This is part 12 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.
Yesterday, as we begun the fourth and final stage of the keyword research process, we looked at several ways to analyze your website and segment keywords into groups based on user intent. Today we'll wrap up the entire research process, and this series, by outlining the final act of keyword grouping. Often times even your segmented keyword lists can be quite extensive and it'll be important to group these phrases even further in order to be properly optimized into the website. This ensures that each page optimized maintains a tight focus but still able to be optimized for a significant group of keywords.
Grouping phrases together for on-page targeting
The process of organizing your keywords is similar to the process of splitting a single core term into multiple cores, only its done in a much more fine-tuned scale. With core terms you were dealing with multiple themes, or different ways to search for the same product. In this phase we are working with only a single core term and deciding how to segment literally hundreds of phrases into manageable groups that are similar in nature.
In most cases the keyword at the top of your list will be the core term itself. Start with that. You'll also usually find it's singular/plural counterpart to go with it. Copy these keywords and paste them to another section of your keyword research spreadsheet. You'll, keep copying phrases and pasting them into another part of your spreadsheet as you continue to organize into these groups.
I typically like to organize phrases in groups of no more than fifteen keywords per page, but sometimes less or more is perfectly OK. Other times you may have two or three small groups that can be grouped together, depending on their focus and the content of any given web page. The goal is to make sure you end up with lists of keywords that you're comfortable with in regard to being able to optimize them together into any given web page.
Group qualifiers with similar meaning
As you look for phrases that can be grouped together, it's its easy, initially, to start with phrases that are the have modifiers that are similar in meaning. And example of this may be "discount," "cheap," "inexpensive" or "on sale".
Along the same lines, you want to avoid putting phrases together where the modifiers don't work together or have opposing meanings. For example, you may don't want to talk about your "elegant wedding rings" on the same page that you describe them as "cheap wedding rings." Qualifiers that fit with elegant may be "exotic," "designer" or "classy". It'll be up to you to determine how these keywords are best grouped for your site.
Group qualifiers that are related
Another way to group keywords is by looking for qualifiers that may have a different meaning but can be considered to be related to each other. Depending on how your pages and site are laid you may be able to group qualifiers such as "gold," "white gold" and '"18 kt gold" together in one group or "antique" and "vintage" in another.
On a sports site you may get some mileage by combining "baseball," "basketball," and "football" together, or on a battery site "14 volt," "18 volt," and "24 volt may also be able to be combined on a page. In doing this you have to make sure the "fit" works with the structure of the site and that the related qualifiers are not distracting from the overall message, or diluting the focus of a given page.
Let the content guide keyword grouping
One of the most important elements in organizing phrases together is to make sure that you group phrases that can "correctly" be implemented together into the site. Don't try to force keyword phrases together that simply are not a good fit on a single page. It's important here that when constructing the page's content that a natural flow in writing will be achieved. Grouping words together that don't fit will only make your content awkward and cause you to lose your visitor's attention.
Here are some guidelines for ensuring your keyword groups will be effective in implementation.
SEOs often like to create optimized pages with lots of text. After all, it's pretty difficult to optimize for keywords when you have no text to use them in. Text becomes increasingly important with the more keywords you're targeting on a single page, even if they are all part of the same core term. The inclination is to keep adding more text to get all your targeted keywords on the page. Unfortunately, left unchecked, this can create unwieldy pages loaded with optimized text but do little to serve the visitors needs.
Space: Look at each page and determine how much space is available for text before you start cluttering the page. Product category pages generally have room for no more than a paragraph or two of text, unless you do a bit of clever reworking of the page layout. The key is to decide if that reworking is going to add or subtract from the overall page as a whole. If space is limited and you really can't get a whole lot of text on the pages, then cut out some keywords and target them elsewhere.
Message: Aside from the length of text, you also have to consider the message of the content itself. Don't allow the message to get diluted simply to get more keywords on the page. The message by far is more important than the keywords. Ensure that all your keywords fit with the overall message of the page and enhance rather than detract from that message.
When we think of keyword distraction we usually think of how keywords are used on the page. SEO's are often willing to bend the rules of good grammar just to get another instance of a keyword in the text. But keywords themselves can just as easily be the distraction. How well your keywords will flow with the content on the page is largely determined by the keywords selected and grouped together. To prevent your keywords from being a distraction there are a couple things to look for:
Noticeable: Once your content is written using the keywords, read through to see how noticeable they are. If you can read and pick out the keywords then it's likely that your visitor will too. This is a noticeable distraction that gets in the way of the visitors conversion process.
Flow: You also want to keep an eye on the flow of the content. This just isn't about sentence structure but about how the information is put together. When trying to get multiple instances of keywords on the page a lot of SEOs resort to repetition. While repetition can be good in certain circumstances, in others its just an annoyance. Make sure paragraphs flow in a logical order. Don't let your keywords dictate your content.
Keyword research, selection and organization is not a set-it and forget it strategy. It's fluid. Even once you get to this last stage you have to be willing to go back and adjust things from earlier stages as necessary. When it comes to implementing keywords into the page the same holds true. Certain keywords that you felt would work nicely together, may not in actual implementation. You must be willing to take these changes into account and adjust the plan as needed.
Delete if necessary: There are many times that we complete our keyword research and then comes time for implementation and we realize that certain keywords just are not going to work. This may be for any number of reasons, whether they slipped through earlier stages, or they just don't work with the page's content. Whatever the reason be willing to delete the keyword or move it to another keyword group. No sense holding onto somethign that just won't work.
Be creative: Sometimes working keywords onto the page is just a matter of creativity. Don't be afraid to find creative compelling ways to work in good keywords. Again, don't force somethign that won't work, but don't give up so easily when a little creativity may give you a better result.
We conclude this series on Keyword research with a simple message: Don't rush.
The keyword research process is a strategic part of your optimization campaign's success. This isn't just somethign you can burn through so you can get to the actual optimization. Rushing leads to mistakes and mistakes in keyword research result in poor SEO performance.
Keyword research provides the foundation for a solid SEO strategy. When performed properly you'll have a greater chance for achieving successful search engine rankings and your pages will be less cluttered and more highly focused. What's more, you'll have a site that does a far better job at targeting it's audience and converting them into customers.
In SEO, every little bit counts and the more you can do to improve the performance of the site, the more successful you'll be. And since SEO is all about good keyword targeting, it makes sense to get your keywords in order. The phases and steps outlined in this document will help you do that. Not only will you find just about every possible, relevant keyword for your industry, you'll be able to implement an SEO strategy that is build for success from the ground up. And that will give you an edge over your most ardent competition. So take your time to do it right!
Missed one of the steps in this series? Click here to go back to the introduction and follow the links at the bottom.
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.
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