Knowing the ins and outs of keyword analysis is obviously helpful, but you first need to get clear on your ‘why’ (to parrot Simon Sinek). Also, there’s the matter of the buyer’s journey i.e. where they are in the sales funnel (top, middle or bottom).
It’s tempting to gloss over this initial step, but don’t. Here’s why.
Let’s say you’re choosing a keyword for a TOFU (top of the funnel, but be honest, you thought we meant that weird vegan gloop masquerading as food) blog post designed to promote an eBook, you’ll want an informative keyword or one that’s centred on a question.
Conversely, if you need a keyword for a website landing page, then it’ll have more of a lead-gen focus. For example, on our own website we have a landing page optimised for ‘B2B PR agency’ rather than just ‘B2B PR’ because someone searching for the former is closer to the point of purchase. Make sense?
Right, once you’ve answered those two questions, come back and we’ll get cracking on the ‘how’ part of this equation. Or, as we SEO geeks like to call it, the long tail and the short of it. Nerd much?
Our keyword analysis quest begins (as all good quests do) with a blank Excel spreadsheet. Beginning in column A, your first task is to create a long list of potential keywords for each of your products and services.
Establish your priority services/products
You need to be clear on what it is you’re trying to sell before you start researching associated keywords. If you only sell a handful of products or services this will be easy, but if you’re a technology reseller with multiple vendors and hundreds of products, not so much.
You’ll still support all your products, but there will naturally be an order of priority. This will help you focus your keyword analysis and build your SEO strategy. Once you’ve established the priority services/products, assign each one its own tab in your keyword research spreadsheet.
Drill down for more information
You need to gather as much information as possible and the best way to do that is by answering a bunch of questions around each product/service you offer. It’s going to be time-consuming, but the results will be worth it. (Sustenance in the form of caffeine and snacks is advisable.)
The easiest way to go about this is to come up with a bunch of questions that you need to answer. Here are some examples, but feel free to add, subtract and adapt as you see fit.
- Who are your main competitors?
- What are the various names of your product/solution?
- Is it known by anything else?
- Has it been called anything else in the past?
- Will it be called anything else in near future?
- Is the product modular? Does it have component parts?
- Is the product described by a generic name e.g. your customer might be selling the ‘StepMaster 54XXX’ but everyone’s calling it a ‘treadmill’?
- Are there any common suffixes or prefixes (known in the SEO world as ‘modifiers’) customers use when describing product or solution e.g. price, training, support, partner, implementation, modules, reviews, geographic, industry specific, plurals?
- Has the product been manufactured by a different vendor in past?
What are the typical customer pain points this product/solution addresses?
Are there typical organisations you work with in relation to this product/service?
Don your analytics hat
The next step in the process requires a little analytics know-how. If you’re comfy with this, then open your Google Search Console account and set it to review last 90 days (this is the maximum).
The plan is to review your search analytics to find out the types of queries people are already searching for that result in them landing on your site. Add these keywords to your growing list.
These keywords can often be helpful when planning content. For example, after doing some research of our own we saw that one of our much older posts was still generating a lot of search traffic. We immediately set to work updating it to make it current before republishing: cue loads of relevant top of funnel traffic.
Let’s get Googling
Try Googling some of the most common keywords you’ve generated so far. What kind of PPC ads do they return? Do these ads contain keywords you haven’t thought of that you can add to your list?
Stick with Google, but this time review the search engine’s autocomplete suggestions instead. While you’re at it, take a moment to check out the ‘Searches related to…’ at the bottom of the page for additional suggestions.
You can also Google the terms in the ‘Searches related to…’ box for even more options. I’d tell you to add these keywords to your super long list, but you already knew that, didn’t you?
By now your head is likely ringing or fuzzy or both. Mastering the fine art of keyword analysis isn’t like figuring out how to use a blender, it’s slightly more complex than that. So, take a power nap if you have to, but then pour yourself a strong cup of coffee and come back. We ain’t done just yet.
Coffee at hand? Good, let’s dive back in. Stick with me and by the end of this series you’ll be searching for keywords like you were born for this (or, at very least like you kind of know what you’re doing).
Fire up the keyword analysis tools
Using a tool like Moz’s Keyword Explorer or Google’s Keyword Planner, you can search for other keywords based on your existing list and even discover long tail questions to add to said list. You can also look to Answer The Public and Quora for additional inspiration.
Spy on the competition (only, try not to call it spying)
Review your competitors’ websites and Google the main keywords you already have and pick out the top-ranking competitors on page one of the search results. Using a website crawling tool like Screaming Frog (it’s free to download and use on sites with up to 500 pages), you’ll be able analyse things like their title tags and H1s.
Why is this geeky stuff important? Well, if the websites you’re analysing have done a good job of their SEO they’ll have optimised these elements for the keywords they’re targeting. Add these keywords to your long list. You’re welcome.
List assessment time
Take a long, hard look at you ludicrously long list. Can you perhaps do any of the following to increase the length of the list? Seriously, you want it as long as possible, so don’t hold back.
Make words plural
Swap words with numbers
Swap words around
Ask questions (“How do I…”, “What are the…” etc.)
Note common prefixes and suffixes you keep coming up with and try applying them to other keywords in your list
Pair up keywords and sectors
Now you need to start pairing the keywords you’ve come up with to the sectors you’re interested in. This will further increase the size of the list (yay) and also ensure it’s as targeted as possible.
Then you’re going to pair the keywords you’ve generated with common modifiers like ‘business’, ‘services’, ‘price’ etc. Let’s say you have a document scanning product, you could come up with a keyword by listing ‘document scanning’ as the name of the product and later on pairing it with the suffix ‘services’. The result: ‘document scanning services’ – a great bottom of funnel keyword.
But what if you’ve got your sights set on selling this particular service to the charity sector? Well then, you’ll want to make sure you combine ‘charity document scanning’ with the suffix ‘services’. The result: ‘charity document scanning services’ – an even better keyword for your purposes.
The question is, how do you know which products to pair with which sector names? Your best bet is to quickly run the long list of product names you’ve already compiled through Google’s Keyword Planner and sort them according to search volume. From there, pick the five or six product names with the highest search volumes and pair these with your sector names. Finally. combine them with sectors. Easy peasy.
List swapping (it’s not the same as spouse swapping)
If you’re conducting this keyword research as a team, it’s time to swap your long list with someone else’s. Using some of the techniques above, spend about 20-30 minutes doing basic searches to come up with obvious keywords you feel should be in the list you’re checking.
Now cross-reference your results with your teammate’s spreadsheet to make sure the keywords you’ve come up with exist in their list. (You’d be surprised how easy it is to miss obvious alternative names for services/products.)
Run a spellcheck and ditch the duplicates
Once you’ve identified (and plugged) any holes in your spreadsheet, the next step is to run a spellcheck. Obvious, maybe, but you’d be surprised how many people gloss over this seemingly obvious step as well.
Spelling mistakes can result in a lot of wasted time if they’re not discovered at this stage. Moving ahead with your list generation and keyword analysis process using corrupted information means you could potentially lose out huge opportunities.
Now is also a good time to deduplicate the list using Excel’s ‘remove duplicates’ function (last seen lurking under the data tab).
Choosing priority keywords
Now it’s a case of picking the priority keywords. You’re looking for a subtle combination of high volume + low competition + user intent.
Lets break that down bit by bit.
Consider the first result on page one gets roughly 30 percent of all organic clicks. If your keyword gets 100 searches a month then you can expect to pick up 30 IF you rank first.
To rank first: a) the content you’re creating to rank for that keyword needs to be better than everything else on page one b) your website (actually your domain) needs to be roughly as authoritative as the other websites on page one.
This is where a paid Moz account comes in useful. The Moz toolbar will return DA measurements for each site returned – see screenshot below
This makes it very quick and easy to compare your website’s DA to the competitions’.
This comes back to our ‘B2B PR agency’ vs ‘B2B PR’ example. If your keyword is ‘blue widget supplier’ then you know the person searching for it has real buying intent.
Once you find keywords that look like they would be good to target, make sure you Google them. This is to ensure:
The keyword is not actually the name of a company – many companies chose to make keywords their domain name as they think it’ll help them rank better
The keyword is actually relevant and you haven’t accidentally selected a keyword with an alternative meaning that’s nothing to do with your business
Page one real estate is not dominated by ads, knowledge boxes etc.
Mapping keywords to pages
Finally, you need to map the keywords to the pages on your site and start making meta data edits and creating new content. Remember your homepage is your most authoritative page (as it’s what most links point to) – therefore it’s often sensible to use it to go after the most competitive keyword you’re interested in. Oh and finally, after all that keyword analysis, don’t forget to track them to see how your rankings are progressing. There are a lot of keyword ranking tools – Authority Labs is reasonably priced and pretty good. Good luck!
If you get stuck with keyword research and analysis then drop us a line, we’re happy to help!