We recently started supporting our clients at Draft.dev with keyword research which, given our unique position, has generated some exciting opportunities. We work with an array of clients, targeting different kinds of customers, in a hyper-defined niche: software development.
Developer marketing is unique. It moves fast, and new terms are being popularized constantly. These factors, plus our position as a content marketing agency in the space, have allowed us to rank well in Google searches — fast.
In this piece, you’ll get an overview of these opportunities. I’ll offer a tiny bit of free keyword research, but competitors in our space are moving quickly. Much of this information will be outdated in 3–6 months, so it’s critical to reassess your keyword research regularly.
Finding Good Keywords in Developer Marketing
Although the specific long-tail keyword data I use in this article will become outdated soon, the underlying strategy is evergreen. I recently broke this process down into five steps, but it all starts with finding the right keywords.
1. Find a good keyword 🔑
It’s a little bit art and a little bit science. 🧪
I typically target keywords with >100 monthly searches and <20 difficulty in @ahrefs.
Let’s go with “cto interview questions” pic.twitter.com/gMWjLqq9gQ
— Karl L Hughes (@KarlLHughes) June 29, 2021
I use ahrefs to find estimated search volume and ranking difficulty. While these metrics aren’t perfect, they’ll give you a pretty good sense of how easily you can rank for a search term in developer marketing.
The hard part about finding good keywords in developer marketing is finding terms popular enough to have significant search volume, while being new enough to escape saturation.
Let’s look at six topic areas that meet this criteria. Using these terms as a starting point will help you write better technical content aimed at developers, while also helping you rank better in search engines.
Linux containers are not new, but Kubernetes is suddenly dominating the container and DevOps space. You’d think most of the tooling you need would’ve been built already — especially with a big corporate backer like Google. But lots of startups are creating tools for Kubernetes right now.
Given its fast, widespread adoption, it’s no surprise to see an influx of developers learning about Kubernetes. And to learn about anything, you need good content. Ahrefs currently shows five terms containing the word “Kubernetes”, with more than 1,000 monthly searches and a difficulty of 30 or less.
But it’s not all about top keywords. There are thousands of long-tail keywords we’ve investigated for various clients in order to come up with worthwhile content topics, such as performance testing, virtualization, and scalability.
The key to writing good Kubernetes content is technical expertise. If you search for related terms, you’ll find lots of cookie-cutter, jargon-filled fluff pieces. This kind of content doesn’t really fly in developer marketing; to compete you’ll need content written by experts — for experts.
Python recently became the most searched for language in Google. So as you can imagine, there’s tons of demand for good content to capture developers’ attention.
Useful search terms for companies to reach Python developers include:
- python square root, 9,400+ monthly searches
- python random number, 7,300+ monthly searches
- python read csv, 5,400+ monthly searches
- python command line arguments, 5,000+ monthly searches
In a real keyword research project, you’d filter terms by your target audience and product use case. But with thousands of keywords having a difficulty score less than 30, you’re sure to find a few good options.
“I consider GraphQL to be the most exciting thing to happen to APIs…I’d go so far as to say that GraphQL is the new REST.” — Nate Murray, Founder at newline
GraphQL is hot right now. This popularity comes in spite of its age, given some very mature projects use it as a query language and API interface. Search volume for GraphQL isn’t as high as other topics on this list. But using it alongside other popular frameworks and programming languages presents a very interesting opportunity.
GraphQL is a “glue” technology (it’s typically used in conjunction with other developer tools), so the tutorials and content you can write on it are limitless. The only question is whether GraphQL’s popularity will fade away, or eclipse REST as the go-to API query language.
Go has been around for over a decade now, with a small yet loyal following. While only used by around 9% of programmers, Stack Overflow ranked Go as the third “most wanted” language. It’s no surprise that our list of Best Go Blogs is one of our most popular Draft.dev blog posts.
There are plenty of opportunities for purchase-intent search terms as well. “Golang ide,” “golang mongodb,” and “golang authentication” might all be worth pursuing for the right companies.
I was hesitant to move to a new frontend language, but when my team adopted Angular, I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not alone either; TypeScript is the second most-loved programming language according to Stack Overflow.
6. Open Source
“It was just five years ago that there was an ample dose of skepticism from investors about the viability of open source as a business model. The common thesis was that Red Hat was a snowflake and that no other open-source company would be significant in the software universe. Fast-forward to today and we’ve witnessed the growing excitement in the space.” — Mike Volpi, General Partner at Index Ventures
Open source software continues to interest developers and non-developers alike. As Mike Volpi points out above, open source companies are leaning into this part of their business as a strength, rather than a hurdle.
When you look at the search data around “open source,” you’ll see a list of business ideas that could all prove successful with content marketing:
- open source search engine, 500+ monthly searches
- open source video converter, 450+ monthly searches
- open source 3d printer plans, 250+ monthly searches
- open source dashboards, 250+ monthly searches
- open source workflow engines, 250+ monthly searches
If your product has an open source core — or at least a component — it makes sense to use this to your advantage in developer marketing.
Generally speaking, there are lots of good opportunities for search engine optimization in developer marketing. Many companies in the space have historically underinvested in content, but we’re now seeing clients generating hundreds of leads with just a few thousand dollars spent.
If you’re interested in learning more, sign up for a call. I’d love to walk you through our process and help you reach more software developers through search engine optimization.
By Karl Hughes
Karl is a former startup CTO and the founder of Draft.dev. He writes about technical blogging and content management.
Build a Blog that Software Developers Will Read
The Technical Content Manager’s Playbook is a collection of resources you can use to manage a high-quality, technical blog:
- A template for creating content briefs
- An Airtable publishing calendar
- A technical blogging style guide