This is a five-piece blog series on how to successfully build a sustainable keyword strategy. In the first part, I’ve presented a solid 4-step-framework for successful keyword research. In the second part I’ve described the process of quantitative and qualitative keyword analysis and today I want to write about how to categorize your keywords for targeted actions and clear evaluation.
For implementing a sustainable keyword strategy it is not only necessary to find the right terms, integrate them into your website, and monitor rankings in the long run. It is furthermore crucial to create keyword entities – relevant search terms grouped by different topics, priorities, brand and money keywords, or communication channels depending on the individual focus and goals of your SEO strategy.
Such classification allows you to filter for a certain keyword set, look at this group of keywords separately and thus get a detailed, non-distorted report on Google rankings for this particular segment. In combination with an integrated competitor comparison such keyword grouping provides highly valuable insights into your SEO performance. To prove that let’s have a look at some practical examples.
How to Group Your Keywords for More Targeted Actions
An important disclaimer, before we proceed any further: All use cases are based on existing websites. The names and examples, however, are completely made up for demonstration purposes.
1. Set new business focus
Karl Miller owns an online shop for pet supplies. His product range covers food for cats, dogs, and fish as well as dog accessories, cat litter, and aquariums. That makes for a whole lot of potential keywords to monitor – e.g. food supplements, kitten milk, water filters, or wet food, to only name a few.
But Karl has decided to set focus on fish supplies and aquariums as this segment has proven to be most profitable. However, when measuring all keywords by the same yardstick metrics such as ‘average position’ or ‘ranking performance with regard to competitors’ get distorted. Such distortion of data makes it hard to nail down and leverage the most relevant and urgent ranking potentials with regard to Karl’s pet topic fish supplies.
This is why Karl has created keyword groups by priority. One group called “Prio 3” contains search terms like cat food, cat trees, cat litter, or kitten alimentation. Another category is named “Prio 2” and includes all keywords related to dog products. Last but not least Karl has set up a third keyword group “Prio 1” to which all fish-related search terms are assigned. Filtering for the specific keyword group “Prio 1 – Fish Supplies” Karl will thus only see ranking performance and potential for his future business focus. Based on the analysis he can then undertake targeted actions for growing his company in the right direction.
When looking at Karl’s overall ranking performance there’s no clue yet on how his most important segment “fish supplies” performs. When looking at all keyword groups seperately, however, it becomes clear that fish supplies is the worst performing segment. Cat supplies, on the other hand, win against all competitors in ranking.
2. Identify best ranking product category
Sonja Cooper runs a website with recipes of all kinds. She features a variety of delicacies going from vegetarian to meat to fish dishes. Now she wants to know which category has the best ROI from Google rankings. In order to find out Sonja has created different keyword sets named “Vegetarian”, “Meat”, “Poultry”, and “Fish”.
Measuring the ranking performance of each keyword group on single Google domains separately and comparing the results she can now easily identify most competitive topic areas as well as the best performing category, and the actions necessary to stay ahead of the competition. In the second step Sonja can then put rankings and referral traffic from Google into relation to each other calculating the ultimate ROI from keyword rankings.
Comparing average ranking positions and ranking spread it is obvious that Sonja’s best performing category is “meat”. But there is also a downwards trend in rankings that she needs to react upon correspondingly.
3. Run a thorough competitor analysis
Marvin Smith works in a highly competitive business field, namely online dating portals. Aiming at finding his own niche he is conducting an extensive competitor analysis with regard to keyword rankings. He has thus split his keywords into brand and money keywords allowing him to directly see, if his business has any chance to be profitable or if he would be better off changing strategies.
First of all he wants to put his brand-related keywords in comparison to his three main competitors. Marvin’s dating portal is called “Elite UK Dating” but unfortunately there have been others with quite the same idea. Their websites are called “Elite Dating Agency”, “Elite Dating Group”, or “Elite Singles”. Secondly, in order to draw some traffic from Google rankings Marvin needs to outperform his competitors with regard to money keywords such as “online dating”, “exclusive online dating services”, or “elite singles”.
Filtering for brand and money keywords separately it now becomes clear at first sight, if his business model is competitive enough or rather not. Consequently, Marvin can think about either rebranding or adapting his offer accordingly.
Although there is quite some competition Marvin’s brand keywords are found on page one of the SERPs at least. Yet, he isn’t ranking for any of his money keywords among the Top 10. Consequently prospects need to know his name before they can find him, which is rather unlikely.
4. Link keyword performance to your customer lifecycle
Catherine Ryder has an online travel agency specializing on trips to France. She knows that travels as such are a very competitive field. Therefore she wants to make custom-tailored information her competitive advantage. Aligning her keyword segmentation with the customer lifecycle she caters to user intent in the best possible way. For Catherine’s purpose it’s not enough to just differentiate between research type search terms in the lower funnel and brand & money keywords in the upper funnel. For getting a more detailed overview of her keyword performance she needs to dive into broader micro-categories and clearly defined funnel stages.
So first of all Catherine selects her keywords then groups them into micro-categories. This means that she takes closely related search terms such as “where to go this summer?” “where to go in september?” “vacation ideas for couples” or “travel destinations for singles” and assigns them to the group “Vacation Ideas”. In the next step she links the keyword category “Vacation Ideas” to a funnel stage of her customer lifecyle. Ted Ives has written an old but gold article on the topic from which I’ll borrow the funnel stage graphic:
According to Ted’s model the “Vacation Ideas” category falls into stage 2 of the customer journey called “Suspicion There May Be a Problem”. “Funnel Stage #2 is important because it’s an opportunity for you to disturb the prospect’s equilibrium, a critical step in any sales process”, Ted says. This is the “itch” stage where the customer might not even know yet that there is a problem but where you can proactively provide solutions to influence searchers in your direction. For those of you who’d like to better understand the single stages of the buying process I’d definitely recommend to read Ted’s article.
Now Catherine can immediately see if she covers all stages of the customer lifecycle and in which stage her keywords perform best. She can furthermore set focus on specific stages in the process to increase conversions and revenue in long run.
It becomes clear at first sight that Catherine performs best in Stage #4 of the customer lifecycle. Now she needs to figure out how content at this stage converts and if it is a critical stage to focus on for growing her business. On the other hand her website is not at all visible in Stage #2 and Stage #7 – 10. The good news is that in all categories Catherine’s doing better than her competitors.
Overall keyword analysis sometimes simply isn’t enough. Grouping you keywords can provide invaluable insights into keyword performance at critical stages. It helps you to answer questions such as am I competitive? And what should I focus on in order to grow my business? As you can see there are many different use cases for keyword segmentation. Find yours and start your in-depth keyword analysis today!
Stay Tuned for Part 4 of Our Blog Series: