We know that keyword research is a potentially infinite task in the SEO world, with more tools, techniques and data sources available than ever before. But once the research ends, it’s another leap to turn those outputs into ideas that will work hard in search engines and drive valuable organic traffic to your website.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to describe my approach for conducting keyword research for a travel agency who have just started selling holidays to Disney World. They’re struggling to rank for the big hitting keywords, and need more visibility in SERPs to catch ‘top of funnel’ traffic.
After that, I’ll discuss how to identify the associated content I’d recommend they create on their website in order to rank for the keywords they want to appear for.
Gathering your keyword data
A good campaign starts with the right data – and by that we mean data that is comprehensive, trustworthy and easy to use once exported. Different SEOs have their favourite sources (whether it be SEMRush, AHRefs, KeywordTool.io, Moz). All have strengths and weaknesses to some degree, so using a blend of sources is generally the most robust approach.
Below I’ve extracted the most popular keywords relating to Disney World from SEMRush (usually our favourite tool at Blue Array)…
Immediately I can glean the following information, even on a superficial level:
- There is a lot of search volume here, so it’s going to be competitive to rank for these keywords. From that I’d conclude that it’s better to focus on longer tail queries that may give me a better chance of ranking than anything too broad
- Most searches omit ‘Walt’ from ‘Disney World’ – so an abbreviated brand name is more common
- ‘Holidays’, ‘tickets’ and ‘hotels’ are the most popular areas of interest and modifiers to the branded keyword
- A number of searches append ‘Orlando’ to their query, which indicates that there is the potential for confusion with other Disney properties (such as Disneyland in California or Disneyland Paris).
Diving deeper into the data
As well as the tools, it’s important to not overlook the less obvious keyword data sources as well – SERP features like People Also Ask and Related Searches, online data sources such as Answer the Public, using your own customer complaints and inbound queries, industry or consumer discussion forums (plus Reddit/Quora) and events/exhibition keynotes and talks are all great places to find valuable ideas for longer tail keywords that you can build content on.
Here’s a snapshot of a dedicated Disney World forum – by digging into some of the topics being discussed here I can now gather further ideas for topics within our broad category, and I can use the number of comments within each post, as well as views of each thread to give me an indication of their popularity.
Digging down even more into one of these sub-forums, I find the following threads – a veritable goldmine of long tail keywords to explore further:
Identifying intent of your keywords
The next step is to consider who I’m going to be targeting and what mindset they’re in, to help me best plan out the content they’re likely to search for. If we’re thinking about holidays to Disney World in general, search intent can vary wildly, and very much depending on what the searcher uses as their query.
By re-familiarising myself with the quintessential tool in every marketer’s handbook, the AIDA model/funnel, I can start to predict the types of queries that may appear at each stage. Just as the volumes of engagement in lead-gen enjoy higher volume at the top and decrease incrementally towards the point of conversion, searches begin very broad at the top of the funnel, and become more specific as they near the end of their journey.
- Awareness – we often refer to these as ‘serendipitous searches’ – i.e. the user is not certain of what they are looking for in terms of an end product or result, but wish to be informed or persuaded. An example would be ‘best holidays for parents with teens’ – there’s no mention of Disney World included but there is scope and opportunity here for our travel agency to get some visibility and start engaging with them about what we have to offer and how it meets their needs.
- Interest – a large amount of searches here are likely to be information-gathering, such as ‘best Disney World restaurants’ or ‘rides for small kids at Disney’. The searcher is aware of Disney as a potential holiday option and is looking to find out more. Providing detailed, persuasive information here should help to counter any hesitation, doubt or objections about the product and begin to build desire.
- Desire – at this point, searchers aren’t quite ready to pull the trigger and buy a holiday but they’re well on their way to converting. They’ll be searching for things like ‘Disney World trip reports’, ‘Disney restaurant reviews’ and ‘How to get from orlando airport to Disney World’ to build excitement and anticipation – and that’s where our content can play a key part in serving their needs and affiliating our brand and website with their dream trip.
- Action – these bottom of funnel searchers are now at the point where they’re actively looking to book a holiday. We’ll be optimising our site to catch searches like ‘Disney World holiday offers’ and ‘buy cheap flights to Disney’.
It’s often the case that the most opportunity lies within the ‘Awareness’ or ‘Interest’ stages of search. Providing users at this stage with the type of content they’re looking for is going to introduce them to the brand, and with a good internal linking structure, give them the opportunity to browse the site and possibly convert later on.
In addition, serendipitous content, if providing a high level of useful information, can act as a linkable asset on the website. Links from external sources are still the number one way to boost a website’s authority, which in turn can give the website more chance to rank better for the queries we’re targeting. Gaining links and increasing authority would also allow us to try and target more of those ‘competitive’ keywords that we didn’t initially consider.
Creating content based on your keywords
Once I’ve exported and aggregated all of my keyword data and categorised the keywords by searcher intent, it’s then time to find some content ideas. We saw earlier that ‘Disney World holidays’ had an average monthly search volume of 3,600, but it’s going to be hard to rank for that given we’re up against behemoth competitors like Virgin Holidays, as well as Disney World itself.
Given my theoretical travel agency website is relatively small, I’m therefore going to focus exclusively on long tail, informational searches, where the competition is more moderate. Given the types of keywords at this level of intent, I decide that I’m going to build out an information/knowledge hub to contain articles about dining on holiday at Disney World, which would contain articles with on and off-site recommendations, themed dining experiences and many other areas of interest.
Keywordtool.io is a really good tool for identifying longer-tail queries, and here I can instantly see some great ideas for informational content on the topic of Disney World restaurants:
Taking ‘Disney world restaurants by park’ as an example of a keyword that I want to build into an article, I start by typing that exact query into Google to see what’s ranking well in the SERPs at the moment.
From looking at the content appearing in the top 10 results, I can start to understand the depth of information being covered by each website, the format in which that information is being communicated (detailed guides, directories, listicles etc) and therefore where there are opportunities for us to improve on what’s already available and meet searchers’ needs in an even better way.
The first few results in the SERPs are from the official Disney World website – but looking slightly further down there are a few lesser-known sites ranking, like wdwinfo.com, eater.com and dadsguidetowdw.com.
The type of content presented on high ranking pages varies between opinion type articles and directory listings of all the restaurants on the Disney World property. A lot of the directory listings then branch off to dedicated pages for each eatery, allowing the site to optimise for both the broad queries around restaurants on-site, and for specific queries relating to individual restaurants.
It makes sense then to replicate that approach on my website, as it seems to be working well for competitors. But I’m going to go one step further and introduce some more specific pieces of content to target the vast amount of longer tail queries I found during the keyword research stage.
These could include articles around the best kid-friendly restaurants at Walt Disney World, the best Walt Disney World restaurants where you don’t need a reservation, and the best Disney World restaurants to get a good view of the fireworks from.
Optimising your new content
For each piece of content I create, I’m going to be writing for searchers, but in a way that is also compatible with search engines. This means I’m going to be using the insights from my keyword research to make sure that the following elements of my content are incorporating searcher intent, the keywords I want the page to rank for and also importantly, make sense to the human brain:
- Page/meta title
- Headings (primarily H1s)
- Body copy
- Anchor text
And to a lesser extent:
- The URL
- Alt text (where images are present)
I’ll also ensure that each page is fully optimised with structured data markup (Schema for Blog, SameAs (where I have associated social media profiles) and FoodEstablishment) in order to better increase the opportunity to rank well via increased understanding and relevancy of my content.
Don’t ‘over-optimise’ your content
Although it’s tempting to create a huge article to rank for a wide variety of keywords, the odds are that it will actually end up containing a lot of irrelevant content for people searching on specific phrases.
For example, if a searcher typed in ‘Disney World kid-friendly restaurants’, they probably aren’t interested in the page also displaying a list of the strongest Disney World cocktails – they are much more likely to bounce off if they don’t immediately see the content that matches their search, and it’s a missed opportunity to convert them.
It is however sensible to amalgamate semantically related terms in one page, to account for different colloquialisms, dialect or marginally different wording with the same topic/intent – e.g. creating a page that targets:
- Disney World kid-friendly restaurants
- Disney World child-friendly restaurants
- Disney World restaurants parents need to know about.
The key thing is that the content stays focused around a particular ‘cluster’ (i.e. topic) of similar/related keywords, and is able to deliver the answers and information a user is looking for quickly and easily.
A good content strategy based on in-depth strategic keyword research can bring a steady stream of relevant organic traffic to your website.
You’ll want to assess the competition for the keywords you want to to target, and consider your chances of ranking based on the authority of your own website vs. those that are ranking well currently. We’ll often use Majestic’s link metrics (Trust Flow and Citation Flow) to help us determine this.
Ensure also that you’re creating content based on keyword intent of users at all stages of the purchase funnel. Of course you’ll want to get users in on those big, converting keywords. But remember also that some users will be looking for information, or considering various options, and your website content needs to play a part in helping them to make those decisions too.