Encourage Conversion: More Advanced Keyword Research Strategies

This is the second part of a two-part guide to keyword selection. I will explain how to choose keyword phrases that offer a high rate of conversion, how to organize and target several keywords on one page, and more. I’ll also cover some keyword "dos and don’ts," and point you to online tools that can help you do deep keyword research.

One Word Keywords Don’t Bring Money

Everyone wants to rank for “shoes,” “car” and “SEO,” but one word queries deliver few sales and are expensive to optimize for. Searchers usually use one word keywords, and then go back and refine their search, because the choice is too broad.

For example, Bob is shopping for a car. He puts the word "car" into Google’s search. He gets 111 million hits (no exaggeration). He quickly realizes that the term is too broad to give the results he wants.

What kind of car is he looking for? Is it an SUV, sports car, BMW, Mitsubishi or some sort of a pick-up truck? He refines his search to “sedan car 2008.” He gets less than three million results. That’s somewhat better.

Websites on top of search results with a title tag optimized for this keyword promise to give Bob what he wants, so he clicks. This is even more true for other industries.

Bob may not buy a car online, but it’s a different story when we compare the one word phrase “camera” with “sony digital camcorder.” The latter phrase is the sales maker.

Low Search Volume = No Traffic = No Dough

Keyword selection is most effective when it follows this matrix:


1.Search volume > 2.conversion rate


It’s not practical (and expensive as hell) to optimize for one word generic keywords, but don’t get so carried away that you fall into a “conversion hole.” Conversion rates do matter; those are your sales. There must be healthy search volume, however, for a term to make the entire equation work. The key term “buy sony CD453 digital camera” may deliver a 90 percent conversion rate, but if practically no one uses it when searching, it’s worthless.

Two- to four-word key phrases tend to deliver good conversion rates, while providing good search volume.

After you group top-level keywords and corresponding search terms, it’s time to sort through the mess and leave out search terms that don’t deliver value. Sort through the list and delete any key phrases that are unrelated or plain rubbish; also delete those with very low search volume. If you have doubts about particular key phrase, leave it in and come back later.

Your goal during this stage is to leave keywords that are likely to attract visitors to your site and deliver sales. Generic terms can get a lot of traffic, but few sales; or they may deliver sales, but not enough to cover heavy SEO investments.

Though longer keywords are not searched as often as the one-word generic ones, they are easier to rank for and usually deliver more sales to the bottom line.

When a searcher types exactly what he is looking for into the search box, he is in a much better position to buy from you.

Informational Queries

Those are queries that don’t necessarily deliver sales, but help people at earlier stages of the buying process. They may start with “how” and “what" questions or use suggestive phrases that imply a question.

Sometimes competitive niches are overly cluttered with offers, pitches and affiliates trying to sell products and services on every click. It can get hard to find quality advice and content. This can be your opportunity. If all that your competitors do is sell, you can take another position and help customers buy better. They will appreciate you, and consider you above the rest when it comes the actual sale. You’ll be surprised by how many niches are bleeding for quality material. The challenge is in developing truly editorial content and then ranking a website above competitors.

Optimizing for this traffic will bring very low conversion rates, but it will arm you with quality content. You can create a section dedicated to such topics as “how to,” “reviews” and comparisons.

Most optimizers skip this stage either because they have developed intuitive skills and do it on auto pilot or because they don’t know about it. This stage can make a large difference to your end results.

The previous stages were about identifying the right terms and filtering the results to get rid of useless and non-converting keywords. This stage actually maps content structure and affects the optimization of pages.

Identify Pages: The first step is to identify your pages. Look through the content that you have, and consider the pages that will be changed and modified.

Cross-compare your keyword list with these pages and make decisions as to which pages will target which keywords. Sometimes there’s simply not enough pages to target all of the keywords. Sometimes pages just aren’t suitable – but don’t worry, that’s where new content comes in.

Group Top Level Keywords with Other Search Terms: As with the previous step, your top level key phrases should be grouped together with related search phrases. Find search phrases closely related to the top level phrases and put them together.

Be careful about key phrases you group together. You don’t want the “romantic roses” and “cheap roses” being on the same page, while “romantic roses” and “elegant roses” work well together. When grouping keywords, make sure you find very related phrases, without spreading out too much. Fitting two keywords that are not very related onto one page complicates link building and looks weird from the user’s perspective.

There’s also the copy writing to keep in mind, which should look natural with the keywords you want.

Some keyword optimization tips to keep in mind:


  • Don’t use misspellings.

  • Do not put singular and plural versions of the keyword. Those tend to have vast differences in search volume.

  • Use related keywords on one page.

  • When looking at your competitors, look at their back link profile to get a feel for the time and money required to achieve and surpass their results.

  • You can also use outside SEO firms to do keyword research and then cross compare results. Be sure to select leaders, since many companies have a loose approach towards keyword research.

  • Use both broad and narrow terms in your list for top level phrases.

  • Watch for seasonal factors that may affect keyword effectiveness. Observe seasonal change with Google Trends.

  • Use Give me Back My Google to see search results without competition.


 

We already mentioned Google Keyword Tool, Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery in the last article, so we’re not going to give you a lot of detail about them here. 

SEO Book Keyword Research Tool – Based on the Wordtracker database, it offers a lot of hip features. The SEO book tool lists daily estimates for Yahoo, Google and MSN. It also has direct links to Yahoo Suggest, Google Trends, Google Traffic Estimator, Google Suggest, Google Insights, a Technocrati blog search, and much more. 

Google Trends – See traffic trends for keywords and websites over different periods of time.

Google Suggest – Now a default feature on Google for the .com domain, it can give you some top level keyword ideas.

Adcenter Keyword Forecast – This tool from Microsoft is designed to predict demographic distribution of keywords. Microsoft has an immense amount of Hotmail and Live mail data. Don’t put too much trust in it, though.

Adcenter Keyword Mutation – Some real wise guy at Microsoft decided to start calling misspelled keywords “mutated.” Go figure.

Adcenter Keyword Group Detection – This tool offers a nice line up of related keywords.

Wordze – This is another cool keyword research tool. You need an account to play with it.

Dependency-based Word Similarity – This tool helps you spot related and similar keywords.

Google Sets – Lets you create keyword sets based on the keywords you enter.

Quintura – This site shows you the semantic relationship between keywords. Useful in SEO copy writing.

Ebay Research Labs – Shows you keywords that are hot and not hot on eBay. Enter a keyword and eBay will create a list dynamically.

Google Hot Trends – Shows you the hottest searches on Google. Updated frequently.

Yahoo Buzz – Similar to the previous tool, shows you the hottest searches on Yahoo.

Typo Generator – Lets you create a list of misspelled keywords.

Excel Keyword Plugin – This is a very cool extension from Microsoft (but it only works with Office 2007). Select a keyword list, then select the ad editor to get search volume and pricing estimates from Microsoft. The data is limited to ad center.

Conclusion

Before diving right into search engine optimization, do the research! You may know the keywords approximately, but you are stuck with the keywords you select for a long time. Keywords affect everything in an SEO campaign, from page titles to links!

Once you select the keywords, you’ll usually spend the next several months working with those keywords. Spend a day or even several days ensuring those keywords will give you the bottom line results you want, because it’s the element that matters. If you skip this step, you’re building your campaign without knowing the real profit potential of the market.

Organize keywords into top level sections, then research using the top level words. Drop the crap and combine closely-related terms on single pages… Once you invest this much effort in finding keywords, you’ll extract phrases required to dominate your niche on search engines.

By doing this kind of research, you will achieve not only top rankings, which are not always guaranteed to bring in money, but you’ll also achieve your business goals and bottom line numbers. You will attract not only traffic, but customers who share their credit card numbers, pick up a phone and call, fill out forms or download your demos.

Read “Keyword Research and Selection” for more tips.

Good Luck!

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