Keyword research is much easier these days. There are so many tools out there that you could get lists longer than you could ever use for keywords just waiting to be properly targeted. While some phrases are cornered tightly by the larger brands out on the web, the increase in more specific phrases, questions and search word collections means we aren’t desperate to break into the more famously taken keywords.
For a bit more context on what keyword research is and what it consists of, here are a couple of resources for you:
- Dave Schneider explained the general process of finding relevant keywords
- Over at Dir Journal Alysson Fergison did a good job outlining keyword research basics
- Over at Digital Eagles blog, there’s a very solid guide on keyword intent
Now that we have the basics taken care of, let’s narrow it down to our core topic: Content marketing.
Content marketing very much relies on keyword research. Writers use keywords to discover more topics to cover, find unique angles as well as build organic search referral traffic later on.
Which keyword research tools meet content marketers’ needs best? Let’s see!
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Keyword Extension Tools
Extending your core term is the essence of keyword research: We need to narrow down your niche for your site to have a chance to rank in top 5. Here are a few tools you can use for that:
How to use Ubersuggest for content marketing:
- Find more (original / less covered) angles for your content
- Compare competition of several sets of keywords
Who doesn’t know Neil Patel in this industry? We have followed his blog for years and respect him for his expertise and innovation. Now he has created an incredibly useful tool for keyword research.
UberSuggest is easy to use, provides information on price points for targeting keywords and is totally free to use. The best part is that it’s free and requires no registration, so you can go ahead and play with it right away.
Ubersuggest will extend your core term as well as provide related terms which is very helpful for content brainstorming. It also offers some numbers for you to choose a less competitive option (note that it shows PPC competition… For an organic competition you need a paid alternative, one of which I am listing below).
Serpstat (min $19 per month)
How to use Serpstat for content marketing:
- Analyze different types of content that rank for each query (to diversify your content formats)
- Organize long keyword lists into groups
This one is a little trickier because you have limited options before you have to pay, Serpstat is well known for their excellent SEO tools and their keyword suggestion feature is no exception. You can use the tool in lots of different ways (from estimating your organic competition to analyzing your competitors).
For content marketers, I love using the two options:
- Seeing blended results (e.g. images, videos, maps, etc. ranking on top of Google. More on these here)
- Clustering keyword lists into groups
When it comes to #1, it helps me brainstorm more content types, for example, “Do I need to put together a video to rank it in the video section?” “How do I diversify my formats to hold more than one position?”
Serpstat shows “special search elements” right next to each keyword (you can also filter results to any). Plus it shows third-party domains ranking for each query:
When it comes to organizing keywords, it’s the real future of content optimization. Google has become better at stringing together search terms and finding relevant results, even when they don’t match up entirely. Search engines have moved away from exact keyword matching: They understand groups and concepts. Keyword clustering helps to understand the concepts behind keyword strings and gives you a broader picture of your niche.
Serpstat makes it very easy to analyze groups and clusters behind thousand of keyword lines. You put in a collection of keywords (which can be found using their keyword research tool or Ubersuggest or both) and then search. It brings up the best possible groupings from those searches.
Keyword Context Tools
A big part of keyword research for content marketing is researching related queries and the actual context your keywords appear in. Searching for your chosen keywords in Google is the first logical step but be careful there: Seeing other people’s content on the topic I am going to write about can negatively impact my inspiration.
At least that works that way for me. I’d rather scan through related articles without reading too much. It’s important to maintain that balance between finding a unique angle (which is your perspective) and making sure no one has already written exactly what you are going to write.
The following tools let me understand related and underlying concepts while keeping me inspired:
Google Correlate (Free)
How to use Google Correlate for content marketing:
- Discover more related terms to cover in your content
- Find interesting trending topics
We all use a lot of Google services and Google Correlate is one of my personal favorites. It gives us a peek into what is trending. How it is different is that it provides the ebbs and flows depending on popularity at the time. It offers a live look at what our potential customers care about right now. Talk about helpful.
According to Google, Google Correlate is,
“a tool on Google Trends which enables you to find queries with a similar pattern to a target data series. The target can either be a real-world trend that you provide (e.g., a data set of event counts over time) or a query that you enter”.
It won’t work well for each and every keyword you type in, so it needs a little bit playing before you figure it out. Here’s an awesome guide with lots of examples giving you a solid list of options the tool can help with.
Here’s a quick example of the related queries Google Correlate provides for [homeschool curriculum]:
Notice how many of those terms give you lots of new angles you can take (or include into your article). Clicking Google’s icon next to each term takes you to Google search results for more context.
Watson™ Natural Language Understanding (Free)
How to use it for content marketing:
- Extract related terms and concepts to research for your article
- Analyze related keywords and topics
When it comes to concepts and entities, Watson™ Natural Language Understanding will make your content research much easier. Copy-paste any article in there and it will instruct lots of useful data for you without going into too much details. This way you’ll still feel inspired while seeing what writers before you have covered.
Natural language text analysis includes:
- Sentiment and emotion
- Extracted entities (locations, people, facilities)
- Text categories (topics)
- Concepts (those included in the article or implied in it)
Keyword Monitoring Tools
Keyword monitoring helps a writer to stay in the loop and meet the current need (trending topics) to generate more exposure.
Google Alerts (Free)
How to use Google Alerts for content marketing:
- Use email alerts to scan through daily articles on your topic
Another one of those questionable options, Google Alerts has been around for awhile and I think many professionals in our niche would be reluctant to call it relevant these days. The best benefit is that it’s free, so there’s no risk in running it for a couple of your most important keywords to keep an eye on what’s happening in the industry.
I will set up alerts to monitor what is happening with more popular keywords and phrases I am thinking of trying to corner. Over time I can get a pretty good idea of whether or not it is worth it based on how often content is popping featuring it and where that source is coming from. Think of it as a secondary health checker. You aren’t going to use it as your primary tool but that doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful, right?
Social Mention (Free)
How to use it for content marketing:
- Monitor real-time context of your core term
- See related terms
Social Mention is not a new tool but it doesn’t make it to tool lists often for some reason, hence I decided to bring it up.
This one has three main features. You can do real life searches for keywords, set up alerts and analyze real time context. I see it as a back pocket kind of tool. You pop it out when you want to find out some simple info that filters out a lot of noise. Technically it is more of a reputation management platform, but I can see it being used for keywords just as well.
I like peeking at their “Top keywords” section a lot:
How to use Buzzsumo for content marketing:
- Monitor notable authors in your niche (for influencer outreach and relationship building)
- Get alerted of most successful new content in your industry by setting up a minimum number of shares each article should generate before it’s included in your alert
Buzzsumo Content Alerts feature is my preferred way to monitor my niche to spot “epic” content and trends. It is not too cheap though, so play with it a few times before you decide you want to use it or can achieve what you need with the above free alternatives.
I love Buzzsumo for its ability to catch and deliver keyword mentions fast while organizing everything in a feature-rich, yet clutter-free way. It saves lots of time monitoring a lot of things within one dashboard while delivering alerts to multiple emails at a time.
Do you have a tool to add to the list? Please comment below: What are you using for your content marketing keyword research?