Perhaps you’re creating great web content based on your expertise, but it isn’t generating much traffic. The problem could be your keywords—or lack thereof. It’s not enough to just write an article on a topic you know about; you have to use the right words to get people to your site to read it.
To increase sales and gain clients, you need to drive traffic to your website. To drive traffic to your website, you need content that includes specific SEO (search engine optimization) keywords. And to find the best keywords, you need to research. In this video I’m going to explain the keyword research process in simple terms, outline your best B2B keyword strategies, and walk you through the steps using my own experience to illustrate.
You're trying to find the right SEO keywords for your consulting business. What's the issue here? The issue is that we are consultants. Our advice, our expertise, and our services are invisible and intangible. You can't see them; you can't touch them. So we use content to highlight, to express, to explain the awesome things that we know and the awesome things that we can do.
But if you're going to create the right type of content, you have to start with the right type of keywords. Otherwise, you'll create content that sounds really good to you but doesn't resonate with the marketplace, and you won't get any traffic. No leads, no sales.
Today, I'm going to show you the keyword research process, I'm going to show you some tools, and I'm also going to show you how this process applies to my business as an example.
Step 1: Find Business-to-Business Keywords with Your Normal Vocabulary
So let's start here: when you are thinking about your keyword research process, you want to begin with your own expertise. It's what you know, it's your background. And you'll start by defining your expertise according to your understanding. So we start with your expertise, and as you reflect on your expertise, you're going to give yourself some basic categories or topics. I'm going to call these “selfish topics.”
This is basically your expertise, as you remember it. These are your case studies that you love talking about, the lessons that you've learned along the way, the skills that you’ve developed along the way. You're going to put those into some basic categories.
Most of us create content in this place, and that's why we can't get momentum with the content we create. But these topics are going to give you a starting place to do some really valuable keyword research.
Step 2: Keyword Clusters Will Reveal Themselves
Starting with these “selfish topics,” you're going to find all these big brackets of keywords. You're going to find a lot of keyword data, and that keyword data is going to take place in some clusters. So again, topics of keywords, but those keywords won't be in the way that you describe it; they'll be in the way that other people search for it.
Now we are beginning to translate how you think about your expertise into how other people search for it. You're going to see all these new keywords and get all this new data, but what you're also going to see are other websites that are currently ranking for your topic of choice. So what you're going to find are these smaller sections of competitors.
Step 3: Niche Sites Will Lead You to Long-Tail Keyword Phrases
Because you're going to find big competitors, you're also going to find little competitors. You're not interested in the big competitors. In my business, this is like entrepreneur.com, inc.com, fastcompany.com. There's no way that my site can compete with those sites. So I'm less interested in what the big guys rank for. I'm more interested in what the little guys rank for, little guys that are closer to me. Because they're getting traffic—and where are they getting traffic from?
So these keyword clusters begin to show you smaller sites that are more like your site and those smaller competitors now show you little pockets of keywords that are more likely, more possible, better targets for you to rank for in the short term. These keywords represent keywords you can actually rank for. You can actually rank for and get traffic from them, because your little competitors have already proven they can get traffic from these keywords.
Now that you have a better sense of what keywords are appropriate for your size site, you'll notice some new topics show up, and you can build your online expertise on these topics.
Now, there are a couple of things to appreciate here:
- Notice your expertise does give you a starting place, but it's a selfish starting place: it's what you think about and how you think about it.
- We've got to translate your expertise into the words, phrases, and ideas that your best prospects are looking for. So those selfish topics give you keyword clusters that show you competitors that are already ranking in the world you want to rank in.
- You can see what those phrases are, which gives you a better sense of categories and topics to talk about with your online content.
Now let's apply this in my situation. Let's apply this process to my business, and I'll show you some of the tools that I've been using along the way.
Case Study: How I Found the Best Business Consultant Keywords
How I started creating content around the term "productizing"
When I started working with clients, I had my own expertise, so I said, “My expertise, my way.” And one of the issues that I saw is that clients were having trouble packaging their services, structuring their services, so I'm trying to find a way to express that through content online.
So I started with “how to sell services.” I'll show you this tool called Keywords Everywhere—that's where this graph comes from; that's where this data comes from on the right-hand side. Keywords Everywhere shows you related search phrases right here in the search area. (There's a free and a paid version; you're seeing me with the paid version that's here.)
One Keyword Phrase Leads to Another
That's where I started, but that didn't quite get me where I wanted to go. I tried “how to sell services,” and eventually I got to the language, “how to package services.” Yes, this was close, but there are a lot of different types of services. I work more with service providers, specifically consultants and experts.
Eventually, I got to “how to package consulting services.” As I got closer and closer with the starting phrase, I found keyword phrases that made more sense to me. And this phrase “productized services” came up, and for me, it was a brand-new vocabulary word. Productized, that's what you call it. Because in my expertise, I just called it “do better.” I didn't have a way of saying it clearly. So eventually I learned productized services.
Now let's go back to our process. I have my expertise, and I started with my own selfish topics: how to sell services, how to structure services, how to sell more services, that kind of thing. But eventually I found one version that was how to productize services—the vocabulary word productize.
There are other websites that are already ranking for this, so what words are they using? What phrases are they using? So this search, for example, begins to show me other websites that are ranking for this idea of productizing services.
I Have Keywords – Now What Do I Do With Them?
So you see these sites that are here—what do you do with the information? Well, remember, we're not going to look at sites like godaddy.com. They're just too big; there's no way I can compete with that site, and they focus on too many things. We want to find sites that are more niche, more focused, that are smaller and focus on topics that are closer to ours, or closer to yours.
So in my scenario, Entrepreneur—we're not going to look at that site. But there is a site here called Double your Freelancing. So let's look at their site. Let's see what that smaller niche site is focused on.
We're going to go into a new tool here. This is a tool called Ubersuggest. There's a free version, but right now I'm in the paid version so I can get the most information. So this is double, and we're going to get some data here about how traffic is coming to this site. We want to scroll down to the pages that get the most amount of traffic to this site.
There are two things I'm looking for here:
- Context. I'm getting context on the kinds of articles this site uses to get traffic—what they talk about. So how to write emails, how to start a freelancing business. Great. I get to decide if those are the kinds of topics I want to write about; this is my choice.
- Concepts. But right now, I'm focused on this idea of productizing, I want to see: is that article generating traffic to their site? As I scroll, I find the article that talks about productizing. Now this site isn't getting a lot of traffic from it, but right now I don't care about traffic numbers. I want concepts; I want topics.
So I can click “view all” here, and I'm going to get a snapshot of the keywords that are driving traffic to this site. These are the keywords I want to focus on, these are the keywords I want to create content around.
These keywords can be exported. These keywords can then be sorted so that I can make some decisions on what my next step should be in creating my next piece of content.
Review: the B2B Keyword Research Process
To decide on that next step, let's go back to our core framework.
- Begin with your expertise (vocabulary words you use every day). I started with these things that I care about, that I want to talk about, and one of them was how to better structure your services.
That's my language, that's the way I would describe it, but it may not be how someone searches for it. So I need to have that translated. But I start with my selfish topics so that I can at least get some keywords to put me in the right category.
- Keyword clusters provide topic ideas. So I found these keyword clusters, and one of them, for me at least, was this term called productized. The keyword research helped me find productized.
- Topic ideas will show you niche sites you can compete with. But there are other people who aren't even ranking for the term productized. There are big competitors and little competitors, but I scratched the big competitors like GoDaddy and entrepreneur.com because there's no way I can compete with those big sites. So the little competitors begin to show me more specific targeted keyword phrases.
- Niche sites show you valuable long-tail keyword phrases. So I can export those and just categorize them. And now those become the kinds of phrases I should be talking about with the content I create and publish online.
This is how I found the word productizing. I didn't know to talk about it intuitively with my expertise; I had to find my way to it through process. I recommend the same process to you.
Developing Your Own B2B Keyword Strategy
You will find that you start with some very simple ideas that will quickly expand into hundreds, if not thousands, of keywords. That can be a bit overwhelming, but if you keep working the process, you'll find that expansion does contract into some very approachable ideas you can create great content around.
Also notice that I didn't spend a lot of time on keyword search volume. And here's why: there's always a big phrase that everyone knows about, but we don't recognize or realize that there are smaller phrases, smaller derivative phrases, that also drive traffic. You want to learn to be here and spend less time with the big monstrous phrase everyone thinks about.
Be less concerned about whether an individual keyword shows you traffic, because those individual keywords often link to these traffic pockets, if you will. So let the small keywords show you more reasonable keywords to target.
I have to warn you that this process will change your language. There is a way that you want to talk about your expertise, but that may not be how other people search for it. It's a bit uncomfortable learning some new language and learning to frame your ideas from another perspective. But that's where the profit is: talking about things in the way that your prospective client needs to hear it.
This is a very academic way of finding the right words, the right phrasing, the right keywords so you can create the kind of content that attracts high-level opportunities.