Live from Pubcon South: Keyword Selection

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Apr 15, 2010
More Articles by Janet


The Keyword Selection panel featured Michael Martin of Mobile Martin, Amanda Watlington of Searching for Profit, Craig Paddock of Boost Search Marketing and Mark Jackson of Vizion Interactive. Each speaker focused on different types of tools and techniques to get the best keywords for SEO. Even “The Noid” (remember him?) Made an appearance…

Michael Martin

First up was Michael Martin who focused on “money keyword” selection. Michael defines money keywords as keywords that can most directly translate into sales.

How to find them? First, what is most important to the business? What can it monetize? Then what are people searching for? It’s about what’s important to you in tandem with what people are searching for. He recommened SEM Rush as a keyword tool for long tail terms.

What pitfalls? Avoid the Noid! Often there are the ego keywords — the ones that the company wants but aren’t really going to drive sales. Also the shotgun keyword, like one keyword, where there are hundreds of variations of the same term. Lastly is the numbers keyword choice where you choose keywords that have the highest search volume only, but don’t necessarily convert.

What it all boils down to is execution!

Amanda Watlington

Amanda said that users want to connect with what they WANT which is why keyword selection is so important. The keywords must also conform to searcher behavior — how searchers search.  Keywords must also follow query formation patterns. And finally, linguistics matters: “all natural” vs. “gourmet” matters.

How do tactics and tools differ? Amanda shared a recent graphic from MarketingSherpa (tools do not rank highly to select best keywords).

Searchers are on a quest, looking for answers to problems. Keywords drive searches and sales – when the searcher gets there, it should satisfy the quest and psychological needs.

A keyword is likely a phrase, not just one word. According to Hitwise, long tail searches (multi-word phrases) continue to rise. Also consider plural v. singular. Do you want to buy one shoe? No. You’d likely want a selection, like “shoes” or “dresses”. Amanda uses WordStream to help her cluster and sort keywords.

Finally, your keywords can drive new business that you hadn’t considered before.

Craig Paddock

Craig was up next and focused on keyphrase research. Some elements of key phrases you should look at include popularity, CTR, quality of engagement, etc. Some good keyword expanders/variations include:

  • best
  • online
  • buy
  • cheap
  • discount
  • wholesale
  • accessories
  • supplies
  • abbreviations (ex. State)
  • reviews (if you have user-generated content)

For reviews, for instance, consider creating your own page for users to enter reviews to outperform others in rankings. Some ideas for other keyphrase terms that might be related to travel, for example are:

  • why buy travel insurance?
  • should I buy travel insurance?
  • why is travel insurance important?

Use your PPC campaign data and focus on exact match terms that convert well. Craig also mentioned that Google Webmaster Tools shows impressions and CTR for organic rankings. Hurray!

Tools he mentioned include SEO Quake plugin for Firefox.

Mark Jackson

Last up was Mark Jackson who said that keyword selection comes down to four steps:

  1. Create the initial keyword list.
    • Limit the CEO’s involvement… they tend to focus a lot on one term (ego words).
    • Interview public relations, customer service, social media folks, etc. to figure out how people search.
    • Try the Google Keywords Tool.
    • Look at historical data — you can get some from Google Analytics.
    • Use SEM Rush to see competitor keyword data.
  2. Next step is to evaluate the words.
    • Determine relevancy.
    • Look at competition for a keyword phrase.
    • Look at visibility possibilities to set expectations properly.
    • Look at search volume to determine popularity.
  3. Next, narrow the list.
  4. Final step is to review and refresh.
    • He recommends a review 2-4 times/year.
    • Also good to review keywords before a redesign.

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