We’ve been in the digital marketing business for decades, and there’s nothing quite like bringing up SEO topic research to make a client’s eyes glaze over. SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is enough to make your head spin on its own, so what’s the deal with topic research? What makes it so special? And why do you need to know how to do it?
To put it simply, SEO topic research is finding out what your audience broadly likes, dislikes and engages with most.
It’s what would inform your talking points if you were the type of person who takes notecards with you to a dinner party (we can’t be the only ones…). But instead of a dinner party (hello, pandemic restrictions), you’re preparing to create relevant and meaningful content online that your audience won’t be able to resist.
For example, let’s say your company creates gourmet, small-batch ketchup. It’s delicious, decadent, and adds just enough zip to make everyday, boring meals interesting for adults. You already know the big guys have the market share on search engines for the run-of-the-mill condiment words. Your next best option is to dig into SEO topic research to find out what your audience is doing online, so you can deliver articles, recipes and other digital content that helps them make mealtime magical for everyone at their table.
But where do you start with SEO topic research and how do you figure out if you’re doing it right? Well, we want to let you in on something that any marketer or entrepreneur worth their salt knows.
The secret to mastering SEO topic research is listening to your audience.
In a 2018 study, CoSchedule discovered 65% of marketers rarely conduct audience research, if ever. And to us, that sounds like they just aren’t listening.
Your audience is actively telling you what they want to know from you every single day. Even if they aren’t talking to you directly.
Google searches. Yelp reviews. Twitter threads. Instagram tags. These are all ways to see what your audience is talking about–especially if they’re talking about you– and begin your SEO topic research.
Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how you can get started:
- Set up a Google alert on your brand name or product names for when anyone mentions you or your products on a site that Google recognizes and displays in its searches.
- Ask questions that drive engagement on social media and look for themes in the responses you receive.
- Use Answer the Public to find common questions people ask about your industry or brand.
- Begin social listening on social media platforms to see what trends emerge around your products (and assign the task to someone who will do it consistently!)
- Explore Google Trends using your products and trending topics.
So you see, you don’t have to pour a ton of time and resources into conducting an in-depth survey to find out what your audience wants. You don’t have to hire a research and development team to find out what to write about on your blog. You don’t have to spend thousands on a consultant to tell you what your audience needs. You can begin with SEO topic research and build your strategy from there.
Before we go, we’ll give you three more quick tips to make SEO topic research easier.
1. Take note of related Google Searches.
You know how Google will try to guess what you’re going to ask it or provide related searches at the bottom of the results page? That’s incredibly valuable information about users who are searching the same phrases and keywords you are. And it’s free!
Using our gourmet ketchup example from earlier, we searched “gourmet small-batch ketchup” on Google and discovered five related searches using the word recipe in it. Our next step would be to write several pieces of content related to recipes and addressing the pain points of making something from scratch in our SEO process.
2. Keep a list of topics and keywords.
We don’t want to think about the number of amazing ideas we’ve had that we didn’t write down then promptly forgot. It happens to everyone. But keeping an organized list of related topics and keywords will make your content machine run smoother and make your writing time more effective.
Here at SizzleForce, we keep a running list of frequent questions we receive, topics our audience cares about, and keywords that we want to rank for in a Google Sheet to make things easier when it’s time to plan and write content for our own website. (We also do this for our clients, too!)
3. Limit your tools at first.
Have you ever noticed learning a new skill is a bit like going to a work conference? We get excited about improving our workflow, creating drool-worthy content, and making our workdays count while we’re there, but as soon as reality sets back in, it’s hard to maintain the motivation.
That’s why we recommend investing in one tool for SEO topic research to start instead of signing up for every product out there and crying when hundreds (or thousands) of dollars leave your account every month without knowing how to use them. SEMRush, Moz Pro, and the premium version of Answer the Public are all great places to start, but pick one to start with and see if it actually serves your marketing efforts.
Congratulations! You have everything you need to begin SEO topic research for your brand! Still feeling a bit overwhelmed? We’ve got you! Our team offers a do-it-yourself approach to building your marketing strategy called SizzleForce Marketing Academy. It’s the friendliest place on the Internet to learn how to market your small business, and our team of experts providing training on timely marketing techniques each month. Join our waitlist to be the first to know when doors open again.