Keyword Research: Pro Boston Preview

There are sexy topics in SEO (ex. link building, Panda, ranking, analytics) [hush, those are sexy to nerds like me], and then there are those topics that are good old standbys. The foundational items that we all have to do but no one really looks forward to doing. Some get their interns to do this kind of work, or pay someone somewhere else to do it. The thing is that if you get away from the foundational things like backlink analysis and keyword research, you really lose the heart of SEO.

IBM WatsonAs Will wrote in his recent post, "whatever else changes, we're still typing words into boxes." The world of search is changing and computers are getting better at understanding language but we still have to input what we are looking for to get those 10 links (plus 10 ads, some product listings, a few pictures, news links, local business listings, what our friends like ...).

Jey Pandian recently asked me about my posts on keyword research and I realized that while I am speaking about it at Pro Boston and have at Pubcon Austin, I have not written on the topic before. There is an ancient presentation on Keyword Research I did at Pubcon, and the more recent slide share is below.

The most recent presentation covers what I consider to be good places to start looking for key phrases you might consider. What I'll be covering more at Pro Boston is the implementation of keyword research. We'll be looking at refining those lists on a massive scale and how to apply keyword research to sites big and small. Smaller sites have a leg up on bigger sites in terms of keyword research and refinement. But who am I kidding, the larger, branded sites have the upper hand in authority.

There are things that you will only get from me at the conference (get ready for some awesome tools, spreadsheets, etc.) but when it comes to keyword research I do want to challenge you to do a few things over the next few weeks.

Get New Content for Your Blog

Grab that presentation up there and go to town on identifying keywords. Use the keyword tool from Google, your own internal site search, answer sites, and/or wonder wheel, and think up blog posts around the terms you find there. Want an example?

Site: Scottsdale Real Estate
Main keyword: scottsdale homes
Wonder Wheel terms and Blog post topics:

  1. scottsdale golf homes - Golf Homes in Scottsdale: How to Protect Your Property
    Think about how funny a post would be about protecting windows and cars from stray balls. You could also include how to resell golf balls, or sculptures using golf balls. Maybe other uses for a golf cart? Golf Cart Polo anyone? Heck that is four posts right there!
  2. scottsdale remax - In real estate, topics are tough and competition is rough. Why not write about specific brands and their agents? You guys know everyone in the industry. Don't get mean, just share fun stories about each person. Maybe highlight a property they have out right now. You might get a lead interested in the property and you can work with the other agent on it. Link Karma.

Find New Competitors

You know your competitors right? Do you really? I dare you to go look. There have been a lot of changes in the SERPs recently. You might have survived the most recent updates, but who didn't? Who is up in the top 10 now? These things change all the time. The steps to get a good list of online competitors are as follows.

  1. Grab your top 10 keywords for the industry (not the ones you get traffic for).
  2. Grab the top competitors for those keywords.
  3. Compare the 100 domains by pulling the root domains and de-duplicating.

Enjoy the new data. Every site targets differently, and takes a different approach to marketing. Get to know your competitors. Contact them, form bonds. Keep the ones you love close, and your (ahem) competitors closer. Seriously though, link karma, it's real.

For an example, I am going to focus on Unbounce. They are in a very competitive space, landing page optimization. Who might they pay attention to? I can't say that these people are new to ranking in the top 10 for "landing pages" but here are some ideas on how to use this information.

  • Ion Interactive - great people, they used to host the #crochat on Twitter. How about contacting them to offer to keep it going and then do it together in the future?
  • EZminisites - As purveyors of the longer sales pitch, I would love to see a big landing page test for one client (non-profit maybe?) and see who comes out on top. Maybe do a few of these a year? Great link bait people!

Identify Lower Performers

Keyword research also great helping us identify where we might gain traffic with some extra links. We all know the one or two head terms, but what about that mid tier? It could bring you a good chunk of traffic and your pages could be a link or two from ranking for these terms. Throw your domain into the Google Keyword Tool, or pick a page. This is supposed to be fun, remember?

Site: Strike Models - Model Ships
Keywords: the uss arizona, uss arizona model
Corresponding Page: USS Arizona

This page does not rank for "the uss arizona" or "uss arizona model." Checking Open Site Explorer, it's the 21st strongest page on the site. There are two current linking domains to the page, and it has a page authority of 35. Recommendations are to make the title tag "USS Arizona Model | Strike Models" and really focus on the term "USS Arizona Model" when link building. This site will only need one good link really, one of the top competitors (That Raven Magic) only has 3 links from 2 linking domains, just like this domain.

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