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 partnered with the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work to deliver their Masters in Social Work program online.
I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to put it together this “Rethinking your Keyword Strategy” series for you and I hope you’ve found it to be beneficial so far. In today’s final installment, I’ve outlined several themes and specific examples you should consider when building categories within Searchlight. Back in October, I had the opportunity to speak about this topic at Conductor’s C3 conference. In case you missed part 1 and part 2 of this series, I recommend you review them prior to reading this final post.
There are three category themes every SEO should consider, which are derived from the following areas: Content, Events and Reputation Management.
As I mentioned, there are three keyword category themes I think every SEO should consider, which are derived from the following areas: Content, Events and Reputation Management. In the sections below, I’ll briefly cover a few examples on how these themes can be utilized to create categories that drive business intelligence. Remember these categories certainly aren’t the end-all-be-all. You can always build sub-categories for any of the below themes to be more specific, or identify new categories.
Obviously there is a close connection between a content and keyword strategy. It’s important for your content strategy to group keywords together to understand how different types of keywords are performing in the search engines.
- Branded keywords – Brand descriptors, variations and common misspellings are great to group together and monitor. This also helps you identify other sites ranking for your brand terms.
- Site architecture – Say you are an e-commerce site that has a section for sunglasses. You might decide that it’d be beneficial to group all of your ‘sunglass’ related keywords together to track the performance of that section. I’ve seen SEOs create categories to match their site’s navigation (or at least their top sections within that navigation).
- Keyword context – Grouping similar keywords or keyword phrases that contain a certain word can help you monitor how well you rank for that bucket of keywords. For instance you might decide to create a category called ‘Aviators’ and include keyword phrases that contains the word “aviator” within them.
- Keyword length – If you are interested in tracking your website’s performance for phrases with different keyword counts, it could be in your best interest to create the following categories: Head phrases, Torso phrases and Long Tail phrases.
- Keyword type – Perhaps you have conducted additional research and are able to identify keyword types based upon the searcher’s intent. If so, it would be helpful to group these keywords together within Searchlight and create the following categories: Informational, Navigational and Transactional.
- Geographical – Does your site have a geo-focus? If so, it could be beneficial to segment those keywords into specific regions, states or even cities. A great guide to use for this categorization would be to follow the structure of Google Analytics’ Location report.
- Aspiring keywords – If there are certain keywords that you plan on building into your website (either through new pages, posts or sections) but do not presently have exposure for in the SERPs, then I’d assign them to an ‘aspiring keyword’ category. This way you can track your pre- and post-optimization efforts.
- Seasonal – Most businesses operate in verticals that are affected by seasonality. If you have keywords that are seasonal in nature, it could be beneficial to build a ‘seasonal’ category and sub-categories to track those keywords.
I define an ‘Event’ as any action that leads to a desired conversion from a keyword. Your prioritization exercise provides assistance when building out these ‘Event’ based categories. With Step II, you identified which ‘Events’ mattered most to your business, now you need to set the criteria (define the rules) for how they’ll be categorized. Below are just a few examples – there are probably a hundred variations.
- Priority One Keywords – This category contains the keywords that are considered your ‘best of the best.’ These are the keywords that would keep you up at night (or worse) if your SERP visibility dropped significantly. They are a combination of your top performing keywords from organic, paid and any other area (perhaps they are strategic keywords.)
- Top Keywords from Organic – Keywords within this category would be considered your top producers from organic search. How you define which keywords are your top producers should be based upon your organic KPIs. A few metrics to consider building sub-categories around are: conversion volume, conversion rate, visits and site engagement.
- Top Keywords from Paid – Keywords within this category would be considered your top producers from paid search. How you define which keywords are your top producers should be based upon your paid KPIs. A few metrics to consider building sub-categories around are: CTR, CPC, impressions, overall cost and ROAS.
- Link building – It can be beneficial to create a category that contains all of the keywords you are conducting off-site optimization around. This category allows you to quickly filter to the keywords you are actively investing resources for a status check.
An additional way to track your brand’s exposure within search engine rankings is through reputation management. Ideally, you can build categories that monitor keyword phrases that are either a positive (neutral) or negative sentiment in nature.
- Positive (neutral) sentiment – This category could contain any keywords that would have a positive or neutral impact on your brand. Perhaps it is an event or cause your company has created or is sponsoring in the future. It could also contain keywords attached to your brand such as ‘review’ or ‘feedback.’
- Negative sentiment – Such a category could contain keywords that carry a negatively impact on the business. Perhaps it is your brand name + ‘scam’ or other negative words attached to your brand. It could also be a negative piece of press that was released. It is worthwhile to collaborate with your public relations team to identify potential phrases that could appear in SERPs under your brand name.
While taking on such a project can seem to be an incredibly tedious and time – consuming process, rest assured that the benefits it will bring to your team are well worth the effort. Not only will you be able to prioritize your work and identify low-hanging fruit, but you’ll also be able to monitor your strategy more efficiently. All of these tasks enable SEO professionals to make more intelligent business decisions. Plus, what could be a better time of the year to conduct a keyword strategy re-evaluation than the New Year?
As always, we welcome your feedback in the comments below. Happy SEOing to all!