Keyword research is the foundation of any effective search marketing program. No matter your program’s goal, keyword research is the first step in creating an organized and efficient plan of attack. And without a well-thought-out, comprehensive approach to this research process, your team is far more likely to lose revenue to inefficient pay-per-click (PPC) spend or wasted organic search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
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When it comes to aligning resources and maximizing return on marketing spend, keyword research is crucial. An effective keyword research process allows marketing teams to focus on terms that matter to the business without wasting valuable time and resources on irrelevant searches. Whether you are concerned with maximizing your return on ad spend or increasing your non-branded page one rankings, it starts with identifying the search terms your audience is using and when they’re using them. From there, you’ll be equipped to make your business part of that conversation.
Keyword research is the process of identifying the terms and phrases your audience is entering into a search engine to find your business. Keywords can be categorized in many different ways, but some of the most valuable attributes to pay attention to are:
When creating a holistic, well-rounded search marketing program, it’s crucial to assemble a mix of both high-volume, broad keywords and more specific long-tail keywords across varying stages of intent and competitiveness. But with the rapidly evolving search marketing landscape, the keyword research process looks a lot different than it used to.
There are many different ways to assemble a list of target keywords, but an excellent general process is as follows:
It’s important to note that it’s less critical to keeping track of every single long-tail keyword variation and more essential to make sure you’re covering the major relevant topics and themes for a modern SEO or PPC program for your business. Search engines are becoming more and more sophisticated when it comes to determining the relationships between various keywords and the true intent behind each search, so try not to become too bogged down in the minutiae of the research process.
Search intent is one of the most important factors to consider when creating a target keyword list. Whether it’s for a PPC campaign or an organic content buildout, if you’re not considering search intent, you’re likely wasting marketing dollars.
Again, you ideally want to include a mix of educational, commercial, and transactional target keywords for a well-rounded search campaign. Educational terms are likely to bring a large amount of traffic but fewer direct conversions. Commercial and transactional terms are likely to receive less search volume but equate to users further along in the buyer’s journey that is more likely to perform your desired action. As search results become more and more personalized, the same keyword might have entirely different results depending on what Google perceives as the user’s true intent. It’s essential to keep this evolution in mind when thinking about content for an organic or paid search program.
At Convertiv, we include a voting process during the keyword research phase whenever possible. We’ll start by assembling a comprehensive list of several hundred (or more) search terms and asking 5-10 team members across the organization to assign a relevancy score to each keyword independently. By analyzing the average relevancy score for each keyword, we have a good idea of which terms are core to the business, which terms are tangentially related, and which terms are not relevant. While it takes a bit of effort, we’ve found through years of experience that thoroughly completing this process maximizes the chances of a successful long-term search marketing program.