On keyword research, magic words, and creating content your audience will love

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Do you have the right words?

The words that will make your audience pay attention. The words that entice them to read all the way through to the end of your post. The words that compel them to take action.

The words you use in your content make all the difference. According to Copyblogger founder Brian Clark, they’re the difference between experiencing the joys of business success, or the frustrations of toiling away in obscurity.
“Choose the right words, and you’ll receive traffic, subscribers, revenue, influence… everything you need to be a success. Choose the wrong words, and you’ll be just another nobody that doesn’t get it, forever clamoring for attention but forever ignored.”

The stakes are too high to leave any guess work about if the words you choose will hit the mark.

As a result, many content creators use keyword research to help them write about topics they know a critical mass of readers want to know about.

But the truth is, if you really want improve the chances of your content scoring big with your audience, keyword research won’t be the only research you do.


Image credit: Pierre Metivier at Flickr


The dangers of just doing keyword research

“At the deepest level, keyword optimization has nothing to do with SEO. It’s about knowing your audience so well that you learn which words will grab their attention, earn their trust, and persuade them to buy your products or services in the future.” – Brian Clark

“We don’t really talk like that.”

I was in Buenos Aires, where I’d been squatting for about six weeks. I was preparing questions for an interview I was going to do in Spanish with an entrepreneur who’s story I was eager to tell.

So I wrote out my questions in English, and then used Google to help me translate them into Spanish.

That’s when my friend, a native of Argentina, broke the news to me. Although he understood what I was trying to say, the words I was using were all wrong for the way the locals actually talk.

Had I used the questions the translation tool spit out, my interview would not have reflected well on me at all.

Thankfully my friend was able to help me rework the questions to incorporate the every day phrases used in Buenos Aires.

It was an important lesson for me. Using a translation tool can be helpful, but because of the nuances of language and regional differences, I can’t use it in a vacuum.

The tools are most helpful to me when I use them as a complement to what I know from interacting with real people.

The same principle applies with your content.

Keyword research is super helpful to help you understand what your readers are searching for.

But creating compelling content is about more than just keywords. To create content your audience will love, your entire post needs to be use the magic words that solves their problem.

And to find those magic words, you should use keyword research as a complement to your more in depth market research of your audience.

How to effectively use research to create compelling content

“When people search on Google they have a psychological need. I think a lot of times, search marketers forget that. When you eavesdrop on conversations from real people, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what your content should accomplish.” – Darren DeMatas

To find the magic words to use in your content, you’ve got to jump inside your readers’ heads. You’ve got to know their dreams, desires, fears, and frustrations. You’ve got to know their burning pains, and the conversations their having in their mind about those pains.

In depth research gives you added context about how your audience thinks about their problem. It will also give you the words to use in your post that will be most effective with your readers: their own.

For instance, let’s say you’re doing some keyword research about email marketing. There are lots of things you could write about as it relates to email marketing. And because it’s such a popular topic, you feel your post will do well.

But what do you say about email marketing? What’s the angle you should take? What empathy levers do you need to pull?

The best place to find the answer is to go straight to your audience.

Here’s a comment I found in a Facebook group about email marketing:

“I’m most excited to have access to tools and systems that are tested and reliable. Things like email marketing scare the pants off me, and I could easily spend years making mistakes that others have made.

Using feedback like this as it relates to the keyword you’re using, you can then brainstorm some headline ideas for a new piece of content.

Potential Headlines

Email marketing best practices: 10 Tips to shave years off your learning curve
Email marketing 101: The secret weapon to growing your online business
How to use email marketing to grow your business
7 Common and totally unnecessary email marketing mistakes
8 Email marketing best practices to help you hit send and grow your business

Make sure you spend time brainstorming several headline options. According to Andrew Warner, “if your headline fails to grab attention, the rest of your post is frankly irrelevant.”

But once you get your reader to click through to your post, you’re content has to continue to deliver. Use the insights and words from your audience to help you do just that.

Here’s an example of an introduction to a post, using the reader comment above, and one of the headlines from the list:

Use The Right Keywords

See how that works? The keyword research gave you details on what to write about. And the market research gives you the insights you need for how to write about the topic.

How to get to find the magic words for your content

The good news is that finding the right ones to use isn’t so tough. You just have to know where to look.

Here are some common places to get to the insights you need:

  1. Blog comments – These are gold mines. As people pour their hearts out in response to something they’ve just read, they’ll often elaborate on specific challenges they’re having.

  2. Forum comments – Here’s where your audience goes to express their concerns. And since they’re often doing it among their peers, they are being totally honest, and willing to get more personal than they would in a more public blog setting.

  3. Amazon reviews – As your people provide feedback on something they’ve already purchased, they express what worked or didn’t work for them. They explain how the product made them feel. It’s a great, unbiased look at how something you create needs to deliver to please your audience.

  4. Surveys – Engage your audience. Ask them some open-ended questions, and see all the great responses they send back.

  5. Live conversations – Online research is great. But nothing beats direct interaction with real live people. People who have the problem you want to solve. You can hear first hand what’s going on in their world, how they think about the problem, and what words they use without the benefit of editing themselves online. And here’s the best part, you can ask probing questions to dig deeper into thoughts that intrigue you.


It’s time to use the words that will work (for both you and your audience)

You spend a lot of time figuring out the best way to reach your audience.

You do the keyword research. You invest a good amount of time creating quality content to help them.

But even with all that effort, if you aren’t using the right words, you may not get the results you want. And that’s no bueno.

So make sure you get the most out of your effort. Take the extra step and do some in depth market research of your audience.

Then you’ll get the knowledge and the words you need to create content they’ll love.

Then instead of being a frustrated writer toiling away in obscurity, you’ll be one of the ones basking in the fruits of your well earned labor.

Go get the words.

SEO Keyword Research Webinar

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Sonia Thompson

Sonia Thompson is a marketer and business strategist that’s currently obsessed with dancing tango. She’s the founder of TRY Business where she teaches entrepreneurs how to build their dream business, step by step. Grab your free 7-part Get Your Customers to Love You mini-course here.

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  • Debbie Wynot

    Great content is a must, however it’s just the beginning of the process. The next step is finding your way into drawing people to read and follow your content. It’s leveraging the emotional connection mentioned in this post that will ignite your content. @markwschaeffer has a new book out, The Content Code, that lays out steps to ignition in plain English. It’s the best $13 I’ve ever spent on Amazon!

  • Sonia Thompson

    Hey Debbie – thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    You are right, content creation is just one part of the entire content marketing strategy and process. You can use all the magic words you want – and have the “perfect” post, but if you don’t put it in a place where your ideal readers are most likely to find it, you are leaving your efforts up to “hoping” they find it through Google or other search means.

    I’m glad you’ve found a resource that is helping you crack the content code. Wishing you all the best as you work to get your readers to love your content. 🙂