If you’ve been in the SEO game for a long time, you might find yourself fighting the same ongoing battles with two to three of your top competitors. One week you’re ahead in rankings, and the next you’re not.
It might be time to lay down your SEO sword…
Using our tips below to start researching new, less competitive keywords that you can use in your content and start ranking in places your competition hasn't even discovered yet!
Step 1: Interview Your Sales Team
I know your company has plenty of customers stories to share. Sit down with your sales team for an hour and let them tell YOU about what they always hear on the phone.
Need ideas to get the conversation started?
- How do potential customers describe their “pain” to you?
- How have you challenged a customer’s initial thinking?
- Did you offer a solution to a problem they didn’t know they had?
- How did our service/product help them do their job more effectively?
Record their statements or type up notes on a computer or whiteboard—whatever you have to do to collect every thought in the room.
Step 2: Brainstorm Target Customer Phrases
Using the info gathered during interviews, brainstorm what your customers might be typing into Google. For example:
- I need technology help in Cleveland
- Consulting technology companies cheap
- The best consulting tech companies
- Immediate tech consulting help
- Freelance technology consulting help
Make the list as long as possible, but stick to individual phrases that are about 3-6 words long. (Any shorter and they’ll likely be too competitive; any longer and they’ll likely be too obscure.)
Step 3: Organize Internal Findings
Break out your laptop and create a 3-column table in Excel with these specific headings: prefixes, keywords and suffixes. Then, enter all of your notes from Step 2 in the appropriate cells. Using the first two bullets from our previous example, your chart would look like this:
Technology help in
Step 4: Utilize a Keyword Merger
Next, use an online merger to create every possible keyword combination. Sometimes when a phrase is flipped around, the stats change…and we want to run stats for every probability.
Our favorite tool is Merge Words. (Did we mention it’s free?!) Just fill out their chart with your statements from the previous step and let the software do its thing.
Step 5: Use Google’s Keyword Planner
Even though it’s technically meant for AdWords, next you’ll want to check out Google’s Keyword Planner. Start by entering your long list of newly merged keywords into “get search volume and trends.” When the results are ready, the only stat you’ll want to look at is average monthly searches. (You don’t need to worry about “competition” because it’s meant for paid search, which isn’t relevant to this organic SEO exercise.)
Now, choose about 10-ish specific keyword combinations that have a decent number of average monthly searches, but that also make sense for your business. For example, you’ll want to rule out “immediate technology cheap” if you’re looking for higher-tier clients.
Step 6: Apply Competitive Analysis Tools
Grab your top 10 list from the previous step and plug them into a competitive analysis tool. If you have a subscription or don’t mind paying, use Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool. If you have HubSpot, their keyword tool works awesome as well.
If you want to get by on the cheap, you can get two free keyword searches per day with Moz’s Keyword Explorer.
These more in-depth reports will give you some combination of the following stats for each long-tail phrase:
Once you’ve identified the phrase with the best balance of volume and difficulty, you’re done: you’ve found a winning new long-tail keyword that will will increase your odds of ranking higher in Google without going into a difficult battle with others.
Take your keyword research a step further
In Moz, perform a “SERP analysis” after you’ve submitted a keyword into the Keyword Explorer. Here, you can view the current top 10 results in Google, as well as the number of links to the root domain, links to the page and Facebook shares needed to overcome the competition.
And speaking of taking things further—check out our B2B Tech Marketer's Guide to Inbound and take your whole inbound marketing strategy to another level!