Keyword research matters to nearly every aspect of Internet marketing. It used to be so simple. Back in the day the (now retired) Overture Keyword Tool made assembling keyword baskets simple and sweet. Sure, search frequency and category patterns were skewed by SEOs-of-day. We busied ourselves repeatedly running now-obsolete ranking reports.
In those days, transparent bidding lent true insight to the cost of any PPC keyword category. Paid platform keyword research tools worked really well for SEO...heady times indeed.
The golden age of search was upon us, a brave new world of über-targeted media buys served to inquiring customers. For goodness sake, I remember rolling around on the floor in complete delight in the late '90s, because our clients' customers were flocking to search engines to ask for product information. Imagine that! Advising brand creation was no longer about random hotel room focus groups. Marketers finally had empirical data by which to judge decisions.
Keyword Research in the Age of Data Overload
Now in 2009, there are additional datasets to advise creating keyword baskets, available to the savvy demographic research artist. Most of our SEO kits include mainstream tools like Trellian Keyword Discovery, WordTracker and Google AdWords Internal/External tool. They're obviously foundational resources.
Second tier engines offer their search logs in the form of PPC keyword inventory. Also there are terrific niche keyword tools out there.
Still we shouldn't miss opportunities to mash up site-specific datasets like PPC history, organic analytics and associated conversion metrics. In addition, we can now take social media's pulse by buzz pocket mining, which elevates thesaurus-like stemming creative to near nuclear levels.
All of this makes for terrific keyword research for SEO, PPC and social media optimization. Tools and datasets are often best used in creative combinations. Here are just a few examples:
- Wire up a website's SEO, advised by its historic mid-tail PPC conversion metrics. Base decisions on "what to go for," on your site's authority and what's attainable organically.
- Start with competitive intelligence from SpyFu, Paste top keywords into WordTracker Lateral Stemming Thesaurus. Then run the results through AdWords External Keyword Tool. Sort to find the sweet spot where low average CPC intersects with higher search frequency. Set up an inexpensive mid-tail AdWords Campaign.
- Scrape any page in your site for phrase density. Then use social search engines like StumbleUpon, Twitter or Digg to find relevant content. Scrape your discoveries as well, to advise creation of additional content and categories for your site. Think of the process as keyword discovery by (buzz pocket mining).
- Study seasonal organic traffic and its propensity to convert for certain geotargeted permutations. Then advise segmentation of seasonal PPC campaigns with the data. Create additional content (and associated SEO), advised by keywords' conversion PPC conversion success (one happy circle).
- When multiple inline links to the same page from the same page exist, base your doFollow/noFollow decisions on PPC conversion data.
See, once you get going, applying creative wit to utilizing site-specific datasets at hand is simple.
Not The Kitchen Sink
Advising keyword research by measured consideration of multiple datasets certainly doesn't mean to always use every shred of data available. Having the wisdom to learn the difference between adding noisy layers to the research process or including just the right analytics combination, requires some experience.
Advanced Keyword Research: Multiple Dataset Checklist
Not everything on the list below will be available for all sites. One thing is for sure though -- taking a deeper inside-out approach to fleshing out keyword strategy, will likely result in sales.
Here's a checklist to aid in planning the keyword research process:
- Standard: Trellian KW Discovery, Google AdWords External Keyword Tool, WordTracker
Each of these tools has lovely idiosyncrasies. Check out WordTracker's Lateral Stemming Thesauruses and KW Discovery's Industry Terms. Google AdWords Keyword Tool's ability to scrape a page for dense phrase pockets is incredibly useful. In addition to classic search frequency metrics, experiment with sorting by PPC advertiser competition, seasonality and Average CPC. Experiment with different match types and synonyms. Dial in negative keywords and export seriously useful reports. Each tool; has many more features and worthy of entire articles individually.
- SpyFu is often a great place to start research. Download competitors' AdWords keywords and AdWords including bid cost metrics. Sort different ways. There are limited free accounts and subscriptions
- Compete.com is another free and paid subscription service. Gain competitive insight for every site on the web, as indicated by the "largest pool of online consumer behavior data in the industry."
- Buzz Pocket Mining means harvesting "community recommended" authority content to scrape for keyphrase insight, basket-build by keyword research tools, and extrapolate by other lateral stemming processes. BPM also provides a lovely side benefit in that, during the process, it's easy to identify and note each community's influencers and authority users for networking and conversational marketing later.
- PPC traffic and conversion history. One of the main advantages of PPC is the ability to cast a wide net quickly, to gain insight as to what works.
- Organic search traffic and conversion history. Often a site's authentic meaning and character is revealed by organic search traffic and conversion.
Keyword research is crucial to to nearly every aspect of online marketing and it's become much more complex. Whether for SEO, paid search or social bookmarks, think past traditional search frequency-based keywords research to build baskets. Take stemming past the online thesaurus and into Buzz Pocket Mining. Advise research by conversion metrics, search analytics advertiser competition and attainable SEO.
Take inspiration from competitive intelligence and go farther semantically than your competitors. Deploy SEO and PPC campaigns spread wide across highly relevant spaces to the product's demographics. Tools and datasets are often best used in creative combinations.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!