Tips for Conducting Keyword Research – Part 2

In my last post I discussed a process for putting together a broad list of keywords intended to act as the starting point for our keyword research. The purpose of this step was to give us the ability to cast as wide a net as possible in an effort to uncover as much of the language being used by our potential customers when searching for our content, products and/or services online. Doing so not only gives us the opportunity to wisely target the correct keywords, but also lets us craft our content in such a way as to tap into as much into the long tail as possible.

To illustrate, I’ll use the following Top Content report from Google Analytics. As you can see this particular page, although targeted toward a specific set of keywords, generated traffic from an amazing 5,766 unique keyword combinations! This alone demonstrates the power of the long tail in driving significant amounts of traffic to your website.

Google Analytics Top Content Report

Google Analytics Top Content Report

Keep in mind that you don’t want to generate traffic just for traffic’s sake; you want these visitors to do something while on the site, whether it’s to buy your product, fill out a form or contact your company. Web analytics aside, now that we’ve done all the groundwork and assembled our master list of terms, we’re ready to tackle the research part of our keyword research.

Keyword Research Tools
There are a number of different tools available on the market to conduct your keyword research with. Below is a list of some of the more popular ones but if you look around there are certainly others out there you might want to use.

For this little project I’m going to use WordTracker to begin with then, if needed, the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to help verify the validity of some of the results. I typically do not put much faith in the actual numbers returned by the tools themselves. What I’m really looking for are trends or general guidelines that help in choosing high value keywords for the site. For instance, I might find out that keyword X is searched for five times more often than keyword Y and therefore keyword X is a better candidate for inclusion in my content.

I login to my WordTracker account, navigate to the keyword universe section of the site, and begin to copy from the master list I have created and paste into the tool. WordTracker allows you to input up to 100 keywords at a time so with our list we will need to repeat the process at least 8 times. As I work my way down the list, sets of words and phrases that match or are related to the terms I’ve entered are returned. Each time through, I save the results to my keyword basket.

After I’ve made my way through the entire list, there’s one last thing to do. I take all the keywords I’ve saved and perform a competition search on them. The outcome of the competition search is a metric called the Keyword Effectiveness Index, or KEI. This metric is intended to identify keywords that are highly searched while at the same time having low competition, thus potentially providing an improved opportunity of making it to the top of the rankings. Typically however, most if not all of these keywords require further research and analysis, preferably in another tool.

After collecting search frequencies and competitive search numbers, the next step is to perform some analysis.

Keyword Analysis: Interpreting the Results
The analysis part of the process is where the real insight comes from. This step provides the ability to determine, based on searcher behavior, which additional words should be used in close proximity to the target keywords as well as those that should be leveraged in an effort to tap into the long tail.

Doing keyword research for as long as I have, the need for the custom development of some specialized software has been a necessity. Software like this provides the ability to import, tag, slice and dice very large data sets in a multitude of ways. A quick glance into the data tells me that on average, 7.5 times more people search for the phrase “computer forensics” than those that search for “digital forensics”.

I’m going to assume, however, you don’t have access to a utility like this so in order to provide you with a quick visualization of the keywords appearing most often in the data, I’m going to use another tool named Wordle. Pasting the result set of our research into this tool creates a tag cloud like visualization with the larger text representing those words appearing most often. Here’s what it looks like when I use our sample:

Wordle Keyword Cloud

Wordle Keyword Cloud

Putting it into Action
Now that I have analyzed the data, I’m ready to choose and implement the keywords into the copy on my page. Based on a quick analysis of the research, here’s what I’ve come up with as a template for this page’s metadata and key headlines:

Title Tag: Computer Forensics: Experts in Digital Forensic Investigations

Meta Description: Computer forensic investigators specializing in the discovery of electronic evidence. <Company Name> leverages expertise in digital forensics for electronic discovery and data investigations.

Meta Keywords: computer, forensics, forensic, expert, experts, digital, investigate, investigation, investigation, investigations, investigating, investigator, investigators, electronic, data, evidence, database, discovery, crime, crimes, analysis, examiner, company, service, services, <company name>

Page Header 1: Using Computer Forensics for Solving Digital Investigations

Page Header 2: Forensic Investigators providing Expertise to Clients around the Globe

As you can see, based on the research, rather than going with my original plan to target the phrase “digital forensics”, I’ve decided to go after “computer forensics” instead. Further, as part of the long tail, we might also see visits from a variety of combinations taken from the above including “digital forensic(s)”, “digital investigation(s)”, “computer investigation(s)”, “expert forensic(s)” and many others.

Without performing keyword research in the way that I did, I would never have been able to determine which keywords to target and how best to implement them within the content on my page. Further, I would’ve surely missed out on the opportunity to capture searchers using these keywords in this niche.

In Summary
One important benefit I’d like to point out as a result of taking these steps is that many times, the language used by stakeholders to describe the company or its products and services is much different than what the typical searcher uses when attempting to find those same products and services online.

A client of ours was adamant about using the term “notebooks” rather than “laptops” because that is how they refered to it within their organization. An analysis of the search logs from the site along with some additional keyword research was the ammunition needed to force the change, a change that ultimately made a considerable improvement to the findability of the product on their site.

So that’s it! The intention of these two articles has been to get you to start thinking about the importance of including keyword research as part of the process for developing your information architectures, taxonomies and content online.

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