How To Use Keyword Research to Boost Association Marketing

[fa icon="calendar"] Apr 4, 2017 8:45:00 AM

When your association starts creating content, you should be thinking about how that content can provide valuable info to your members, but also how it can help you get noticed. 

One of the main goals of writing content is to generate high Search Engine Optimization or SEO scores, so when people type questions into search engines, your organization is at the top of the list of the answers that pop up.  But how do you know what people are searching for? And what’s going to give the biggest bang for your buck?

Improve Your Association Marketing With These 8 Steps to Conducting Keyword Research 


The keyword research thought process can be tricky, especially if you're not used to it. Set aside a good chunk of time and follow these 8 steps carefully to conduct your own keyword research. If you do this process thoroughly, you will end up with a long list of potential keywords that you can then begin to prioritize.

Step 1: Research your buyer personas 

Ideally, your association has already done this part. Buyer Personas are fictional representations of your ideal potential member. If your association doesn't have member personas yet, go ahead and make them. This is a crucial first step in any marketing campaign.

Check out an example of a completed buyer persona here. 

Essentially, go back and read the material you have on your personas, and pull out any word combinations that have potential. The identified “pain points” are an especially good source for keywords, because a lot of people will be heading over to Google to solve some of these problems.

Step 2: Research your current members

Comb through their social media. What are your members discussing? Additionally, what questions have they asked you in the past? How have you answered? Consider sending out a survey to identify these key questions as well. This helps you identify what they're thinking about, talking about, and even stressing about. 

Step 3: Research your own association

You’ve got a lot of smart people around you who can help narrow in on relevant topics your potential members are searching for. Interview some of your staff and members, and ask them:

 A) what do we currently offer to members?

B) What problems are we solving for them?

C) How would you describe the association to someone who has never heard of it?

D) What common questions do members ask?

Step 4: Research your competitors and industry bloggers

First, start by going to the competitors that you already know about. What topics do they discuss?


 Once you’ve written a list of keywords, now google those terms, and see who else is writing about them to broaden the competitor list even more. Although you do not want to be duplicating content, it can still give you ideas about what topics are popular or trending.

Then, you can always put a new perspective on an existing content or take an opposing viewpoint. 

Step 5: Pull keywords from online forums and message boards

If you have your own online community, this step is even better. It provides great insight into the struggles your current and potential members are facing. What are they asking each other? I bet you can write full blog posts on just one question someone has about something new going on in the industry, a concept he/she doesn't quite get, a change in the rules, etc. 

Step 6: Expand your keyword list by searching for variations of words

This is when you’ve got to start thinking like a thesaurus. What are other ways of saying the same thing?

Think about car/automobile/vehicle. Pop/soda/coke.

People may be looking for answers to the same questions, just articulating them slightly differently.

Step 7: Determine which keywords people are using to find you

Admittedly, this step is a little tricky because Google just made that information a lot harder to find out. Here’s a handy article with some insights on how to get this information.

Step 8: Analyze your keywords to find the ones with the most potential

There are a few resources to do this, such as Wordstream. A lot of these tools will allow you a certain number of keyword checks for free, and then they start charging. Remember that what you’re ultimately looking for are words that:

a) are searched often, and b) do not have a lot of competition (which means not a lot of other sources are writing content using these particular words).

Once you’ve established your target keywords, your keywords can help inform your association marketing strategy.

You can start to write content that integrates them, make sure your website is optimized around them, and even start paid ad campaigns. 



Remember, your ultimate goal is to deliver helpful information to people. If they’re searching for these words, it means they have problems that your association can very well solve!  

If you found this blog helpful, check out some of our other posts on related topics:

The 3 Stages of the Modern Buyer's Journey

Marketing Automation vs. Inbound Marketing: Demystifying Two Marketing Buzzwords for Associations

For more info on how your association can step up your marketing game, download our Inbound Marketing Checklist. Use this guide to make sure your association is doing everything possible to get your marketing campaigns up and off the ground!Inbound Marketing Campaign Checklist

Topics: content, associations, SEO, keyword research

Arianna Rehak

Written by Arianna Rehak