How Effective Is Your Keyword Research?

  |  August 30, 2004   |  Comments

Creating effective keyword research and analysis.

Many search engine marketers and ad agencies offer keyword research services. Keyword research and analysis aren’t as simple as using the tools available at Overture and Google. Web site owners must go beyond these tools and look at the big picture.

Keyword analysis can be performed on three levels:

  • Keyword research tools

  • Web analytics software

  • Site search engines

Data-mining all three levels provides site owners with the full perspective of how target audiences find the information on their Web sites.

Keyword Research Tools

Many of you probably already use the keyword research tools available at Overture, Google, and Wordtracker. By all means, keep using these tools. They provide great data for keyword research.

For long-term keyword analyses, I gather monthly data from Google, Overture, and Wordtracker. Additionally, I review related search results on Yahoo, Business.com, and Teoma. By researching all these resources, instead of just one, I can determine which specific keyword phrases are the most popular on all these Web search engines and look for a common denominator. I can also see subtle differences among the engines. Some searches are more popular on one engine than another.

For many sites, creating a keyword phrase calendar is a good strategy. The construction industry tends to be more active in warmer months than colder ones. The cold and flu season is coming up in the U.S., which has implications for pharmaceutical and health-related Web sites.

By creating a calendar based on keyword research over years, site owners know what pages to create for timely "natural" search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns and what ads to create for pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.

Web Analytics Software

I always use Web analytics software (WebTrends, HitBox, ClickTracks, Omniture, etc.) to review keyword phrases. For example, if a natural SEO campaign is successful, the Web analytics software will reflect that success in the following areas:

  • Top referring sites

  • Top referring URLs

  • Top search engines

  • Top search phrases

  • Top search keywords

  • Top entry pages

Additionally, Web analytics software can show if site visitors access the most appropriate pages or sections on the site.

Web analytics software can also reveal untapped keyword phrases. On our own site, we found one of the most frequently visited pages is an article containing graphic design tips. Knowing our target audience seeks knowledge about that topic, we can create an article series on the topic that will provide additional entry points to our site for optimization campaigns and provide additional opportunities for link development campaigns.

Site Search Engines

If you have a site search engine, helpful information to review includes:

  • Number of words entered in the search query

  • Average number of words entered in the search query

  • Average number of characters entered in the search query

  • Search terms that yield results but no clicks

  • Search terms that yield no results

One item I like to measure is search box length. Sometimes, search boxes aren’t long enough. When visitors enter several keywords in the box, they can’t see all the words they typed. On the flip side, some search boxes are too long. I try to determine, through focus groups and usability tests, the optimum length of the search box based on the average number of keywords and characters entered in search queries.

Need a starting point? Begin with the length of Google’s and Yahoo’s search boxes.

Another overlooked item in site search is those search terms that yield results but no clicks. In many of the search engines our firm creates, we use meta-tag descriptions and title-tag content for the search results. If we find a specific keyword phrase consistently yields the appropriate URLs in the search results, then we know the calls to action in the title tag, meta-tag description, or both might not be effective. We’ll then rewrite that specific content and measure the resulting CTRs.

What I find interesting is if we optimize pages for better site search engine conversions, Web search engine visibility increases, too.

Analyzing Keyword Research Data

By gathering and analyzing keyword data, Web site owners gain valuable insight to user behavior and ways to create a more user-friendly site that converts visitors into buyers.

Say a site owner discovers visitors are searching for a specific keyword phrase on Google, then arriving at a specific page on his site. He then discovers same keyword phrase is a heavily searched term on his site search engine. This data indicate visitors might not be arriving at the most appropriate landing page. Increasing optimization for other site pages may be necessary.

Compare site searches that yield no results with Web search engine data. If the Web search engines indicate a keyword phrase is popular, and the site search engine shows visitors have a genuine interest in a keyword phrase, you can create new information around a topic.

Conclusion

The goal of keyword research is to:

  • Discover new keyword opportunities.

  • Fix missed keyword opportunities.

  • Generate a calendar of keyword phrases; some keywords are more popular at different times of the year.

  • Increase the number of clicks from landing pages to the site.

  • Increase the relevance of landing pages from natural SEO, PPC advertising campaigns, press releases, or offline marketing efforts.

Remember, keyword research and analysis is an ongoing process.

Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!

ClickZ Live San Francisco Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shari Thurow

Shari Thurow is the founder and SEO director at Omni Marketing Interactive, a full-service search engine marketing, Web, and graphic design firm. Acknowledged as a leading expert on search engine friendly Web sites worldwide, she is the author of the top-selling marketing book, "Search Engine Visibility," published through Peachpit Press. Shari's areas of expertise include site design, search engine optimization, and usability.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Search newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.

WEBINARS

Resources

Jobs

    • GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator
      GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator (British Consulate-General, New York) - New YorkThe GREAT Britain Campaign is seeking an energetic and creative...
    • Paid Search Senior Account Manager
      Paid Search Senior Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring a strategic Paid Search Senior Account Manager...
    • Paid Search Account Manager
      Paid Search Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring an experienced Paid Search Account Manager to...