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Oftentimes I inherent clients that have prioritized content creation on their website, but are only asking about SEO after the fact. The old days of simply plugging in a few keywords that you want to rank for at the last minute is gone. There is a chance that you wanted to create this content because it is of value to your customers and is similar to what keyword research would reveal, but more often than not, that’s not the case.

While this is a better situation than a client that does not understand the value of fresh content creation, it’s still backwards. Keyword research needs to dictate content, not just supplement it.

Nate Dame of makes the essential point that “most online experiences start with keywords – so marketers should, too.”  Think about it. If your customers are starting their search with a specific keyword, shouldn’t research into that keyword take precedence when figuring out what you should write about to provide value to your website? It’s really quite simple, but often goes overlooked.

Effective keyword research will show you what users want. Writing content and adding related keywords after the fact will not. While you may hit the bullseye with your content (in terms of meeting customer’s needs/wants) on occasion, you’re essentially playing a guessing game. Putting in the work before hand allows you to spend your resources more efficiently in being more targeted with your content.

Not only will keyword research help determine what topics to target better at the beginning, but also clue you into the type of content users are looking for. If the majority of searches surrounding your topic keyword are question based, you may want to create a more basic how-to article, as opposed to the more technical piece you may have originally thought was needed.

This goes hand in hand with where searchers are in their buying process. If you’re finding many comparison keywords to competitors, you’ll know that those searchers are aware of the “problem”, and you need to provide a compelling argument as to why you are preferred to the competition.

Lastly, conducting keyword research before creating content will allow you to gain better insight into what Google is prioritizing for certain subjects or industries even. Analyzing the search engine results page of your desired topics, you can see what type of content you’re competing against. Understanding factors such as recency, page load speed, related topics/search terms, and content type (video/images/content length) will show what Google thinks searchers want, and reveal areas of opportunity for you.

If you’re at all like the majority of SMB owners and marketers, you’re time is limited. Make the most of it by conducting your SEO and keyword research before content creation, not after.

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