Topics to keywords

🔬Topics to keywords

Your topic research in Build Your Topic Strategy helped you get a feel for the kinds of pillar topics you should be covering and prioritize a few for production. Now, we want to dig a bit deeper into each of those pillars to find opportunities to connect search terms to your audiences’ needs—and ultimately to specific content pieces.

Search engine optimization (SEO) has gotten a bit of a bad rap lately as the big, bad monster that is sapping the quality from content marketing — and to some extent, that’s correct. Many brands have sacrificed content value and good writing in the name ranking in Google.

(Of course you’re not going to get far by regurgitating what you find in other brands’ blog posts and adding some keywords.)

But SEO done well is important to most brands' success, for a couple of reasons:

  1. Keyword research gives you an indication of what’s important to people searching the web.
  2. There's existing demand out there, and SEO can be an effective way to grab some of it (more on this in the distribution module).

In this lesson, we’ll explain:

  • How to dive deeper into each of your priority topics to identify specific keyword opportunities

By the end of this lesson, you’ll have …

  • A list of prioritized keywords for each of your priority topics

Keyword Template

You’ve identified topics that are important to both your audience and your business, and each of these topics is broad enough to generate at least a handful of content pieces. What should those pieces be?

There are lots of ways to come up with ideas for content, one of which involves more keyword research. We’ll use the Topic Strategy template again to identify and prioritize lots of different ways people are talking about your topic online (although we’ll call this version the Keyword Template)

Your workbook contains a link to a template, and populating it involves 3 (familiar) steps:

  1. Gathering related keywords. Creating a list of keywords related to your pillar topics from Module 2.
  2. Determining and scoring relevance. Ranking your keywords in terms of their relevance.
  3. Getting volume and competition data. Gathering volume and competition data from popular SEO tools.

Populating the Template

1. Gather related keywords

There are lots of ways to talk about—and search for—any given topic. Your job in this step is to document a bunch of them.

For example, the topic “content performance analysis” might also be talked about in terms like:

  • Measuring content performance
  • Content performance metrics
  • Content performance dashboard

Each of these keywords could yield a very different piece of content.

Tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz make it easy to find keywords relevant to your priority topics. For example, you can use the Keyword Overview and Keyword Magic Tool in SEMrush (in the left navigation).


If you don’t have a subscription to one of these tools, start with Google. You can find related keywords when you start typing your search term into Google’s search field:


You’ll also want to check out the “People also ask…” feature:


And finally, scroll to the bottom of the page to see “Related searches”.


These three Google features will hopefully provide you with a variety of terms to consider in your own content. If you need more inspiration, try clicking into some of the top search results for your topic and reading through the content.

Keep a running list of all of these keywords in the Topics column of the Keyword Data tab.

2. Determine and score relevance

Most of these keywords should be pretty relevant to your business, but it’s a good time to spot check. Ask yourself, if someone Googled this keyword and ended up on our website, how likely would they be to need our product or service?

Assign a relevance score of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most relevant and 1 being the least relevant. Record the score in the Relevance column.

3. Get volume and competition data

Remember, you can think of volume as the demand for information on a topic, and competition (or keyword difficulty) is the supply.

While volume is a very simple measurement of the number of searches conducted for a specific term, competition is a much more complex measurement that tries to estimate how hard it will be to rank for a certain keyword.

You’ll need to pull these numbers from a tool like SEMrush or Moz. Refer back to Module 2 if you need a refresher. Record your data in the Volume and Competition columns in your template.

If you don’t have the time or resources for that, it’s OK. You can skip this step and move on to the next step.

🏄‍♀️ 3: Keyword Research

You’ll use the the topic strategy template to complete this assignment, too.

1) Start with the Topic Strategy Template. Make a new copy using File > Make a Copy.

2) Fill out the Keyword Data tab three times—once for each of your priority topics.

3) When you’re finished, copy or screenshot your top results into the Keyword Opportunities Worksheet.

In our example, you would fill it out once for each of the following topics:

  1. Content performance analysis
  2. How to promote content
  3. Content creation

When you’re finished with each topic, click over to the Strategy Output tab. It should look something like this, and will show you some of your best keyword opportunities for specific content pieces.


In this case, you might want to tackle content pieces covering content performance tools first—but before you decide, complete your next module and assignment.

Note: Volume and competition data is always just an estimate, no matter what tool you use. Just because you don’t see any volume in your particular tool doesn’t mean the keyword is not worth pursuing.

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