The constant evolution of digital marketing necessitates regular revision of what we define as a keyword. In the past, keywords referred to basic phrases that captured a theme someone might find interesting. If you recall the early days of AOL, well-known companies promote their “keyword” to help you find your content on that platform (Ironically not too dissimilar to the way hashtags are used today).
This timeframe determined the first impression that the concept of a keyword had for many. As a result of this, many people continue to define keywords as general themes captured in a short phrase. To a certain extent, that is still a correct definition. But to really grasp the importance of evolving that definition, one must consider the evolution of search.
Nowadays, if you want to find deals on a new washer/dryer set, you’re going to Google something like “washer dryer combos on sale” or “Whirlpool washer deals.” You wouldn’t however, search “clean clothes” and expect to find those same deals right away. That’s because both user behavior and search algorithms have advanced far enough to the point in which results are incredibly granular in nature.
Despite this shift, many people (marketers included) still think of keywords in the traditional sense as a theme and not as something someone would literally type into a search engine expecting to find an extremely relevant piece of content. There are two challenges that arise as a result. The first is that some people simply have no idea that their mindset needs to change. The second is that there are people who simply don’t know how to change even if they know they need to. Once marketers overcome these challenges, they can begin to identify proper keywords to use in their efforts. To do that, one needs to first recognize that the shift needs to take place. Then, they can move on to a mindset change to enable the use of proper keywords. To initiate that shift, I recommend following the tips I’ve outlined below.
Here are my tips for shifting your mindset on keywords
- Recognize that there are different stages in the research and buying process. Those stages are as follows: Awareness wherein symptoms of a problem are experienced. Consideration, which is the point when people begin looking at the approaches for solving their issues. Decision making, the point when people have identified a solution and are comparing providers of that solution.
- Put yourself in the shoes of the user. Ask yourself what they would type into Google in light of where they are at in the research and buying process.
- Stop thinking about themes. It’s okay to get granular with keywords. Catch all keywords are a thing of the past. It’s time to go deeper and become more relevant.
- Identify common threads that run through each stage of the buying process regardless of industry. Ask yourself where a word like reviews or price quote would fall in the process when added to your solution. Ex) men’s mountain bike reviews would fall within the Decision making stage.
- Test the keywords you’re considering in a search engine. One of the most revealing and often overlooked strategies is to see if the results you get on your keyword indicate whether or not it’s appropriate for your user. If not, consider adding or removing words to make it stronger and more effective.