The Right Shopify SEO Strategy for eCommerce Businesses in 2018

In a recent expert round-up for the WHSR blog, I’ve discussed the importance of finding the right platform for your business. Among others, several experts opened the discussion about Shopify as a great CMS for e-Commerce businesses, looking to incorporate social media into their sales funnels.Since we are here, let’s talk more about the right shopify seo strategy, and how to prepare your marketing efforts for 2018 (and why not, even further).

Shopify Stats for Non-Believers

According to a combination of official Shopify stats and news reports (source: ExpandedRamblings), as of August 1st, 2017, there were approximately 500,000 Shopify merchants in 175 countries. In 2016, the same source reported over 20,000 merchant clients, with 25% of merchants having enabled social selling for the same year. Since 2016, the platform reported that 62% of traffic and 51% of sales came from mobile. Fast forward to August 2017, there are 1,800 apps in the Shopify App Store, which have been downloaded 7 million times. 1.2 million people actively use the Shopify backend platform. The total amount of sales processed on Shopify to date exceeded $10 billion, according to stats from late 2015. Talk about potential.

How Do These Stats Reflect on Your Business?

To sum up these stats and findings:
  • 500,000 merchants in 175 countries means little competition, to be exact 2,857 merchants per country;
  • Only 25% of them use social selling, to be exact 100,000;
  • 62% mobile traffic and 51% mobile sales means you can jump into mobile optimization of your shopify shop from day one, so all funds and efforts are directed towards a solid ROI;
  • $10 billion sales, and 51% came from mobile – that is over $5 billion in mobile sales!
  • 1,800 Shopify App Store apps, downloaded 7 million times, means on average, each app was downloaded 3,889 times. A close look at Google’s or Apple’s App Store, and you’ll see most apps do not hit that number unless they surround a popular service or product.
This means the Shopify platform offers immense potential, little competition, great dynamic and user engagement, generates money, sales, and opportunities for merchants, developers, and customers.

The Right Shopify SEO Strategy

From the numbers above, it is crystal clear that mobile search optimization should be part of your long-term marketing plan. But don’t skip the basic Google optimization. Shopify businesses can now sync their store with Google Merchant Center, through direct, automated API feeds. If a Google AdWords campaign is set up along the way, products from your store become visible across all of Google’s channels. This is a great option to consider, as PPC has its role in customer acquisition, retention, and reactivation. The app that does this is called Google Shopping, with more info and feedback available here.The platform also has built-in analytics, which can be accessed as stand-alone or integrated into your GA, to monitor the evolution of your e-commerce business. A website optimizer function will help you in making the store search-engine friendly, however note that you cannot rely on the pre-built settings alone, and this will require additional tweaking.

Check for the Basics

No online store can go without these basic calls to action:
  • Title tags, meta descriptions, and page URLs for blog posts, webpages, product pages, or collections – all editable
  • Themes auto-generate title tags with the name of your shop, plus xml sitemap files and robots.txt
  • ALT tag for product images, customizable img file names
  • Sitemap.xml and robots.txt files which can be later submitted and tested in GA/Webmaster tools
  • Social sharing and social media profile linking – all themes are required to have these settings
  • Canonical URL to prevent duplicated content or pages – if this sounds like Chinese for you, here is a guide from Shopify.
  • Mobile-ready functions and mobile-responsive templates
  • SSL certificates (these will impact your rankings in the long run, as Google just announced)
  • Security certificates – your customers need to know their data is handled with care and not exposed to data breaches of any kind. Shopify offers Level 1 PCI DSS compliant security features.
  • Additional apps and plugins that can help enhance your search optimization efforts (you might want to consider schema.org and mark-ups that help structure your e-store’s pages, for better user experience)
  • Built-in blogging system and news corner which enables your store to benefit from content marketing and rich keyword content, easily indexable by search engines

What Experts Are Suggesting

When it comes to the best Shopify seo strategy for e-stores, Oberlo has a few tips to add:
  • Choose relevant page titles that best express what is relevant to the customers’ search.
  • Your title tags matter not only for customers, but also for search engines, in understanding what your pages and e-store is all about.
  • Set title tags for each page, product, collection, and blog post. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to generate traffic or leads.
  • Keep your title tags short, ideally under 70 characters, to gain complete display from search engines.
  • Always add your store name in the title tag, to give credibility with search users and create a bridge between products and brands. The best way to include it is by adding your store name at the end of your page title after a separation symbol such as vertical lines “|” or dash “-“.
  • At the very beginning, incorporate your target keywords in your title tag. You might notice in the future that titles containing keywords strive for relevancy and will generate a better ranking than just keywords used for authority purposes.
  • Add variation to your keywords, depending on the page you’re targeting. Home page title tag keywords will most likely differ from product pages, or blog pages. And it is totally fine to differ!
  • Add keywords to your meta-description to boost your search visibility, and use actionable language for your visitors – they need solutions to their search, do not forget to factor in the human aspect.
  • Keep your meta-descriptions under 155 characters, and customize them based on products, pages, posts – you get it.
  • Alt image alt text can contain complex keywords such as 4-6 words (“women denim jeans summer discount”), and ideally, you should rename your image with a proper name – visual search engines will surely pick up on that.
  • Use the platform as a broadcasting environment: each time there is an update, or new product, make sure to write an article or announce it to the world. Search engines love fresh stuff.
  • Product descriptions need periodical check-ups, too. Make sure to keep them fresh and relevant. Don’t over-stuff with keywords, either.
  • Build your traffic with blog posts, customer stories, product updates, new releases, top listings, and so on.

Social Is the New Sociable

You heard me right. Nowadays, there are additional ways to keep in touch with customers and generate new ones. Facebook Live, Youtube Live, AMA (ask me anything) sessions, Instagram Live & Instagram stories. If you’re new to Instagram, check out my Instagram Marketing guide on NinjaOutreach. Instagram has also recently introduced polls into their Insta Stories, so you can ask your audience to directly vote “yes” or “no” (you can also customize your choices) on a new product, update, action the brand is considering taking/making.Plus, you can access insights, and control who is mentioning your brand (option on Instagram). Insights include Impressions, Reach, Website Clicks, Follower Activity, Video Views, Saves, Replies, Exits. With social media platforms enabling video streaming and live video support, this leads to a foundation for community building on other channels besides your own e-store.Word of advice: Don’t shy away from community, as this is also a product itself!

Mobile SEO

Birds of a feather flock together”, and this applies to any type of search engine optimization. In your GA console, you can access specific mobile factors, besides the classic content relevancy, authority, page load speed, and domain age. A mobile page-speed tool from Google will give you access to what needs to be improved for mobile traffic, as well as additional errors, and how to fix them. Plenty of mobile seo tips can be found in the Mobile Usability search traffic section.Now, Google and other search engines pay attention to mobile-specific content and keywords, that are given “preferential treatment” over normal “desktop” pages. Local businesses and local stores are given the upper hand in rankings. Which is great news if you’re planning to optimize your Shopify store deliveries across different countries and cities. To identify which cities and countries to target, start with considering your visitors’ locations (country, region, city-specific), in your GA account, and as well as your social media followers’ location(s), if you wish to target your advertising efforts.Google AMP (accelerated mobile pages) can help in driving more visibility in mobile searches, but not much in desktop searches. AMP works only for publishers or Google News pieces for now, but the future is bright. You could use Google AMP for your PR campaigns or link building efforts.As with search engine optimization for desktop websites, you can improve rankings if you keep in mind the following:
  • Improve your website’s load speed, by file compression, minimization of CSS, HTML, and Javascript, image optimization with alt-tags and size compression, reduction of redirects, faster hosting, better CDN plans, and responsive design.
  • Apply the relevancy principle: help search engines, and users understand what your business is all about. List your business locally in Google Business, Facebook Business, Instagram, LinkedIn, use geo-targeting, and directory listings from Yahoo and Bing.
  • Ask for customer reviews and testimonials. I prefer using Delighted, a simple feedback tracking tool that sends customers an email and asks them to rate your service or shop from 1 to 10, then redirects them to a feedback text box. Once the customer hits Send, the tool collects feedback in a “news feed” type of setup. The tool is free for up to 250 contacts.
  • Use a roadmap or visual planner for your seo strategy to keep tracking updates, changes, optimization efforts. TeamWeek explains better on their blog how roadmap tools work, and suggest first creating separate groups for your departments (or teams), followed by separate milestones along the way.
  • Improve small yet important mobile details such as 404-errors, full screen pop-ups, and faulty redirects.
This SEMRush article explains more about mobile optimization, and recommendations from experts.

Takeaways

As many marketing professionals advertise, anyone today can start a business. The opportunities are endless. But you can’t make it out in jungle without a proper plan. As a CMS, Shopify has potential and clearly benefits the e-commerce business model. The right Shopify SEO strategy starts with the basic fixes and principles, and progresses towards mobile-ready e-stores. Shopify has generated over $5 billion in mobile sales (that’s 51% of total sales), and 62% of traffic is mobile.By introducing the benefits of social media, of Google’s mobile optimization tips, and expert suggestions, there is no way your e-commerce business will lose visibility or exposure in the eye of competition.Image source: Unsplash

How to Monetize Your Blog Like a Pro

Last year, celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton (Mario Lavandeira) earned an astonishing $15,000 in daily income, as his website gained a value of $2.66 million. Tech Crunch, starting out as a blog, has become a viable brand, worth $10.82 million.

Blogging has become an industry in itself. Once upon a time it was a platform for personal journalling, but over the years blogs have gained legitimacy, visibility and power on the web and beyond it. As you can see, one of the changes has been the fact that you can make real money blogging, even without becoming a major information powerhouse.

If you have thought about monetizing your website, here are some tips to help you get started.

Get Your Toolbox in Order

Whichever method (or methods) below you pick, the key is to use the right tools to organize the process well. Here are just a few good ones to consider:

  • Google Analytics is a necessary evil for properly monitoring your traffic sources
  • Register an account at ShareASale. That’s an affiliate marketing network that will connect you to quite a few cool programs
  • If you are going to be creating and selling a product or a service, make sure to use a sales management platform to organize leads properly. Salemate is a good affordable option

salesmate

Don’t Begin Right Away

This is an unpopular opinion with some, but the truth. It might seem like a good idea to immediately start trying to monetize a blog you’ve just started. But in the beginning you won’t have any traffic to drive profit.

The exception to this rule is if you already have a viable brand and are expanding it to include a blog for engagement and social marketing. In which case the traffic will come from your initial site, and monetizing right away makes sense. If not, focus on building that blog before you think about making money from it.

Join AdSense

Google AdSense is an important tool for anyone seeking to monetize their website. They provide both text and image ads, and usually the image ads attract the most attention and lead to the most clicks.

Of course, this is dependent on your traffic, as most people will not click through to ads. But the payout is decent, it adds up over time, and they are a trusted source for such a program. Other ad programs exist, but none come as highly recommended.

Here are some great AdSense plugins that will make the integration easier for you.

Use Affiliate Programs

Affiliates are going to be one of your greatest sources of income. Whether someone is promoting your product, or you are promoting someone elses, even small payouts will lead to a decent payout over time.

The more momentum a program gains, the more passive income you will start to make. You would be surprised by the numbers and the way they build after the first six months, and especially after the first year.

You can also use banners to quickly integrate best-working affiliate programs into your blog. Bannersnack offers a variety of free banner templates you can use for that.

banner templates

You can also offer your blog to companies of products you commonly buy and enjoy. Many will pay several hundred dollars for a solid review on a well established site.

Don’t forget that for both affiliate links and sponsored reviews you should use a proper disclaimer not to lose your readers’ trust and to be in-line with the US laws (and Google).

Optimize Your Search Ranking

You have to come up high in a search if you want to bring in the traffic that will inevitably up your income. Here’s a helpful checklist to get you started.

Since no one goes to the second page of Google, you have to have a good market share on certain keywords, and optimize your blog using that data. Invest in market research to find the best keywords that you can use, both long and short tailed, to improve your SEO.

Open a Shop

Having a shop only works for some people, as often a niche won’t really apply to a product series very well. But even selling mugs to those who might want to help support your site can be beneficial.

Try and create products that relate well to your niche, however, and don’t be afraid to take advantage of inside jokes and references that you have built with your followers over time.

Release an Ebook

Ebooks are big, and they have plenty of uses. They don’t bring in a lot of money, however, which can be a problem unless you have the status in your industry to be able to charge a higher price for a download.

Most people will offer them cheap or free, and use it to improve their visibility and draw people to their blog, thereby improving their other income possibilities. It will ultimately depend on you.

Example: The Lost Girls knew that and wrote an excellent book about their travels that has gotten great reviews. Both ebooks and self publication are potential routes for this goal.

Become a Speaker or Consultant

Are you now fairly well known? Have some street cred in your niche? Then start using your blog as a platform for finding guest speaker or consulting opportunities. You can earn thousands doing this.

Offer Freelancing Services

Your blog can act as a kind of portfolio, showing off your writings skills, nature and passion. That makes it a great opportunity to attract other people who want you to write for them.

Occasionally you will want to write a free guest blog post to promote your site. But otherwise you can offer your writing for pay, advertising yourself both through your blog and on sites like oDesk.

Start a Class or Series

Want something a little more hands on or creative? Then why not run a class or webinar series from your blog? People will pay good money for a well organized class, and you can offer the world your knowledge while improving your own financial stability. Everyone wins.

Udemy is the perfect place to start an online course and you can sell it through the platform too! Another great tool is Google Helpouts.

It might seem like a heavy task, and too good to be true. But you can genuinely turn your website into a profitable one, even if it takes time. You just need to know how to do it. Here are some tips and tricks for people who have managed to boost their regular traffic and are now looking to capitalize on that growing popularity

To get inspired, see this list of indie blogs that pay for a living.

Have some tips for monetizing your blog? Questions? Let us know in the comments

7 Little-Known Keyword Research Tips You Didn’t See Coming

You should work smart, not hard.

People over intellectualize things.

Keyword research can be hard and time-consuming and mind numbingly boring.

It doesn’t have to be, though.

In fact, all you need is about twenty minutes. So less than the time you waste on Twitter.

And I promise you won’t have to open Excel once.

Deal?

Let’s dive straight in.

Tip #1. Let Google tell you what people are already searching for already

We’ve all been there.

You’re typing something into the Google search bar, pleasantly minding your own business, when Google suddenly feels the need to finish your sentence.

Before you know it, Google’s bombarding you with roughly a billion possible searches via its auto-suggest feature. And this is all before you’ve even hit "Enter."

Irritating? Slightly. Helpful? Extremely.

The good news is that you can reverse engineer this irritating/helpful feature for new keyphrase research ideas.

Let’s take a closer look at how one might go about doing such a thing.

Hypothetically, you decide to create content about CRM tools. You type "best crm" into your search bar…

But before finishing that thought, Google’s already reading your mind.

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Not just your mind. But everyones.

Typing in "best CRM" brings up a sneak peek into the most common CRM-related queries people use most often.

Scroll down to the bottom of the SERP, and you’ll also see a "Searches related to" list. These include other contextually related search queries people often use before or after the one you typed in.

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Google’s "People also ask" feature works the same way.

Start searching for a big, generic keyword like "keyword research," like so:

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And then scroll down towards the bottom.

Right before the "Searches related to" list, you’ll see a few related questions that "People also ask".

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Click on one of the questions and a few more will pop up, over and over and over and over again (until you inevitably get bored).

For all those visual learners out there, we’ll demonstrate this by clicking on the question "What is keyword research in SEO?":

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And that makes these two follow-up questions appear.

If you think about it, these extra questions are really free tips from Google on how you can address all of a user’s questions about your topic in your content.

Gee, thanks, Google!

You know what those look like to me?

Blog post headlines. Subheads at the very least. And definitely some new keywords.

(Zero number crunching required.)

Tip #2. Use "Answer The Public" for nearly endless ideas

You could call it quits after playing that solid game of 20 questions with Google.

But if you just haven’t had enough keyword research yet, drop by Answer the Public before quitting Google Chrome (or, like, Safari, if you’re into that sort of thing).

Like Google’s Auto Suggest, Answer the Public can be used to brainstorm topic ideas. Many of them would have never even occurred to you otherwise.

And it’s free.

You can get started by pulling up the site and entering a new topic, like "keyword research," into the space provided.

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A drop-down menu will ask for your country next to the keyword field.

Select your location and then click "Get Questions" quickly. (That guy with the turtleneck is creeping me out.)

Answer the Public will slowly start revealing new content ideas. (Along with another freaking guy in a turtleneck!)

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From here, you can view three types of results.

  1. Questions results will list ideas in question form such as "which is the best keyword research tool."
  2. Prepositions results will list ideas with prepositions such as "keyword research for blogging."
  3. Alphabetical results will list ideas associated with popular letters, such as "keyword research for ecommerce" as an "e" result.
Highlight the Data tab to cut out all the fancy pants graphics.

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Ahhh, that’s better. Boring table view. You just made a nerdy SEO somewhere super happy.

Now, focus in on some of those who-what-when-where-why queries to get even more specific ideas.

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Then you can look over to the "How" results for ready-made content headlines.

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With this tool, you’re no longer writing content that scratches the surface.

You’re writing an official (dare I say, Definitive) guide for your topic that addresses across-the-board issues and provides the answers that your visitors themselves didn’t even know they wanted.

Tip #3. Use the Google Keyword Planner…(in this unexpected way)

90% of "keyword research" blog posts mention the Google Keyword Planner.

That’s both bad and good.

It’s bad because that tool is useless. Seriously. It sucks. The data is crap.

It’s good because it means you can exit out of that post ASAP and save yourself the wasted time of filling your mind with more garbage. (You already have The Bachelor for that.)

BUT WAIT. Don’t go just yet.

Imma let you finish, but first, let’s use Google Keyword Planner for this one thing trick.

Today, we’re going to borrow ideas from the competition. To be returned at a later date. (Probably never.)

It sounds wrong, but it’s nothing personal.

Stealing your competition’s ideas is a smart way to figure out what’s working well for other people and how you can reverse engineer a similar angle.

So let’s get started.

Pull up the Google’s Keyword Planner and select the first option:

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This is where things get interesting.

You’re not going to fill in your product or service or provide the URL to your landing page. Instead, you’re going to provide the URL to your competitor’s landing page.

Under the Ad group ideas tab, you’ll get results that look similar to this:

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These are suggestions for your competitor that could, and should, be used by you.

Each suggested ad group will be accompanied by a few other bits of information:

  1. Keywords within the group (Helpful.)
  2. The average monthly searches for said ad group (Kinda helpful.)
  3. The competition for this ad group expressed as Low, Medium, or High (Not helpful at all.)
The rest is logic.

You want to use an idea that thousands of people are searching for every month.

The long-tail stuff works well for organic search. But it typically won’t have enough search volume or existing demand to move the needle for you on the paid front.

Tip #4. Pull up Wikipedia for these hidden gems

It was banned from being used as a source in your high school papers. Ridiculed for being unreliable and insufficient.

But you’re out of high school now.

Let’s see how Wikipedia can also help you hack keyword research.

Run along to everyone’s favorite free encyclopedia and type a broad word related to your content into their search bar.

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Now, it’s time to take a cue or two from the table of contents on that page.

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These aren’t just headers on the Wikipedia page. These are topics you could address in your content about SEO.

Thanks to Wikipedia, you now detailed SEO information, like indexing, crawling, white hat versus black hat techniques.

This can help expose you to new ideas that never would have occurred to you. (Canonicalization, anyone?!)

Best of all, you have very credible info right here to help you get started on the content that you’ll eventually use to pull in more search traffic.

Tip #5. Look at what people are already searching for on your site

This time, all you need is your own site.

Chances are, you started this site to provide resources and information to the confused people who need it most (and then turn their problems into profits).

Said confused people are likely going to search for answers within your site when they can’t find what everything they need.

The good news is that you can use your visitors’ unanswered searches to build better content on your site (then turn around and promote those pages).

How you ask?

In a twist, we need Google to help us keep our customers from going back to Google to look for another website.

Irony at its finest.

So let’s get started.

Go to Google Analytics and set up Site Search. On the left, you’ll see the "Behavior" tab. Click that, then "Site Search," then "Search Terms," and then you see this:

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This list view is helpful. To a point.

What would be even more helpful is if you could see what page people searched for each of these queries on.

That would help give you an idea of how to change, modify, or update each page to improve topic targeting.

You could then also expand keyword ideas and campaigns with these new-and-improved pages.

Interested? Follow these steps.

Under "Behavior" and "Site Search," then click on "Overview."

Next, you’ll want to select "Start Page" for your primary dimension. This will list the pages people are searching from.

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Now, your secondary dimension, select "Search Term." This will tell you what your customers have been searching for on those specific pages.

Here’s what that looks like:

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In this example, we can see what people are searching when on the "style" tag page of our hypothetical website.

Congrats! You’ve hacked Google Analytics. Try this with multiple start pages to amass the ultimate list of your next keyword list to test.

Tip #6. Put keywords in context with this free keyword tool (that doesn’t suck)

The first few tips should have dumped dozens of worthy ideas into your lap.

Your welcome.

But now you’ve got a new problem.

Which topic do you start with? How do you prioritize several good ideas?

Well, do I have news for you!

The WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool has undergone some updates to help you figure this out.

New features allow you to tailor your results to provide possible keyword suggestions that apply best to your target demographic.

But wait, there’s more!

The tool also provides a proprietary Opportunity Score that boils down all of the other various keyword metrics (like demand, competition, and cost) to the bare essentials: Priority.

Let’s fire this thing up to see how it works.

Access the tool and type your keyword into the designated box. Next to that, you’ll see a drop-down menu allowing you to select from a variety of industries.

When searching for "click-through rate" keywords, for example, you may be writing for business owners. That means you want to prioritize keywords that business owners are likely to include in their CTR search.

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After selecting your industry, click "Search" and browse the extensive list of suggestions.

You can also switch up the industry if you’d like to appear in the SERPs for multiple audiences.

You could search for computer & electronics-tailored CTR keywords, for example, and the results will update:

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You don’t just want the most popular keywords, after all.

You want the right ones. You want the ones that are going to appeal directly to a specific audience so that they’ll convert after hitting your page.

You can also get information on the competition level, CPC, and opportunity score of your keyword options by connecting to your AdWords account.

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So it will work hand-in-hand with your account, minimizing the time-consuming back-and-forth that often bogs you down.

Here’s an example now of how that would look when your results are sorted not by volume, but the shiny new Opportunity Score.

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Awesome, right?

However, this is only the first step.

There’s one final filtering method to help you prioritize hundreds of brand new keywords you’ve now found.

Tip #7. Segment keyword data by funnel stage

So now you’ve got a boatload of ideas. You’ve even got some keyword metrics to help sort them.

But which topic do you start with? How do you prioritize several good ideas?

You could jump straight into volume and competition and potential and opportunity and blah blah blah.

Let’s take a step back, first, though.

What kinds of visitors do you want? Who do you need?

And how should you prioritize if all else is equal?

Keyword research can be like the chicken and egg problem. You want the bottom of the funnel visitors. But you ain’t gonna rank for those (or afford those) until you get enough top of the funnel visitors visiting, reading, sharing, Pocketing, and more.

Don’t neglect your sales funnel.

How about a quick roleplay. Because those make everything a little more exciting.

In this installment of your hypothetical life, hypothetical you is running a campaign for some unnamed Hollywood Hotel. (Knowing you, it’s a swanky joint.)

So you get started with "Hollywood Hotel" in the fancy new WordStream free Keyword tool.

(Did I tell you that they just updated this keyword tool? And that it’s free?!)

Ok. You type in "Hollywood Hotel" and up pops a ton of new ideas, helpfully ranked by Opportunity Score.

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This is super helpful, don’t get me wrong.

But you’re missing one thing: Context.

Now take a look at it after this one tiny edit:

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See it now?

The stuff at the bottom are your branded terms. People type these in when they’re ready to buy.

The stuff above it is more middle of the road (of funnel) terms. These people are comparing their alternatives.

They’re not sure, exactly, where to stay just yet. They ain’t checking rates just yet.

So help them compare!

How does your joint line up against the others? Why should they choose you over them?

If you don’t tell them, TripAdvisor (or similar) will.

Conclusion

Keyword research isn’t just number crunching. It’s about understanding searcher intent.

Figuring out what specific groups of people are looking for, and then doing your best to give it to them.

Luckily, these seven tips are well worth the investment. They’re exactly what you need to tell you what your visitors want.

No tricks, gimmicks, hacks, or pivot tables required.