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Keyword Research Process

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10 replies to this topic

#1 DanThies


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Posted 03 August 2003 - 11:38 AM

Feedback, please... I've mapped out a "high-level" description of the keyword research process into the following stages:

1. Consultation / Assessment:
Learning about the client's business, what their main business issues are, where they want to improve. What does their target market look like, what do they want to emphasize. Out of this process comes a description of the "theme" for an SEO campaign, and a short list of major search terms or categories.

2. Search Term Discovery:
Based on that initial assessment, conduct research to find different variations and related search terms. Typical methods/tools would include reviewing the client's site, competing sites, matching directory categories, thesaurus, PRISMA searches, "Good Keywords," Overture, etc.

3. Measurement & Analysis:
Gathering and analyzing data about the candidate search terms. If you use Wordtracker, this step may add search terms to those gathered in the second stage. Typical methods/tools include Wordtracker, "Good Keywords," Overture, Adwords, and targeting studies.

4. Prioritizing & Positioning:
Consultation with the client, based on what has been learned, to set priorities and establish a positioning strategy for the SEO campaign. In many cases, some promising search terms will be set aside to accomodate the budget. If the client sees good ROI with the initial SEO campaign, these search terms may be revisited later.

Without digging too much into the details of each step, does this sound like a good overview of the process? How does your process differ? What are the priorities at each stage? What are the potential pitfalls?

#2 qwerty


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Posted 03 August 2003 - 11:57 AM

I would add a piece of part 2 to part 1: I think it's important to get the client's thoughts about their competitors. That is, find out who they see as their competition, and what their view is of the way those competitors are marketing themselves.

I only mention this because when you refer to "competing sites" in your second entry, that could be taken to mean sites with which your client shares SERPs, and that may not be the case. It could be that companies that compete with your client are optimizing for completely different phrases than what you and your client had in mind. Maybe they know something your client doesn't, and maybe they're wasting their efforts on a bad strategy.

#3 Jill


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Posted 03 August 2003 - 01:42 PM

Sounds real good to me, Dan! :)


#4 DanThies


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Posted 03 August 2003 - 01:56 PM

I would add a piece of part 2 to part 1: I think it's important to get the client's thoughts about their competitors. That is, find out who they see as their competition, and what their view is of the way those competitors are marketing themselves.

Agreed - that should be part of the initial consultation and assessment, as a part of looking at the market.

Competing sites are competing businesses. Just looking at the sites that show up on the desired SERPs is not the same thing. You may decide to target a specific search term, precisely because a competitor is getting traffic from it, even if it otherwise would not be a priority.

#5 dzinerbear


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Posted 03 August 2003 - 10:17 PM

Maybe this isn't what you're after, but I'll chime in anyway.

I think something else that you should think about/include is an analysis stage whereby you are looking at your site's logs to see what words and phrases people actually used to get to the site.

I've done all of the pre- research stuff and thought I had it down, and in a lot of cases I did. But in some I was surprised to find that people were finding my site using some words I never considered.

One such word appeared on one of my site's pages a couple of times within the text, it certainly wasn't a keyword at all. But then I kept noticing it in my logs. We're not talking about hundreds of searches on this word, so it would be quite easy to pass it by and think it was insignificant.

When I actually checked where my ranking was on that keyword, I was like 40 or 50. So, I thought, "Geez, if people are being that persistent, imagine the traffic I'll see if I get it closer to the top."

Sure enough, created a new page specifically for that keyword. Presto, number one in Google, and boy have things been moving ever since.

So my point is that sometimes the little words that you think aren't going to bring you much suddenly turn out to be big players.

Good Luck

#6 DanThies


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Posted 03 August 2003 - 10:46 PM

Thanks for adding to the list. :D

I think that log file analysis is very appropriate during the first couple stages of the process, as you've shown with your own results.

#7 Mel


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Posted 04 August 2003 - 04:43 AM

Nice overview Dan

#8 markm


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Posted 04 August 2003 - 08:12 PM


Your approach sounds great. I have an additional technique I use for my keyword research.

First I make sure I break the customers market down into multiple segments, if appropriate.

And then I ask myself what problems does the product solve? Then I do keyword research wrapped around people looking for solutions to the problem. (Different segments often will be interested in solving different problems).

I have a product management background and I am used to thinking in terms of problems and solutions. I find this a fairly effective technique which helps me break out of the mode of just targeting people looking for the specific product or service.


#9 Hellene


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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:33 AM

Excellent breakdown, Dan!
At the risk of getting into too much detail, the first item on my keyword strategy list is developing/setting up an MIS to manage the data I'll be collecting and analysing. I guess this falls into your second step.

#10 Haystack


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Posted 05 August 2003 - 03:55 PM

Nice outline Dan. Between steps 2 and 3 we review our raw keyword analysis with our clients to purge out terms not worthy of further analysis (usually eliminates related products/services or regional terms in markets they don't serve).

#11 DanThies


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Posted 05 August 2003 - 08:31 PM

Thanks, everyone.

Mark, your comments about thinking in terms of the people you want to target, and not merely the stuff you want to sell, is spot on.

I also think that weeding out the useless search terms with the client is "a good thing" before you dig into a targeting study.

I'd say that working out how to manage the data is step zero - you wouldn't want to work that out every time through the process with every client. You'd want that sorted out before you even begin.

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