It’s difficult to overstate just how important content marketing has become to the overall digital marketing landscape. The numbers say it all:
According to Statista, digital marketing revenue will exceed $77 billion this year in the United States alone, and content marketing is becoming an ever-growing segment within that market with each passing year. In order to stay competitive, it is imperative that marketing agencies use all the tools at their disposal to make the most intelligent decisions for the overall content marketing strategy. Since the foundation of any strong content marketing strategy is targeting valuable and cost-effective keywords, content marketers should become familiar and proficient with the tools available to them for precisely this purpose.
A good potential keyword is one in which the intersection of keyword value and keyword difficultly are cost-effective for a given campaign. In other words, one must balance three competing factors when conducting keyword research: how much it will cost to rank for a keyword (difficulty), how much a given keyword is worth (value), and what your operating budget is (cost-effectiveness). Considering these three factors in concert will help a content marketer make the most informed decision possible.
So, how do we determine these factors? The answer lies in a combination of intuition and experience (which can only come with time) alongside keyword tools that help quantify and measure each of the three factors listed above.
Some of the most important and popular tools include:
Use SEMRush to gauge the potential value of a keyword
SEMRush is a fantastic tool that is worth every single penny. With SEMRush, you can enter in any keyword and instantly see how many monthly searches there are for that exact term. This allows you to determine what your potential traffic can be if you are able to rank at the top of the SERPs for a given keyword.
SEMRush also allow you to see what the CPC (cost per click) is for a particular potential keyword. While the most obvious application for this is a PPC marketer, content marketers can derive value from it as well. While it is not a direct correlation, the amount paid for a click on a particular keyword is a reasonable indicator of the potential value of that keyword. While it is of course up to you (or your client) to come up with a monetization strategy, the CPC can help in the research phase to determine the likely value of a keyword.
While SEMRush has lots of other features, there is one more that needs to be pointed out. In addition to inputting a specific keyword, users can also enter a URL. More interestingly, one can see the top SERP results for a particular keyword, and click on the URL to see all of the keywords that the specific URL ranks for. Best of all, you can see the monthly traffic, and CPC value of all the keywords that URL ranks for — in a sense giving you an idea of the potential value of being ranked #1 for a certain set of keywords.
When it comes to measuring the potential value of keywords, SEMRush is arguably the most important tool available.
Use the MOZ Keyword Research Tool to estimate how difficult it will be to rank for a particular keyword
The MOZ Keyword Research Tool is an effective way to measure how difficult it will be to rank for a particular keyword. The tool is incredibly straightforward to use as well: All a user needs to do is enter one (or more) keywords into the tool, and in less than a minute (usually) you’ll see a percentage ranking of exactly how difficult MOZ estimates a keyword will be to rank for. This tool can (and should) easily be used in conjunction with SEMRush to come up with an accurate picture of the value/cost associated with ranking for a particular keyword or set of keywords.
Use Keyword Tool to brainstorm alternative ways to rank for your targeted keyword
Sometimes, you need to think outside the box to find the keyword to target. This can be particularly true for highly-contested keywords. Keywordtool.io is an excellent tool to use when you need to figure out related keywords, and also when you want to get a sense of other elements that can be incorporated into your existing keyword strategy.
Best of all (and unlike the previous two suggestions) Keyword Tool’s primary functionality is free to use, so you can check it out for yourself without needing to invest additional capital into a license.
Use Google Trends to determine whether your targeted keyword is becoming more or less popular relative to the past
When looking at the big picture for a content marketing campaign, it can be useful to see whether a targeted keyword is trending up or down. By measuring your content marketing campaign’s success or failure against the macro backdrop of the long-term trend, you can put into perspective the performance, and adjust accordingly.
Tying it all together
All three of these tools work together to help content marketers generate the most cost-effective marketing campaign possible. Ultimately, however, it is up to marketers to develop content that is compelling, engaging, and useful to readers. However, by using these tools, you can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your campaign, and begin to set realistic benchmarks for success moving forward.