How to Build a Content Marketing Keyword Plan (+ Tools and Template)


At Media Shower, we invented SEO. [Read the story here.] Now we’re sharing our system for finding high-performing keywords — what we call the “Golden Keywords.”

If you’ve ever had an SEO specialist hand you a list of 1,000 keywords and think to yourself, What am I supposed to do with all these?, let us show you a better way.

Finding your Golden Keywords has never been easier, thanks to our AI-powered Keyword Planning Assistant tool, and our downloadable Keyword Planner Worksheet template — both free, from your friends at Media Shower.

How to Use Our Keyword Planning Assistant

Just enter an initial keyword (or list of keywords), and our AI-powered tool will generate your Golden Keywords based on the two most important metrics: quantity and quality.

  • Quantity is the estimated number of searches per month;
  • Quality is the estimated Cost Per Click (CPC), or what Google advertisers are willing to pay per click.

We multiply these two metrics — quality times quantity — to get a “total dollar amount,” or the amount of marketing money that’s spent on that keyword each month in Google.

This is a much better way of identifying keywords, as we’ll explain below. But first, try out the tool!

Transform this chat into finished marketing materials: click for a

How to Do Keyword Planning

Over the years, we’ve tweaked and refined our SEO keyword strategy with hundreds of clients. Below, 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.

The general 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 much easier to determine return on investment (ROI).

In short, we want a laser-targeted list of keywords to generate the most qualified sales leads. Leads, in the end, are what we’re after. As online marketers, that’s our job.

Our Two Keyword Metrics

To keep it simple, we focus on just two primary metrics for each keyword:

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

That’s it. No “keyword difficulty,” no “competitor research,” 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 spent in Google monthly on a specific keyword. It’s a way to compare all your keywords, apples-to-apples. Consider it: “How many marketing dollars are spent on this keyword in Google each month?”

To summarize: Quantity (keyword volume) x quality (CPC) = Opportunity.

Where Can You Find Keyword Search Data?

You can find information on keywords in Google Ads or third-party tools like Ahrefs Keyword Explorer under “Search Suggestions” (Ahrefs is a paid tool, but it’s worth it). Once you have a list of relevant keywords for your topic, you’ll want to download it into a template format to cull it further. 

You ultimately want a list of around 100 keywords before narrowing down to 10. That’s enough to build 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.

How to Perform 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, first perform a Google search on the topic(s) you want to rank for.

Let’s say you’re a medical services provider and want to create a blog or page on EMRs (electronic medical records), which is your broad topic. 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:

researching a link on Ahrefs

Competitor Analysis

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 as shown below. You’ll be taken to another page showing which keywords (and how many) each competitor ranks for. 

organic keywords on ahrefs

Some of these sites (like the one we’re analyzing for 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 ranking near the top on the first page of Google, leading to several overlapping keywords you’ll want to focus on.

Exporting Your Data

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

Keyword Audit and Technical Analysis

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 additional or secondary keywords 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 also find some hidden gems.

Lastly, you can list all your selected keywords in the Media Shower Content Marketing Keyword Planner sheet 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 Monthly Opportunity (quantity x quality).

Finally: Trim Your List to 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 the best possible keywords, you can create a content roadmap outlining specific blog posts, downloadables, and videos to push search traffic toward your site and convert that traffic into leads through compelling calls to action (CTAs).

TLDR Summary

To build a comprehensive keyword list for your content marketing, a general rule is to keep your SEO simple, which means keeping your keyword list simple. You can use our Keyword Planning Tool above, or perform your own competitor research through Ahrefs to help narrow your keywords to about 100. Finally, 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!