Motoko Hunt | January 23, 2013
Breaking down keywords and improving content through the searcher’s intent
Even in the dark age of “Keyword: not provided,” the importance of understanding the searcher intent behind search queries remains the same. To measure the SEO performance, it is time for everyone to stop weighing keyword rankings or traffic so heavily, and start using a mix of several metrics. What becomes more valuable for the site and the business owners is to measure the on-site engagement of the organic traffic. The good news is that there are other resources, beyond search query data, where we can get relevant keyword data. The social tools that provide you with the list of conversation topics would be useful as well.
Stop worrying about the search volume
I believe this is one of the biggest “traps” that many people get caught when conducting their keyword research. I understand that you want to find the keywords that would bring the most traffic to your site by ranking well for it. Usually, those keywords with huge search volume are very broad terms and may not be that focused for your needs. While you may think it’s related to your business, the majority of the people search with that keyword may not indeed be your target audience.
Let’s say you own an online glass beads shop. You see that the keywords “beads” and “jewelry” have huge search volume and want to rank for them. Before you start going crazy with the idea, take a deep breath and think about what type of information people searching for “beads (90,500)” or “jewelry (301,000)” would want to find in the search results.
But really, how many of them are actually interested in buying the glass beads? You may be able to convert some of those people looking for the broad “beads” to purchase glass beads from your site, but are those people searching for “jewelry” looking to buy glass beads?
The fact is that no matter how well you rank for “jewelry”, people who are interested in “jewelry stores” or “premier jewelry” probably won’t click your link to visit a glass beads shop site. It’s best if you target “glass beads” or “bead jewelry making.” Your website is most likely more contextually relevant to those keywords, and therefore, it’s better for the actual search user experience which is therefore better for your business ROI. You need to have the guts to ignore the high, yet irrelevant search volume.
Keywords themselves won’t bring the conversions, the content will
Once you conduct extensive keyword research using the data from keyword tools, social conversation monitoring tools, on-site search tools, PPC search query data, etc., the next step is to separate them into different groups and clusters. The search funnels, better known as conversion funnels, is a good place to start. Once you group them into different buy cycle search stages such as “awareness,” “information,” “research and compare” and “purchase”, I suggest you then create tier groups within each stage based on the keyword types.
For example, group the keywords by colors (“blue beads”, “red beads”, and “multi-color beads”, sizes and shapes (“10mm beads”, “round beads”, and “cube beads”), and types (“seed beads”, “Venetian beads”, and “pearl beads”). You may also find the keywords for a user seeking “how-to information” or “problem solving information” such as “how to make bead jewelry” and “beads hole too small to thread”. These keywords would be put in different groups from the general information keywords such as “types of glass beads” and “origin of Venetian beads”.
Next, you really need to review each keyword, and identify the searcher’s intent for each of them to see if you have the content that satisfies the search needs. Even if the keywords have good search volume, and seem like a good idea to keep them in your target keyword list, if they don’t sell the product or you don’t have the content on site, it’s not a good idea to keep them on the list. If you think that the keyword would help expand your reach or enhance the site experience for your site visitors, add the content, which meets the searcher’s intent.
Don’t bother manipulating the title tag and meta description to make it seem as if you offer the product or the information. When the search users don’t find the information in the landing page, they’ll feel being tricked or frustrated, and leave the site immediately. Without good content, which matches the searcher’s intent for the specific keyword, the website may have more traffic, you won’t turn them into a potential customer, and your business won’t grow.
The above keyword research and grouping exercise is a great way to evaluate the state of your website to see if it meets the current market demands, and identifies holes in your site content. The grouping also helps with improving the site taxonomy structures that comes in handy with site rebuilds.
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