Keyword Research Part 7: The Final Measure

You have your goals, you have focused your campaign and you have generated a (potentially very long) keyword list. How do you transform this bunch of random words into a tightly calibrated weapon of SEO power?

For now – if they aren’t already – put all your keywords into one Excel spreadsheet, making sure there are no repetitions.

There are a number of performance indicators available, and everyone uses slightly different configurations. But in general, measuring volume, difficulty and other metrics allows your company to assess the time and budget required to pursue a certain keyword campaign.

Overall, you are looking to check:
– Are my keywords correct (ie. relevant to your audience)?
– Will they generate traffic?
– Will that traffic convert into business growth?

You also need to consider over-optimisation. Keyword research and prioritisation has become much more complex since Penguin. In the past you might be targeting 7 or 8 keywords at a time, but this now needs to look more like 30 or 40 to help avoid over-optimisation penalties.

So take your spreadsheet and add…

1) The Keyword Relevance Column
Tool: Manual
We are going to give each word a score for relevance to your customers, on a 1 – 3 scale, where 1 is an excellent match and 3 indicates very little relevance. We start with this column because it’s important not to be swayed by any figures you might have seen for each term that would inflate its appeal. Think strictly like a customer. Also consider that, for some terms, relevance may be country-specific – there may be definition, linguistic or usage differences – so if you aren’t sure, try a few out in search engines altering the territory each time.

Sort the list so they are grouped in order of 1 – 3 priority. Anything marked with a 1 is on your core list.

2) The Keyword Volume Column
Tool: Many available incl. Adwords, Wordtracker, Raven

We’ll explain this one using Google Adwords
• In the Keyword tool, set your targeting options and tick the ‘only show ideas closely related to my search terms’ box. For the report table, only show Global / Local Monthly Searches columns. Change the Match Type from ‘Broad’ to ‘Exact’.

• Copy and paste your core keyword list. Your ‘Search’ results will give be in 2 reports – you just want the first one showing your exact terms. Check all these entries and click ‘Download’ (CSV for Excel).

• Copy and paste the data from the Adwords spreadsheet into your existing spreadsheet. To be able to work with the data, you will need to substitute any ‘-‘ with ‘0’ and get rid of all square brackets. Do these two things using Find & Replace.

• You ideally need to create 2 columns – one for Global Search Volume and another Local Search Volume

How do you prioritise the results? It is not as straightforward as going after all the keywords with the biggest volumes. You’ll want some quick wins, too, which means going after the low-hanging fruit of low-volume terms.

3) The Competition Column
Competitor Analysis and keyword research are pretty inextricable in some respects. After all your keyword campaign is all about competing – finding out what your rivals are ranking for, seeing who you are losing customers to and why, and working out a strategy to turn that around, both on and offline. We want to measure how many other web pages out there are optimised for your keywords.

Our preferred method is to measure competitiveness manually, using intuition, knowledge and experience; however using Mozrank to score the strength of competitor pages in the top ten for a particular term would be another way to get a feel for the competitiveness.

4) The KEI Column
Tool: Excel formula
KEI – the Keyword Efficiency Index – is how often a word is searched for, balanced against the competition for that word. You will need your Search Volume results and Competition results.

The formula is:
In general the higher the KEI the better the keyword, although…
• It can’t distinguish between an exact or partial keyword match
• No competitor analysis, such as keyword relevancy, number of backlinks, how linked pages are ete, meaning it may include sites that aren’t really competitors

5) CPC
CPC can be a good indicator of the potential value of a keyword. For example, out of 100 keywords it could be that 5 of those are much more expensive than others and there is a good chance that the reason for the differential is that these convert much better than the others, so people are willing to bid more for them.

6) Existing analytics
Existing analytics data is hugely important here as well. Constantly examine how different keywords are performing, especially if an Adwords campaign is running. This then feeds into the prioritisation of keywords to target.

7) Prioritisation
Another thing to consider with your prioritisation is the current search position of a term. If it’s currently sitting at 11, then it makes sense to work on that one a bit.

Previous Posts in this Series:
The We Are All Connected Guide To Keyword Research: Part 1
Keyword Research Part 2: Thinking About Your Business
Keyword Research Part 3: Become a Mindreader
Keyword Research Part 4: Building Personas
Keyword Research Part 5: Putting (Key)words in your Mouth
Keyword Research Part 6: The Tools