At Media Shower, we invented SEO. [Read the story here.]

Over the years, we’ve tweaked and refined our SEO strategy with hundreds of clients. Now you can download our Content Marketing Keyword Planning tool, the same template we use for clients. Read on to see how it works, then download it for free.

The video walks you through how to use the template, step-by-step.

Most people make SEO keywords way too complicated. The human brain can only hold less than ten items at a time in working memory, but SEO teams will give you lists of hundreds (or even thousands) of keywords. That’s far too much for content teams, so the SEO keywords get ignored.The first rule is KISS: Keep It Simple, SEO.This means keeping your list of keywords simple along with your selection criteria. By keeping SEO simple and breaking it down into just a few key components, it’s possible to determine return on investment (ROI).In short, we want a laser-targeted list of keywords that will generate the most qualified sales leads.

Leads, in the end, are what we’re after. As online marketers, that’s our job.

The Two Most Important Metrics

Your list of keywords needs to include two basic measurements for each term:

  • The number of searches per month
  • The cost per click, which is the amount people are willing to pay to advertise on that keyword in Google.

That’s it. No “keyword difficulty,” no “competitor research,” no “clicks per month.” Just searches and CPC.

The number of searches represents the quantity in your ROI calculation, and the cost per click represents the quality. Good keywords, like good content, need both quantity and quality. Your job is to find the sweet spot between the two.

When we multiply these numbers together, we get what we call opportunity:

Number of Searches Per Month x Cost Per Click = Opportunity

The opportunity is how much money is being spent in Google each month on a specific keyword. It’s a way to compare all your keywords, apples-to-apples. Think of it as, “How many marketing dollars are being spent on this keyword in Google each month?”

To sum up: quantity (keyword volume) x quality (CPC) = Opportunity.

Where to Find Keyword Search Data

You can find information on keywords in Google Ads or in third-party tools like Ahrefs Keyword Explorer under “Search Suggestions” (Ahrefs is a paid tool, but worth it).

Once you have a list of relevant keywords for your topic, you’ll want to download the list and get it into a template format to further cull the list. You ultimately want a list of around 100 keywords. That’s enough to build out a content roadmap, but not so many that your head explodes.

Here’s where Media Shower’s SEO approach is different. You need to go through each keyword on your list, one by one, to decide if it’s worth your time and effort when creating content.

Let’s go through a real example in more detail.

Competitor Research Using Ahrefs

Ahrefs is our preferred choice for finding keywords that most serve your marketing goals. It’s also a great way to see what keywords your competitors own, so you can slowly start winning market share.

To perform competitor research using Ahrefs, start by first performing a Google search on the topic(s) you’re looking to rank for.

Let’s say you’re a medical services provider and you want to put together a blog or page on EMRs (electronic medical records). This is your broad topic, so first do a Google search on “medical EMR” to see what pops up.

When you find a high-ranking site that discusses this subject, copy the URL and paste it into the domain bar at the top of Ahrefs:


Once you get the results, you’ll want to see which keywords your competitor is ranking for. To do this, click “Organic keywords” on the left hand side:

organic keywords

You’ll be taken to another page that shows which keywords (and how many) that particular competitor is ranking for. Some of these sites (like the one we’re analyzing for the purposes of this blog) will rank for several, meaning you’ll have to narrow your list down (as mentioned before, we recommend no more than 100 terms).

organic keyword results

We recommend that you run this process with a few separate pages that are ranking near the top on the first page of Google. This will undoubtedly lead to several overlapping keywords, which is a good sign: these are the ones you’ll want to focus on.

After the keyword list is presented, hit “Export” in the upper right-hand corner:


This will open a separate window confirming the keywords will be sent to a downloadable Excel spreadsheet. Click “Export” at the bottom:

export to csv

Once you’ve downloaded all the keywords into an Excel sheet, you can get rid of ones that aren’t relevant, while keeping those that best serve you.

Your keyword analysis could end here, if you find enough valid keywords. However, for those who wish to take things a step further, consider the next (optional) step:

Click the “Keywords Explorer” tab at the top of Ahrefs:

keywords explorer

The goal is to see if there are any additional or secondary keywords that rank alongside your initial choices. Take your top five terms and place them in the open space. Then click the orange magnifying glass in the bottom right corner to proceed with a keyword analysis:

keywords explorer list

Once the next page loads, click “Search suggestions” on the left:

search suggestions

This will take you to a new list of keywords suggested by Ahrefs based on the terms you entered previously. Some will be outlandish, but you’ll find some hidden gems as well.

Lastly, you can list all your selected keywords in the Media Shower Content Marketing Keyword Planner sheet, available at the bottom of this page.

content marketing keyword planner

Our spreadsheet will format all this keyword data into the simple metrics we discussed above: Searches per Month (quantity), CPC (quality), and the Monthly Opportunity (quantity x quality).

How to Trim Your List to 100 Keywords

As you look through the list, you want to make a quick judgment call on each keyword: Is this keyword likely to bring in a qualified lead?

Ideally, the keywords you choose will have the highest Opportunity numbers. However, there are exceptions. For example, some B2B searches have low search volumes but high CPCs, meaning these are highly qualified leads (low quantity, high quality).

This is where human understanding comes in. Good SEO is more than just numbers and statistics. You have to look at each keyword to see if you think it could generate a qualified lead.

For example, the keyword “content marketing analytics” has a $40 cost per click, yet it gets only 60 searches per month. In this case, the searchers are likely to be working in the industry: you probably know what “content marketing analytics” means, and you’re researching solutions.

For a company like Media Shower, this keyword will be near the top of the list, due to its potential to create qualified leads. In short, they’ll be good potential customers. Much better than, say, “content marketing definition,” which will consist of people just starting their content marketing journeys.

Final Step: The Top 10 Keywords

The final step in your content marketing ROI plan is to create a list of your top ten keywords. No more, no less. Your content “tentpoles” will include these keywords, and all your content will be built around the top terms, adding in others from the list as it makes sense.

From this list of best possible keywords, you can create a content roadmap outlining specific blog posts, downloadables, and videos that can push search traffic toward your site, then convert that traffic into leads through effective calls to action (CTAs).

Media Shower Best Practices (Summary)

To sum things up:

  • Keep your SEO simple.
  • Perform competitor research through a tool like Ahrefs.
  • Drop it into our Keyword Planner spreadsheet, focusing on monthly search volume, CPC, and opportunity.
  • Based on opportunity, narrow your keywords down to about 100.
  • Focus on the top 10 keywords to establish a content roadmap.

Click to access our Content Marketing Keyword Planner sheet and start establishing your keyword SEO dominance today!