When to use these strategies: Site Architecture, Content Creation, Ad Campaign Planning
By about this time people tend to ask "so what are we supposed to do with all of this keyword research?" and that is an excellent question. All the research in the world doesn't do any good if it doesn't influence your strategies and if it isn't actually implemented.
Keyword research should influence your site architecture by showing you which keywords are being used by people that are searching for information related to your niche. Remember, that webpages should really only be optimized for one main keyword and some of the tightly thematic variations that are very closely related to that main term. So, as you comb through the keyword research and find terms that you ultimately want to rank well for in Google search, you should be adding those terms to your sitemap because you will need to create pages that specifically focus on those terms in order to convince Google that your content is focused enough on that term to deserve top rankings. Also, keep in mind webpages generally can support just one main focus keyword, and up to about 5 thematic supporting terms.
In this lesson we will review the main considerations when selecting which keywords to focus on.
The keywords you optimize a page for should be chosen for a combination of reasons including:
- Objective of the page / what the company wants to convey: This seems like a no-brainer, but I have seen literally thousands of webpages where the keyword assignment was not well aligned with the objective or subject matter of the page.
- Where the page appears on the website: When looking at the sitemap and the keywords that are assigned to each page, the homepage and top level category pages should be more optimized for the bigger, more broad and general terms (that tend to have higher search volume), and the more specific sub-category and product or deep information level pages should be optimized for the longer tail, more specific terms.
- User intent indicated by the term: Focus on keyword phrases where the intent of the user clearly aligns with the role of the page in the conversion process. The 5 classes of commercial intent come into play here. This concept was discussed at length earlier in this course.
- Role in the conversion process: Is the role of this page introductory, is it supposed to help visitors determine which path they should take, is it supposed to get people to sign up or buy? What the customer is looking for if they arrived at this stage in their decision making process.
- The search volume for that term compared to similar terms: You obviously want to find the terms that have the best search volume and suit the purpose of the page. Sometimes experts in an industry get tripped up by wanting to optimize for the “correct” term, when the vast majority of people searching for that product service may use a term that is technically “incorrect”. Remember, once you get the traffic you can educate them all you want, but if you don’t show up for the term they are using to try to find you… then you’re not even involved in the conversation.
- Where and how the keyword has already been used on the website: You should never have two different pages going after the same main keyword. The main keyword for one page could be a supporting keyword for another page, and a supporting keyword for one page can be a supporting keyword for another page. But, the same supporting term shouldn’t be used on more than 3-4 pages of the site.
A keyword assignment for a page should consist of anywhere from 1-6 terms. There are 3 tiers of keywords in a good keyword assignment.
- Main Keyword / Head Terms (broad): Every page should have a single main keyword that is the focus of optimization for the page. This is the "head" term. It will tend to be a broad more generalized term and will tend to have a higher search volume than the other keywords assigned to the page.
- Supporting Keywords / Body Terms (sub-category / niche topics): The page should also have 2-3 supporting keywords that are used throughout the body. The supporting keywords should be strongly thematic, typically consisting of different conjugations or slightly different phrases that use the same core term and demonstrate that you are deeply exploring the main subject matter.
- Long Tail Keywords: Long tail keywords are things like questions, statements or longer search queries that users may be typing into Google when looking for information. Long tail terms tend to be very specific and have lower search volume than more generalized terms. However, there is typically much less competition for long tail terms, which means that it is easier to rank for those terms. Also, because long tail terms are much more specific, they tend to have much better conversion rates. If you want to really go after a particular long tail search term, make sure to use that term as the title of the page, the H1, or at least as an H2, and use the term at least 2-3 more times in the body content.
- Semantic Match Terms (very specific and actionable): The page should also have 2-3 semantic match terms that are synonymous, but use different words. This can indicate semantic relevance by demonstrating that the topic is being discussed thoroughly and that the page is not thinly optimized for a single term. Perhaps one of the best resources that you can use when looking for semantic search terms for your topic is the Wikipedia page for that topic. Google references Wikipedia in determining the relationships between subjects, therefore there is some expectation that a well rounded exploration of subject matter will use the same broad base of terms that Wikipedia uses.
For example, let’s say the main keyword for a page is:
- custom t-shirts – 90,500 searches/mo
Good supporting terms for this page could be:
- Custom shirts – 60,500
- Customized shirts – 12,100
- Custom t-shirt – 9,900
Good semantic match terms for this same page could be:
- Design your own t-shirt – 22,200
- Make your own t-shirt – 18,100
The “custom t-shirts” example above would be a very general keyword assignment that consists of very broad terms. This type of keyword assignment would be good for either the homepage of a website that exclusively sells custom printed t-shirts, or for the top level category page for the t-shirt section of a website that sells custom printing services.
This is a concept that is absolutely critical to understand in order to evaluate and accurately predict the ability for a site to actually achieve top rankings for a chosen keyword, and to set accurate expectations about how long it will take to rank for a particular keyword and the level of resources that will be required.
Over the years, this conversation has played the single biggest role for me in determining whether or not I will take on a particular client. I have had start up companies tell me that their goal was to rank #1 in Google for “online shopping”, “web hosting”, “videos” and many other similarly unrealistic terms. I am not saying that it would be impossible to outrank companies like Amazon, GoDaddy and Veoh… but it will take amazing strategies, an incredible amounts of money and resources, years of sustained effort and good ole’ luck!But, let’s assume that you are seeking much more realistic terms. When doing keyword research, before you make your final selection of keywords for a page, you should consider how competitive the rankings are for that particular term.
If the main keyword for a page is going to be a broad, high search volume, very competitive term, then your supporting keywords should be less competitive and the semantic match terms you choose should be relatively simple to rank for. This strategy is important because part of Google’s algorithm is based on evaluating how a webpage is performing in the SERPs. Therefore, if you can get your page ranking highly for a less competitive, long tail term, and the page is able to demonstrate a good click-through rate and low bounce rate, then those quality signals will help the page in it’s quest to rank for more competitive terms.
Google Keyword Planner Competition and Suggested Bid:
- Competition: Google’s keyword planner will give you information on the level of competition for a term by assigning it a number between 0.00 an 1.0. These numbers are relative to the level of competition in AdWords not organic search, but it can be assumed if the AdWords competition is strong, then the competition in organic may also be strong.
- Suggested Bid: This is a much better indicator than “competition” because if people are looking to pay a lot of money for a specific keyword, it probably converts very well. Even though it may not get a high search volume, a high suggested bid price indicates a valuable term.
Moz Keyword Analysis Tool:
The Moz.com keyword analysis tool does an amazing job of analyzing the level of competition for a specific keyword by performing a competitive analysis of the top 10 websites currently ranking for any given keyword. Here’s how it works.
- First the tool runs the keyword in Google and scrapes the top 10 organic results.
- Then for each webpage it presents you with the Page Authority, number of Root Domains linking to the page, Domain Authority, and number of Root Domains linking to the Root Domain of the ranking page.
- When compared to your own site, this can quickly tell you whether or not you have a shot to rank quickly. If the competition is tough you can choose whether to move on to another keyword or to dig in and commit to the time and resources it will take to make it.
LongTailPro is a professional keyword research tool available for download at LongTailPro.com. This incredible tool combines Google’s keyword research and search volume tools, with the Moz competitor analysis, and basically allows you to do a lot more in a lot less time. The tool itself is a low price $47, one time purchase that will save you an incredible amount of time and effort, and allow you to create better strategies and campaigns.
So, now that you have learned all of these advanced strategies for finding, classifying and scrutinizing keywords… let’s get to the most important thing of all, actually using this research to better your site. Let the implementation begin!
Step 1. Site Architecture Planning:
Consolidate Broad Terms Into Categories, Sub-Categories, Destination Pages, Supporting & Landing Pages into a single sitemap. This is best to do in an Excel spreadsheet and every page should be nested so that you can quickly see the genealogy of every page on your site. This should have been done in the Aggregated Sitemap section within this course. However, each and every term that has been used to name each Page, Category, Sub-Category, etc… must be reviewed based on the keyword research.
Step 2. Creating Keyword Assignments
The Keyword Assignment Workbook is an Excel document. This is an excel workbook that will help you manage the creation and optimization of your website. In this lesson we will review how to use this workbook. Download the Keyword Assignment Workbook now.
Watch this video on using the Keyword Assignments Workbook.
- Open the workbook and on the first tab “Sitemap” copy and paste the Aggregated Sitemap that you created earlier in this course onto this page.
- Go to the “Top Level Categories” tab and in column A we will list the Homepage, followed by the name of every top level page on the site. This can be done more easily by doing the following:
- Go to the aggregated sitemap tab
- select and copying all of column B into a new worksheet
- Sort the column by alphabetical order
- Copy just the cells that have text in them.
- Go to the “Top Level Categories” tab, select cell A 3 and paste all of the top level category page names into column A.
- You will notice that every page listed in column A will now be listed across the workbook in row 1 as the Page name at the top of each keyword assignment.
- Next you will begin going one-by-one through the keyword assignments. Scroll down to row 70 and you will see the section for Keyword Research. This is where you will be putting your lists of keywords.
- Once your have put your list of keywords and search volume in the appropriate cells, go through column marked “Proiority” and select the top 1-6 keywords that will be the focus of the page.
- Once you have put numbers 1 through 6 into the “Priority” column, sort the three columns: Keyword, Avg Search Vol, and Priority, by Priority lowest to highest. Once you have done this your selected keywords will be pulled into the appropriate places in the rest of the document.
Creating a keyword assignment is just the beginning of what the Keyword Assignments Workbook can do to help you optimize and manage your content. As you saw in the Keyword Assignment Workbook overview video, once you create the keyword assignment for a page you will use that to create the following elements for each page:
- URL structure
- Optimized Links
- Check the keyword density for the page
- Image Alt Tags
- Link Title Tags
You are now a keyword master!
Unfortunately, just creating a great keyword assignment is not enough to get your page to rank well in Google. Keyword assignments simply inform the core strategy of the page, you still have to create great content (that supports the keywords correctly), and post that content, and build links to drive traffic to your site and to give your page a chance to convert visitors into customers.
Next In the next course you will learn how to create all types of highly optimized content including:
- Press Releases
- Product Pages
The next lesson “Highly Optimized Content” is where the rubber really meets the road. Stop wasting your time creating great content that no one will ever see. Learn how to make sure that your great content will get the attention it deserves from both search engines and your target customers!