Understanding how your customers use search engines to find your products, services, blog posts, or any other content you may have available to share is a critical component of your inbound marketing efforts. Keyword research is such a powerful skill, and allows the search marketer to size and prioritize their efforts, while keeping a keen eye on the behaviour of their users.
In this section, we’ll look at the theory, and the practice of discovering keyword opportunities, organising them into meaningful campaign categories and translating those categories into decisions about your site architecture.
If you have intermediate to advanced skills in Excel, you’ll find this approach easy to absorb and assimilate into your existing keyword research process. If you’re an Excel user, you might have come across Niels Bosma’s SEO Tools for Excel and our own SEOgadget for Excel.
Keyword Research in 4 Simple Steps
Our process for keyword research falls into 4 simple steps:
In this section, we’ll look at methods to gather and group your keywords, ready for you to analyse the data and use the outcome to better structure your website.
Gathering Your Keywords
There are a variety of tools available to generate keyword ideas – some provided by search engine companies themselves, others provided as a service specifically for search marketers.
Our goal in the “keyword gathering” stage, is to attempt to build a full and complete list (as is possible – perhaps as many as 25% of all queries Google processes daily have never been seen before!). With a complete list, you can take away a sense of certainty that you’re not missing out on an important keyword opportunity.
There are a number of different sources of keywords – a great, and oft overlooked starting point is your own analytics. Try exporting the first 1,000 referring keywords from Google Organic search, and build a list in Excel.
A really smart way to build a list is to get as much relevant data as you can, and de-duplicate as you go. Here are some tools you could visit to build your keyword list:
Gathering Keywords From Your Competitors
Both SearchMetrics and aHrefs have a similar competitive analysis tools, both providing keyword data for your own organic (and paid search) activity, but it also allows you to investigate your competitor’s ranking keywords, useful if you need to understand their most important keywords.
Gathering Keywords from Suggest Tools
Ubersuggest is a tremendously powerful way to expand a keyword list, by entering a “seed” keyword, the tool extracts related terms that would appear in Google suggest.
You can select web search, news search and choose your geo location and language. The more technically savvy among you will notice that the “search results in html” URL can be scraped and exported into Excel very quickly.
Search Query Impressions via Google Analytics
Google Analytics provides Webmaster Tools query data, showing the key phrases your site ranks for in organic search, and the number of impressions your site listing appeared for.
By selecting country as your secondary dimension, you can drill down to some very useful snippets of information about your site’s long tail.
Alternatively, you could use Google Webmaster Tools as a source of the same data:
Getting Google Search Volumes with Grepwords
For most of us, the Google Keyword Planner Tool is a powerful enough aid to keyword research, fetching monthly average search volume and trends data in your geo-location .
The tool allows you to paste in up to 800 keywords at a time, making it a simple matter of recombining that data into your spreadsheet at a later point. With that said, some of us require more data, more quickly and more often. For that use case, it’s possible to automate much of the data collection in Excel, with SEOgadget for Excel.
Here’s a helpful video explaining how it’s done:
Google Trends – Related Searches
Google Trends offers features that I believe are immensely powerful, “top searches” and “related terms”. Simply enter a keyword, and Google Trends expands on that list for you. The data can be exported and added to your list.
Grouping Your Keywords into Categories
When you’re designing your site navigation, you might want to consider linking to pages with the highest likely search volume potential. Imagine for a moment, you’re a website that sells used cars, and you categories by brand. Which of your brand pages should be linked to from your homepage? Keyword categorisation answers precisely that question.
Here’s a simple methodology to group your keywords together is to use Excel filters:
Create a custom filter, and then your data’s ready to go into a chart:
In our example above, “share price” would be a great top term to target, so in site architecture terms, you’d want to consider creating a top level category on your website called “share prices”. As you’re designing your navigation, work down the keyword list in search volume order, picking out the keywords you’ll need pages for.
That’s a really fast introduction to keyword research, categorisation, and how to determine the types of pages you might want to create and link to from your navigation. For furtehr reading on the topic, take a look at these articles:
Keyword Research – A Comprehensive guide – CopyBlogger