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SEO
7
min read
February 8, 2024

Keyword Checklist: Best Keywords Every Company Should Target

Keelyn Hart
Content Writer at Letterdrop

TL;DR:

  • Focus on bottom-of-funnel, low-competition, and long-tail keywords in your keyword strategy
  • To find the best keywords, talk to your customers and use keyword research tools for sanity checks
  • Align your keywords with search intent and the correct stage in the buyer journey
  • High-intent types of keywords to target are: competitor keywords, category keywords, integration keywords, "how to" keywords, and playbooks

Vanity metrics are one thing, tangible business value another. And sadly, keywords — while a staple of your SEO strategy — are used wrong by 80% of companies out there.

Why?

  • They target keywords that bring in unqualified traffic — people who will never buy their product
  • The keywords they choose don't match the right buyer stage. For example, they have a qualified prospect who is still in the unaware phase but have targeted a solution-aware keyword — that prospect isn't ready to buy

The keywords you target need to be capable of qualifying a prospective buyer or moving a deal forward, or else you're wasting your time.

The sooner your content can drive conversions for you, the better — and it all starts with a keyword.


What Keywords are Best for SEO?
1. Competitor Keywords

Competitor keyword targeting in an article by HubSpot
Competitor keyword targeting in an article by HubSpot

Competitor keywords, or those that include your competitors' names or offerings, are for in-market buyers who are shopping between you and your competitors.

Cover all variations of:

  • Competitor A vs Competitor B — here you can intercept prospects and include yourself in the conversation as a third alternative

A "Competitor A vs Competitor B (vs you)" keyword targeted by Zapier
A "Competitor A vs Competitor B (vs you)" keyword targeted by Zapier


  • Competitor vs You

"Competitor vs You" keyword targeted by HubSpot
"Competitor vs You" keyword targeted by HubSpot


  • Alternatives to You
  • Alternatives to Competitor X


"Alternatives to Competitor X" keyword targeted by ClickUp
"Alternatives to Competitor X" keyword targeted by ClickUp


  • Common FAQs or errors for competitors that you do better. For example: "Gong doesn't install on Google Meet"

A common FAQ for competitors targeted by HubSpot
A common FAQ for competitors targeted by HubSpot



2. Category Keywords

You can intercept prospects that are actively searching for tools in your particular category using keywords like:

1. Best [your category] software or tools. For example, "Best SEO Tools"


Best category keyword targeting by Semrush
Best category keyword targeting by Semrush



2. Best [your category] software or tools in [latest year]


Latest "best software" keyword category targeted by Zapier
Latest "best software" keyword category targeted by Zapier


3. [Your category] tool for [vertical]. For example, "X best CRM Software for Agencies"


Category keyword targeting in an article by Pipeline
Vertical category keyword targeting in an article by Pipeline


3. Integration Keywords

Prospects always need to integrate the tools in their tech stack. If you offer useful integrations for common tools, target keywords like:

  • [Your category] [app] integration. For example, "CRM software Calendly integration"

An integration keyword (Calendly x HubSpot) targeted by HubSpot
An integration keyword (Calendly x HubSpot) targeted by HubSpot


4. The "How to" Keywords

The "how to" appendix makes up 37% of all searches on Google.

You want to make sure you target "How to" keywords where you do something better than the norm — "how to do X" when you automate X.

For example, for a tool like tl;dv, an ideal target keyword would be "How to share snippets from Zoom calls."


A "How to" keyword targeted by tl;dv
A "How to" keyword targeted by tl;dv


5. Playbooks

Playbooks are strategic guides to accomplishing something that your software enables and excellent for intercepting searchers.

For example: "ABM playbook for 2024."

A playbook keyword targeted by Revenue Marketing Alliance
A playbook keyword targeted by Revenue Marketing Alliance



How Do I Find the Best Keywords to Use?

1. Talk to Your Customers

Everything starts with your ICP. Talking to prospects and customers gives you access to keywords that:

Interview at least 10-20 of your ideal customers. If you're not quite there yet, do some cold outbound.

Record these interviews so that you can re-watch them later using software like Gong, Fathom, or Fireflies. You can also pull these keywords and marketing insights directly from Gong calls using Letterdrop to cut down on time.


Pulling valuable keywords from Gong sales calls Letterdrop
Pulling valuable keywords from Gong sales calls


2. Use A Keyword Research Tool

Do sanity checks on new keywords and the keywords you have thus far using tools like Semrush or Ahrefs.


Doing keyword research in Semrush
Doing keyword research in Semrush

These tools are also great for doing competitor research, so you can see what your competitors are targeting (and whether there's an opportunity for you to go after them if they're low enough competition.)

A quick caveat though — don't put too much stock into results from these tools, as the data you get on factors like search volume are only estimates.


3. Focus on Long-Tail Keywords with Lower Competition 

Given that they're relevant to your offerings, you should target long-tail keywords with low competition.

Why?

  • You won't rank for competitive keywords unless you're a big site with high domain and topical authority. Your keyword research tools will give you a keyword difficulty estimate out of 100. Target keywords in the 0-40 range
  • Longer and more nuanced keywords are an easier and more unique way to target short and competitive head terms. It's also a way to target your niche

As a basic example, instead of targeting a highly competitive keyword, "PPC campaign" (where you're competing with giants like Semrush and Yoast), you could target "PPC campaign for startups" instead.


Highly competitive keyword vs nuanced and less competitive keyword
Highly competitive keyword vs nuanced and less competitive keyword


4. Identify the Search Intent Behind Your Keywords

Knowing the search intent behind your keywords is critical in delivering content that is capable of pushing a prospect along in the sales cycle.

Targeting keywords with commercial and transactional intent is the way to go (keeping in mind that landing pages are the best choice for transactional intent).

You can figure out search intent manually by:

  1. Putting your keyword into Google
  2. Analyzing top pages on the SERP and understanding:
    1. how they answered the question
    2. which format they used
    3. which angle they used

This is a lot of manual work — alternatively, you can use Letterdrop's search intent feature, which gives you all of this information upfront.

Details on your keyword
Details on your keyword's search intent up front



5. Align Your Keywords to the Buyer Journey

You don't want to have a prospect bounce because you targeted them with a keyword that doesn't match where they are in the buyer journey.

The four phases of the buyer journey are:

  1. Unaware - the prospect is educating themselves on the space
  2. Problem-Aware - the prospect is aware of an issue
  3. Solution-Aware - the prospect is aware of solutions and is weighing their options
  4. Product-Aware - the prospect chooses a solution and becomes a customer

Buyer Awareness phases in the marketing funnel by Letterdrop
Buyer Awareness phases in the marketing funnel by Letterdrop


📢 Tip: The Letterdrop search intent feature also shows you the buyer stage behind your keyword.

Here are examples of keywords at each stage:

  • Unaware: "what is demand gen"
  • Problem-Aware: "how to turn LinkedIn into an acquisition channel"
  • Solution-Aware: "demand generation tools"
  • Product-Aware: "Metadata.io alternatives"

Initially Avoid Top of Funnel Keywords

Avoiding top-of-funnel keywords in the nascent phases of your content strategy? Sounds counterintuitive, I know.

But while these top-of-funnel keywords may generate traffic for you, it's highly likely that most of these visitors are unqualified.

And even if they are qualified, they're very far from buying. That's not what you want.

Try to avoid:

  • "What is X?" keywords
  • Glossary terms
  • Definitions
  • Industry news

Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE) specializes in condensing information from the SERPs for the above types of searches — even more reason to avoid wasting time on them initially.


Best Practices to Follow for Your Keyword Strategy

Here are some ways you can maximize the efficiency and converting power of your keywords:

  • Conduct a content audit or content refresh to find opportunities where you can improve keyword targeting. A very basic example: if you have an article called "best CRM for 2023", change it to "best CRM for 2024."
  • Focus seasonal keywords on paid campaigns rather than on content pages. Keywords based on trends are ephemeral, while content keywords should be fairly evergreen. This can increase the shelf-life or relevance of your content
  • Avoid keyword cannibalizing on your site. Each page on your site should target one focus keyword, or you risk your own pages competing with one another for traffic. You can also use content pillar pages and connect them with internal links to avoid this


Focus on Bottom-of-Funnel Keywords You Stand a Chance of Ranking For

Don't waste time and resources chasing keywords that you don't actually stand a chance of ranking for or that will simply churn prospects.

The formula for keywords that convert is rather simple: bottom-of-funnel intent + low-competition keywords + relevance to real customers.

We are always thinking about how we can help people like you drive conversions the right way. Check out our bi-weekly newsletter to get valuable insights in your inbox twice a month.

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