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April 7, 2017
10 Tips for Performing Keyword Research: Part 2
K.T. Choi

If you haven’t caught up on the first five tips for performing keyword research, make sure to read up on them in Part 1 of this blog series. Like many components of SEO, these next five tips will build on the first five.

Let’s get right back to it…

Tip #6: Optimize for mobile.

Is your site receiving lots of mobile traffic? Approach your strategy differently based on how users search for and consume content on mobile.

Mobile search activity surpassed desktop back in 2015, but in the B2B space, we often still see desktop devices driving the majority of search traffic. However, depending on the type of content that you’re looking to optimize, you may miss opportunities without digging into all mobile considerations.

For example, one of our clients will be visiting a variety of cities to perform “pop-up” product demos in 2017. A Google study in 2014 showed that 71% of people who used smartphones in-store trust search information more than sales associates. This lack of trust is a huge opportunity for our client.

Plus, we know that our users:

  • Will be searching specifically on mobile
  • Are looking for content very quickly
  • Need to be able to consume and understand extremely efficiently

This means that we need to ensure that the content is not only relevant and formatted properly, but that it’s locally optimized accordingly so he/she can quickly and easily find us.

In addition, users search for localized content differently on mobile. For example, sometimes a user will:

  • Add in a city
  • Add “near me” to the query
  • Use Google Maps or Apple Maps over a traditional search engine

If you’re optimizing for localized content, research based on how users search on mobile devices when looking for brick-and-mortar establishments.

Beyond localization factors, wear the hat of your end users to understand other ways to optimize for mobile.

  • Where and when would your audience search for this content on mobile?
  • If your end user isn’t standing in the aisle of a Home Depot, is he catching up on emails at the end of the day on the couch?
  • Is he running up and down the rows at a trade show trying to make sense of all the brands and products he supposedly needs?

The when and where of your end user may result in optimizing for a more niche, lower-search volume keyword, but if it is the most relevant to your true audience it will reach and capture the right people.

Tip #7: Choose natural language.

This leads into natural language search. Use natural language search to ensure that you’re “talking the same talk” as your user audience.

Understanding your audience personas and their user journeys are just as important to the keyword research process as the search volume calculating tools. As mentioned previously, the tools can provide data with little common sense sophistication.

If Google Keyword Planner is telling you that a search term has higher volume but you know (or your other natural language-based tools are telling you) that no one in the industry refers to the product, problem, or solution with that terminology, go with the natural language.

Online listening tools like Netbase are excellent auxiliary SEO tools that provide not only natural language-based keyword opportunities, but also the sentiment by which they were used. Tools like this are key in understanding how your brand can truly reach your users, provide solutions, and create lasting brand loyalty.

Tip #8: Don’t forget synonyms.

Just as we want to research the reach potential of natural language terms that are relevant and perhaps already used by our target audiences, another tip is to research synonyms as well. The use of synonyms marries well with natural language optimization—real people use synonyms without even realizing it.

By researching the reach potential of synonyms of viable search terms, this can also generate new extensions of keyword strategies, or new keyword themes.

(Pro Tip: Even if you end up not optimizing for a synonym as the primary keyword strategy, do keep these search terms handy. You’ll want to use them throughout your actual content!)

In addition to using synonyms, keep in mind the power of content transcreation. Copy translation can help you optimize for various languages, but transcreated content will let you leverage the natural language strategies and use of synonyms for your international content. Plus, transcreated content will read much more naturally to the end user, enhancing the user experience in addition to your potential ranking power.

Tip #9: Long-tail keywords matter, too!

We discussed in Tip #6 that researching and optimizing for lower search volume keywords can be a powerful strategy if those keywords are going to be the most relevant to your end users. Long-tail keyword strategies can follow the same advice.

Many times, especially in the B2B space, long-tail keywords have low search volume. However, if these long-tail keywords are the strongest strategies, especially for more niche or evergreen content, use them. Plus, you’ll often notice that the more you leverage natural language optimization, the more long-tail keywords will best fit the content.

Tip #10: Set expectations for ranking.

Due to personalization factors, localization, social indicators, and more, search ranking will fluctuate on a daily basis and from person to person. It’s crucial that you set expectations for ranking performance, especially for your niche content.

At CBD, we recommend using a variety of SEO tools like Google Analytics and SEMRush, which report on ranking. However, we use the data from these tools as guides to ranking performance and opportunity. While tools such as SEMRush give you specific ranking numbers, we recommend using these numbers to guide conversations around reach, testing, opportunity, and optimization.

Reporting on specific ranking placements month-to-month is neither accurate nor productive. Since there is no holistic way to report on ranking based on the differentiating factors (and there are many), you can set expectations on how you’ll evaluate optimization success through other KPIs such as:

  • Time on site
  • Pages per session
  • Bounce rate
  • Search traffic
  • Impression reach

Just like everything else in marketing, it’s important to test your keyword strategies, adapt, and optimize accordingly. Because search engine algorithms are constantly updating, there is no such thing as a static keyword strategy either. So…

  1. Place a keyword strategy
  2. Benchmark its performance
  3. Keep your eye on the competition
  4. Leverage past keyword research
  5. Tweak as necessary

If your website doesn’t drive much traffic to begin with or you’re optimizing for a niche topic, you can also test your keyword strategies by using them on different channels.

  • Run a guest blog post
  • Incorporate the search term theme into your social media content calendar
  • Test the keyword topic in your next enewsletter

How do your end users engage with this content? Using that data will not only strengthen your SEO strategies but also will naturally lend to a holistic, multichannel marketing play.

So there you have it: Ten tips for performing excellent keyword research! Follow these guidelines and you will be off to a solid—and successful—start. Still have questions? We have digital experts who would love to help. Reach out today!