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I am frequently asked how to find search terms in a specialized industry--the other day I was asked specifically about the Biotech and the Medical Device industries. I think part of the reason this question comes up is that we search experts always use popular examples, such as "digital cameras," to demonstrate keyword research. But what if you sell apnea monitors? Surely a product that specialized needs a different approach, right?

Wrong. I think that marketers without much experience in search marketing have grown accustomed to the idea that some kinds of marketing work for B2C, while B2B marketers need to put other techniques at their disposal. For example, if I was doing a seminar on TV commercials, the question, "How do you use TV ads in a specialized industry?" is a very intelligent question. The questioner recognizes that using a broad approach in a specialized market yields loads of wasted spending with little result to show for it.

But search marketing, happily, is different.

If you're selling digital cameras, you approach keyword research by entering a keyword into a keyword tool, such as Google's keyword tool. Perhaps the keyword you try is "digital cameras" (good thinking).

The tool then shows you lots of variations on that keyword that add extra words to digital cameras. You can pick and choose which ones to focus on based on how close a fit they are for your business and how popular they are. If somewhat popular keywords very closely relate to your business, they make sense to target. But if you sell expensive digital cameras, it makes no sense to target "cheap digital cameras" no matter how popular it might be.

You'd do the same thing in the medical device industry, or any other specialized industry. For example, suppose your medical device company sells apnea monitors. If you type that keyword in Google's keyword tool, you find a list of related keywords, such as "apnea baby monitor" or "apnea infant monitor" or "apnea adult monitor." But you'd also find "sleep apnea monitor" and "home apnea monitor" and many other variations. Depending on what products your company sells, some of these are very close fits, and some are not.

The same approach works in search marketing for mass market as well as specialized businesses because the act of searching is an implicit act of market segmentation. TV shows are broadcast rather indiscriminately--anyone with a TV might be channel surfing to watch the show, Web searches, however, are far more specialized, so those looking for information about a specialized industry are alongside everyone else, but marketers don't need to change their approach to target the right people. The searchers do that for you.

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February 5, 2009

Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.


I would have to agree with your comments on this blog. When faced with which keywords to target you can use a broad keyword like Types of Student Loans and then create seperate keywords for each. This example would include private student loans, subsidized student loans, etc. Through testing in adwords you can target the keywords that create the best ROI.

I have done few keyword research, what I basically do is to look for you possible competitors, then study carefully what keyword their using. After which, draw away from these. Using the Google AdWords, it's more easy to see the percentage of how many sites are using such keyword. Another is that, use more specific than broad keywords not like health audio books. It would definitely return you many competitors. Using of phrases will also help.

very nice and informative site sir. I really had a great time reading some of you post.. keep it up and looking forward to read more soon.

Additional tip: You may also use WordTracker and SEO Digger for effective keywords.

If you using Google Keyword Tool you can take one website that talk about your industry and try to do search with Website Content option. Sure it will generated keywords that are truly specific as to target.

Yes, the keyword tool is definitely very useful in my search for related keywords. For example, the phrase I've used "stretch marks prevention" actually lists keywords related to pregnancy, rapid weight loss, surgery etc. But I would suggest using broad keywords to enlarge your lists.

Often times looking for the right keywords just requires to dig deeper with keyword layers and just creating one large spreadsheet of keywords and then shaving them down.

According to me, finding keywords for any specialized industry is bit difficult task, because we are first internet users then SEO, we have already used google for our personal use. So it is very easy to find keywords for any popular industry. But we don't have much knowledge about any specialized industry. Yeah, we can use/we are using different tools to find right set of keywords for any specialized industry, but still I feel that it is not that easy to find keywords for any specialized industry.

Another tool that I find useful on keyword research is Market Samurai this is a new tool which uses googles keyword tool engine and many more.

Bill from Austin Divorce Help

Thankyou for the tips i am not a big fan of keyword research. honestly i hate it, but it has to be done.

This information was very helpful in my search for a good way to work with SEO.

Instead of using a software to generate synonyms of your keywords and then sifting through them, find new keywords in your log file data!

Log files provide a private and relevant list of keywords that users actually searched to find your specific website.

Instead of using a software to generate synonyms of your keywords and then sifting through them, find new keywords in your log file data!

Log files provide a private and relevant list of keywords that users actually searched to find your specific website.

I would definitely agree with maria-donna. We start with a seed list of potential keyword phrases. We do a Google search for those phrases then we start examining and researching these sites. This will also reveal regional differences in languish that are not likely to show up using software or services.

Get yourself some great tools and do competitive research. You'll find a lot by learning what other are doing. Rinse. Repeat. Gung HO!

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Agreed. I think the point that most must not forget is that in specialised industries that you are expecting less traffic, simply as the market is smaller. On the flip side, as there is a smaller market it tends to be a little better targeted so conversions should on average be higher.

Keyword research is essentially the same regardless.

How about trying Wordtracker?

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The problem I find with google adwords keyword tool is that it is difficult to find long tail keywords using that tool. Any ideas on how to find out long tail keywords using that tool?

For one, keywords are dutifully incorporated into your site so that you can easily be picked up by search engines during look-up. This involves keyword research to determine the most commonly used words or phrases that compliments the content of your page.

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It is safe to say that you have the right keywords listed down to be implemented on your website. If not, then you might want to start looking for commonly-used words and phrases that Web surfers use to look for information using search engines. Once you have them down, you can start by putting keywords on the title and Meta description of your page.

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I have learned SEO from the great bloggers such like you. I thank you always for such great post and that comes from the sole of my heart. Just as you always help i would alywas help you by telling my secrets. I use a free keyword tool from serp analytics and it can be found out here is a good and not such like Google and yahoo which are showing some broad results..I have been using this from past one year and thought to share it through my comments.


Awesome!. But what happened to Adword External tool to research more about keywords. Isn't it the perfect tool for the direction of your site?
Tommy Nagasaki

Good read mate. Good keywords are the key to successful website. The first thing when I get a product it’s write down some keywords from my head and then use Google to expend them into others. After that I test with ppc
Thanks for the article


I think you have over-simplified the process in a way that may leave clients in a specialized market at a disadvantage.

If I use your example of Apnea monitors I have to ask, "Who are you targeting?" Is it doctors or are we trying to go direct to patients so that they will ask their doctors and indirectly drive sales. For the sake of argument, let's say the client answers both. That tells me that I'll have to perform one branch of keyword research along the lines of clinical terminology and SEVERAL branches for consumers.

As we look at consumers, we have to acknowledge that many will not know to look for this product. So while exploring variations on apnea monitors or home sleep studies might be productive...the larger market opportunities may require that we help create awareness by placing the client's site/pages/message where people living with the underlying disease are searching.

So for consumer-facing keywords we may have one line of research related in general to sleeping disorders, another specific to apnea, another to sleep studies and diagnosis, and more yet to the related health risks.

While the easy money will be on the highly targeted "apnea monitor" keyword may completely miss the mark depending on your client's objectives...and limiting your research may fail to uncover...or fail to generate...the full potential of the market.

Ryan Miller
Etna Interactive

This is definitely a simplified example, Ryan, as you say. (It's not easy to write a short post and discuss keyword strategy in all its glory--that's what our book is for.) You're right that the client's intent must be matched to the searcher's intent, and to the part of the buying cycle that is being targeted. Someone might be searching for sleep apnea before ever knowing that there are monitors to alert someone in the event of a problem. The point of the post is to get folks in specialized industries to use the same kind of approach that everyone else does in keyword research, but you're right that this article simplifies the process substantially.

There are plenty of keyword suggestion tools available on the web. Some are free, some are not. I tend to use Google’s keyword suggestion tool.

I disagree...keyword research is the easy part. Building the content is a pain.

No matter what keyword tool you use, for me I think the Google keyword too is still the best.

Brian, I don`t think content is hard if you know how to get them.They can be outsourced easily for a few buck.

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