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September 19, 2008

4 Tips For Great Keyword Analysis (KWA)

by Anthony Verre

4 Tips To Build Your Solid SEO Core

The discovery phase of every SEO program is possibly the single most important aspect an SEO does to build successful organic optimization. Your keyword analysis is the central core to every program; it’s where the success starts and where the failure can begin. Here are some tips to keep in mind and build great keyword analysis in hours:

  1. GIGO Syndrome: Garbage In, Garbage Out
  2. Garbage In, Garbage Out

    The SEO program’s success, initially, is only as good as your keywords and the diligence you put toward it. Generally, if you start with “garbage”, that’s exactly what you and your clients can expect: garbage. Prepare yourself to dive deep into the keyword universe, exploring multiple variations of similar keywords, picking apart client site content, and continually refining until you attain your core keywords.

  3. Talk To Your Clients:
  4. Talking to Your Clients

    Someone has to break it to you. You aren’t omniscience. This is the best way to find out what you should actually be targeting, and a great way to keep from falling in the GIGO Syndrome. They’re coming to you for a reason: you’re a professional in your arena; they’re professional in theirs. And, chances are, their site is a complete and utter mess, so it’s not a reliable source to hone in on what they actually do.

    Talking to clients BEFORE you begin your analysis is a great way to discern what their primary service or products are and what their secondary products and services are. It’s going to tell you what the client makes the most money on and what they need to be competitive for in order to keep their doors open. These are going to be your seed words. The words you’ll use to start your keyword research. More importantly, it’s a great way to get client buy-in on all things you’ll be doing in the future and to build confidence and trust.

  5. “Take Only What You Need To Survive”:
  6. Create and organize two separate spreadsheets: one for the client and one you use internally. Why? It’s pretty simple: you don’t want to overwhelm or start negotiations with your client. Through your refining process you’ll have hundreds of viable keywords, and the last thing an SEO wants to do is start “keyword nit-picking” with a client. If you show them your entire keyword universe, make no mistake that you are offering the client a say in what keywords they think/would like to be using.

    The client-facing spreadsheet should show information that will only be valuable to the clients: primary keywords, secondary keywords, and long-tail keywords. If you have access to WordTracker or Keyword Discovery, or even Google’s Keyword Tool External, you’ll want to use the data they can provide support your keyword choices.

  7. The Long and Winding Road:

The best way to avoid a GIGO situation is, as I mentioned above, to put in your due diligence. Below is a process that works quite well for me:

Use Google’s External Keyword Tool Run your client site through the “website content” analyzer and check off the “include other pages linked from this URL”.

WARNING: unless you are doing PPC research, you just want to look at the “Common Terms” and “Keywords” columns. The traffic numbers aren’t going to help you out here as evidence for keyword choices, but they will give you an indication as to if the term is searched, as they include the entire content network and search partner network. This is not just Google Search Queries.

Review The Client Website:

Even after your sit down with the client, you still need to review ALL the content on the website. You need to know what content is on the site and what’s not. It’s not going to do you any good to find primary keywords if the content doesn’t exist on the site. Building targeted content to target keywords comes later; at this point you need to target what already exists. Chances are you’ll get more keyword ideas (and you might even find a hidden gem)

  • Invade the Competitors:
  • Simply put, you need to know what the client competition is targeting and how well they’re doing it. You can use Google’s keyword tool and drop in the client URL, or use a couple of great paid tools like SEO Digger or SpyFu. Those two, I find, offer great results at a cheap price. Check this post by Ann Smarty for an in-depth look at these tools and others.

  • WordTracker or Keyword Discovery:
  • Once you’ve got an expansive list of keywords that all seem like a fit, it’s time to test their mettle. I like to drop each keyword, or group of similar keywords, in by themselves. It won’t do you any good to drop the entire list in at one time, especially if the settings are set for the standard 100 top keywords. Be sure to allow for misspellings or plurals or both, and let er’ rip.

    Pretty soon you’ll have squeezed that list down from hundreds to about 30-40 keywords that get traffic and aren’t ultra-competitive. But, let’s face it, you’re going to have to target a few ultra-competitive keywords because that’s where the searches are happening and you have to be there.

  • Refine One Last Time:

Take another 30 minutes and review your keywords one last time. Match them up to the content pages of the client site and make sure they fit. If they don’t, lose em’.

It’s a big task, and a lot of work, but by putting in the effort up front, you’ll be saving yourself a headache and a lot of questions down the road.

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