a number of great articles out there telling you where to look, what tools to use, and how to get started. Instead of focusing on the traditional tactics, I want to focus on some other ways businesses can identify and evaluate keywords using real customer data.
Internal site search
If you have an internal site search function, you're potentially sitting on a wealth of keyword data. Visitors coming to your website or blog often use the site search function to find information on the company and its products, or to locate pieces of content they've read before.
The great thing about site search is it not only helps you discover keywords your customers are using, it can also help you identify navigational or content issues. If your customers are searching for something, it likely means they are having trouble finding what they are looking for. Does that content exist on the site? If so, you need to make it easier to locate. If it doesn't, get cracking!
Google Analytics will track these internal searches for you. To enable site search, go to your profile settings and set to "Do Track Site Search." If you need help identifying parameters, head over to the Google Analytics site for more information.
An easy way to find out how users describe your product or service is to ask them. Here are a few ways to gather user feedback:
Your customers are a valuable asset because they know your product and they like the brand. Create a short survey asking them to choose five keywords that describe your product or service. Ask them how they'd search to find your product. Tip: Offer an incentive for customers who fill out the survey.
Live user testing
User testing is nothing new, and it allows you to get keywords straight from the horse's mouth. While there are sites out there that make it easy to perform user tests, I recommend using Craigslist to get a panel together to visit your office. Take the users through your site and have them describe your product or service. Tip: Be sure to ask for your target demographic in your ad.
Mechanical Turk is described as a "marketplace for work." Essentially, you are able to give people tasks to complete. One task idea is to give a set of users an image of your product and ask them to give you five phrases they'd use to search for it.
Most businesses have an idea of how people describe the brand or service, but one way to find out for sure is to listen.
SocialMention is a free tool that scours the web for a specific keyword or keyword phrase. Search blogs, videos, social networks, and even comments.
Check out your brand name and products, but also be sure to search competitors, complementary products, and industry-related keywords. You never know what you might find.
When it comes to keyword research, there's more to it than keyword tools. Listen to your users and target audience to identify how they truly search. You might just find a new keyword or two.
Casie Gillette is the director of online marketing at KoMarketing Associates.
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"Keyword, word in magnifying glass, network background" image via Shutterstock.