Jeff Herbst heads up the organic search strategy at 2tor, Inc (a Conductor Searchlight customer) which partners with prestigious research-based universities to deliver rigorous, selective degree programs online to students globally. 2tor has recently partnered with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to deliver their prestigious MBA online.
Last week, we published part one of my (originally) two part series on “Rethinking your Keyword Strategy.” In that first post we reviewed the steps required to organize the data needed to execute a keyword strategy re-evaluation. In this post we are going to cover the next two steps, regarding how you can prioritize and categorize your Keyword Scorecard to drive business intelligence. In my final post, I’ll cover several category themes you can build and monitor in Searchlight.
Prioritize Your Scorecard
I am going to preface this step with the following: If you are reading with the hope of receiving concrete instruction – you should probably stop now, as you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Prioritization strategies can vary wildly depending upon the nature of your business. The most important message I will preach is that as an SEO, you should always align keyword strategy with your organic KPIs and goals. This way, there is a clear and direct correlation between the success of your efforts as an SEO and that of your business unit.
…As an SEO, you should always align keyword strategy with your organic KPIs and goals. This way, there is a clear and direct correlation between the success of your efforts as an SEO and that of your business unit.
Below are a few steps you can take which will help you align your keyword strategy and KPIs to simplify the process of prioritizing your Keyword Scorecard. My first suggestion is to answer the following two questions, pertaining specifically to SEO:
- Ultimately, how does my company (department, team, etc) define success?
- If SEO achieved “X,” the company would be impacted for the better.
The first question couldn’t be more straightforward. At the end of the day, how does your company view successful SEO? Is it to improve revenue? To improve brand awareness? To obtain specific search engine rankings? I can’t answer that question for you. What I can say is that it’s crucial for your keyword strategy to reflect how success is measured. That way if anyone ever questions your priorities, they would be questioning a greater business strategy. The second question builds off the first. How can SEO help your business grow? My suggestion is that you use this keyword strategy to achieve big wins that you can easily correlate back to SEO. This will only further validate SEO and specifically, your team, as a valuable component to the company.
At the end of the day, how does your company view successful SEO? Is it to improve revenue? To improve brand awareness? To obtain specific search engine rankings? I can’t answer that question for you. What I can say is that it’s crucial for your keyword strategy to reflect how success is measured.
Next, I’d have each of your business unit’s stakeholders identify their primary success metrics in a living document that is shared. The goal of this exercise is to understand exactly how success is measured and determined outside of the SEO team. For instance: If you learn that the paid team primarily measures a keyword’s success based upon its return on ad spend (ROAS), then you should understand why this is the case and give weight to those keywords in your prioritization. Once you define the criteria for your prioritization strategy, it’s time to categorize your Keyword Scorecard so that you can properly monitor your progress moving forward.
Categorize Your Scorecard
One of my favorite components of Searchlight is that the platform makes it overly simple to organize your keywords into categories. This makes our lives as SEOs easier, since categories allow us to group keywords based upon our own defined criteria. These categories ultimately help us make more intelligent business decisions and prioritize our work flow.
Personally, I believe the criteria you use to categorize your keywords should be derived from your organic and paid KPIs as well as your content strategy. In my third and final post on this topic, I’ll review three category themes that I recommend you build, but I wanted to highlight some general tips when it comes to category creation before next week:
- Constantly ask yourself, “What benefit will this category provide to me.”
- Build categories into 2 facets: General (the 10,000 ft view) example could be ‘branded terms’ and Detailed (smaller and more specific) an example could ‘top 10 keywords for link building.’
- Don’t hesitate to group keywords into multiple categories.
- Get creative with your categories but always keep the business purpose in mind.
Jeff’s third and final post is coming soon. In the meanwhile, please share your thoughts below. Stay tuned for more!