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Posted 16 December 2008 - 11:30 AM
Anyway, I work for an established, decent sized e-commerce site (1600+ pages, most of them products) that, thanks to a tough couple of years, now has fewer than 6 employees. The owner and myself are currently the only two people even working on the actual site. As a result, all of our keyword research has been left entirely to me.
I have access to and use what seems to be the "big three" in keyword research: Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery, and AdWords. I understand that it's impossible for any of these tools to even approach 100% accuracy (and some of the results I get from all of them seem "glitchy" or outright insane in any case), which is why I've been trying to use all three simultaneously to build a sort of holistic picture of search trends.
So, I run similar searches in KD, WT, and AdWords then combine them in a single spreadsheet. When a particular keyword appears in more than one tool, I copy over the information so the columns are alongside each other (IE: AdWords Avg. Search/mo. alongside the WT and KD search results). If a keyword appears in one tool but not the others, I go back and look for it in those tools in case I missed it. I use the final product to narrow down my keyword list and go from there.
This is exactly as time-consuming as it sounds, but as a result I feel a little more confident that what I'm seeing has some basis in reality.
So, my question (finally) is, "Is this overkill?" I ask because with everything being so tight, spending my time efficiently is more important than ever. I have no problem spending the extra time on all of our "important" pages, which we do, but I'm also dealing with a flood of new products, new articles, newsletters, blog entries, and so on that also need written. I guess I'm curious to see how you folks balance the need to be thorough against the need to be efficient. Also, if any of you have a faster way of going about this sort of thing, I'd DEARLY love to hear about it.
Posted 16 December 2008 - 02:03 PM
Instead of using keyword analysis tools I prefer to look at my log files and parse the SE query parameters for comparison with our internal search queries to fine-tune navigation and flesh out related queries for the "Did you mean xxxx?" With more than 75,000 site queries/day I have a pretty good handle on what our customers are looking for and how they're phrasing their searches. This not only helps with improving site navigation, but it also helps with writing copy for external SEs to gobble down. Yum, yum.
If you don't have an internal (website) search function, then create one or buy one. It's that important for this topic and it will open your eyes to what customers are looking for and how they word their searches. Then you'll find that those keyword analysis tools really ain't worth the trouble to learn because your data will be spot on for your customers and you'll close in on that 100% goal. That's my two-cents.
Posted 16 December 2008 - 06:43 PM
Posted 16 December 2008 - 09:09 PM
To respond to the latter first: I'm totally with austk that having all those overlapping terms can get confusing, and I'm actually always surprised when the three tools seem to be in relative agreement on anything. Part of my rationale for doing it this way, however, is because in my limited experience there's always these big holes in each of the programs we use -- though I get the sense you guys have all experienced this yourselves. I know that's just a fact of life when it comes to keyword research, but I have also found several good terms that I might otherwise have missed had I relied on just one program. I admit, lately I've been sorely tempted to just pick one tool and live with it, warts and all, but then the paranoia kicks in and so I go and make yet another spreadsheet.
As for BB's response, you raise an excellent point about the internal search engine. We have one, but I admit we've never used it for any kind of SEO purposes that I'm aware of. We look at the keywords people come into the site on from external SEs, of course, but I've never used our own to look at what our visitors are telling us! I don't know what, if any, useful information we've missed out on as a result, but I assure you I'll definitely be looking into this tomorrow. In the meantime I'll be slapping myself in the forehead.
Without getting into the complicated history of my company, I'll add that until early this year we were woefully behind on SEO. The predecessor at my job knew nothing about SEM and cared less, and I wasn't even hired to do this kind of work. I was hired solely as a copywriter and I had barely heard of any of this stuff prior to this past February. We've since had a professional redesign of the site, and I've also been taking an ongoing crash course in it ever since. But there's still a lot of work to be done and speaking as someone jumping into the game late, and completely blind, it's hard to develop a sort of confidence that you're even on the right track.
But anyway, sorry I get so wordy. Thanks again for your advice and I look forward to anything else any of you guys have to say.
Posted 17 December 2008 - 03:49 AM
May sound dumb but how do you get to see the search phrases the customers are looking for if you have a search function on the site BBCoach?
Can this be set up in Google Analytics?
I ask because this sounds a great idea.
Posted 17 December 2008 - 07:49 AM
I've never used GoAn to do it, but it should be simple enough to set up a Filter and a custom report that triggers on the site search query variable, assuming you use a GET <form> and not a POST <form>.
You could also drop those search phrases in a simple database housed on your own site at the time the search is conducted and later pull the info from there when you want to look at it.
Personally, I do it a much simpler way. I drop each search into a little log file (with a date and time stamp) in plain text that I can then download and open in Excel to do any sorting that is needed. As an example, here's a php snippet I use on one of my search pages. The "words" bit is what I use as the search query variable name. The "mode" bit is there because my little site search application allows both normal and boolean search capabilities.
$dt = date("Y-m-d H:i");
$search_words = "Date-Time = " . $dt . "; Search Phrase = " . $_GET['words'] . "; Mode = " . $_GET['mode'] . " <br />\n";
$search_file = "/var/www/vhosts/mysite.com/httpdocs/nonpublicdirectory/public_search_log.php";
$cf = fopen($search_file, "a");
Posted 17 December 2008 - 10:44 AM
Edited by BBCoach, 17 December 2008 - 11:25 AM.
Posted 17 December 2008 - 11:03 AM
To setup site search go to Analytics Settings > Profile Settings > Edit Profile Information. Select Do track site search and enter the query parameter used. You can setup categories etc, but I have not used these.
The reporting will appear in Content > Site Search. It provides information on Usage, Search Terms, Stat Pages, Destination Pages, Categories and Trending. I find that for most my sites (and the sites I monitor) only a very small percentage (less than 2% generally) uses site search. I would be interested to know whether other people find the same. Despite the small percentage of users you can learn interesting things from it. One of the sites I monitored saw comparatively a high number of searches for keywords as 'contact', 'phone number', and the company director's name etc. Turns out there was no menu item 'contact us' it was called 'the next step'. Changing this to a more recognisable name saw all these internal searches disappear.
Posted 18 December 2008 - 08:34 AM
I use the Store Manager several times daily and feel pretty foolish that I didn't even see the link for the SE before, staring me in the face. It's like driving the same car every day and finding out eight months later that it has a radio.
The results are illuminating and I'd love to compare them to what Google Analytics says (I'd especially like to try using it to report on the internal SE as was mentioned), but something went haywire with it yesterday -- it now says we've had 0 visitors for the past three months. So that needs straightened out, but I look forward to following up on this.
Posted 27 February 2009 - 01:47 AM
Posted 09 April 2009 - 02:25 AM
I have noticed some startling results on different tools, so it is very difficult to rely on such online tools.
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