In our previous post on the basics of using Google Analytics to define successful searches, we talked about how to use site analytics to determine which search terms brought visitors to a website. In this post, help you capture more of the kinds of visitors you want by creating an effective keyword plan:
1. Define your website strategy
2. Set clear, measurable goals
3. Evaluate possible terms
4. Choose the best place on your website for each term (coming up in Part 3!)
1. Define Website Strategy
At KW2, we typically serve two types of clients: those with goals to incite long-term behavior or social change, and those with sales or conversion goals. To develop a successful keyword plan, our approach is to first define the high-level strategy of this website or service: conversions, or “brand-building.” Brand-building is best used in quotes here because the term also incorporates things along the lines of public health, public safety and education.
Conversion goals include things like purchases, form completions, calls, downloads, and other measurable on-site interactions.
Branding goals include awareness, perception change, or off-site behavior change such as reduced rates of obesity, tobacco-related deaths and traffic incidents.
Clearly outlining the purpose of this strategy will help with keyword research in terms of how much context is needed, how direct or strong to be with language, and how certain phrases should be prioritized.
Some clients will want to pursue both of these strategies. In those cases it’s important to define what success will look like, to the benefit of all parties involved. It’s also important to define a clear priority between the two. A strategy that’s 80% brand and 20% conversion will look quite different than a strategy with the opposite priority.
2. Set Clear, Measurable Goals
Along those lines, defining goals of this SEO exercise is extremely important. Clearly defining measurable goals makes it possible to assess the efficacy of an SEO strategy, and it provides a baseline from which to optimize.
At KW2, we take a collaborative approach to helping a client define the success metrics of a campaign or website. Possible goals for a conversion-based website include:
- Increase the number of purchases
- Increase the average monetary value of purchases
- Increase the number of on-site communication conversions (form completions, calls, etc.)
Possible goals for a brand-building project include:
- Increase search engine ranking for our goal keywords
- Increase page ranking for our goal keywords
- Increase awareness of the campaign/product/service/issue among the target audience
We place great value not only on developing solid plans, but also on consistent and frequent evaluation of these plans. Secondary research can go a long way in informing a great SEO strategy, but in the end we hold ourselves accountable for optimizing toward our client’s goals. More on that in Part 3 on SEO fundamentals, which covers ways to optimize and evaluate your on-site SEO.
3. Evaluate Possible Terms
The final step in creating a great keyword strategy is to evaluate how well proposed terms fit the goals outlined above. We look at many criteria, but we grade each keyword or phrase on the following components:
- Average monthly searches in the geography in question (this is also known as search volume).
- Competition score – How many others are vying for the top rank for this word? Is the competition using paid methods or organic? Do we stand a chance at a higher ranking?
- Relevance – Is the phrase relevant in context of what the business or organization actually does and offers? Also, does the site currently talk about this topic anywhere? If not, should we consider creating a space where you can do so?
- Specificity – Does this person know exactly what they are looking for, or are they browsing options? For example, “Madison ad” and “Madison Wi advertising agency” are both relevant to KW2, but the second is a more specific search.
- Intent – Does the term indicate the person is far down the purchase funnel, or is he or she in the information-gathering process? For example, a person searching for “what do ad agencies do” would likely be looking for broad information, while someone who searched for “how to hire an ad agency” could presumably be closer to making a decision.
Taking the time to truly assess the purpose of your SEO strategy – brand/issue awareness, conversions, or both – and the defined goals for the finished product and a clear plan for evaluating performance based on those goals, and finally evaluating possible terms, is a proven process for building a great keyword strategy. This method is based on industry best practices and published processes from SEO’s finest. It’s also our way of doing things, because we’ve found it to be the most striking way to accommodate our wide variety of clients’ needs in terms of on-site SEO.
In the next part of this series we’ll discuss how to map keywords to the right landing pages, key on-site places to make sure your SEO is solid, and a few tips on optimization.
Next up in our series on building great SEO strategies:
- Fundamentals of SEO – Part Three: Keyword Optimization and On-Site Implementation
Or, check out our previous post: