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Lee Odden

Fixed & Dynamic Keyword Lists for Content Marketing: It’s NOT Either Or

By Lee Odden     Keyword Research, Online Marketing, SEO

keywordsBringing insights about content marketing to light often involves the importance of understanding what topics and pain points customers care about. Creating content for business communications with customers, peers, employees and the industry is an essential part of doing business.

Creating content alone isn’t enough to ensure intended audiences will read it, so researching search keywords and social topics related to your business is a helpful way to empathize with what customers are looking for and what they’re interested in.

Content and SEO go hand in hand, especially for improving discovery of brand stories and key marketing messages. SEO and content marketing best practices call for research into what language customers use when searching for your products and services so that content can be optimized for better visibility. The result of that research is a keyword glossary managed through a SEO Project Management tool and/or a spreadsheet. These phrases are a mix of broad concepts the company wants to be known for as well as phrases indicating more specific customer intent.

For example:  “online marketing” is a very, very broad phrase we like this blog to be known for. At the same time, there are more specific phrases like “facebook marketing”, “twitter marketing” and “infographic marketing” that represent relevant sub-topics of interest to our readers. Even more specific phrases might include “b2b social media case studies” or “social media ecommerce examples” which are more specific indications of interest in the subject matter we cover for our target audience.

A fixed list of keywords is something that provides editorial guidance for content producers accross the organization. However, putting a keyword on a list and thinking the initial effort at producing content will result in a top position on Google for that key phrase is nothing short of naive. Broad topics that are highly competitive can take hundreds of posts and links to those posts before a search engine like Google will decide your brand is the best answer for a search query.

If I decided today that “internet marketing: was going to be a focus phrase, we might have some advantage because of an abundance of related content and numerous inbound links from relevant and credible sources, but we’d still have to work long and hard to achieve and maintain a top position. Companies that go after broad concepts from scratch will have even more of an uphill battle. That said, anything is doable with the right vision, expertise and resources.

The problem is, I’ve heard more than one new media or social media thought leader describe the notion of using keywords in an editorial calendar as “limiting” and pooh poohing the practice. They suggest that content creators write in the moment or focus solely on real-time monitoring for inspiration. Those perspectives come from a lack of implementation knowledge about SEO, especially within large organizations. That can be very costly for brands in terms of missed opportunity and allowing others to gain competitive advantage on important search terms.

Best practices SEO calls for a combination of fixed keyword lists and monitoring real time conversations for keyword and content opportunities. I’ve called this “Search Keywords and Social Topics” in numerous presentations over the past few years. These two types of keyword research and monitoring are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s essential they work together, especially in competitive categories  Fixed keyword lists aren’t really “fixed either”. They often get audited every few months with weekly or monthly updates based on trends observed from web analytics.

Dynamic keywords are managed with spreadsheets as well and focus on real-time and social media monitoring in combination with web analytics and public trending data sources to reveal conversational content creation and optimization opportunities.

Working together, a content marketing program that’s savvy about SEO and Social Media to inspire discovery will be far more successful that focusing solely on keyword sourcing from social media monitoring or fixed keyword lists alone.

  • The cost of focusing solely on fixed list keywords is not producing and optimizing for content that’s current and trending,
  • The cost of focusing solely on real-time topics is never dominating for more popular keyword phrases or general topics that represent the brand’s industry of focus. How important do you think ranking #1 on Google for “laptops” is for Best Buy? That keyword phrase represents an important product category for Best Buy and wouldn’t be possible without smart search engine optimization.

Hopefully, if you’re one of those social media rock stars, keynote speakers or agency heads that discounts SEO or the usefulness of managing the words that represent what customers care about, you’ll have a more open mind and a deeper understanding of the interplay between fixed list and dynamic keywords for managing editorial plans.

And if you do continue to think SEO and keyword insight isn’t useful, that’s OK too. Because Online Marketing agencies like mine will continue to take search market share away from your clients with smart  Social SEO & Content Marketing. :)


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