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How to create a keyword strategy for SEO to increase targeted visitors

Keyword strategy isn’t just another marketing term intended to waste your time and money. It’s a proven technique that you need to employ to enhance your content creation and ensure you get found in the search engines.

You might know the fundamentals of writing great content and why it’s important to target your copy as closely as you can to what they might be searching for. But taking that a little further, it is possible to create a keyword strategy and get even better results. In this article, we’re going to look at what that means for your business, and how to create a keyword strategy for SEO. 

Table of contents

  1. What is a keyword strategy?
  2. How to create a keyword strategy for SEO
    1. Know your audience
    2. Start with a list of preliminary keywords
    3. Analyse your current performance in search results
    4. Research your competitors
    5. Organise your data
    6. Create a content plan
    7. Review your strategy often
  3. Keyword strategy template and tools

What is a keyword strategy?

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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) isn’t a quick and easy task that you can just breeze through once and then you’re done. The search engines are constantly changing their algorithms to try and get better search results for their users and remove spam sites and other nasties.

While you do need to keep up with the latest changes and take them into account when looking at your content marketing plan, one thing that’s always been important is keyword research. Far better than guessing what your audience might be searching for, you can be absolutely certain with keyword tools, such as Moz’s Keyword Explorer.

Once you’ve done your keyword research, the next step is to create your keyword strategy. This is a task that allows you to look at what your keywords and phrases are that you want to target in a focused way, but also lets you plan what actions to take next and how you’re going to target your keywords to get the best results.

Instead of simply having a list of keywords, what you end up with is a list of keyword clusters, showing main keywords, with related keywords and long-tail keywords, and the actions you’re going to take to target them.

For example, if you’re a cyber security consultant, you’d target cyber security as the main keyword. You might also target cybercrime, cyber threats, and longer phrases, such as ‘what are the latest cyber threats?’ and ‘how to prevent cybercriminals from breaking into your network’.

In your keyword strategy document, you’d then write actions next to these potential keywords, such as ‘write targeted blog post’ or ‘rewrite existing page with targeting’. This gives you a far more specific content plan based on the actual keywords your audience uses, and that will get you found!

How to create a keyword strategy for SEO

If you are brand new to keyword research, here is a simple, no-fuss guide to create a keyword strategy:

1. Know your audience

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As with most marketing tasks, this starts with knowing your audience. If you’re just starting out, you need to do your research and create buyer personas to ensure you know who you are targeting and why they want your product or service.

Talk to your audience, survey them, engage them on social media. This helps you find out what sort of language they use and how they are searching for what you offer. You should also look at how they prefer to get their information. Do they prefer to watch videos, look at an infographic or read articles?

2. Start with a list of preliminary keywords

This should get you a large list of keywords and phrases to research. Try to aim for between 50 and 100 keywords and phrases as you then have plenty of options to explore and test. You’re looking for highly relevant keywords with a high volume of search, but low or medium difficulty in targeting. You can’t expect to go up against Nike or any other well-known brand for the keywords they’re targeting, but you can find alternatives and different phrases that will work for you, your locale and audience.

3. Analyse your current performance in search results

If you can, it’s important to conduct an SEO audit via an analytics platform such as Google Analytics or SEMrush and see what terms you’re already ranking for. What keywords and phrases are people using to find you? This information can help you not only with what keywords to target but also with what questions people have that you can answer in blog posts and in your other cornerstone content pages, such as tutorials, guides and FAQ.

4. Research your competitors

Competitor analysis is a key part of any keyword strategy. Look for the  keywords and phrases your competition is targeting and how they are ranking in the search engines. What kind of content are they creating and how can you do it better? A tool like SEMrush is invaluable for this kind of data, but you can also see for yourself if other sites are outranking you in the results pages with a few simples searches.

5. Organise your data

Lay out your results in columns showing relevance, volume and difficulty and you’ll then have a chart showing which keywords and phrases are the best ones to target. Then group your keywords and phrases into what are known as ‘topic clusters’, where each keyword and phrase is related to a particular topic.

6. Create a content plan

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Finally, you can look at what content you already have and decide what needs creating and what needs updating. Mark this on your keyword strategy next to each keyword and look at how you can link your content internally too as doing this shows the search engines that you have in-depth knowledge of your subject and helps you rank higher.

Once you have all this information in one place, you then have a helpful and clear keyword strategy that really works to show you where the gaps are in your content creation and gives you the next steps you need to take to build your content out around the keywords and phrases you’ve found.

It’s then much simpler to write content with SEO in mind, including the right keywords and phrases, and begin to boost your search engine rankings.

7. Review your strategy often

People’s search habits change, new competitors come online and algorithms are updated frequently, all of which can mean a keyword strategy that worked last year doesn’t necessarily still work this year.

Developing a keyword strategy isn’t just a one-off task. It’s something you’ll need to keep reviewing and improving over time to ensure what you’re targeting is still relevant and to keep an eye on any new questions and search terms that you need to start targeting. Measuring your content’s effectiveness is a key part of this.

Keyword strategy template and tools

As well as keyword research tools, try this handy template for keyword strategy from Matthew Woodward. He’s also included really clear and helpful instructions to show you how to set it up and make it work for you.

Also, take a look at this free keyword strategy tool which helps you find your primary keywords and long-tail keywords, determine search volumes, see which questions your customers are asking, and more.

And that’s how to create a simple keyword strategy for SEO that can really get your business rocketing up the search engines.

✏️ Deep-dive further into keyword strategy with our guide on how to create an effective Google SEO content strategy – with template!

Header image: Jay Zhang

Embedded images: Arkan Perdana, Jonas Jacobsson, Windows

Gill Fernley

The director of her own copywriting firm, Gill writes B2B and B2C content for SMEs and digital marketing agencies. She has a background in performing arts and writes conversational, direct sales copy for businesses on a range of topics. She’s also a keen writer of chick lit.

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