Keyword Research, Selection and Optimization: PubCon Vegas 2008

Back from lunch, which was an adventure as always. Lisa is sitting next to me and is sharing her power strip. Dueling bloggers! Christine Churchill, President, Key Relevance, is moderating this session with speakers Wil Reynolds, Founder, SEER Interactive; Larry Mersman, Vice President, Trellian; Ken Jurina, President, Epiar Inc.; and Stoney deGeyter, President, Pole Position Marketing.

Wil Reynolds is up first. He’s down with OPD, apparently: other people’s data.

Amazon gives you their best sellers, their categories. It’s a good way to mine for information about what’s going to sell. You can prioritize your top ten based on their best sellers.

Google’s Hot Trends allows you to sign up and get the hot trends every day so that you can see what’s new and upcoming. When Flight of the Conchords went on tour, they spiked on the Hot Trends. Only two ticket brokers were actually advertising for it. You can also see what time of day it happened so that you know if you’ve actually missed the window.

When would you use this?

CNN, Tribune, gossip sites — anything that needs to be on top of quick trends. The other thing is that you should be using it to spot trends. If it spikes at around the same time every day, you can run your ads then.

Google Trends sends it right to you. So does Yahoo! Pipes. Parse out the RSS feeds to find a trend. Download the CSV file and analyze it for long term trends. You can automate the clicks to get the file by using the Firefox Macros + Excel to save it.

How do you take advantage of a trend?

Look at the trends around a search term to find new keywords to target. Use more than one tool to find trends because they all have flaws.

Understand that there’s regionalism. Look at it world wide and look at it region by region because the trend will change.

Keyword research resources:

Quintura: Gives you a graphical representation of search. The hardest part of doing keyword research is that you have an inherent bias in how you search. You need to use tools to minimize the bias. Look around, see what other words come up.

Out of the box ideas are key.

Delicious: People tag content. Use those tags to discover synonyms and different view points. Track trends there, too.

Microsoft adCenter Labs: Using multiple tools gives you a confirmation on trends. You can discover how often someone looking for one tool goes back to refine the search to something else. (and other sites that give you their top searches): Rankings for keywords, search terms, etc. Don’t just use it as your only data point but use it to confirm your other tools. Just do a search for “top searches” and see what comes up. Track down competitors who are just giving away that data and use it.

Make sure that you’re not getting spam. Look for categorization and prioritization, not just link lists.

ESPN: Tells you what the top search term is and why it’s the top search. Nice.

Ken Jurina is up next to talk about negative keywords.

He takes a straw poll to find out how many people are using negative keywords. Only 4 are using 10,000 negative keywords or more. When should you be using them? A search for “hosting Tupperware” probably shouldn’t bring up hosting companies. That doesn’t really appeal to the target audience. Negative keywords are great for filtering out irrelevant queries — the ones that get clicks but don’t convert.

Reasons to make a keyword negative:

  • Zero conversions
  • Expensive conversions
  • Expensive clicks
  • Limited budget
  • Bad brand associations

It’s an iterative process. Lower irrelevant impressions and clicks means you raise your CTR, which lowers your CPC, which means you can afford to spend more, etc.

It has a HUGE effect. They’re always seeing 30 to 50 percent increases.

How do you implement negative keywords? Google makes it pretty easy and allows 10,000. Yahoo calls them excluded words and allows up to 250 negative keywords. Live Search allows 1024 characters, or about 65 words.

Exact match is great for targeting specific terms but it’s cumbersome and inadequate for reaching the long tail. You want to combine phrase, broad, and NKWs to get the best reach with the fewest bad ad impressions and traffic.

If you’re using Dynamic Keyword Insertion on your ads/landing pages, NKWs are a must.

How do you create a NKW list?

  • Intuition and brainstorming
  • Use the thesaurus
  • Talk to your consumers
  • Set goals and split the organic from paid and see what’s working and what isn’t.
  • Scan through past referring phrases for phrases that did not convert, had a high bounce rate or “were trash”.
  • Use the Google Search Query Performance Report (Reports Tab > Create report)
    • Level of detail: ad, unit of time: summary, date range: yesterday, campaigns and ads: all

Tools to find NKWs:

Case Study: Vintage Tub & Bath

They thought there was no way that their PPC campaign could be improved by adding NKWs. They had four Google reps on their account. They saved 20 percent by implementing NKWs.

Case Study: Consult Sales, Inc.

They saved $27,000 on the 100k they were spending.

Negative keywords are a relatively simple concept and should be an important part of every paid search campaign. When used with maximum quality and quantity of words, dramatic results can follow. It’s a low-hanging fruit opportunity.

Next up is Stoney deGeyter to talk about organizing and managing keyword lists. Lisa covered Stoney’s presentation at last year’s Pubcon so I’m going to refer you back there while I take an Aleve real quick. Alternately, you can skate over to the We Build Pages blog for Lisa’s take on this year’s presentation.

To last year, Stoney adds phase four: segmenting keywords.
You need to know if you’re looking at shopping words, buying words or researching words. An article isn’t the right choice for someone who is looking to buy and a buy now page will turn off someone who is still shopping.

  • Researchers don’t know what they’re looking for, really. They just need general information. Optimize for them on higher level category pages and articles.
  • Shoppers have narrowed their search down to product types and comparing features. Optimize for shoppers on category and comparison pages.
  • Buying visitors have a specific product in mind. They’re looking for a trustworthy place to buy. Optimize on specific pages.

If you show up in all three places, you’ll build up your brand and trust.

Each page can target 5 to 15 pages. Group the qualifiers with a similar meaning or relation, for instance, cheap/discount/bargain, elegant/designer/modern, and vintage/antique/old.

Let your content guide your keywords. Will it fit? Do you have the space? Does it match your message? Is it a distraction? Keywords shouldn’t be noticeable, but rather, should flow. Be ready to adjust when something isn’t working.

The conclusion is basically don’t rush. Take your time, do it right. Rushing will get you poor results. Lay the foundation for the best keywords.

Larry Mersman is our final speaker. He’s going to wrap up the most important points: Keyword research is one of the most important elements of SEO. You need to be using the terms that customers are using to find your site. It’s about gauging the performance of the searchers.

He has a picture of a young man with long hair wearing Dodgers gear. What’s he selling? Is it baseball tickets? Is it authentic baseball jerseys? It is Manny Ramirez hair extensions? You need to think of all the permutations so that you can get all the traffic in.

Case Study:

Changing the order of the keyword makes a huge difference. “Beer Germany” got 49 searches while “German Beers” got 12,000 searches.

Use your site search to mine for keywords. Use advertising brochures to find words. Look at your competitors, check your log files, and use keyword research tools — more than one.

Aim to gather keywords from all sources.

Compile the lists then weed them down to the words that work for you.

Misspellings are a huge opportunity, but it’s important not to look stupid.

Find out what’s working for your competitors and optimize for those terms, too.

You have to do your homework and spend some time on it. You need to take advantage of the long tail. You have the tools available, but tools need someone to use them.

Build your lists and then test, test, test!


Do you have any recommendations on tools to bid manage keywords if you’re not using the API?

Wil: He has no recommendations.

Christine: There’s a session later today on that topic.

Should you optimize for misspellings in the content? In the Meta tags?

Ken: He recommends including misspellings in the Title tag and ALT attributes, but incorporate them in subtle ways. It doesn’t take much because most people aren’t optimizing for them.

Wil doesn’t use the Meta Keywords tag anymore. Ken still does because he doesn’t believe in algo chasing.

Stoney: Have people link to you with misspellings. [Hee!]

How do you scale keyword research to hundreds of thousands of topics?

Ken: He has a proprietary tool, but nothing to share.

Christine: Excel is good if you know how to use it.

Susan Esparza is former managing editor at Bruce Clay Inc., and has written extensively for clients and internal publications. Along with Bruce Clay, she is co-author of the first edition of Search Engine Optimization All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies.

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

Comments (1)
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One Reply to “Keyword Research, Selection and Optimization: PubCon Vegas 2008”


I also use the iSpionage keyword tool along with Wordtracker. It spares me all the work with spreadsheets and it’s a good campaign builder.


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