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The Truth About Keywords and Building Your Audience

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by Jeniffer Thompson, Founder, Monkey C Media —

Jennifer Thompson

In the age of digital marketing it’s critical that you attract the attention of your audience and, more importantly, retain their attention. But how do you rise above the noise of your competition and get noticed?

Ironically, I’ve got one word for you: keywords.

Well, anyway, it’s a good place to start. You must consistently write relevant copy that targets the needs of your audience and utilizes keywords that people are looking for and that speak directly to their needs.

But first, you need those keywords. While the process might be time consuming, it’s not difficult. I promise.

How to Develop Powerful Keywords That Speak to Your Audience

Begin with a list of possible words—words that you would search for if you were looking for a product like yours. Then, go to Google and begin searching. Note the way you search. Chances are good that you input a series of three to five words, and you might even type in a question to get your answer. This is key—you need to think like your audience. Type in the first thing that comes to mind and pay attention to what you find. Begin eliminating and fine-tuning your keywords based on your results.

I’m going to share five techniques I’ve used to develop an informed list of powerful keywords.

BONUS: Within these methods are the keys you need to research your industry, to find your audience, to see what your audience is reading, where they are reading it, and who is writing it. You’ll be able to identify the people who currently influence your potential buyers, and devise a plan to join the conversation with purpose.
If you pay attention to and document your findings, you’ll have a well-rounded view of the landscape of your industry. In fact, you’ll have everything you need to build your brand, identify your superpower, develop a digital marketing plan, and catapult your name into the heart of your industry. In short, you’ll get noticed.

5 Techniques for Market Research and Developing Powerful Keywords

1. Quora: quora.com

Quora is both a social network and a search engine. The website allows you to ask questions and get answers. You could type in “how do I search for keywords,” and get many worthy answers from some of the best minds in the industry. Quora has grown to a community of more than 100 million monthly visitors. Plus, you’ll see who’s writing on your topic, what they have to say, and how they word it (these are potential keywords, and, further, the first step in developing your own content, because you will add your own special sauce and add to the conversation in a fresh, new way).

One of the most important things you can do as a marketer is know your audience. Quora makes this possible. Be sure to read the threads to see what people are looking for in your niche. Read the list of questions that are related to your question; this is where you’ll find your gold. Through this browsing, you will find variations on the phrase in the form of questions, and the answers, that you can adopt within your own messaging strategy.

And, if you join the conversation with something of value, and your answer gets “Upvoted,” you’ll get a no-follow link back to your website that will result in traffic and exposure! To be clear, while a no-follow link may not add to your popularity within Google’s indexing, it will expose your content to your potential audience.

2. Reddit: reddit.com

Reddit is a social news aggregator and discussion website. Here visitors submit content that they like and find content that others have submitted. This is a great place to see what’s trending, find relevant keyword phrases, and, while you’re at it, get some valuable exposure for your own website. Content that receives the most votes will appear at the top of Reddit’s front page and overall search results. Every submitted piece of content receives a no-follow link back to the original post, and, as I noted before, this increases your exposure and helps people find you. According to Wikipedia, as of 2017, Reddit gets 542 million monthly visitors, and, “across 2015, Reddit saw 82.54 billion page views, 73.15 million submissions, 725.85 million comments, and 6.89 billion upvotes from its users.”

3. Wikipedia: wikipedia.org

With more than 70,000 active contributors, Wikipedia is one of the most comprehensive online reference sources out there. And it’s a great way to develop your list of keywords. I recommend that you go directly to Wikipedia to ask your question, or search for your keyword phrase. While the information is in itself useful, if you’d rather not read it all, you can scroll down a little and quickly scan the “Contents” box (placed on the left-hand side). There you might find some insight on other phrases that are being used in your industry. I also recommend that you scroll down to the bottom of the page and check out the “See Also” section, as well as the references and citations. If your term is too vague, Wikipedia will give you recommendations to fine-tune your search.

4. Amazon: amazon.com

Amazon is a great source to discover keyword phrases and terminology. You’ll find inspiration down the left side where Amazon lists possible categories related to your search, within the book description itself, at the bottom of the page in the “Recommended Books” section, and within the “Table of Contents” for each book that participates in the “Look Inside” program. Here you can find some real gems, and, of course, identify your competition and influencers while you’re at it.

5. Google: google.com

When you begin searching Google, analyze the results, notate any possible influencers or people you need to follow as you begin your marketing journey. Scroll down to the bottom of the SERP (search engine results page) to the “Searches related to” section for more ideas and keyword possibilities.

Also, while we’re on the topic of Google, I’d like to share some search hacks to help fine-tune your results.

Searching Google with Focus
  1. Track incoming links. It’s important that you pay attention to the engagement you get from all of your online content from social media to your website. For example, who links to your website? To find out, go to a Google search page and follow these steps: 1) type in the word “links” 2) followed by a colon, and then 3) your website domain. It will look like this: links: monkeycmedia.com. Google will display all of the websites who link to your site.
  2. Look for websites that are related to your site (your competition).Type “related: monkeycmedia.com”
  3. Look for bloggers who write on your topic. Type “blog: women in leadership”

Know What People Search for with Keyword Tools

Now that you’ve developed your list of keyword phrases, it’s time to see what’s happening with those phrases and identify which of those are the most useful for your needs. You’ll want to choose keywords that you can rank well for. Here’s what to look for:

  1. Choose keywords that people actually search for (otherwise, what’s the point?).
  2. Choose keywords that have a fairly low level of competition (otherwise you’ll never achieve results).

There are several online tools you can use to find this information. The following websites provide a snapshot into the world of your keyword, from the level of competition, to who is ranking well currently, to how many people search for your term monthly, to, last but not least, a list of more recommended terms to consider

Good News: Google Can Read Between the Lines

I used to teach an SEO class (search engine optimization) at IBPA Publishing University that focused on how to get those powerful keywords into all the right places using metadata: title tags, H1 and H2, description tags, alt tags, yada, yada, yada. People’s heads would begin to dip and their eyes would float over toward the door in search of the quickest escape path. I have good news: Times are changing. These days, metadata is not the answer, content is.

For the record, well-written content is always the answer. But, to my point, Google has become so sophisticated that it deciphers the essence of your message and digs for the deeper meaning, I know, creepy, right? But it’s true. Google gets subtlety. Google employs latent semantic indexing, which basically means that it indexes keywords that are semantically, if not tangentially, related to your primary keyword.

This is great news for people who blog often and continue to write and provide value-laden content. But to build your following, you have to get noticed.
The most important thing you can do to get noticed and rank well in your niche, is to write well, write often, and provide value. Then, something magical will happen. People will listen. And people will tell others about you.

If you offer something really dynamic, people will even link to you. This is the holy grail of SEO. The more websites that link to yours, the more popular (and relevant) your site appears to Google, and the more authority Google will give to your content. What does this mean? This, my friends, means that you appear higher up on a SERP (search engine results page). This means exposure. This means people find you. This means you have an opportunity to build a tribe of loyal followers who can’t wait to buy your next book.

Jeniffer Thompson is a personal branding expert and digital marketing strategist with more than 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. She is the founder and principal at Monkey C Media, an award-winning design firm specializing in book packaging, author websites, and digital marketing strategies. Thompson serves on the board of Publishers and Writers of San Diego and San Diego Memoir Writer’s Association. Read her blog at JenifferThompson.com; visit her company website at monkeyCmedia.com.

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