If you think keyword research is the only thing you need to do to drive organic traffic, think again. Simply compiling a list of high-volume keywords and writing content based on them should only be part of your content and SEO strategy.

Content marketers tend to oversimplify the use of keyword research and miss an opportunity to learn more about what their readers want. Keyword research is valuable but for this approach to leave an impact, start with customer research.

Here are the best strategies to provide content your readers will value.



Interview your readers to find out what's important to them

An easy way to determine what your readers want is to ask them.

Consider this, you're a fitness company with an amazing app for runners. You've done your due diligence and researched the keyword "running" (along with all of its long and short tail variations), and you're pleased to see that it's one of the highest volume keywords out there. Of course you're excited to invest in it. Who wouldn't be? But keep in mind that keywords that generate tremendous volume aren't always the answer to attracting new readers who are interested in what you offer.

The best approach is to find keywords that are in line with the value you want to offer your readers. Ask open-ended questions right on your content pages using tools like Qualaroo, SurveyMonkey, Survey Gizmo and Typeform to find out more about your readers.

Ask questions like:





Your running app may help customers track their time, but in digging for answers you discover new keywords to focus on. For instance, when asking "what challenges do you have with running?", you may get answers that highlight keywords such as "getting motivated to run" or "understanding the best techniques."

Your content strategy shouldn't just promote your product, it should speak directly to your niche audience and address the problems they want to solve. Be creative with your questions, and you'll get a better idea of what keywords might resonate with them.

Measure your success qualitatively too

Measuring success isn't just about the numbers (i.e. how many visitors can you get every day). Not all content can be measured this way.

Readers have to value your content. If they do, they're more likely to come to you for answers. They trust your content and your product because both meet their needs and solve their problems. In this case, an indication of your success is tied to whether readers see you as an essential part of their success.

As an example, Wistia discovered that many of their employees found out about them by watching their year-end rap-up videos. The videos themselves didn't get much more traffic than other posts about company news on their blog, but they offered a huge qualitative impact on brand awareness. Again, get feedback from your readers and community to find out what they think about what you offer.

If you have a sales team, talk to them. They have a sense of what your market's doing, so use them to determine what might be preventing potential customers from buying. Figure out if there's content you can create that will help solve this problem. Also, use content you already have to show readers how you've helped your customers in the past. Use it to show how you're the best choice for them.





Focus on producing great content

There's no guarantee that your amazing content will be shared and seen by the masses. But it's no secret that with social media and other forms of active sharing (for example, email lists and backlinks), great content spreads like wildfire.

However, a better approach is to seek out the best content out there (relating to what you do) and use it as a benchmark. Find gaps in the information provided or find places where you can add more value so that your piece stands out. You know readers are already seeking out this type of content, so you de-risk your own investment of time.

A good place to start is with Ahref's Content Explorer tool. It'll help you find and analyze top-performing content related to the keywords you've chosen. Simply search for keywords related to your niche to see how well they perform with readers.

For example, if your research shows that an article entitled "Why You Should Join A Running Group" is doing well, take it one step further and write something that provides even more value--like "The Ultimate Guide to Running Groups."

This new article will be a hit because rather than just listing groups, it could provide insight into:







The new article would provide immense value to readers because it would give them all the information they need in one place. All of their questions would be answered and they'd be encouraged to share it. Great content will naturally lead to more shares and more back-links from trusted, high-ranking sites.

To see just how well your content is performing, check in with Content Explorer again. You'll get clear insight into where your content ranks. Once you get the validation you need, keep pumping out content that readers flock to.

Now it's your turn

The best content marketers don't programmatically work through a list of keywords. They cater to their readers' wants and needs.

The key to coming up with great keywords, in the end, is the same as the key to building a great product and a great business.

Know your customers well, then give them something they want.



Published on: Nov 8, 2016