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How Important Are My Competitors’ Keywords?

Scrabble tiles spelling "keywords"

When you’re strategizing for SEO, it’s only natural to consider your competitors and their keywords, but knowing where to begin can be a problem. There are some keyword zingers out there that seem to be surefire bets, but you’re looking for a good fit and a good value. Fortunately, there are some basic guidelines that can help you make the most of your keyword journey.

What Keywords?

There are online tools to help you home in on those keywords that rank for your competitors, and this is a good way to pinpoint words that may be of interest to you. This, however, is only the beginning – because knowing how to run with your list of keywords is paramount. The best path forward usually involves balancing more costly, highly competitive keywords with more prosaic workhorses, sprinkling with your own branding flair, and fine tuning as needed – and this can be quite a balancing act.

Looking at the Big Picture

Keywords play an important role in the zeitgeist of online marketing, and understanding this role – at different stages in the process – is critical. When you look at online marketing as a funnel, you’ll find those consumers who are actively interacting with your content toward the bottom of the funnel and consumers with more general interest who are searching related keywords toward the top. The goal is to funnel the consumers from the top to the bottom and to guide them toward pulling the trigger on your services.

The rate of conversions from potential consumer to actual consumer in this process is key, and this typically requires employing a well-honed and nuanced understanding of potential keywords. Adopting a blanket approach in which you try every single one of your top competitor’s keywords is unlikely to bring you the results you’re looking for. Carefully parsing those keywords for conversion potential – as it relates to your business’s unique goals – and proceeding according to your own priorities (which probably differ from said competitor) is the ticket. In other words, the name of the game here is focusing on specific keywords’ conversion potential within the framework of your business goals. It’s a lot, but an experienced content-marketing specialist can help get you where you want to be.  

Don’t Lose Sight of Your Market

Nearly every business has some kind of niche market for whom it hopes to appeal. Even if that market is quite broad, however, there are likely still parameters that apply. For example, if you run a law firm that specializes almost exclusively in family law, it’s unlikely that your potential clients will intersect with those who have intellectual property needs. Nevertheless, an IP firm with top-notch online content could still be a valuable resource in terms of general legal keywords that convert. Further, keeping a close eye on your family law cohorts’ more specific keywords can also deliver. In other words, take an expansive, open-minded approach when you’re exploring the internet for keywords that can help your content resonate with potential consumers.

As Easy as 1,2,3

When it comes to devising a keyword plan, the following guidelines continue to prevail:

  • You’ve Got This – If you have keywords that work for you – regardless of how well they correspond with the rules – they work for you, and there’s no reason to tinker with that. Go with what you know.
  • To Infinity and Beyond – As you become more in tune with your keyword funnel, do a deep dive into your Google Ads account. From the information you glean, pin relevant trending keywords on one axis and, on the other, pin your best convertors. Use the area of intersection as your keyword launchpad.
  • Can’t Touch This – While extending your online reach is a good thing, co-opting someone else’s brand generally is not. Learning from the other guy’s best work is a savvy tactic, so take from it what you can and make it your own. That’s the name of the content-branding game.

Content and branding go hand in hand. When your content provides cogent information that intersects with solid keywords, you’ll find your groove.

Make Keyword-Driven Content Work for You

Incorporating keywords that drive your online traffic and push conversions is critical, but honing those keywords and using them with finesse can be challenging. Focusing on finding a manageable balance between what’s working for you, your competitors’ best work, and evolving trends in content marketing will help you move in the direction that you want to go.

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