Often when we talk with clients about their SEO, they invariably tell us which keywords should be at the top of our target list. While this is a good starting point, actual keyword search data can paint an entirely different picture. In this post I’ll explain what information should be examined when doing ranking research.
Search Phrase Ideas
Starting with a list of keyword ideas — usually from brainstorming sessions — makes sense. If possible, reaching out to actual customers or prospects can provide surprising insights.
As you’d expect, this isn’t an exhaustive list. And, it most likely doesn’t reflect which level of the sales funnel each phrase belongs. At this point, that’s ok. You can use various tools to get even more ideas. During this gathering phases, we’ve amassed tens of thousands of words depending upon the business. If you have an AdWords account, Google’s Keyword Planner offers suggestions that you can download into a spreadsheet for further refinement.
This tool provides reliable keyword data. You’ll find average monthly searches as well as how difficult it will be to rank as well as the suggested bid in AdWords. This is an important keyword search data point as it gives a peek into where the term may fall into the organic search process (informational versus transactional).
Keyword Search Treasure Chest
Potential keyword search volume is only one piece of the data puzzle. You also want to examine:
For example, would you want to optimize a US-based site for a keyword term that’s primarily popular in the UK? It depends, right? It makes sense especially if the business product has global reach and/or it has regional offices across the pond.
When compiling potential search phrases for a business, we take a close look at geography. By using Google Trends and other research tools, we can drill down by state, metro area, even city information if there’s enough statistical keyword search data.
Up, Down or Flat?
Search engine optimization also pays attention to which keyword search terms are on the upswing. We typically see a mix, with a few breakout terms that are clearly riding a rising current. In the SEO world, you want to identify these before your competition so you can ride this wave.
A keyword search term’s benefit isn’t just the potential traffic it can attract to a website. This is where competitive analysis, ranking difficulty is overlayed with what other businesses would pay for this keyword search term. The higher the bid… the higher potential for a sale.
So you can see that potential search volume is only one data point. Measuring and optimizing based upon limited information could short-change your website’s results. If you want more information on how to do abbreviated keyword research, this post provides some easy-to-implement tips.
What’s your favorite keyword search tool?
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