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6/2/2012 2:57:01 PM EST
|The 3-Step Process to Creating an Effective and Profitable Keyword Plan
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Would you rather get 1,000,000 visitors from Google each month or 1,000? Your gut is probably telling you to go with 1,000,000, but the reality is you don’t have enough information to make an educated decision.
The keyword game isn’t just about traffic, it’s also about quality. You have to look at conversion rates to make an educated decision.
This means you have to look at larger goals and breakthrough keyword volume.
In my ten years in the business I’ve made creating high-converting keyword research plans a priority…let me share my 3-step plan with you:
Step #1: Keyword research for SEO
When you research for keywords on your own site, it’s a lot easier to do because you know the content inside out. It’s almost instinct.
But if you are working on a new site, then it is best that you do a lot of keyword research. This means starting with a list of keywords. If you don’t have a list, then work through as much content as you can.
As you do that, think about this…
Think about any word or category you don’t understand – Drop these words into Google and see what kind of results come up.
Do these results match what you are trying to accomplish – Or does it look like their competitor? As you will see when we get into the conversion part of keyword research, keywords that don’t convert waste time and visitors.
When you find non-converting keywords, search through and remove any other keywords that are similar. As you do this your list of categories will probably change as you start to understand your site’s content. But it’s always easier to start with too many categories, which you can reduce later.
Check the estimated search volumes and make sure they match what you expect.
For instance, do more people search for “SEO consultant” or “SEO services.” Or do more people search for “florist” or “flowers”? Or do more people search for “washers” or “washing machines”?
While you may lean towards the more technically correct “SEO services,” you might find that more people are actually searching for SEO consultants, so you’ll want to work more references of “SEO consultants” into your copy.
And you are ready to use these 5 questions to maximize your keyword research. The following exercise is recommended by Jenny Halasz, and is a very helpful way to uncover keywords for clients efficiently and effectively.
How would you describe your site? – After you’ve spent some time evaluating your site and creating your own keyword bucket based upon what you read, you ask yourself to describe the site. You’ll notice that you’ll will probably tell yourself a lot of what you read on your own site. But just because you may understand your content and technical jargon, it doesn’t mean others will. This will help you figure out what focus on what needs to change.
Why would someone choose you over a competitor? – What makes your product unique? These are keyword conversion type questions that will ultimately decide if you come up in searches versus the competitor.
What products are like yours but not competitors? – An e-reader maker might say that smart phones are similar products since people can read on their phones…but not competitors since people will use smart phones for entirely different things.
Do you have a flagship product? – Is it your most profitable product? What are the reasons for promoting one product over another? The answer to these questions will help you focus. This will help you first focus all your energy on ranking that one instead of the others.
What are your most important keywords? – This question will help you back away from a mistaken belief that you have to rank for thousands of keywords. There are only ten really important keywords. Then there are the others.
Once you have a base of keywords, you have to use them to discover untapped opportunities. See, keyword research isn’t important just for building your current business, but it will help you identify possible opportunities or neglected markets.
This doesn’t have to be time consuming…you only need to pay attention to the data with an eye to helping build your current business and an eye to finding new markets.
Using tools like Google Insights, Keyword Tool and Trends will create a bulk of words in which just with a casual scan you can identify possible new opportunities.
Step #2: Keyword research for semantic understanding
As you develop your core keywords for SEO, you want to next shift into the area of semantic search keywords. There are a lot of advantages for having a keyword database like this:
Higher CTR – When you are using highly-targeted keywords, your CTR will improve…and if all your conversion funnel elements are in place are optimized for semantic searches…your CTR will skyrocket.
Reduce bid amount – Naturally, if you are creating keywords that are more a tune with searchers wants, you won’t pay as much for your pay-per-click campaigns as less, but higher-quality clicks will result in less money spent.
Raise quality score – This situation then leads to your semantically higher relevance for your keywords, which the search engines will happily reward you since you are contributing value to the web.
So, let’s look at some ways to find semantic keywords. They are not as easy to determine as SEO keywords. I’ll show you the tools that I use when analyzing a site and looking to build a semantic keyword database.
Optimizing semantic keywords around trends – One of my favorite strategies when it comes to staying in the public eye…and at the top of search rankings…is to develop keywords around trending topics. Fortunately there are some great tools to use like Google Trends, Ice Rocket, Trendrr TV and TweetVolume.
Studying social bookmarking tags – Analyzing how tags are used in social bookmarking platforms is another good way to generate semantic keywords. I would use sites like Diigo, Pinterest, Licorize and Delicious.
And to take things a step further you can also use the advanced search. The quickest way to find semantic keywords is to search on Google, and then look at their advanced search results…
Now click “related searches”…
…and all of your terms will appear:
From the results above you can determine that people are typically looking for brands when shopping. Knowing that is gold.
Google Instant will also give you further ideas for semantic…ideas that don’t show up in the “related search” results:
Now let me show you what semantic search is all about. Search for “lap top repair”…
…and you’ll see all of the similar keyword phrases. But when you look at Google Instant you’ll get this:
Now you have options related to location.
Obviously you don’t scoop all these terms up and dump them in your database. Keyword research involves carefully sorting through and understanding each phrase. Some will be obvious ones to use…others not so much. And then you should use Google Insights to narrow your keyword list down by category:
Just as semantic keyword research is about finding actual keywords you can use in your SEO campaigns…it’s just as much about building a complete profile of your target customer. And the better you can understand your target customer the better your campaign results will be!
Step #3: Creating keywords for conversion
At this point you should have dozens of files that you exported from dozens of keyword tools…flipping back and forth between those files isn’t efficient, so you need to create a master table in a database that you can eventually export into Excel.
This is a trick I learned from Tom Schmitz, and you don’t need to know how to work a database to do it. You do need Microsoft Access. Here’s what you do:
Put all of your keywords into one master file.
Sort all your keywords into number of words and then number of searches.
Identify all relevant keywords under three words.
Identify all keywords that are embedded in larger phrases.
Set traffic limits that are relevant to the site that you are trying to optimize. I’d recommend that a site that gets a ton of traffic will have a higher traffic limit than a site with a lower traffic limit.
Anything that is left over, keep it if it is relevant.
At the end, copy all the keywords you marked or set them aside into one table. These are your keyword candidates.
The above steps are pretty typical for SEO keyword research that is done on a practical, efficient and effective level.
You are now ready to look at the conversion side of your keyword research. The basic rule is this: you need to assign keywords to a target page. If there is no target page, then you have a useless keyword.
Go through your keywords and assign target pages. This post by Rand will tell you how to target more than one phrase to a page.
Once you have assigned keywords, now you can think about tracking these keywords. Here’s what you need to look at:
Organic visitors – How many visitors do search engines bring from natural search for each particular keyword?
Exact match search – What is the volume of exact matches when people are searching and landing on your target page? The higher this number the closer you are to correctly targeting your consumer.
Phrase match – You are looking at the volume of phrase matches for this one, too. And the conclusion is the same…the higher the volume the closer you are to correctly targeting your consumer.
Keyword diversity – How many different keywords are bringing in traffic? If you have a narrow variety of keywords, then you need to figure out how to expand that amount. Are the keywords with low search volume relevant? Do you need to re-evaluate their effectiveness?
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