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How Defense Contractors Can Decode Keyword Research For Marketing

Does Internet keyword research seem like a secret code? It isn't. Spend one hour with this guide and discover how to get found by potential customers.

defense contractor keyword research

When I was in the Army and we had to make non-secure radio transmissions, we used authentication tables. They were a quick and dirty (but effective) method of encrypting and decoding messages.

If you handed an authentication table to a soldier who didn't know how to use it, it would seem mysterious and complicated. But with some quick training, the soldier could encode and decrypt messages quickly and with great accuracy.

The same analogy applies to doing Internet keyword research.

I talk to a lot of defense contractors about how content marketing can help them get found by government customers, other contractors (primes and subs), as well as commercial customers.

One of the most important "ready, aim, fire" steps is to do keyword research. Doing this helps your company gauge which words people are using to search for solutions that you provide. It also tells you how hard (or easy) it will be to rank for certain keywords.

Of all the aspects of Internet marketing, keyword research remains the most mysterious and least understood. Keyword research can be fairly technical and confusing. It is a blend of art and science.

For years keyword research was largely the domain of search engine optimization (SEO) experts and firms who would engage in a fair amount of on-page tinkering in order to help their companies or clients rank higher in search results.

And why not? It wasn’t until relatively recently that SEOs could game the Google algorithm to obtain better results. But those days are over.

Thanks to recent Google updates, SEO trickery has been rendered all but obsolete. It no longer pays to try and outwit the search engines. In fact, you can now get penalized in your rankings for that approach.

This interview with MOZ CEO Rand Fishkin, describes how the SEO world has changed:

So is keyword research still necessary? Absolutely. Keyword research remains central to getting found online by the right traffic, and it always will.

But rather than being something done after a website is built to gin up more traffic, keyword research should be performed continuously as part of an effective Internet marketing effort. That’s why, to borrow a medical analogy, SEO is now more like internal medicine than plastic surgery.

The changing role of SEO and keyword research is best summarized by Duane Forrester:

"SEO is a marketing function, but it needs to be baked into a product, not slapped on like icing after the cake is baked."

To demystify keyword research, Brian Dean of Backlinko has produced Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide. It is an easy to understand, step by step guide to understanding keyword research that debunks long-held myths about the practice.

Backlinko Keyword Research Guide resized 600

The guide is great for newcomers to keyword research as well as seasoned veterans who could use a refresher on the latest tools and approaches.

It is also a great primer if you hire professionals to do keyword research. Spending an hour with this interactive guide will give you an appreciation for the art and science that goes into keyword research. It will also help you to more meaningfully contribute to smarter, more effective keyword research, even if you’re not the one actually doing it.

Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide includes images from the tools it covers to make the directions easy to understand. And it includes links to every tool that it recommends or reviews.

The guide has 7 chapters:

  1. Introduction – “Keywords are like a compass for your SEO campaigns: they tell you where to go and whether or not you’re making progress.” He also explains why it is a HUGE mistake to begin the process with a keyword research tool like the Google Keyword Planner (GKP). There are a few other very important things that should be done first.
  2. Google Keyword Planner – “…the SEO Gods have given us an awesome (free) tool that tells us almost all of the information we need to make informed decisions about which keywords are best for our business.” This section covers how to use this gift from the Gods.
  3. Long Tail Keywords – The problem with GKP: “It gives the exact same keywords to everyone that uses it (including your competitors).” This chapter includes lesser-known keyword research strategies to uncover long tail keywords.
  4. Commercial Intent – The #1 Keyword research mistake: “Not spending enough time on commercial intent.” It’s better to have a smaller amount of traffic interested in buying, than a torrent of traffic that never will.
  5. Keyword Competition – Keyword research is no different from warfare in this instance: Pick you battles. If you want keyword real estate that is already taken by competitors and not easily surrendered, go around. You can often find alternate keywords that get lots of search volume and have little to no competition.
  6. Keyword Research Tools – “If you’re serious about SEO, you should strongly consider investing in a keyword research tool.” The right SEO tool makes keyword research MUCH faster, easier and more effective. The top five keyword research tools are reviewed.
  7. SEO Content – This is where he shows how “to take that lifeless group of phrases and turn them into living, breathing pieces of content. But not just any content: content designed to rank highly in search engines.”

If you spend one hour with Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide, you’ll be able to cut through the smoke and mirrors of SEO and be on your way to becoming a keyword research expert!

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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