Choose Relevant Keyword Targets

Thursday, January 14, 2010
Posted by Mark Johnstone @ 3:44 pm

Ad Hoc Keyword Research is Dead

Determining an optimal keyword list can be a very involved process and is always considered the lynchpin of any successful search marketing campaign. Gone are the days of focusing your search marketing efforts on a phrase list consisting of one or two keyword terms. These “short-tail” phrases might prove to be over saturated in the search engines results or are lacking in specific relevancy to your message thus leading to a poor conversion potential. Finding those “long-tail” terms will always lead to a great ROI potential, and greater user retention.

The Process –In a Nutshell

The phraseology process has in recent years has truly become an art form and each analyst will have a core set of tools and different methods of data collection when crafting their final targeted terms.

The first step of this process typically includes the collecting of related search terms en masse. Generating large groups of search terms varying in length are gathered using keyword search tools and one should utilize more than one set of tools. Relying on one keyword tool can be detrimental to the end result when assessing your keyword targets. It is always a safe bet to back up your search data comparing the results between multiple sources. As one can imagine different search data sources can lead to very different results.

Most reputable search marketing firms will have a gambit of in-house developed tools at their disposal however here is a sample of commonly used search / keyword tools:

  • Google’s Keyword Tool and Insights to Search
  • Keyword Discovery
  • Word Tracker
  • Wordstream
  • Keyword Spy
  • SEOmoz – Keyword Difficulty Tool

At the end of this phase you should take a close look at historical analytics to see what terms have delivered the most relevant targets in the past. It is imperative not to destroy the great traffic you have enjoyed in the past by diluting it with new terms. Build on past successes instead of just replacing it with another term.
Once your core phrase targets have been collected and loosely organized the paring down phase of the process kicks in. The removal of unachievable terms (due competition) and others that have a lower relevancy or traffic potential should be performed. The results should deliver you with somewhat of a refined core list to work from.

The final goal of course is to have a tightly refined targeted list to apply to your search engine optimization strategies and this is where the historical knowledge of the types of keywords that convert comes in to play.
Assessing the realistic expectations of the phrases you wish to employ is prudent. Can your site compete with the others targeting that term? Are you able to do what it takes to add value to your site in order to target that particular term? These are the questions that need to be addresses before committing to the final targets.

These tips are truly a very broad look at what is needed to come up with solid targets that will over time deliver you with all that huge traffic increases you are looking for. An experienced keyword analyst will have the insight to provide a solid targeted list and the search / historical data to back up the choices.

The Company Branding and Messaging Misconception

The right mindset is essential to come up with the final keyword selection that is going to deliver you with those “money” terms.  All too often traditional marketing individuals have a difficult time understanding that what has works for years on a billboard does not necessary translate into a winning term via search. This is not to say that one should not pay close attention to fully understanding a company’s brick and mortar business and the existing marketing initiatives. The more intimate you are with the business messaging, product or service will obviously have a large impact on the phraseology process.

Marketing managers and business owners will also sometimes have strong views on what terms they wish to be found under. All too often these terms are not searched by web searchers in great numbers and in some cases can deliver irrelevant results.

For example, an auto insurance company might be apprehensive with the keyword suggestion “cheap auto insurance quotes” with the thinking that the word “cheap” degrades the quality of their business and perhaps places a misconception on the quality of their service. They may push you on this and suggest that “inexpensive automobile insurance quotes” is what they want you to utilize in your strategies. Nine times out of ten once they realize that people just don’t search that way and your suggestions will come to fruition.

Mark Johnstone

Search Engine Marketing Analyst and Project Manager
Google AdWords Qualified Individual
Metamend – Search Engine Marketing Experts

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