Keyword Mining: An Interview With SES San Francisco Speaker Bill Hunt

Bill Hunt

Image Credit: Jackie Hole

Bill Hunt is an online marketing professional who is the president of Back Azimuth Consulting. He writes for various publications, including Search Engine Watch, and is a co-author of a best selling book, “Search Engine Marketing, Inc.

Hunt is also a professional speaker and will be speaking at SES San Francisco on Mining Your Search Keywords & Social Data for New Revenue Opportunities. During his session on keyword research, attendees will learn how to integrate data from search, social, and traditional media to identify new opportunities and revenue streams.

I recently had the great opportunity to interview him, to get a little more insight on his expertise and what attendees will be able to learn at his conference session.

Victoria Edwards: Back in October 2011, Google decided to protect users with secure search and stopped providing a large amount of keywords to marketers. What are some things marketers can do in order to find out what keywords their customers are using?

Bill Hunt: It is forcing marketers to use their brains, which is a good thing. Fortunately it is not turned off completely so you can still get a lot of intelligence. You can get some good data from Bing and Google Webmaster tools as well as your paid search data. I think companies need to look at both sides of the equation:

  • What do they use?
  • What “could” they use?

The “could” comes from a matrix of your products and services and buy cycle modifiers. That should be the bulk of your keywords. I then suggest people sort them by business value such as margin and inventory. Clearly we want to make sure we are doing well for the words that ring the cash register the loudest.

VE: Can you share any tricks or tips in regards to keyword research that some may not be aware of?

BH: I don’t that there are many they are not aware of, I think there are a lot they just don’t do. One of the biggest gold mines is site-search queries. This tells you exactly what people wanted and expected you to have since they search on your site.

Another is using click to call data – we have done some great models with companies using LivePerson. We look at the phrase (paid/organic) that they used to go to the page where they engaged the click to chat/call and then match that the frequency of engagement, audience segmentation (they always ask what is your role) and what was the outcome.

Matching these elements offers amazing insight into who is searching, visiting, and engaging. In once case the target was C-level executives and 94 percent of the people who searched and engaged were consultants. A quick adjustment of the campaign messaging to appeal to consultants and the leads increased exponentially.

My biggest recommendation is to just dig into the data and see what it tells you. Every data-mining project we find over numerous insights that the client never realized.

In my session at SES San Francisco I will go into a few of these cases. One that really stands out was mining site search data and found nearly a million queries related to tickets and 20 percent of them were directly monetizable. They created content to answer the questions and generated significant revenue that was going untapped.

VE: What are some ways Google Instant and Bing’s intent-based results are influencing the user?

BH: I think it is radically changing the expectations – I talk to people who get frustrated if they don’t offer what they expect to find. Matching searcher intent is huge and that is a major mistake of advertisers. They have a message or an offer theywant to push but if it does not connect to the searcher you will loose the opportunity. For the advertiser who takes the time to understand what the searcher wants and matches the offer they can increase performance.

VE: What are some of the first things you should do when beginning keyword research?

BH: As mentioned above, the very first step is to make a list of products, services, categories, features and functions of the product lines. Seems basic but I recently did some models for a company spending $20+ million on paid and 40 percent of their products were not represented in the keyword set.

Once you have that list you can append buy cycle modifiers such as purchase, reviews, data sheets, etc. to each keywords and that should be the majority of the words in your portfolio.

Then I try to map them to phases of the buy cycle, personas, intent and align it to the right content. Align this to revenue data to find the highest margin products and you should be in good shape. Anything after this is bonus.

VE: How can one leverage social media for keyword research?

BH: Dig into your conversational mining tools to see what people are taking about. We can find out about problems, needs, wants – even simple things like colors, sizes, etc. This is another gold mine of data.

In travel you can see destinations that start to trend before they hit search data and often booking data. For example, we have seen people talking about Labor Day in early to mid June. Knowing where people in a specific location of influence are talking about going will allow you to target offers for those destinations.

We have had other campaigns that were going to target topics or words in search and display that by monitoring social allowed us to see they were potential problem words and shifted money away from them or reworded them to align to the sentiment.

While Hunt is has vast knowledge in online marketing, I also thought it would be helpful to gain some insight on things that people would not normally know about him.

VE: I see that you fly quite a bit. What are some tips you can share with traveling, since you travel so often?

BH: Yes, I do a lot of international travel and have a few million miler cards and lifetime status, which will be great once I retire. Along those lines, sign up for all the hotel, car and airline loyalty programs but try to align to a hotel chain and an airline and learn every way they have to generate miles and points. I find a lot of people waste these opportunities. I gain “dad points” with my family at the end of each year by cashing hotel and airline points and take the family on an exotic location scuba trip.

VE: Do you have a favorite app?

BH: I’ll give you two – for general purpose I like TripIt it tracks all my travel details in a single place. My family knows to check it if they need to know what hotel or flight I am on. For fun, I like Absolut’s Drinkspiration App that tells you what drinks you make with what you have and allows you to try something new and interesting.

You can meet Bill Hunt at SES San Francisco. You can also follow him on Twitter @BillHunt.

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