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 is 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. So, 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 instinctual.
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 do they compete with your goal? 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. By the way, it’s always easier to start with too many than too few categories because you can always reduce them 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”? “Florist” or “flowers”? “Washer” 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 instances of “SEO consultant” into your copy.
You are now 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 to focus on and what needs to change.
- Why would someone choose you over a competitor? – What makes your product unique? These are keyword conversion type of questions. Answering them properly will ultimately dictate if you come up in searches versus your 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 product 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. It it will also 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 that might help you build your current business and find new markets.
Step #2: Keyword research for semantic understanding
As you develop your core keywords for SEO, next you want to 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. If all your conversion funnel elements are in place and optimized for semantic searches, your CTR will skyrocket.
- Reduce bid amount – Naturally, if you are creating keywords that are more in-tune with what searchers want, you will reduce the cost of your pay-per-click campaigns: fewer, but higher-quality, clicks will result in less money spent.
- Raise quality score - This situation then leads to semantically higher relevance for your keywords, for which the search engines will happily reward you since you are contributing value to the web.
So, let’s look at some of the ways to find semantic keywords. They are not as easy to determine as SEO keywords. I’ll show you the tools 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.
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 look at the advanced search results:
Now click “related searches,
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 suggestions 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 “laptop 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 of these terms up and dump them in your database. Keyword research involves careful sorting through and understanding of each phrase. Some will be obvious ones to use while others not so much. And then, you should use Google Insights to narrow down your keyword list by category:
Semantic keyword research is as much about finding actual keywords you can use in your SEO campaigns as it is 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 have a higher traffic limit than a site with less traffic.
- Keep anything that is leftover, but only if it is relevant.
At the end, copy all the keywords you marked 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 targeting your consumer correctly.
- 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 targeting your consumer correctly.
- 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 number. Are the keywords with low search volume relevant? Do you need to re-evaluate their effectiveness?
This three-step process of researching and identifying keywords will help you build a comprehensive and effective keyword plan that will help increase your traffic and, more importantly, boost your revenue.
I know the process above can be time-consuming, but if you don’t start off with a proper keyword plan, you’ll just end up flushing your money down the toilet.
Do you have any other advice for creating effective and profitable keywords?
P.S. If you need help picking the right keywords for your site click here.