Crucial Keyword Research in 6 Easy Steps – Start today
Whether you're building a house or your company's online profile then it's always smart to begin with the foundation.
Luckily, most of us don't build our houses roof first – but when it comes to SEO and SEM, the picture is very different.
A surprisingly large number of companies choose to spend money on search engine optimisation and Google AdWords campaigns without first carrying out a keyword analysis.
A keyword analysis which would help them to identify how to get the best return on their investment from search engines.
Why do a keyword analysis?
If the ultimate goal of your online marketing strategy is to attract customers and increase sales then you need to be visible in search engines when potential customers come looking for exactly the products and services you offer.
In other words, you want your website to be top of the results page when Google users type the keyword that relates directly to your products.
If you own a shop selling riding equipment then it's almost certainly more profitable for you to hit the number 1 spot on searches for “horse riding” and “riding helmet” than those for “horse feed” or “riding school”.
Even though “riding school” and “horse feed” are not without relevance for your target group, you can best utilise your limited resources by aiming for high search engine visibility for the keywords you know will give you a high conversion rate.(By “high conversion rate” we mean a high percentage of visitors place an order for your products or services.)
Failing to do a structured keyword analysis means you risk wasting time and money on keywords that have few monthly searches, give a low conversion rate and are highly competed.
On the other hand, a rigorous keyword analysis will allow you to cherry-pick the keywords showing the most attractive ratio between potential earnings and energy input.
If you were on a treasure hunt, for example, you might strike it lucky by randomly digging holes all over the place. But holding a map to the treasure, in the form of a professional keyword analysis, makes it much easier for you to find the hidden gold.
How to do a Keyword Analysis?
There are no hard and fast rules for doing a good keyword analysis but if you follow the steps outlined below you'll be well on your way.
1. Begin by gathering keywords
Before sorting and grading keywords according to earnings potential and competitiveness, it's important that you range widely and make a comprehensive list of words your customers might use when searching for your products.
It would be a shame to miss out on a great keyword just because you've been short-sighted.
That's why you should begin your analysis by collecting all potential keywords.
Enter all your keyword ideas into an Excel spreadsheet.
Pick the brains of family, friends and colleagues.
Cheerfully pilfer keywords from your competitors' websites and Google AdWords ads.
Check your own lists of products and suppliers.
Consider what challenges and problems your products answer.
What do your customers need from you?
If you have Google Analytics installed, read through it and list which keyword combinations have given you the highest number of visitors.
You can restrict your inclusion of keywords to those which have given you two or more unique visitors.
That way your subsequent analysis will be more manageable and the chance of missing an obvious keyword is still minimised.
If you have a Google AdWords account then draw up a list of keywords that have driven traffic to your site.
Under the heading keywords select the menu item “Search terms used”.
You can download this list directly into your Excel spreadsheet.
Again you can choose to disregard keywords that have given you few, if any, impressions.
2 Do a rough classification
Before you begin to analyse each keyword individually it can be beneficial to sort them roughly into categories. Here are some examples:
“Your company name”, “your_company_name.com”, etc.
Brand name searches:
“Panasonic 123”, “Nike Sportswear”, etc.
“Electronics”, “sportswear”, etc.
“Faulty power supply”, “Vitamin deficiency”, “How to remove grass stains”, etc.
3 How to use your own data and Google AdWords KeyWord Tool to find the best keywords
When you've made your overall list of keywords and sorted them into broad categories, your next challenge is to identify which of them show the greatest revenue potential while remaining attractively competitive.
If you already have conversion rate stats from Google Analytics, Google AdWords or from your own website's statistics module, then it's a straightforward step to estimate the sales each keyword has yielded.
But if your brainstorming has thrown out some potentially great keywords you haven't used before then you clearly can't utilise your existing data to figure out if these new keywords will lead to sales.
But even starting from scratch, without any conversion rate stats, you can get far using Google AdWords Keyword Tool in determining how good your keywords are. You can find the Keyword Tool under the AdWords menu “Tools and Analysis”.
Enter one of your main keywords in the box at the top, choose location and language, tick the box which says “Exact Match” and then click “Search”.
You will now see the number of monthly searches (monthly average, based on the last 12 calendar months), information on the level of competition for that keyword (how tough is the competition?) and average CPC (cost-per-click, what it will cost you to have visitors directed to your website using that keyword.).
4 Double-checking your keywords
The next step is to select 20 or 30 keywords from your overall list and information gleaned from AdWords KeyWord Tool. If you want to be very thorough you can choose up to 100 keywords for closer examination.
Even though Google AdWords tools are pretty precise when determining the level of competition for keywords, you're also chasing high rankings in the organic search results. This means you need to scrutinise the competition in the top 10 search results before you begin your chase.
You should take each keyword and see how strong the competition is on page 1 of the search results (the first 10 Google search results).
If you've been considering, for example, “Nike Sportswear” then check who is at the top of the results page for this search.
If the top 10 results show large companies with hundreds of websites linking to them then it's obviously going to cost you a lot of time (and money if you're paying an SEO expert) to climb to the top of the results page using that keyword.
You can use tools like SEO Spyglass (Click to download Free trial version) or OpenSiteExplorer to check the strength of your competitor's placement in search results.
However, if you hit upon some keywords that your competitor hasn't paid much attention to (maybe because they're focused on the 3 to 5 most popular) then you can often achieve a high ranking and the stream of visitors that entails. And with a lot less energy input.
In other words, if you can reach the top using a keyword that yields 500 monthly searches with just ten hours work, then that's almost always better than investing 50 hours work in a keyword that gives 1000 monthly searches.
This is assuming, of course, that the contribution margin on completed sales and the conversion rate is the same for each keyword.
That's not always the case.
You need to take into your reckoning how often the keyword in question leads to completed sales and how much you earn on that sale.
The higher the conversion rate and contribution margin, the more attractive keywords with a low monthly search rate become. Likewise for keywords requiring more time and energy investment.
5 How to test the results of your Keyword Analysis using Google Adwords
While overhauling the content of your website and search engine optimisation are time-consuming projects, a simple one month AdWords campaign will generally tell you if you've chosen the right keywords or not.
That way, you can avoid a major revamp of your website and extensive external link-building before you're absolutely sure you have the right keywords in your crosshairs.
6 A Keyword Analysis reveals everything
It's easy to spot a shoddy carpenter if he starts building the roof before the bricklayer has laid the foundation and finished the walls.
In the same way you can identify the worst online SEO con artists by their total lack of interest in keyword analysis.
If an SEO “expert” offers you help with search engine optimisation but skips the keyword analysis, alarm bells should start ringing.
You simply cannot roof the house before the foundation has been laid – and you most certainly can't get the best return on your investment in search engine visibility if you don't know what the most profitable keywords are.
Then why not share it with your network? 🙂
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