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Strategy Sessions: Advanced Keyword Research

In this installment of Strategy Sessions, Lauren and I discuss advanced keyword research strategies that will strengthen your content marketing plan and help improve your overall SEO.


Adam: Welcome to another addition of Strategy Sessions. I’m Adam Rightor.

Lauren: And I’m Lauren McGaha.

Adam: So today we wanted to talk about advanced keyword research. We have a few articles on our site about basic SEO and the tactics you should use there. But I get a lot of questions from clients: “What’s next? I’ve done what you requested. It’s working, but what more can I do?” Advanced keyword research is a really big part of that.

Lauren: But before we dive into some more advanced tactics, let’s remind ourselves of the basics of keyword research. One of the first things that we tell clients when this comes up, when they’re trying to figure out, “What keywords should I be using in this content that I’m putting on my site?” It’s really common sense, at first. Think about the way that your users would logically arrive at your site. What questions are they asking themselves to arrive at the content that answers those questions? So, we’re talking about avoiding technical jargon, acronyms and lingo that’s not very familiar. Just think about, “OK, how would somebody arrive at my site?” That’s a good place to begin your keyword strategy.

From there, there are a couple of other tools that you can use. As you probably know, a while back, Google started protecting the keyword data of the users who come to your site. So anyone who’s logged into their Google account while they are browsing the Internet and land on your site, any keywords that they use to arrive there are going to be protected. However, if you enable Google Webmaster Tools in your Google Analytics account, you’ll at least be able to see that keyword data for the last 90 days.

Adam: It only archives for 90 days, so you can set it up to email yourself every quarter, 90 days, so that you’re able to keep that information long-term, and compare quarter to quarter, about how you’re ranking for a particular keyword.

Lauren: And that’s useful not only to know how you’re ranking for these keywords but also you can take that information of how people actually landed on the site and plug those keywords into Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool. This is interesting. So you don’t actually have to have an active AdWords campaign running. This is a free tool through Google AdWords. Essentially you’re just going to put in a particular keyword, maybe one that you found through Google Webmaster Tools, and it’s going to show you not just the search volume for that particular word, but it’s going to show you the search volume for other keywords. What you’re getting are derivations of that original word, if you need ideas of, “OK, people search for these particular string of words, how else are they using these search terms to land on similar content?”

Adam: So it’s going to help you brainstorm related keywords, as well as give you the search volume. So how many people in a given month or year are searching for the keywords that you want to rank for. Now, the problem with that is, it’s really tempting to base your keyword metadata decisions purely on search volume. So you’d say, “OK, keyword A gets 200 searches a month, keyword B only gets 100, so I should obviously go with Keyword A.”

Lauren: It’s not quite that simple.

Adam: The other component is: how competitive is that keyword? Without a paid search tool, it’s pretty hard to evaluate competitiveness. You can run the search yourself — and depersonalize the result, because Google’s personalizing all the results of people based on their location, so there’s some plug-ins you can use there to take that personalization away to get a baseline. But, you run the search, you look at the other terms, you evaluate, “Am I bigger or am I ranking better for them?” It’s really an educated guessing game at that point.

Lauren: So this is where we move into the more advanced tactic if you want to invest in this.

Adam: I’ll plug an SEO site, Long Tail Pro is my favorite. There are reviews out there comparing the pros and cons of these keyword research tools. It’s going to help you brainstorm related keywords, especially, as the name implies, “long tail” types of keywords. Just to make a definition for a second, any search that’s two or more terms is technically a long tail search. The idea is there are a lot of searches out there, though not your main keyword that you rank for, that people are searching for everyday, that probably get a low search volume and have a low competitive score as well. So if you were to promote content that was relevant to that long tail keyword, which could be something like a question, a naturally worded question or maybe just four words strung together, you could rank rather well.

Lauren: Yeah, and that’s key. Just because the search volume is low doesn’t mean that the quality of these people or potential users or visitors to your site is low. The quality is still there. It’s being kind of overshadowed by some of the behemoths out there, of the one- or two-word keywords. So we’re really talking about getting into that more specific level of a question or the specific longer-form ideas around your expertise.

Adam: It’s not all about ranking for the biggest keyword. For example, if we tried to rank for “web design,” that’s going to be tough. And Wikipedia’s always going to rank better. There are a lot of other sites that are dedicated to web design in general (not just other agencies that do it), that are also going to outrank you. So if you start stringing some additional words in addition to the main keywords you want to rank for, chances are, you’re going to reduce the competition you have.

But how do you evaluate it? One of the main competitive advantages of having a tool like Long Tail Pro is that it’s going to put an actual value out of 100 on how difficult it will be for you to rank for a particular keyword. So making those decisions of what keywords to use in your metadata and in your articles becomes a whole lot easier.

Lauren: And because that information is tailored to your company, your website, versus just trying to identify kind of how that’s going to be on a broader scale across the board, these results are personalized for you.

Adam: So that’s really what we wanted to cover today about that. Advanced keyword research really does pay off.

Lauren: Yeah, and this does come up a lot, so if you’re watching this video and you have additional questions, I recommend you go ahead and put them in the comment section. We can continue this discussion down below.

Adam: All right, thanks folks.

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