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User-focused keyword analysis

How to perform a user-focused keyword analysis in MindTouch to help users find your content.

What is keyword analysis?

Keyword analysis (also known as keyword research) is the investigation of the language people use to find information. Keyword analysis uncovers how users think about and search for your product or service when trying to find information on the internet.  

Traditional keyword research focused on optimizing content for search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) largely ignored the fact that keywords are words typed into search bars by people, who use natural, imperfect language. Given Google's increasing preference for content that is created for users forget about search engines and page ranking and focus on the user's need instead. Google has indeed been adamant about instructing content creators to create useful and relevant content for the user. 

Why should I perform a keyword analysis?

Perform a keyword analysis to optimize your content for your users: 

  • Understanding. Keywords provide insight into your users' needs and how they express these needs. 
  • Findability. The most important reason to perform a keyword analysis is to optimize content so that users can find the right information when they need help or need a question answered.
  • Content management. A user-focused analysis reveals strategies for creating and prioritizing content so that you can help your users most effectively. 
  • Reach. If people can find your content because it aligns with the natural language they would use, more people will see your content.
  • Authority. The more people see your content and click to read your content, the more valuable and authoritative Google considers your content. And the more valuable and authoritative, the more visibility Google will grant your content, i.e. move your content higher up in its search engine results pages (SERPs).

Search engine optimization (SEO) starts with learning from and understanding your users.

How does MindTouch help your keyword research?

The question: Can MindTouch help your keyword research? The answer: MindTouch does much more than help your research; it provides its structural foundation. By nature of its framework, MindTouch creates an automatic, natural network of thematically related content. By creating an average of 50 links per page (without you manually having to create any of these links), MindTouch gives your content immediate authoritative, subject matter expert status. Since content is automatically related by themes your users care about, all you have to do is speak the right language.

How to perform a keyword analysis

Follow the steps in this section to perform a keyword analysis that focuses on your users and how to help them become successful:

Choose  your tool

To learn about current users:

Use one (or all) of these tools to learn what your current users care about and how they search for it on your sites:

To learn about prospective customers:

Use one or more of these tools to learn more about what non-customers need and what language they use:

Choose  your sample size

If you are new to analyzing user search behavior and language, keep your analysis to the top 10 or 25 searches in whatever tool you decide on using. If you have experience, it may make sense to look at up to 150 searches or more. Use your judgment based on the resources available to you. Naturally, the bigger the sample, the more you will learn about your users’ language and intent.

Gather data

Follow these steps to perform your user language analysis:

  1. In your chosen tool or tools, run a search term or keyword report over a two-month period.
  2. Export the report as a CSV file. (Make sure you also capture the search volume, i.e. how often a term or keyword was used.)
  3. Open the file and save as Excel file or copy data into Google Sheets.

Find themes

  1. Scan the sheet and look for terms that appear repeatedly, even—and especially—if unexpected (e.g. let's say you notice the term “best practices” appears over and over in some combination or another).  
  2. Create a new sheet and rename it, e.g. “best practices_query.”
  3. Use your spreadsheet program’s filtering function to filter out all variations of the term “best practices.”

Filter by abbreviated versions of a frequently occurring term to include alternative spellings (e.g.  filter for “best pract” to include “best practice,” “best practices,” “best practise” and “best practises”). A user-focused analysis is concerned with themes rather than exact word matches. 

  1. Copy the rows and paste into the new sheet.
  2. In the new sheet, use the “SUM” function to calculate how many times the term occurred. 
  3. Repeat steps 1 through 4 for all major terms, and make sure to include terms that appear unexpectedly over and over again.

Don’t get charmed by top search terms or keywords. Although “best practices” may not rank among the top, the accumulative searches for all variations of “best practices” may reveal that users’ are trying to find articles on best practices, even if their language and input varies greatly.

Adjust your content strategy

Take a close look at your individual sheets. Note any unusual combinations or entries. This is your most valuable opportunity to learn about how users try to get help from you. Unusual or unexpected entries may reveal that users use very different words than you to describe a product, service or task. If you find patterns, think of renaming pages (or even your product) and using the language your users' use in your articles to help users get to the content they need.

When taking a closer look at “best practices” results, for example, you may notice that users are mostly looking for best practices around SEO. In this case, consider creating an “SEO Best Practices” section or, if such section already exists, making it more prominent in your hierarchy (i.e. make a top category or create a contextual help link).

If you notice that your users are looking for all kinds of different best practices, you may want to consider creating a general best practice section (or again, making an existing more prominent) that includes various best practices.

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