This is part 11 of a 12 part series on keyword research. This series will guide you through four distinct phase of the keyword research process, providing you step by step guidelines to help you gather, sort and organize your keywords into an effective marketing campaign.

Phase IV: Organizing Keywords for Success

Making SEO Successful

Organizing your keywords into an effective marketing strategy is the most important of the four phases of keyword research outlined in this document. While most often SEOs and keyword researchers focus on the research phases, organizing your keyword properly can truly help you create a vastly more successful optimization and marketing campaign.

Let's use the analogy of building an engine to help us understand the value in this final step in the process.

Phase I

Phase I of the process is all about understanding what type of engine you're working with. You're analyzing the various aspects of the engine to get a better understanding of what exactly you're working with. By identifying the right core terms you have a better understanding of how to proceed in building a successful optimization campaign.

Phase II and III

The next two phases are about learning which parts you'll need to give your engine the proper tune up. You're figuring out what are the best phrases to use and discarding those that obviously won't give your website the best performance.

Phase IV

This last phase is all about putting your engine together, or at least laying out the parts so that you CAN put the engine together properly. The goal is to create a way to optimize for every possible relevant keyword into your site, so as to deliver more traffic without negating your site's message.

Such organization also provides you with a framework for continued optimization. You can focus on the keywords that you are most important first while optimizing for the pages that are the most effective at getting your sales. And in the process you will develop a successful, long-term optimization strategy.

The three things that you need to analyze when organizing for success are:

Keyword Organization Pyramid

Achievable: Don't start with keywords that simply are not achievable. Again, consider your budget and your time. Some keywords just are not achievable for what you can invest in either of those areas. This also includes if you're doing it yourself or paying an SEO to optimize for you. How much you're paying them will dictate the amount of time they can spend on your campaign.

Quickest results: Starting with keywords that you can determine will produce strong results relatively quickly will help you get a return more quickly. If you don't need return right away then this isn't so much of an issue, but most people do want to start seeing their efforts pay off as quickly as possible.

Most profitable: You can't go wrong by starting with keywords that are going to bring the most profits the fastest. It's not just rankings that you're looking for. Results means money coming in and making your optimization efforts as profitable as possible as soon as possible.

The organization process isn't all that difficult, but it does take a good deal of analysis. The first step is to analyze all your site pages. If you're working with a large e-commerce site then it'll be a good idea to leave out product pages, at least for now. Start by analyzing all information and category pages. Look at each page individually to determine it's core objective. What is this page about?

Keyword ListFor instance you might have a page for "mens wedding rings" or "wheeled duffel bags". Create a spreadsheet of each existing page of your site and a list of any topic(s) each page focuses on. This will help you better understand which keywords will be the most natural fit for any keyword.

Once you have this list then you can go back to your original core term list and start "assigning" keywords to pages. You may find that you have several pages that could be optimized for the same keyword. In this case you simply want to pick the best one and then use variations for each of the other pages. Take note that you don't want to target the exact core term across multiple pages, unless you have already broken the core term down into several sub-cores.

In some cases you'll find that you have far more keyword groups than existing pages on your site that can be optimized for those keywords. This provides you with a great opportunity to build new searcher relevant pages that will provide visitors with the information they seek covering any remaining keywords.

How to create more content

The great thing about this approach is that it creates more entry points into your site. Just be careful that you're not creating new pages for the sake of new pages. Each page must address something that is not specifically addressed in other areas of the site and should give your visitors a compelling reason to continue through to the other areas of your site.

There are several ways to go about creating these additional content pages and entry points:

  • Answer questions
  • Provide expert advice
  • Review products
  • Expand on product benefits
  • Write information articles

All of these are great fodder for content that your visitors will find relevant and helpful in making purchase decisions.

Segmenting keywords

Keyword Segmentation

Segmenting your keyword phrases into "intent" groups can help determining which keyword phrases are the best fit for any particular page. There are three main searcher intent groups: Research, Shop, Buy. Depending on which intent group they are in, the searcher will search for a core term differently.

Research Keyword

Searchers in the Research phase are really just looking for some general information. Think of them more like window shoppers. They don't know what they really want or perhaps are not even convinced they want anything at all. They are just looking to see what's out there and to see if anything strikes their fancy.

These keywords should be optimized in the higher-level categories and articles. The goal is to provide information that creates an interest and, in turn, more specific searches. If you get them to your site while they are in this early phase then you've started a branding process. They may bookmark your site, or perhaps even move right into the next phase while still on your site. At worst, they'll go back and perform a new search at a later date. And hopefully you'll appear in those search results too!

However targeting keywords for this phase is the least important as it produces the lowest conversion rates and usually takes the greatest bulk of your efforts.

Shop Keyword

Searchers in the Shop phase have moved into the realm of having intent. They have an idea of what they want, they just don't know the specifics. In this phase they are starting to compare features between various products, looking at the pros and cons of each, and narrowing down their preferences as they continue to research.

These keywords should be targeted on narrower product category pages as well as product comparison pages. The goal is to provide as many of the details needed for your customers to see that your products are superior. You also want to help them narrow down between different products that you carry. The more you can do that here the less likely shoppers will be to look for that information on another site. Again, ideally, the visitors will move from this phase to the buy phase while on your site, but if not, you're branding, providing a solid resource and giving visitors a reason to come back to you once they enter the next phase.

While targeting these phrases provide better ROI than those in the research phase, and you'll benefit by optimizing for them, they can often be put aside until after the the Buy phrases have been fully optimized.

Buy Keyword

Searchers in this phase have finally narrowed down to precisely what they want. Now they are simply looking for the best place to buy it from. Reasons can be any number of things, or combination of things, and will be different from one person to the next. One may be looking for lowest price. Another may be looking for better customer service. Others may be looking at warranties, return policies, a personal touch, elements of trust, and how helpful the site has been overall. Most likely it's not any one of these things, but a various combination of them all plus other things not mentioned here.

These keywords should be targeted on specific product pages. There is no better place to drop a visitor than on the product that they were very specifically looking for. Make sure these product pages spell out all of the specific features and benefits and all the other information they'll need to make that final purchase decision.

These keywords should generally be your highest priority. Getting someone to your site at this phase is most likely to lead to a purchase than any other. While each stage provides a branding opportunity, the buy phase is where the money is at. Targeting users in this stage generally produces the best return on investment than the others.

Missed one of the steps in this series? Click here to go back to the introduction and follow the links at the bottom.

November 3, 2008

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


Hi Great article, good reading. Good keyword research is so important i recommend it for my marketing customers. I'll stay tuned to the good articles on your blog.

I'll be posting more articles on this topic on my Web Design Blog

I'm still learning from here. I will contuining later. Thanks for tips

I am just about to have my site rebuilt and i have followed this series from the beginning,very in depth and informative,cheers Ron.

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Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > Comprehensive Guide to Keyword Research, Selection & Organization, Part XI