This is part 8 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.
I've been sick for the past week so my apologies for any of you eagerly waiting for the concluding posts in this series. Let's go ahead and jump right back into it.
Phase III: Analyzing and Eliminating Keywords
After having researched through your relevant core terms and search phrases, it's time to start the process of looking more closely at each phrase. What you want to do is separate the good keywords from the not-so good. You need to find the search phrases that will ultimately provide you with the greatest benefit in your marketing campaigns, and eliminating or sidelining the rest.
Selecting high ROI search phrases
Once we place all of our search phrases in a spreadsheet organized by core term, we can begin to sort through what's there and more carefully consider the appropriateness of each individual keyword phrase. There are several types of phrases that we'll look at. Each type of phrase has a particular value to your campaign. While some types of phrases will be more or less valuable than the other, some are just a matter of degrees.It'll be up to you to determine whether any particular keyword warrants being kept or eliminated based on the whole of the search phrases uncovered.
Single-word queries generally produce the highest volume of searches, but also the lowest amount of targeted traffic. Many searchers start with single-word keywords only to find that the results produced are not targeted for their specific need or intent. They then go back to refine their search, often multiple times, using various word combinations, until they find the best combination of words that gives them the results they need.
Let's say you're looking for a doll for your daughter, niece or friend's kid. You may start your search at Google, typing in the word "doll." After getting a glimpse of the search results you realize that you have to think through this just a bit more. Are you looking for a large doll, small doll, a cartoon doll, an action figure doll, a Raggedy Ann doll, a Barbie doll, a celebrity doll, a bratz doll, or a dollz? The possibilities at this point are limitless. So you go back and refine your search to be a bit more specific for what you want.
Many single-phrase searches are performed this way. The searcher just uses that as a starting point until they realize that it doesn't produce the results they need. Others use single word searches as a way of getting some "search education". They'll look through the results of whatever they typed in (this is true for both single and multi-word phrases) to find new words that they'll use to go back and refine their search.
For example looking at the results for "doll" can give me the idea to search for "bratz doll" or "barbie doll". Even if those words are not in the results, the initial search may jog the searchers thoughts a bit to help them come up with better search refinements on their own.
At this point, it doesn't matter that you rank well on the single-word phrase because most searchers will simply not find what they need, even after clicking through a handful of sites.
Also, keep in mind that broad, single-word terms, while attractive by the sheer number of hits they potentially produce, are often virtually impossible to get ranked well for. So the question becomes, why waste the time and effort in promoting a term that is far less likely to generate the sales you want when other terms are more viable?
When looking at the search volumes for your search phrases you'll often see that single-word terms tend to get significantly more search volume than multi-word phrases. Don't let that fool you. When you total up all the multiple-word phrases it's almost universal that they get significantly greater search volume than the single word phrase.
Recent studies have shown that two- and three- word queries are searched in greater numbers than single-word queries. And since multiple-word queries generally produce more targeted traffic, it makes sense to put your optimization time and investment into these queries. Proper selection and targeting of these multi-word phrases will result not only in greater traffic volume to your site overall, but a higher conversion rate as well.
In addition, you can target multiple multi-word queries on a single page giving you even more opportunities for exposure. The more multi-word queries optimized the greater spread you'll get in the search results, producing higher levels of targeted traffic. The key to this, however, is making sure that you optimized for multi-word phrases that have a decent amount of search volume associated with them.
While making sure your phrases are as targeted as possible for your audience, it is important to go after phrases that register at least a measurable amount of search volume each month. Keyword phrases that have no search volume, no matter how targeted, generally won't do anything to increase business or sales.
Multiple phrase variations
Every core term will have multiple phrase variations that can be optimized together on a single page. We've discussed this a bit already during the research phases, but it should not be neglected here.
When analyzing keywords you'll find that a lot of additional traffic can often be gained, with very little effort, simply by targeting certain phrase variations. Search words such as "pontiac used cars" can often be changed, using plurals, singulars and stems (such as "ing," "ed," etc.,) to another traffic-producing phrase such as "used pontiac car."
It's entirely possible that the latter won't show any sort of measurable search volume, but thats not to mean it should be discounted. Adding stemming and/or changing word order can create many more opportunities to be found by longer-tail searches. Targeting this variation takes very little additional effort and even if searched infrequently, can produce sales when it is. The ROI on these variations is pretty fantastic.
Don't get yourself locked into using the keyword phrase precisely as it is most often searched. Even if the stemmed variations show little search volume, the combination of these variations can be significant. When working these variations into the content, always be sure to write naturally. If it can't be worked in properly, don't force it.
If you are targeting an audience specific to a geographic location, keyword research can become a bit difficult. Most tools don't do a good job measuring search volume on localized phrases except for very high-population areas where lots of searches are performed. Localization is one of those areas where search volume is mostly meaningless.
The key to researching for localized phrases is to not worry about researching for localized phrases. Do all your research as you normally would and then localize them later. You can do this by taking your standard keyword research and then placing your geo-qualifiers before or after (or in the middle) of your search phrases. Qualifiers such as city, county, state or other local references such as city districts or zip codes are most common.
Localizing your phrases is essential for businesses that do business only in their local area. Ignoring localization and going after broad non-localized phrases will increase traffic, but create additional headaches as well. By attaching local qualifiers you'll eliminate phone calls and email inquiries from non-customers. This frees you up to take care of customers that help pay your bills.
We'll leave off here for now and tomorrow we'll discuss the last three things to consider when selecting keyword phrases.
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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