When it comes to content marketing, the difference between success and failure usually comes down to one step: keyword research. In our experience as an SEO software company and agency, businesses who adopt an effective process earn up to 10x the amount of clicks as brands who are publishing without proper keyword research.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the keyword research process we used to generate over 10,000 clicks in 60 days entirely from a single keyword that we identified as having high search volume and low competition.

The “Content Marketing” Secret No One Ever Told You

One of our clients, a leading e-commerce destination within their industry, found it challenging to identify rankable keywords that had high search volume and value.

They put a ton of time into their blog content – and while it was full of great information, they weren’t coming close to getting the search engine traffic and conversions they expected. 

Even their best content only received a small amount of traffic for a few weeks before eventually fizzling down to no traffic at all.

After months of watching their competitors publish sub-par articles with more favorable results, they grew frustrated and realized something was missing in their process.

It was pretty easy for us to pinpoint the reason why their content marketing strategy wasn’t progressing as fast as some of their competitors; and why their approach wasn’t producing traffic.

We see it all the time with e-commerce businesses that are new to content marketing.

According to State of Inbound, over 63% of e-commerce businesses find it difficult to generate traffic and leads, through both content marketing and other forms of digital marketing. Often times, unsuccessful content marketers find themselves in one of two scenarios:

  1. They know that content marketing would be highly beneficial, but have no idea what to write about.
  2. They think they know what to write about, but their content never produces significant traffic or conversions.

Our particular client fit the second profile, and we let them in on a little secret that separates successful, rankable, and valuable content from the millions of great content pieces that are published but never able to rank or reach its audience.

The good news is, I’m about to tell you the secret.

Most publishers with successful content already know that their content will succeed before they write the first word.

Creating Content with a Sixth Sense

A proper keyword research process is the crystal ball of content marketing. Imagine the possibilities if you knew ahead of time precisely which keywords your customers were searching for, knew how likely you could rank for them, AND absolutely knew what to include in each article to make it succeed?

If you were a baseball player, it would be like exactly knowing what pitch the pitcher would deliver, where the ball would cross the plate, and how fast it would come at you – every time you went up to bat.

When the first article we worked on with our client hit 10,000 views in only 60 days, they were ecstatic! We weren’t really surprised though – our research process already told us that our efforts for this keyword would yield the proper results.

How We Found Our Golden Keyword

Using the CanIRank software, we employed a strategic approach to researching the most ideal keywords for our client. This approach focused on identifying the customer research journey, turning questions into keywords, figuring out how valuable those keywords were and determining their ranking difficulty.

Step 1) Know Thy Customer

Our first step in the process was determining our Customer Research Journey. You can’t speak directly to an audience that you don’t truly understand, and you can’t provide answers to them if you don’t know their questions.

The Customer Research Journey not only helps you identify your customer. It enables you to understand what information they seek as they progress from being a curious prospect into a paying customer.

Regardless of the product or industry, every consumer goes through a similar process.

At each step of this process, their search intent shifts. Identifying the questions that they ask during each step of this method allows you to understand the topics most important to your customer.

No matter the industry or the product, every customer goes through each of the following phases:

  • Problem recognition: They realize that they have a challenge that needs to be overcome.
  • Information search: They begin searching to see if a solution exists to their challenge.
  • Purchase decision: They evaluate the product across different brands and decide to purchase a specific product/service from a particular brand.
  • Post-purchase evaluation: They determine whether the product/service actually met their expectations and whether it helped them solve their issue.

Knowing the questions that your consumer asks across each of these phases will open you up to a ton of topic possibilities. Let’s assume that our client was an online computer parts supplier who was focusing on writing content to promote a premium SSD hard drive for everyday computer users.

Their customer research journey may look like this:

Step 2) Turn Questions Into Keywords

People search on Google in a variety of ways.

Some ask questions like, “What are the best donuts”; while others only use a few words to request specific information, such as “best donuts.” Some people narrow their searches down even further and search for terms like, “best vegan donut” or “best donut in Chicago.”

Your chances for success become much stronger when you know not only for what your customers search but also how they search.

Try to determine every possible way your customers might request a search for the questions you found in Step 1. The manual way of doing this is to brainstorm deeply and try to pull out every possible keyword combination of which you can think.

Google also provides a Keyword Planner tool that can help you find additional keyword possibilities, but for us, the easiest way is through a few clicks on the CanIRank software.

Going back to our computer parts supplier example, we want to find keywords around, “Why is a SSD hard drive better than a HDD hard drive?”. The first keyword we want to explore is “SSD vs. HDD.” If we want to find other keywords that are related to “SSD vs. HDD” we simply select the “Ideas Related To” button.

Not only does the software return a ton of related keywords, but it also shows us how much traffic these related keywords receive, their value to our client’s business and the likelihood of ranking for each keyword.

related keyword phrases

Step 3) Determine Which Keywords Have the Most Value

The CIR tool gives us all the data we need to select the right keywords for our topics – the ones with the most traffic, that offer us the most value, and where we have the highest potential of ranking.

First, we look at the traffic potential of each keyword to see which term gets the most searches. Obviously, we’d love to go after every phrase that has the highest search volume. But it’s more important to find highly-searched keywords for which we have a high potential for ranking.

For our client, we analyzed keyword possibilities through the CIR software and found that a particular keyword had 880 searches per month and even better, they had an 82% chance of ranking for that keyword.

High search volume plus a high ranking potential? We knew at that moment that we had found the perfect keyword.

Keyword research and analysis report.

Through the CanIRank “Grow My Content” tool, we were able to quickly analyze how the top ranking pages for that keyword were able to rank. Through this detailed insight, we knew exactly what we needed to do to best improve our chances of ranking for that keyword.

Looking at the CIR report, we could easily assess competitor metrics such as:

  • How many words are on the ranking page?
  • What related keywords did they use to strengthen the page’s relevancy?
  • How many times did they include the primary keyword and related keywords on the page?
  • How many other sites link back to the competitor’s page?
Keyword ranking heatmap

Does This Keyword Process Work Every Time?

Using this process, the first article we prepared for our client rose to #1 for our chosen keyword and almost a dozen secondary keywords.

Did every other subsequent article reach 10,000 views in 60 days? No, not all of them; but, every article after did receive at least 5x the amount of traffic than any other article our client published before adopting our keyword research process.

Here’s the best part – since this traffic is all from organic search engine rankings, these articles bring in new traffic every month, compounding traffic with each new post they publish.

Using this process, we have been able to duplicate similar results with dozens of other clients. Ready to try it yourself and find the keywords that can bring in thousands of views every month for your business? Register for a trial of CanIRank and run a few of your own reports. It’s FREE!