10 steps to Better Keyword Brainstorms

After the Riots. Post-it notes, Body Shop Wood Green
The Long Tail topics can be tough to figure out but are critical for achieving a top 3 ranking and increasing our CTR.

Here’s a suggested method for a productive keyword brainstorming session in 10 simple steps. (Let’s stick with our keyword challenge of “best iPad cases” for now.)

  1. If you haven’t done it already, the first step is to lay out your user persona in a printed format. You should have a picture, name, and all the other data front and center in a narrative format make sure you’ve cross-referenced it for social media engagement. Read it over and adopt this user’s mindset.
  2. On a whiteboard, make two columns with the headings: “Aspirations” and “Afflictions”. Tape your user persona in the upper left hand corner.
  3. Under the “Aspiration” column, write down everything you feel your user persona is aspiring to do in life. Do not be afraid to get into the uncomfortable, squeamish emotional stuff – “Be a better husband” or “Feel better about my body image”. Remember people buy on emotion and backfill with logic. Defer any judgement on whether your product or service fits these desires. Just go for quantity.
  4. Take a short break with a minimum ten minute walk to clear you and your colleagues’ heads. This is tough stuff and your brain will need a break.
  5. Under the “Affliction” column, do the same thing. Focus on how the existing reality is not working for your user persona and seek to tie it into emotional responses. “No time for the gym” or “long commute”. Same rules apply for deferring judgement and always going for quantity.
  6. Take another break or if possible, break for the day.
  7. Get out those color-coded Post-It Notes. Look over your two columns. Do common themes start to emerge? Are there any good fits where your product or service can help make the user persona’s life easier or better? Jot these down and stick it to the whiteboard. For example, pink Post It Notes can relate just to the user’s using her iPad during the long commute (listed under Afflictions) . Maybe there are apps for reading her email? Or the top 10 podcasts for her industry that can be consumed on the go?
  8. These common topics will become your area of focus for content creation in your digital marketing efforts. For example, they can become the blog categories on your website or your focus of topics for your social media stream.
  9. From these two simple categories of Afflictions and Aspirations, we can work out our keyword phrase strategy. Tackling each one of these phrases, we can create a blog post, video, photos or a specific page on our website that deals with this and optimize it around that targeted keyword phrase (more on how to specifically do this later).
  10. Build a simple spreadsheet with the content categories listed on the left and the split of Afflictions and Aspirations across the top. Dump your keywords into here and add rows as needed below the categories you defined in the Post It notes exercise.

Following these steps ensures that you are doing the hard work of creatively identifying with your user and thinking through the topics they would be searching on to solve their problems or get what they want.

Next up, we’ll dive into how to cross-reference this with actual keyword search data.