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How To Perform Keyword Research For SEO & SEM

Cleveland SEO Services | How To Perform Keyword Research For SEO & SEM

In an effort to give our both our SEO (search engine optimization) & SEM (search engine marketing) clients a sample process on how to perform keyword research, it’s not a complete “to-do” but it’s intended to show that there’s a little rhyme & reason to what they’re signing off on.

We’ve had more than a few clients talk about “reading a few things” & “trying a few things” over the years, but the end result wasn’t what they were hoping for. There are a whole myriad of issues that we heard like:

  • Adwords was too expensive, paying for every single click.
  • Most of the people who clicked on our ads never picked up the phone or filled out the contact form.
  • SEO takes way too long.
  • These SEO agencies expect us to sign 6 month contracts with no guarantees.

Then came the issue with the reporting, the monitoring & the management of all this stuff. But there was a common theme that started to emerge & that there was, at some point, a hiccup in communication that took the client out of the loop so they lost track of what was being done. So we figured, what better way to give them peace of mind than to give them something they could follow along with & try for themselves. Whether they actually put it into play, well, at least they had some information to mull over.

In no particular order, here’s a few of the steps from our Keyword Research & Discovery process whether your running PPC ads via Google Adwords or an SEO campaign to improve your organic ranking:

Step 1

Review seed keyword list (should have been provided during pre-PPC consult/questionnaire as “keywords you would like to target”). Usually like to create a workbook in either excel or Google sheets to keep a running record of the process. So the first tab would be the “seed keywords” & each step or new area of research would be dropped into a new tab.
Step 2 

  • Review list of potential keywords provided by client
  • Run initial list through the Keyword Tool in Google Adwords Keyword Planner
  • The keyword tool will spit out combinations of potential keywords, volume, competition & top of 1st page bid estimates.
  • Run list through a QA check:
    • Does the keyword describe the client’s process, service, business or product.
    • Is there enough search volume that the client might lose budget on wasted clicks for PPC campaigns?
    • Are they still relevant? Potential for a secondary list or better served as a negative keyword?
    • Review the keywords that remain in the list, start grouping related terms together to create keyword themes.

Step 3 

  • Review list of potential keywords provided by client
  • Run initial list through some tools like ubersuggest, TLKT, keyword.io
  • Run list through a QA check
    • Does the keyword describe the client’s process, service, business or product.
    • Is there enough search volume that the client might lose budget on wasted clicks for PPC campaigns?
    • Are they still relevant? Potential for a secondary list or better served as a negative keyword?
    • Review the keywords that remain in the list, start grouping related terms together to create keyword themes.

Step 4 

  • Run Website through Google AdWords Keyword Tool
  • The keyword tool will spit out combinations of potential keywords, volume, competition & top of 1st page bid estimates.
  • This should also kick out some recommendations that relate to potential categorization for campaigns & ad groups.
  • Run list through a QA check
    • Does the keyword describe the client’s process, service, business or product.
    • Is there enough search volume that the client might lose budget on wasted clicks for PPC campaigns?
    • Are they still relevant? Potential for a secondary list or better served as a negative keyword?
    • Review the keywords that remain in the list, start grouping related terms together to create keyword themes.

Step 5  

Once this list is reduced down, there should be a rough framework for campaigns, ad groups & keyword groups for your PPC campaigns. Those potential keyword silos & themes could be used to sprinkle throughout your content or be used as the basis for reworking what you’ve already written.

Step 6

From the initial questionnaire, client should have also provided a few of their closest competitors:

  • Locate the competitors websites
  • Copy URL & drop into the “Advertising Research” section in SEMRush (doesn’t have to be SEMRush specifically, there are other sites like Ahrefs & Majestic you can use to gather competitor data. Google Search Operators are another great way to mine for data.)
  • Export results out of SEMRush into a spreadsheet
    • Copy tab over to existing workbook
    • Compare results
    • Add additional keywords where appropriate (initial research tab, secondary keywords tab & negative keywords tab)
  • Repeat the above steps for their top 3 competitors that occupy a similar advertising space

Step 7

For PPC, once you’ve run those results, sorted & filtered the keywords, we look towards working in some values against your current budget:

  • Break down budgets into:
    • Campaign Budget
    • Total monthly budget allowance / the number of campaigns = monthly budget per campaign
    • Daily Budget
    • Monthly Budget per campaign / average number of days in the month that the campaigns will run = the daily campaign budget

Step 8

Again for PPC specifically, now that the rough numbers have been figured out per campaign, run each campaign through Google Traffic Estimator (another freebie tool from the Googs within the Keyword Planner):

  • Make sure you set Maximum Daily Budget to reflect spend
  • Use as few broad keywords as possible
  • Remove keywords with a high estimated cost per day
  • Select best the best keywords based on the following:
    • Estimated average CPC
    • Estimated Ad positions
    • Estimated Clicks / Day
    • Estimated Cost / Day
  • Further optimization points to consider when dealing with budgets.You can typically extend budgets by paying attention to these areas:
    • Experimenting with match types
    • Device targeting
    • Location targeting
    • Adjusting ad schedule – Most business are only open for a set number of hours & therefore only have staff to answer the phones during those operating hours.
    • Average number of weekdays or business days for clients during the month is 22

Questions about what our process can do for your business? Looking for an agency partner to handle your digital marketing, SEO or SEM? Or maybe you found a couple boxes of old comics in the attic that you don’t know what to do with?

Hop on over to the contact page & let us know how we can help!
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