Skip to Content

How to Go From Keywords to Content (Webinar Highlights)

15 min read

Recently, Jeff Coyle, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at MarketMuse had a Twitter chat, #firesidecontent, with Nick Eubanks to discuss keywords, content, and mistakes most people make in their research. The next day, they kept the conversation going in this webinar.

This is the fifth chapter in our guide to keyword research. In it we cover the basics including the difference between keywords and topics, common misconceptions about keyword volume, and keyword difficulty. We delve further going from keywords to content, exploring keyword cannibalization fallacies, and conducting keyword research with MarketMuse.

Keyword Research Guide Index

Jeff Coyle: [00:00:00] Hello, welcome to another MarketMuse content strategy webinar. I’m your host and co-founder of MarketMuse, Jeff Coyle. Today’s discussion is called how to go from keywords to content; it’s going to be a discussion focused on the full, the real enterprise to SMB keyword research search world, and really the tactics to use data to your advantage.

And actually manifest in predictive success, accomplishing that with amazing content that fills the buy cycle, basically, as we walk through that person’s journey viewpoint with our keyword research efforts.  Now I’m going to intro today’s guest. He’s an agency founder. He’s an agency acquirer. He’s the author of the most important book written of our time and year 2020, a memoir from the future Nick Eubanks. Thanks for joining us. Tell us a little bit about your life story, From the Future’s current mission, original mission, whatever you want to get into in a few minutes.

Nick Eubanks: [00:00:58] I’ll spare it, I’ll spare all the boring stuff. Nobody cares about the current mission is the same that it’s always been in that, just to bring advanced digital strategies, trying to find the new stuff, find cool ways, to acquire new users and, in one way or another, and bring that to the internet.

Jeff Coyle: [00:01:13] All right, cool. Let’s get into it. We were going to talk about keyword research and really get into the details of the things that you see either changing over the last few years or what you’re doing now, or what will be happening in the future. We had an awesome Twitter chat yesterday to really start throwing stones.

You call it stone-throwing SEO. I call it dice-rolling SEO, but really the goal of keyword research is focused on actually making predictive, repeatable, successful processes. And I think one thing that you noted in the Twitter chat and then also that we were discussing is, how do you right now, how do you think about search volume?

How do you use that as part of your processes? And do you still find teams coming to you that are using that as a predictor of click-through of clicks and of traffic at the word level, at the broad match keyword level? What types of things are you still seeing?

Wherefrom the standpoint of misuse of search volume or use of search volume?

Nick Eubanks: [00:02:13] That’s probably the number one. The number one thing I think is when we’ll have prospects or conversations with other SEO practitioners with their SEO professionals, and they’re still basing a lot of their prioritization on volume.

I think search volume is a great consideration. I think it’s an important barometer, especially based on what those volume numbers could look like. If those eyeballs still have value. It’s just, where do you prioritize eyeballs at versus clicks? So yeah, that massive shift to consider volume, but not use it, as the main consideration, with, probably like competition being the second.

But using it as a main consideration and using clicks instead.

Jeff Coyle: [00:02:50] When you’re thinking about clicks, what goes into that, with the quick rise and fall of clickstream data, what other types of processes are you putting in place to evaluate click potential?

Not just at the page level or word level, but also at the term pool or the topic model pool? Like what did go into that whole thing for you to be able to start to predict more critically or more accurately?

Nick Eubanks: [00:03:15] It’s just deeper segmentation of the data we’ve been collecting.

And I’ve been blathering about it for a long time, which is identifying, all of those intent modifiers, being able to put those into buckets and aligned buckets, those buckets of intent to the topics. Again, hitting at the core. Of the whole idea behind the webinar, right? Beginning to report on groups of those buckets of keywords, that show intent at a page level and looking at the metrics of those are creating what is their average CTR, what’s their click volume and their conversion rate on-page versus the other potential; even like the same class of keywords or same header or parent term that’s also getting traffic to the same page.

So, I think it’s just bringing, going deeper. We have so much more data now than we’ve ever had before. Thanks to a lot of the amazing service providers out there and pro products, I should say. And so, being able to segment that in new ways is leading to a lot of really deep intelligence, I think, from a planning and customer insight perspective.

Jeff Coyle: [00:04:12] So the question is basically, if you’re not familiar with looking at modifiers, what are the things that you do with those prefixes and suffixes to construct the buyer journey?

Nick Eubanks: [00:04:24] Oh, yeah. It’s just to infer intent, right? So, look at your crawl data, if you’re scraping the SERP God forbid, or go Google manually if that makes you feel better, and compare that. Some of the interesting things are looking at the differences between the SERP modifiers, like the modified versions of the same query classes, for example. And then are there are the SERPs themselves actually different when a modifier is used in the beginning of the term versus, after the term or versus two or three extra terms further out, like the placement of those modifiers within the overall queries is fascinating to watch in super volatile SERPs, right. Where the SERPs could have a lot of overlap one day and then almost no overlap or no overlap at all in the next.

And watching the topic splicing that machines are able to pay attention to and score and aggregate and give direction on obviously faster than humans. But, having to pay attention to like micro topics, as those seeds start to grow, to potentially at least, ideally have a first crack at getting a locked in as the sticky number one result.

Jeff Coyle: [00:05:23] Oh no. I’ll get into some of those other strategies for sure that I know we’ve spoken about, but I think some of the things that you’re talking about is part of going from keywords to content in analyzing search results.

Nick Eubanks: [00:05:35] Oh, yeah.

Jeff Coyle: [00:05:35] The things you mentioned are SERP similarity, right, between two top tier two queries? It’s the flux. How frequently does it change? It’s the features. So, when you combine similarity analysis, flux analysis, and feature analysis, you’re starting to be on the right path. But even then, it’s well, how do you talk to someone who still thinks that they’re just looking at the SERP analysis, the search results analysis of one word they’re trying to rank for? How do you get them thinking critically about an entire keyword list or an entire, as you mentioned, a total addressable market? How do you get them over the hump of just thinking, “I’m going to look and see who’s ranking number one and do what they do?”

Nick Eubanks: [00:06:17] Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s beginning to paint the picture of showing the size of those keyword footprints, for whether it’s an entire domain that’s a direct competitor, or more likely than not, as we start to break out into the biggest part of the keyword universe, a subcategory or a microcosm of a larger enterprise with a business unit that is now emerging because of the massive spike in online demand.

Jeff Coyle: [00:06:44] Yes, exactly. But just taking a little bit of a step back, you’ve historically focused on those modifiers. But then you also posted some things recently about how really modern SEO requires a broader focus on concepts that are needed to be represented by topics. And it’s more about addressing all the content needed to create the sometimes legitimate exhibition of expertise, sometimes the illusion of expertise, depending on who’s doing it.

And it’s not about just doing what the top-ranking pages do. It’s about building the thing that would exhibit you have expertise. So, when you’re thinking about content, you’re not thinking necessarily about pages. You’re thinking about the whole.

Nick Eubanks: [00:07:33] I hate to boil it down to a gross oversimplification of the word count. But in some instances, if you’re looking at the magnitude of the footprint of some sites and how much topicality they’ve been able to establish, maybe you don’t have to go that wide. Maybe you can go deeper, like much deeper with half the width of the topic, but you need to know that, right? That’s figuring out the table stakes. It’s like, how deep and wide are these topics in the competitive landscape?

And what are the table stakes for me to even hope to compete? Like, what are all of those topics, and how deep does that coverage need to be?

Jeff Coyle: [00:08:05] Absolutely. And I liked the reference; we call it the topic universe. And I know you said it’s like the total addressable market calculation. Where you’re looking at all of the topics that you might want to be about, or that you might be competing about and building out all the different types of content that cover that entire model.

And that’s a really different process than just saying, “Oh, the top three pages that do well for this topic are a definition. Thus, I should write a definition.” Because the reality is, I might not deserve for my definition to rank.  Is that how you think about it?

Nick Eubanks: [00:08:40] It’s true. I wrote a really ranty piece on why you don’t deserve a first-page ranking back in, I don’t know, like 2013 or 2014. And it was the same idea that, in many cases and in the largest, most competitive industries, you need to be willing to invest in actually building the best page on the internet, or you’re not going to hope to rank in the top five positions, let alone on page one. And it’s more true than ever today in many cases. So, it’s nice being able to pull things like a keyword footprint from scraping the SERP. And being able to break those down into looking at who the competitors are that own each part of your funnel, based on trying to infer as much intent as you can from looking at the topics and the stage of awareness that you would score that topic into, as part of the customer journey. But yeah, I love the idea of talking about the total addressable market. Because what we’re starting to see, as the internet gets bigger and it becomes a bigger, deeper black hole every day, some companies saturate their total addressable market. It doesn’t mean that they have a hundred percent of it. It just means that maybe the most they’re going to be able to get from, without massive additional investment or without some foundational components of that industry changing or legislation, who knows what the biggest they’ll be able to get 35%. Like you imagine, that’s like Hershey’s or Coca Cola being the brand. So, the thing is these companies that when they maximize, and they’ve completely saturated that total addressable market, then it’s “Okay, what we do now, cause growth at all costs.” Right?

Jeff Coyle: [00:10:03] When you see in your SERP analysis that a lot of the saturation on a particular topic is by one entity, and when I say one entity, I don’t mean one website, there’s acquisitions. You’re looking at one site, but then you’re also looking at entities, which might be a conglomerate or a publisher model that has multiple points. They might have different intents covered.

How is that part of your research process when you’re talking to someone like, “Hey, you’ve got it. You don’t just have this site in your crosshairs that you directly sell against. You’ve got this entire publishing network.”

What do we do in those situations? I run into that literally with clients every single bit. What do you do to illustrate that you might not, on a day to day, think this is a competitor, but it is?

Nick Eubanks: [00:10:49] It’s, “Look, here’s these content types here are, here’s the bucket of keyword that is completely dominated by, aggregator sites versus these direct point of sale sites versus these independent publisher sites versus these, at this point, parenting blogs.” Right? Parenting blogs are the new mommy blog.

So, it’s just; it’s going in every direction to find where—which sites or which content types have those rankings. And then the strategy becomes, how do we build those types of that type of content to fill that if that content needed for that content type?

And then it’s how do we build that?

Jeff Coyle: [00:11:20] That’s exactly where I’m headed with this discussion, and that’s where I think it goes really from stop looking at one word to one page dynamics. You might need to create 50 pages for that one word because the word doesn’t mean anything. And so, I hear so much about cannibalization.

How do you think about that? It used to be when you were saying, “Hey, it’s not about one word, one page,” you were talking about topics. But now you’re talking about you may need an entire foundation to get to that one word. So how has that changed for you? And when you go from, “Hey, it’s not just about one keyword to one page, there’s no such thing as the old school view of cannibalization,” but how do you think about those things now?

Nick Eubanks: [00:12:03] Again, it comes back to the exact same concept for me. Like you have to do SERP analysis to understand that those content types, it’s also wild even just to think of the exact reverse of what you’re describing. Where you may have 50 pages on a topic, and that might be the standard, but Google may now be looking for a five-page, much deeper condensation, change the fundamental reading level, change the way the query is actually being answered.

And whether that just comes down to constant testing. Because it’s not, it seems as you said, and I love that word so much, which is it’s always in flux.  I talked about it away in the past, but the idea of a keyword beta, like just the stock markets have a beta score.

The measurement of how in flux a SERP is. Knowing that and knowing how much you might want to invest or pull back and limit, like the testing, for certain types of pages.

Jeff Coyle: [00:12:50] Keeping an eye on that is such a huge thing, because in the end, even though the meaning of the word can change, the intent behind the word can change. But that also gets to you were talking about with topic modifiers, with the intent fracture, a lot of folks are looking for work keywords.

They’re looking to rank for keywords, but those keywords could be addressing two different meanings. Which isn’t about intent, by the way; that’s meaning disambiguation or, and that’s actually two different words, completely. Google figures out their favored intent for those topics versus the actual research.

And you’re talking about doing this with large pools of words, right? It’s not about one word when you’re doing this type of analysis.

Nick Eubanks: [00:13:33] It’s looking at the footprint of that individual URL and then trying to understand, what is the topical coverage that this page is satisfying.

And then you can try to map that obviously to the user journey, but that’s where you’re starting to look at the way the search changes and the way the types of the information changes as you try to emulate user behavior. And then the search journey and those content types that they’re seeing and getting all that data into a place where you’re able to paint out those maps of the topics. I think that’s the goldmine mine, right? That’s what’s working right now.

Jeff Coyle: [00:14:01] This has been awesome. I think we could probably write 40 blog posts just about this conversation. So, cheers, and thank you so much.

Nick Eubanks: [00:14:08] And it was my pleasure, man. Thanks



Nick Eubanks (Twitter)

From the Future (Nick’s Agency)

Traffic Think Tank (SEO Accelerator and Community)

Keyword Research Guide Index

What you should do now

When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:

  1. Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
  2. If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
  3. If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

Stephen leads the content strategy blog for MarketMuse, an AI-powered Content Intelligence and Strategy Platform. You can connect with him on social or his personal blog.