Advanced Keyword Modeling

Solo Presentation:
Bill Hunt, SES Advisory Board & President, Back Azimuth Consulting

SES SFOk kids, time to get the live-blogging kinks out and see if I “still got it”.  It’s after lunch and time for some good info to be shared across the IM community. It’s been a year since I last did this, so let’s see if my fingers can keep up.

Bill says he’s going to break up the session a bit, by covering the basics then going into the advanced.  The audience is more advanced, so the basics should go quickly.

Bill, himself started doing keyword modeling about 10 years ago back at IBM and has just honed his skills more so over the years.  He starts off by showing a cool chart on Segmentation of Keywords for Optimal targeting [sorry, no camera in all my bags today]. You might try doing a search for it.

Some examples of the benefits of keyword modeling:

  • A Large electronics retailer found significant traffic for “end of life” products that they had no representation for.
    • They created pages & PPC ads for each model that they previously had no representation for on the site since the products were no longer the demanded products
    • They saw $400K incremental revenue in 90 days just for this effort
    • They essentially grabbed the “low hanging fruit” for an easy conversion


  • A UK travel site matched keywords to top rankings pages and swapped less than optimal currently ranking pages
    • The page ranked well but there were no conversions
    • The pages were showing outdated deals
    • By making a few changes they saw $120k incremental revenue in 25 days
  • National instruments uses keywords query volume to identify new product opportunities
  • IBM & Siemens use it to name products
    •  Multiple existing and new products have been released as a result to identifying need/opportunity via keyword research
  • An e-commerce site mapped paid & organic keywords, aka “co optimization”, and found missed opportunities and cannibalization
    • Branded keywords generated revenue while non-branded words didn’t rank well, so there was no traffic – missed opportunity for SEO
    • By working those non-branded words into SEO, they saw a
      • $300k in PPC savings in 40 days
      • $250k in SEO revenue in 60 days

Advanced Keyword Modeling basically allows you to understand the search terms and through analysis you can more thoroughly understand the needs, wants and intent of the searcher.  This allows you to understand the “voice of the consumer” and effectively map your content with the query and query intent.  You can also identify new products and/or services.  Plus, you can create and influence PR and social media opportunities.

There are several types of keyword models that Bill talks about. Here is a list of some of them:

  • Missed opportunity Matrix
    • Create a matrix of keywords that are being “missed” so you can develop a plan around how to gain traffic on them
  • Critical keyword performance monitoring
  • Co-optimization modeling
    • SEO and PPC information working together to benefit both campaigns
  • Preferred landing page monitoring and optimization
    • Make sure your landing page is performing as desired. If not, optimized different areas of the page to increase conversions
  • Snippet optimization
    • Looking at the served snippet in Google for keywords
    • Having your snippet/description speak to the audience can improve click rate
  • Integrate popular keywords into content pages
    • If you are seeing searchers use particular words that didn’t necessarily show up in your keyword research, start “sprinkling” them into content pages to help the site rank for those words.
  • End Of life product handling
    • Just because it’s not a “hot commodity” any more doesn’t mean that there isn’t a demand for it still.  Ensure that your site is serving up something that pertains to those products in order to capitalize on the need.
  • Integrate relevant keywords and landing pages into PR and social media
    • Cross market by taking the keywords you’ve found relevant and have any PR and social media efforts also integrate those keywords along with desired landing pages into their efforts.
  • Product market research

What your really want to do is understand the searchers and they different types of queries.  There are Information queries in which the search is looking for additional information on topics like events, diseases etc.  There are also navigational queries that are location based. Lastly, there are Transactional queries such as wanting to register for an event or buy a product.

The typical purchase cycle  includes researching product use and information. Let this drive the content.  Searchers may be looking for features or functions of a product, or maybe they want to compare brands.  What if they are looking for discounts? These are all typical actions of someone in the purchase cycle.

You might want to dig into analytics to see what the duration is from when a visitor hits the page (checkout page) to when they actually check out. If you have a box for a coupon code, chances are, they are going to go out and search for one that will work on their purchase.  [I do that, don’t you?]

What is keeping you from creating a page with your own coupon codes that will outrank the affiliate sites?  You don’t have any codes, you say. Then how about linking over to your social media properties to promote specials.

Looking beyond the purchase, what could a visitor be looking for?  Are they looking for a particular service?  Create content for error codes or common problems. This will help drop visitors into internal pages that can help resolve their need.  As an interesting side-note, more and more people are landing on internal pages vs home page so use this to your advantage.

Take a good look at keywords that are being used either web wide or those that are in your own analytics data and start to understanding qualifiers.  Words that help us isolate a specific opportunity, interest, audience or need are golden.  A search like ‘upper arm shaper’ is the type of search that should land a visitor right on the actual page of that product. A search for ‘Cloud computing deployment strategy’ could hint to a senior executive doing the search and their needs are slightly different than those who are just looking for the definition of ‘cloud computing’.  Furthermore, a search for something like ‘Underwater photography mask’ can hint to an opportunity.  No one sells such a mask although there are many products out there that would suffice.  This is a completely missed opportunity by those retailers because they are all so busy marketing their ‘scuba masks’.

Understand the searchers mindset. Which of the following are they:

  • Brand enthusiast
  • Functionality adaptor
  • Brand aware
  • Brand agnostic

From there, start brainstorming keywords, because they are a true starting point. Start the process by answering questions like:

  • Make a list of products, services and categories of each
  • What do your potential visitors search for when trying to find your product/services/info
  • When you search for your own site, what do you search for
  • What do you want to be #1 for in the search results

Don’t forget to look internally for keyword ideas.  Mine your own pages for keywords. You can do this through an automated process by using a tool like the Google keyword tool that allows you to just plug in a URL. Remember, if Google can’t even figure out what the page is about then you may have a problem. It will help you figure out where you need to go with content direction.

Google tools can help you understand what people are looking for when they hit your site.  Within both Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics you’ll be able to extract data that can yield valuable keywords.

Now that you’ve done some brainstorming, it’s time to start your keyword list. Use Excel and have columns such as: keyword, related keywords, demand, rank data, PPC, site search, type, comments and Landing Page URL.

With that list, you now want to decide on the keyword opportunity. This will require researching the demand and opportunity of that keyword. Leverage one of the keyword research tools to understand variations of keywords and don’t forget to use “exact” and “phrase” match.

Some tools to use:

  • Google
  • Wordtracker
  • Wordstream
  • Google trends
  • Google Insights, which is useful by city
  • Keyword Spy
  • And Spyfu Recon

So now you have brainstormed, you’ve made your list and you’ve researched demand on the keywords.  Now it’s time for keyword prioritization. You can prioritize words into buckets such as High, Medium and Low categories.

Categories used to:

  • Control SOV levels on specific segments in paid
  • Identify priority words for SEO work
  • Advise content developers on best words to include in new content

In terms of allocation, consider these percentages for Keyword Tiers:

  • Tier 1 = 60%
  • Tier 2 = 30%
  • Tier 3 = 10%

Make sure your budget is going towards the right words. Some companies have a disproportionate amount of money going after words that aren’t the “money makers”.  Change logic and focus efforts in the “money maker” words.

Take the time to map keywords to predefined action sections.  Set your keywords to different areas of the site based on the business goals to help target them correctly. Map each of your keywords to particular pages. If no page exists, then it’s an opportunity to create new content. You can also use the keyword spreadsheet to help with social media efforts…and have them use your preferred landing pages when they talk about certain topics. It makes everyone’s job easier.

Maximize keyword modeling and search intent by prioritizing keywords and align them to business goals. Informed messaging, strategies and creative will all increase effectiveness.

Create searcher intent models by researching potential searcher’s keyword variations and assigning them to a classification. Ask yourself things like ‘Why did they make that query and what do they want?’ and ‘How does the searcher’s needs align with the site?’ then set out to answer them.

Some uses for searcher intent include:

  • Leverage SIM for paid search campaign launches
  • Leverage data to inform keyword selection at the brand level
  • Leverage data when looking to identify content development opportunities
  • Leverage data for new product identification

Keyword segmentation is an important step in the process. Segment keywords into the types of searches they are doing.  Are they “what is” type keywords? Look at how the search engines serve up results to decide what words are the right ones to go after.

Let the research findings influence design & content. Sites need to use consumer’s words, since that’s what they are using when they search. Create a taxonomy that can be translated into a content and search strategy. Create content that satisfies the content desired by searcher. Like “How to” searches…opportunity for how to videos on a site that previously didn’t offer much more than just products for sale.

Brand engagement & consumer need means that when there are searches pertaining to how to use a specific product it opens up opportunities for multiple keywords and content.

Are you finding some underperforming keywords? When you have keywords that are under-performing, you need to decide what changes need to be made. Does the snippet need to be modified? Is the correct page ranking? Is it too specific when it should be broader or vice versa?  Make appropriate changes to capitalize on rankings.

You should also create a missed opportunities model. For example, if there were rankings on particular keywords, how much would the company save in PPC dollars?  Go after those words in SEO.

End Of Life product opportunity opens many doors for content and ranking. There are so many products that have reached EOL and are removed from the site yet there is still consumer interest. Don’t let that opportunity go unnoticed.

Bill also talks about understanding the more popular area of the site.  Is the messaging correct, for example are you promoting “pet supplies” when people really want “dog products”?  Align the content and messaging with what people really want instead of old-school marketing speak.

Combine search & social data to get your messaging out earlier depending on when people start searching.

Authority sites are the top performers. Run organic ranking against keywords looking for ranking in the first 10 pages of results. Make not of all the tops sites ranking to get an idea of the keyword landscape.  Use this data to decide who the big players are in the space.

Integrating PPC and Organic is an opportunity that should not be ignored. Take a look at what keywords are costing the most and what the rankings are.  If there aren’t many conversions on the organic, change the snippet! More than likely it’ll give you a lift.

Look at keywords based on the highest CPC, and see what the rankings are.  There are some great opportunities for making some changes to help traffic and conversions.

And that concludes the session.  So much great data in that presentation, that is for sure.  Hope you all gained a few nuggets that will help you with your keyword research and modeling.

Once a hard working corporate type, Jayme traded in her office and business attire for cowboy boots and the Sierra Nevada mountains. At one time Jayme was the director of SEO for Bruce Clay Inc., then senior SEO analyst for WebMetro. She now spends her time out in the country. As a busy mom, soccer coach, weekly volleyball player, weekend hiker and hobbyist photographer she does manage to find a few hours a week to stay connected to the Internet Marketing world plus she is still doing SEO on a handful of clients. You won't find her active on Twitter or her own blog, because when she does have spare time she's usually away from her computer enjoying what life has to offer, away from the computer monitor. In fact her own website is sinfully neglected. Even though she has grand plans to one day put some energy into her own blog that day still hasn't arrived, possibly after her kids are both in school.

See Jayme's author page for links to connect on social media.

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