The past few weeks have seen several major announcements from Google - from the re-designed Google Maps and Google Plus interfaces and functionality, to details surrounding the Penguin 2.0 algorithm update and the release of the new Keyword Planner Tool in Adwords. All of these changes serve a dual purpose for Google: to continue making the search experience more personalized while at the same time, increasing the number of ways for marketers to effectively reach the people who seek their services.
As with most updates from Google, these new and modified features and capabilities have search engine marketers scrambling to ensure that they’re able to embrace the changes and have their strategies on par to weather the major algorithm update.
Rather than scrambling, at SteadyRain we continue to focus significant attention on the effectiveness of one of the absolute key elements of the foundation of each client’s SEO strategy: conducting insightful keyword research.
We know that by conducting truly insightful keyword research, our clients will be able to see measurable improvements in visits and conversions while still maintaining their brand’s voice, core values, and human element....
Regardless of how Google decides to change their algorithm or user interfaces.
Taking Keyword Research Beyond Tools
Google and the SEO industry have provided a number of tools that aid brands in selecting the appropriate keywords for optimizing their website- including Google’s Keyword Tool, which provides related keywords, insight into global and local search volume for individual keywords and competitiveness for various keywords (this must be taken with a grain of salt as competitiveness is based on the number of businesses bidding on the keywords for paid search advertising purposes).
While each of these tools provides help with brainstorming and provide an immense amount of data to sift through in the process of keyword selection, there are a few ways these tools fall short. Most notably:
- Keyword Research tools don’t consider your brand’s voice, tone or writing style.
- Keyword Research tools don’t provide significant or detailed local insights.
- Keyword Research tools don’t evaluate a keyword’s likelihood to cause individuals who land on your page to convert and become customers.
These shortfalls necessitate an insightful, human keyword research process that can be applied to help each client reach their unique business goals through search engine optimization.
Let’s illustrate the idea of insightful, human keyword research with a quick example:
Website A caters primarily to informational searches - they seek to share news, studies and information with a large number of individuals on a given topic or industry. At the end of the day, they’re not trying to sell anything to their readers -- instead, they’re providing informational and intellectual value. Websites like website A are typically supported by advertising networks, and their ability to “stay open” and profitable depends upon their ability to drive traffic to the site, repeatedly.
On the other hand, Website B operates in the same industry, but their main objective is to sell services or products to the visitors to their site - they must have several dollar-driven conversions as that is the core of their strategy to “stay open” and profitable.
Same industry, similar topics. But a slightly different approach to keyword research and selection.
This is due to the difference in the type of desired conversion - whereas Website A might focus on selecting keywords that have a more informational sentiment (i.e. learn about widget A), Website B may focus on selecting keywords with more action and conversion-optimized terms to appeal to individuals that are ready to convert (i.e. buy widget A, prices for widget A).
Why Insightful Keyword Research Matters
True business gains from SEO are more likely to be achieved when the SEO strategy is focused on conducting keyword research that:
- Incorporates the client’s business goals,
- Considers where a the potential customer is in the buying cycle when they are conducting their search,
- Takes into account the length of the product’s sales cycle,
- Recognizes local search differences,
- Understands the desired types of conversions after the potential customer lands on the client’s webpage.
So before you rev up your keyword research tool of choice and begin narrowing down your options, take the time to really evaluate what you’re trying to accomplish with your SEO campaign, website and business as a whole. Ask yourself these questions:
- How does my target consumer think of my product and the services associated with it? When do they need it and how do they use it? What are the generic nouns that I can list that relate to my product?
- What value do I want to provide when that target consumer lands on my website? Do I want them to make a transaction? To learn something? What action verbs can I use in long-tail keywords to accomplish these goals?
- How will I determine that one keyword is better than another? Is local search volume the most important? Is it more important that the term match my existing content perfectly? Is global search volume a consideration? What about competition?
Asking (and answering!) the questions above will allow you to focus your keyword research and select strategically relevant, conversion-optimized keywords to lay the groundwork for a successful SEO campaign that will continually weather Google’s algorithm updates, changes in interfaces, social networking preferences, etc. because…
You’ll be talking about your brand with the words that your target customer uses and creating content with intent that is optimized with keywords that convert.