How to pick seed keywords
January 5, 2021
Seed keywords are critical for building an organic search strategy. But it’s important to pick the right seed keywords; otherwise you end up spending much more time on keyword research than you need to.
Good sources for seed keywords
Your site, particularly on your product and solutions pages, and in your marketing materials. Don’t just look in front page copy – blog posts can be helpful, too, and so can testimonials and landing pages.
For example, Dropbox’s site for Dropbox Business uses a bunch of important phrases in its value pillars. Dropbox’s reach is sufficiently broad that something like “team collaboration” may make sense for them to target.
Vidyard’s site also includes some useful language in its value pillars. Some of the pillars are too broadly written for a topic strategy, most likely. (This can also be an opportunity to use topic strategy as a way to drive clearer product messaging – what if all of these value pillars contained helpful topics?)
Here’s a testimonial from Zoey’s site that has a helpful phrase in it.
Landing pages, especially those that describe an asset, can be helpful, too. Here’s a Zylo landing page with a ton of helpful phrases on it. The PDF itself is a longer read, but likely to have lots more.
Competitors’ sites are also an important place to look. Braze’s library page has some great topic candidates, and there are additional ones on the front page of a competitor’s site.
Other important sources include:
- Sales calls. Use a tool like Gong to check out transcripts and important topics that you can potentially use in your content creation.
- Everyone else in marketing, particularly product marketing.
- Customer success and services. You can get lots of value from a good relationship with these teams.
- Sales enablement and sales, particularly development reps. Check out their call scripts for phrases that are resonating.
Put these in a spreadsheet, ideally something in the cloud so you can very easily collaborate on it.
Picking the right keywords
It’s important not to pick keywords that are too narrow, or too broad. There isn’t a hard and fast rule for this, but in the end, you’re going to focus on 3 - 5 topics at a time.
Can you realistically see your choices occupying one of those slots? Do you think that each of your seed keywords could potentially be a blog topic? If not, probably too narrow. Will people who use your keyword to search be likely to convert once they land on your site? If not, probably too broad.
Let’s imagine you run a company that sells software to help companies assess their customer satisfaction.
- We would probably include “customer satisfaction measurement” or “survey software”.
- We probably would not include “how sales reps should use customer satisfaction measurement software”, because it’s too narrow and unlikely to be a blog topic.
- But “customer satisfaction” is likely too broad. There are lots of reasons that people would be looking for this term that have nothing to do with what we sell.
Head keywords vs. long-tail
Long tail keywords are keyword phrases that are complex and relatively long – for example, “how to measure customer satisfaction for automotive companies” – that also have low volume but very high propensity to convert. Pursuing long-tail keywords can be extremely helpful, particularly for direct-to-consumer companies.
If you go after long-tail keywords, generate them after you’ve completed your final strategy, based on the head keywords you decided to prioritize. Looking through the lens of your overall strategy, long-tail keywords tend to be more of a tactical consideration.