Pubcon 2009 Live Blogging: Smart Keyword Research & Selection

Joe Laratro

Carolyn Shelby, Web Experience Manager, United Way of Metro Chicago
Craig Paddock, Managing Partner, Boost Search Marketing
Will Reynolds, Founder, SEER Interactive
Mark Jackson, President/CEO, Vizion Interactive

Since keyword research is one of my SEO specialties, I was quite excited to sit in on this presentation. Carolyn Shelby started things off with her ABC’s of organic keyword research. The first step to effective keyword research, point A, is Analytics. Extract your paid and organic keyword list over several months from Google Analytics and all internal site search data. Once your data is gathered, ask instead of assuming which keywords “normal” people would search for in the SERPs and which ones are important to the client. Figuring out the type of keywords “normal” people use can be done by putting several people with basic internet skills together and analyzing the type of queries they enter into the search engines based on the client’s product offering. It is important to also get a short list of keywords from the client that are important to them and include it in your research to determine whether they have search volume or not. By doing so, your client will be glad that you are considering the keywords they feel are important and might recommend ones you have yet to think of.

The next point (B) is brainstorm and bonus. Whether you work for an agency or in-house, get as many people involved on the client side (salesmen, tech support, customer support) to  help gather as many keyword ideas before beginning the actual research. Once you have gathered all of your keyword ideas, point C, it is time to crunch, cull and create. Run your list into your favourite keyword tool and separate the keywords into two lists, a to do list and list for existing pages. The to do list will be used to craft articles to be included in creating new landing pages,  a glossary or blog posts. The list for existing pages is what would be used to select keywords for each of the current pages on your client’s website.

Next up, Craig Paddock from Boost Motor Group. When doing your keyword research, it is important to add variations of best/online/buy/cheap… to see which variation has nice search volume and can also help in creating more attractive title tags. Don’t assume your customer knows your industry and ask as many questions as you can to help determine which keywords a typical searcher would enter into the SERP to convert or spend more time on your site. With the keyword research data, content should be written around questions and problems people may have regarding you client’s website or product. For example: If your client has an insurance website, an article on  how to buy travel insurance should be written if their are search volumes for those keywords. The article could also link to a youtube video of yours on an optimized page.

Before implementing new keywords onto an existing site, test them in Google Adwords by positioning them on the first page and analyze them based on visits, bounce rate, pages per visit and revenues (if possible).  While running the Google Adwords test, we should use tools such as SEO Quake, Yahoo Backlink (site explorer), SEO for Firefox and the Majestic tool to help determine how competive it is to rank for certain keywords. The Majestic tool is pretty cool since it allows you to see the number of unique domains pointing to any website inside the SERP listing. His presentation ended with him pitching the idea of optimizing your instructional videos on youtube based on the keyword reseach.

Will Reynolds from SEER Interactive had more of a problem solving approach in his presentation. The first problem that he presented was, what do you do when your keywords rankings have remained stable, but are no longer delivering results and decreasing in traffic. A possible cause could be attributed to blended search because eventhough your rankings have remained stable, there could be many distractions (images, local listings or video results) above your listing which could lead to users clicking on those links instead of your listing. Seasonality and the possibility of your keyword becoming less popular can also be part of the problem.

As people become better searchers, they are entering more specific keywords into the search engines than they did a few years ago. For example: the keyword “shopping” might not be as popular than it once was since more people are entering localized keywords into the SERP to find what they are looking for. Be sure you are including localized keywords in your keyword research and maybe even build localized landing pages. Google Insight should be used to view the search volumes of keywords over time, eco friendly cars vs environmentally friendly cars for example.

Mark Jackson from Vizion Interactive had a short and to the point presentation where he broke down the most important steps when doing keyword research. Aside from what hasnt been mentioned by the previous panelists, he encouraged SEO’s to analyze the competition for the “top 5″ keywords in each vertical and then running a site command to see how many pages the competition have indexed for those top keywords. Once that is taken care of, focus on the low hanging fruit according to your ranking scan and estimated search engine volume analysis to begin to bring results to your client or personal website.

Well that was pretty much it for this informative presentation.

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