Prioritizing Keyword Research & Grow Your Business

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Today  I am here to discuss about researching prioritizing keywords. Research is a process that requires step by step process and time. But all of your research can go vain if done in wrong way.

There are no lack of tools for keywords and no lack of metrics you can attach to those to evaluate the potential of them. But how you can turn your gigantic spreadsheet into something which will enable you to take action? You require a process for prioritization.

Keyword Prioritization

Criteria of Prioritization 

There are several ways to think about segmenting and prioritizing keywords. You should use this according to your business, and your goals, rather than some arbitrary score spit out of a tool. Every single search query has several unique qualities - some tools report dramatically regional differences, different volumes, and even 2-3x swings rate in conversation by simply going to plural from singular.
They all are different, and audience intent is also different. One way to think about keywords is to make a segment of each of them across three types of different criteria.

  • Competition or How many people are trying to rank for?
  • Volume or How many
  • Buyer Intent or How close is that searcher to a commercial action?


For your business one of this can be important than others.
Posit you have a celebrity gossip blog than volume might be a great deal for you rather than buying intent. By contrast, if you have an e-commerce store that buyer intent will be the most important criteria rather than anything else.
Every business is not the same, and your mileage may vary according to your business. So let's take a deeper look at what these criteria mean volume vs intent vs competitiveness. 

Volume: Quantity has a Quality of Its Own

Volume is the clearest and easiest way to prioritize the search terms - after all, everyone wants traffic.
The Google keyword planner provides a very helpful estimator for volume, which also includes Term explorer

Before you get excited, it is very important to understand a few big things about volumes and keyword research tools. 

Volumes Are Often Seasonal

Most of the business has some sort of seasonality. In many categories seasonality is straightforward and obvious - people look for warm clothes in fall and winter, water slides in summer, flower delivery in valentines day and again in any special day.

Even B2B categories often have mid-month, quarterly and yearly demand cycles. And keyword research for blogs is a different beast altogether. It is very possible that a big number of searches are fully seasonal and you might find yourself waiting a great deal of time for those searches to return.
You can use Google trends to check out the search volume results regarding seasonal and yearly demand. 

Volumes are Often Local 

Local differences in pronunciation and language filter through to search volumes, along with differences in demand. In some places, a water fountain is a bubbler, and a truck is a lorry. Understanding these local differences is the main key - you want to optimize according to how your customers are searching - not how someone that's out of your target market searches.

Or you might find yourself on the wrong side of a cultural misunderstanding. 

A brand name in one place might not be a brand in another place, and this information is also not worthy. And what Google sees as a transactional or local query in one area might not be one in another area.

For example, Google serves dramatically different results in Austin, CA, and San Francisco, Texas to searchers looking for "ThemeXpert." You have to make sure that you understand implied intention and local behavior in your SERP. Is something is a general/event query in one geography and a local query in another, that should deeply affect your strategy.

Volume Can Change Over Time

At the risk of business cliche, you should follow Wayne Gretsky's advice and skate where the puck is going.
Search volume might change dramatically over time - not only seasonally, but simply disappearing:

Additionally, there are often very large, consumer behavior driven searches to big, event-driven spikes.

In this case, that blog about low carb diets you started might be better positioned for the future (and the New Year's spike) by talking about paleo diet recipes instead of Atkins diet recipes.

Buying Intent 

In several business models, traffic by itself is not that much interesting. Traffic that subscribes to email lists, purchase things and represents the right sort of potential customers, by contrast, is very interesting.

To that end, you will want those keywords that converts - not only the drive traffic and certainly not only the ones that come from Google Keyword Planner. Often the long tail phrases do not drive tons of volume still drive many interested new customers - specially on aggregate.

Buying intent is different for each and every business, and ultimately a keyword will not be that much interesting to your business which is relevant to someone else's transaction.

You can monitor this by using:

  • Paid Search Data - Currently, this is one of the most accurate sources of conversion data by the query which rate approach 1. If you are running any extensive paid search campaigns, use intelligence and try to understand how keyword searches are turning into purchases.
  • Existing Organic Search landing Pages - Using a tool like Longtail Pro, SEMRush, or one of the enterprise level SEO performance management platforms.
  • On Site Search Data - If you have any internal search engine in anywhere on your website, check out the conversion rates of different terms internally and try to get an idea what converts and what doesn't.


You can also use external data - cost per click on paid search is often considered as a good indicator in more robust verticals. As pricing is auction based, for this method to work you need to know what your competitors are doing, at least two. In some areas, I might not get dependent on this, but in other verticals like travel, that tend to have several extremely savvy paid search advertisers this might be very accurate.

Words and Buying Intent 

One of the more interesting aspects of search marketing is often the direct relationship between the level of buying intent and length of the query (there is of course exception in this rule like - "emergency locksmith" is a short query with lots of intent.)

This makes an interesting scenario - where there are often more revenues available for optimizing specific, low volume high intent searches rather than broad keywords with mane more searches per month.

Generally, more specific modifiers signal more specific intent, e.g., "Mens Polo Shirts" has nothing near buying intent associated with "white mens Versace shirt size 4".

You can also check this pattern with: 

  • Plurals - "Plural term possesses much more buying intent than singular" this is often founded by e-commerce store owners
  • Discount code or Coupon terms (often these visitors are literally on a shopping cart checkout page)
  • SKUs and Manufacturer product code
  • Product names with descriptive modifiers
  • Exceptionally specific searches with vertical modifiers (e.g. "email marketing software for a restaurant")

Competitiveness 

In addition to buyer and volume intent, when you look at the keyword, you have to look at competitiveness. Will that juicy high intent, high volume keyword take a year of dedicated work from a team? Or is it something else that you can get with your existing authority?

Through SERP analysis and looking at existing link metrics for rank potential, you can calculate these - how many links would you require to rank for one of these terms? How authoritative are these sites that rank for these queries today?

By using your favorite spreadsheet tool, link data set, and source of cheap labor, you can do this by yourself. Or you can use a tool like TermExplorer's Keyword Analyzer handle the heavy lifting for you:

​At here CPC can also be very helpful - Though it is not a strict measure of organic competitiveness, but it can be a very helpful way for gauging search competition.

Prioritizing: What to Tackle First 

You can categorize and segment your search terms based on these 3 metrics - Volume, competitiveness and purchase intent.

  • High Volume, High Intent, High Competition - the "Whales"- These are terms that have significant volume and significant purchase intent. Because of this they also have significant competition.

These might take a very long time to rank for (and may be impacted by new Google ad units). While this is a part of your plan, don't exclusively hunt whales - after all, if your budget is cut down or your client ends your engagement, it won't matter how great your plan is.

Another point about these terms is that alternative search-driven marketing strategies than "develop a page and rank it in search engines" might be appropriate for these terms. Can you purchase a website that already ranks for these terms? A website with this traffic, can you enter into an affiliate partnership? Can you do some digital Press release and place an article which ranks for this sort of term on a high authority publication?

There are many ways to influence people searching for keywords and bring those searches back to your website.

  • High Intent, Low-Medium Volume, Medium-High Competition - the "Deer" - These are terms that you can rank with some work and have some content value. These are good medium-term goals - and a very great way to start building out a footprint you can continually expand.

Generally, I try to think of keywords along these criteria:

  • What we can do in the near term which will help us show finance future investments and success in search visibility?
  • What we can we turn on in the next sprint and see an ROI from? What's the low hanging fruit?
  • What we can do in the medium term - attacking more competitive terms - and build the machine which will allow us to pick terms, target them and rank for them?
  • And what long-term 'whales' can we take on eventually and aspire to get to?

Conclusion: Work Smarter, Not Harder

Effective prioritization is the key between "an ever-increasing stream of traffic and revenue from organic search" and a spreadsheet full of numbers and strings." By prioritizing your keywords by researching their competitiveness, volume and purchase intent, you can find great opportunities and structure your work for maximum effectiveness.

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