SEO changed in 2013, numerous algorithm updates to Google have kept pace with ever changing tactics used by less scrupulous SEO practitioners. The process of link building changed to one of link earning, as outlined by Rand Fishkin’s Friday White board in October 2013. But one thing that hasn’t changed much is keyword research, this is still the foundation for getting your website structure right and attracting the relevant traffic to your website.
In this article I’m going to outline how we use keyword research to influence both websites’ structure and content, I’ll also cover what we’re doing differently in 2014.
Firstly the tools, there are a number of tools out there both free and paid, examples are Wordtracker, SEMrush, Word Stream, KeywordSpy and MOZ. However I’ve always favoured Google’s Keyword Tool which was replaced last year by Keyword Planner, there was some outrage about this change with some folks predicting the death of keyword research. But the new is just as good as the old, once you get used to it and one of my favourite features is now back - allowing us to export keyword volume by month, very useful for forecasting.
Throughout this article I’m going to use a retailer of baby and kids products as an example.
How to do keyword research
Firstly we start with a number of seed keywords that you wish to explore, typically these will be categories (eg. prams, car seats, cots etc), products and brand names (bugaboo, maxi-cosi etc). I list them all out in a spreadsheet and use them as my starting point for the keyword planner. For the purpose of this article we’re going to use these seed words:
- car seats
In reality you are likely to have a seed word list of at least 100, more if you’re working on a big website.
Use the “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas” function of keyword planner start by entering your first seed keyword into the search bar.
Now we dive in Google’s keyword planner and getting going on our research, here's what we’re going to do:
1. For each Seed Word we go into Keyword planner and search for keyword ideas, adding any relevant ones to the “Your Plan” section - this acts as our shopping basket of keywords.
2. Once you’ve completed this, review the keyword ideas for your first seed word and then we’re going to download to csv, and segment by month.
3. Open the csv in Open Office or Excel and add two new columns, Theme and Content
A strategy that will be important for 2014 is to group the keywords you find into themes, generally each seed word will become a theme, although this isn’t always the case. In the above example I’m going to combine prams and pushchairs into one theme - “prams”. Once we’ve grouped into themes the keywords will help us identify what content we should create for each theme.
Because each seed word could generate up to 700+ keyword ideas it will take time to go through the spreadsheet, but make sure you do, decide which ones are relevant, deleting any that aren’t. At the same time, identifying a Content Target or type.
A content target or type allocates each keyword to a specific use, for example in the above spreadsheet twin prams, double prams and travel system prams have been identified as possible product categories. Where as “best prams”, and “prams for twins” will be used to create content in the blog.
It's time consuming but the ideas it will give you are well worth it. By the end of the process you will have confirmed the important categories and ideas for other types of content.
One final note is that keyword research can be useful when researching new products, in our example numerous pushchair brands come up, this data could be used to influence your decision to stock certain brands.
In the next article in our 2014 Ecommerce Foundations series Leo will talk about link earning in 2014.