Archive for ‘Keyword Management’

Dos and Don’ts for Contextual Keyword Targeting, Part 2

By August 19th, 2013

display2This is a guest post by Jana Fung of MixRank.

In my first post in this series, we looked at the 5 biggest don’ts when it comes to contextual keywords. Now let’s consider a few things you can do to make your ads a success:

  • Do: Experiment with lower bidding strategies. When you’re testing out campaigns, it is usually recommended to start with a large budget and optimize as you go. However, clicks on the GDN can be up to 75% cheaper than paid search clicks. So don’t be afraid to start a test campaign with a small budget. If you find that you’re continuously missing out on impressions due to budget constraints, increase your budget incrementally and optimize your keywords and placements as you go.
  • Do: Try targeting keywords that are outside your current product offering. Although counter-intuitive, this actually expands your reach to the right audience. For example, if you’re selling luggage, your target audience includes travelers and you would use travel-related keywords. However, you may also want to use the keyword “airport security rules.” Although not included in your product offering, this keyword will reach an audience that is new to travelling and in need of luggage. Targeting keywords that are outside your product offering works well because keyword targeting on the GDN is not like paid search where you try to match intent. On the GDN, keyword targeting and ads should be created to reach new audiences, and should focus less on exact match product offerings.
  • Do: Spy on your competitors’ contextual keywords and scale your own keywords accordingly, by using free competitive intelligence tools like MixRank. As mentioned in Part 1 of this blog series, you shouldn’t be using a thesaurus to identify relevant keywords for your target audience. Free competitive intelligence tools like MixRank provide instant access to your competitors’ top performing contextual keywords and give you relevant keyword suggestions that you can test with your own campaigns.
  • Do: Add other layers of targeting in conjunction with keyword targeting. In addition to keyword targeting, the GDN offers placement targeting, interest targeting, topic targeting and re-marketing. With the exception of re-marketing, you should add at least one layer of targeting to increase precision for your intended audience. Keep in mind that if you add too many layers of targeting, volume may significantly decrease, so be sure to check the estimated display reach within your Display Network tab.
  • Do: Limit the number of keywords per ad group to 3-6 to increase precision, relevancy and Quality Score (QS). Because keyword targeting on the GDN only allows for broad match, it doesn’t make sense to add variations of the same keyword as you would in paid search for exact and phrase match targeting. If you’re targeting too many broad match keywords that aren’t thematically related within a single ad group, your QS may suffer and hurt campaign performance.

While this is just a starter list of what you should consider when building out your contextual keywords and ad campaigns, it is imperative to understand the differences between the Search network and the Display network. Display advertisers are creating ads and keyword targets to reach specific audiences, while search advertisers are creating ads and keyword targets to reach specific intentions.

What contextual keyword dos or don’ts have you had success with in the past? Share them with us in the comments section below.

About the Author
Jana Fung, guest author of this post, is the Marketing Manager of MixRank. She has managed successful demand generation programs for over 6 years. MixRank.com is a spy tool for contextual and display ads. With MixRank you can see exactly where your competitors are buying traffic and which ad copy is performing best for them across over 100,000 sites. If you’re a MixRank fan or just want to say hi, Jana is interested in connecting with you! Follow her on Twitter @jana_fung.

Dos and Don’ts for Contextual Keyword Targeting, Part 1

By August 16th, 2013

google display network keywords contextualThis is a guest post by Jana Fung with MixRank.

Contextual advertising on the Google Display Network (GDN) is often an overlooked strategy to gain additional traffic at a low cost. Although willing to test out campaigns, advertisers have had little success optimizing them due to the vast difference between contextual keyword targeting and paid search keyword targeting. With high expectations for contextual ads, advertisers are often disappointed and shocked when the ads do not perform similarly to paid search campaigns.

In this series, I’ll discuss some dos and don’ts when it comes to testing contextual keywords on the GDN. Let’s start with some watch-outs:

  • Don’t: Copy and paste your best performing long tail keywords from paid search campaigns into new contextual ad groups. The GDN only offers broad match keyword targeting, so lengthy, descriptive keywords are more likely to harm your campaigns than to help them.
  • Don’t: Group keywords the same way you would group them for paid search campaigns. Consider using shorter and broader keyword terms that you can thematically group together.
  • Don’t: Add negative keywords as an optimization strategy. Since you’re using a variety of websites to reach as many relevant audiences as possible, you’re better off noting what sites your ads are performing poorly on and excluding those from your campaign using negative placements.
  • Don’t: Expect contextual keyword performance to have similar or comparable outcomes to your paid search keywords. Even though you’re using the same ad platform, Google AdWords, this does not mean the ad channels are equal or that they should they be measured in the same way.
  • Don’t: Rely on a thesaurus to expand your contextual keyword targets and scale quickly. A thesaurus helps with paid search campaigns where you aim to expand your reach to every query that’s synonymous with your product offering. However, for contextual keyword targeting, the main goal is to reach your target audience on different websites. Therefore, instead of focusing on synonymous keywords, focus on keywords that will help you reach similar audiences. In the next post, we’ll discuss some strategies to help you expand and scale on contextual keywords.

Now that you know what not to do, join us next week with Part 2 of this series where will discuss what contextual keyword strategies to implement and how to create precise targeting for your campaigns.

About the Author
Jana Fung, guest author of this post, is the Marketing Manager of MixRank. She has managed successful demand generation programs for over 6 years. MixRank.com is a spy tool for contextual and display ads. With MixRank you can see exactly where your competitors are buying traffic and which ad copy is performing best for them across over 100,000 sites. If you’re a MixRank fan or just want to say hi, Jana is interested in connecting with you! Follow her on Twitter @jana_fung.

Introducing the BoostCTR Account Performance Grader – Optimize Your Campaigns Today

By April 2nd, 2013

BoostCTR Account Performance GraderFor many search marketers, identifying opportunities for optimization within paid search campaigns is challenging. Monitoring and maintaining top performing ad groups, keywords, and ads is a standard best practice; but as campaigns grow, keyword lists expand, and creative tests multiply, this approach fails to scale and provide incremental improvements in paid search performance. With so many optimization opportunities hidden in an ocean of data, how can search marketers give the required attention each campaign deserves? Where do you even start?

To help search marketers answer these questions, Marin Software is thrilled to announce our partnership with BoostCTR to offer a free paid search diagnostics tool that not only provides insight into account performance, but also opportunities for optimization. The Account Performance Grader is designed to analyze historical performance across keywords, ads, quality scores, and ad groups for AdWords and Bing Ads campaigns. Simply sign up and enter the required information to receive your customized report.

Among other best practice recommendations, this report will provide actionable insights for pausing poor performing keywords and ads, as well as reveal quality score trends that identify areas where keyword relevance can be improved. With the Account Performance Grader, search marketers can remove the guesswork out of campaign optimization and focus their time on more strategic, high impact tasks.

Sign up here and start optimizing your campaigns today!

Historical Quality Score and Why It Matters To Search Marketers

By February 5th, 2013

Of all the search publisher metrics available, Quality Score seems to always receive the most attention; yet search marketers have the least amount of visibility into how to effectively improve it and its impact on performance. What we do know is that every time a user conducts a search that triggers ads, a Quality Score is calculated based on a number of factors, including:

  • The keyword’s past click-through rate (CTR)
  • The display URL’s past CTR
  • The account history
  • The quality of the landing page
  • The keyword/ad relevance
  • The keyword/search relevance

Notice that the first three factors on Google’s list reference performance history, even though the history of a keyword’s Quality Score is unavailable within the AdWords interface. Instead, rather than showing different Quality Scores across time, Google displays a single Quality Score that provides an estimate of that keyword’s overall quality.

For the most part this is adequate—search marketers analyze Quality Score at individual moments in time to understand keyword relevance and performance issues. However, this one-off-style approach to analyzing Quality Score fails to provide insight into how search marketers’ continuous efforts to optimize campaigns impact Quality Score, either positively or negatively.

Whether it’s testing brand new creative or introducing additional negative keywords, improving a keyword’s Quality Score can lead to a lower cost-per-click (CPC) and a higher ad position. Changes in these two metrics can subsequently impact, among other things: CTR, costs, and return on investment (ROI). Unfortunately, the influence each of those best practices has on keyword Quality Score is frequently lost with time, especially within larger accounts. Imagine having to record the daily Quality Score for two million keywords affected by new creative messaging.

Marin Historical Quality Score Chart

To understand the impact of optimization efforts on Quality Score, search marketers need the ability to trend historical Quality Score, against other performance metrics, over time.

For example, by trending Quality Score and average CPC over a 3 month period, search marketers can understand the exact impact on cost that comes from an increase in Quality Score from 6 to 8. Trends that include other metrics like ROI and conversion rate highlight the indirect impact that Quality Score has on conversion and revenue goals. Though the concept of trending Quality Score over time appears basic, many search marketers are unable to do so.

To see a demo of historical Quality Score and other advance metrics in action, please contact Marin.

5 Quick Ways to Increase Paid Search CTR without Breaking a Sweat

By January 28th, 2013

Mouse ClickBefore writing this post, I performed a few web searches to scout out my competition. Based on that research, there appears to be one thing that everyone agrees upon about increasing paid search click-through-rate (CTR), the benefits:

  • Increased Quality Score
  • Increased ad position
  • Lower cost-per-click

However, given the title of this post, I figured just about everyone has their quick ways for increasing CTR—and I was right. There’s about 20 “quick” ways to increase your CTR, but not all of them are quick. Create granular keyword groupings? Restructuring campaigns and resetting Quality Score is a long term strategy. Give something away for free? Let’s choose to ignore that one. Look for assisted conversions? I personally don’t enjoy swimming in an ocean of data. Include pricing? And if prices change, it’ll be a fun week. Though all of these tactics and more do plenty to increase CTR, my goal today is to present five ways search marketers can increase CTR without breaking a sweat.

1. Implement Ad Sitelinks

This is unanimously the number one way to quickly increase CTR. Sitelinks provides up to six additional deep links to specific and highly relevant content on your site. These links not only expand your search engine results page (SERP) real estate, but they also enable search marketers to point users towards high-value landing pages, such as form fills and store locators. Keep in mind that up to six links can be added per campaign, which was increased from four in 2011. So if you haven’t touched your sitelinks in a while, it’s time to go back and ensure you have six updated links available.

Google Ad Sitelinks Example

For more information on sitelinks and how to enable them, click here.

2. Pause Poor Performing Creative

Remember that creative test you were running way back when? Well it’s still running, and one or more of those creative is hurting the entire ad group. As you prioritize ad groups for CTR optimization, be sure to evaluate the performance of existing creative. Though some poor performing creative will be easier to spot than others, be sure to reach some level of statistical significance before cutting ties and pausing those creative. It’s important to remember that poor performing creative represent an opportunity cost. By weeding them out of your account, you can drive more traffic through more relevant and engaging creative.

For additional best practices on creative testing and optimization, click here.

3. Leverage Differentiating Text

There are so many elements search marketers can test when it comes to differentiating their creative from their competitors. Let’s use a short list with simple explanations:

  • Call-to-Action: a staple for all advertisers, a simple, yet strong call-to-action encourages users to engage with a purpose. For example, “Register for free today!” or “Shop early and save”.
  • Unique Selling Point: incorporating free shipping, price match guarantees, promotions, and other unique selling points into creative not only sets you apart from competitors, but makes your creative that much more compelling.
  • Numbers and Figures: to break the repetitiveness of words and sentences, use numbers and figures (i.e. &, ®, ™) as an effective way to bring attention to creative.
  • Display URLs: there are a number of ways to arrange your display URL and incorporate keywords into them to increase relevance. For example, “keyword.example.com” or “example.com/category/keyword”. However, keep in mind that some users copy and paste display URLs into the navigation bar, so be prepared with a redirect or an effective 404 page.

4. Mine for Negative Keywords

Most search marketers know how to mine for negative keywords, but the tune changes when discussing how often. Generating a search query report is simple; with some enterprise class solutions generating them automatically. Identify keywords that have received impressions, but very few clicks. But also take note of irrelevant tokens that appear often in queries. For example, tokens like “free”, “reviews”, and “used” often appear alongside relevant keywords. Add these and those irrelevant keywords to eliminate unwanted impressions and clicks.

Negative Keywords Create A Virtuous Cycle

For more information on developing an effective negative keyword strategy, click here.

5. Use High Volume Tokens

Keyword tokens within creative will appear in bold whenever they match or closely match a user’s search query. To improve the relevancy of your creative to the keywords within an ad group, include tokens with high impression share within creative text. For example, if users are more likely to include “clothing” in their query, rather than “apparel”, generate creative that includes the token “clothing”, even if both tokens appear in multiple keywords within the same ad group. Using the most relevant tokens within your creative will increase the relevance for a larger share of impressions and help increase CTR.
Incrementally increasing CTR takes testing and continuous optimization of keywords and creative. This involves using both short term and long term strategies. Hopefully, with the tactics I’ve imparted, you can begin increasing your CTR today…quickly and sweatband-free.

Will Ferrell Sweatband

Shaping Paid Search Traffic with 3 Effective Keyword Expansion Techniques

By November 16th, 2012

Keyword expansion can take many forms. Larger paid search programs that lean heavily on click volume tend to expand on and add keywords in bulk, favoring scale over micro-managing. For smaller programs, or when expanding keywords based on a prioritized list, taking a more methodical approach often makes more sense. To ensure effective keyword expansion and proper search query matching, search marketers should leverage modified broad match keywords, create separate ad groups, and implement a focused negative keyword strategy.

1. Limit Irrelevant Queries with Modified Broad Match

For the longest time, search marketers relied on broad match keywords to capture converting traffic from long tail queries. Historically, this was how a keyword like “hiking shoe” would lead to expanded keywords like “mens hiker shoes” or “black shoes for hiking”. Then Google introduced modified broad match, which provides search marketers with the control of phrase match and the reach of broad match. You can now maintain keyword relevance and scale negative keyword research, without sacrificing the ability to drive conversions through longer tail queries.
Modified Broad Match Type ChartTo leverage modified broad match, add the modifier (+) to your broad match keywords*. As a result, each keyword token that uses this modifier must appear in the search query exactly or as a close variant; this includes misspellings, plurals, abbreviations and acronyms. Though click and conversion volume may dip slightly compared the same keyword on broad match, clickthrough-rate (CTR) should drastically improve. Furthermore, spend due to irrelevant clicks will decrease as Google will stop matching your keywords to synonyms and “relevant” searches. As always, continue to generate and mine publisher search query reports for irrelevant queries and add them as negative keywords. With modified broad match keywords, you should notice a significant drop in the number of irrelevant queries found in these reports.

*As a best practice, when adding modified broad match keywords, pause existing broad match keywords (rather than delete) and create new modified broad match versions. This will allow you to maintain historical Quality Scores should you need to revert back to broad match in the future.

2. Improve Quality Score with a Separate Ad Group

As you discover new longer-tail, converting queries, add them to new ad groups. For example, if the modified broad keyword “+hiking +shoe” expands to “mens hiker shoes”, add the new keyword on exact match type to a new “Mens Hiker Shoes” ad group. This allows you to generate ad creative specific to men’s hiker shoes, rather than relying on the fairly generic hiking shoes ad creative. Always generate new ad creative and incorporate the keyword into the ad as much as possible. If a higher quality landing page exists, be sure to leverage that as well to improve Quality Score. Introduce new keywords with an aggressive initial bid. A high average position and CTR will go a long way in establishing a strong Quality Score.
Modified Broad Match Expansion ExampleAs more keywords convert, and are expanded upon and placed into their own ad groups, the original modified broad match keyword will become less and less profitable. Keep this in mind as part of your bidding strategy. Set appropriate goals for these modified broad keywords and continue to leverage them more for keyword expansion rather than hitting business targets.

3. Shape Traffic with Exact Match Negative Keywords

The most critical step when adding expanded keywords to a new ad group is remembering to add the exact match negative of that same keyword to the original ad group. In our example above, the new exact match keyword “mens hiker shoes” was added to the new “Mens Hiker Shoes” ad group. As a result, the exact match negative keyword “-mens hiker shoes” should be added to the original “Hiking Shoes” ad group. This forces Google to match the query to the exact match keyword, rather than the modified broad match keyword. In other words, a search for “mens hiker shoes” will match to the “mens hiker shoes” exact match keyword, and not “+hiking +shoe”. If the exact match negative keyword isn’t added to the old ad group, it’s possible that Google will incorrectly match queries to modified broad keywords based on a number of factors, including max cost-per-click (CPC) or Quality Score.

For additional best practices on keyword expansion and how to maximize keyword opportunities, click here.

For an introduction to competitive keyword analysis, click here.

Making SEM and SEO Work Together, Beyond Keyword Research

By October 30th, 2012

SEM SEO TeamworkLast month I highlighted the importance for SEM and SEO managers to communicate their findings to one another during keyword research and analysis. By keeping the lines of communication open and providing positive feedback, both teams can benefit from more aggressive, but mutually beneficial, strategies. When implemented correctly and optimized effectively, the two strategies that I mentioned—leveraging SEM keywords to drive traffic to SEO-challenged landing pages and using SEO to absorb the cost of expensive SEM keywords—can pay big dividends.

Addressing SEO-Challenged Landing Pages

For certain pages on a website, like product pages or conversion pages, even the most die-hard attempts at SEO fail to drive traffic. For example, deeply buried product pages, which often lack linking and original content, are notoriously difficult to deliver organic traffic. However, with the proper paid keywords and ads, SEM managers can help their SEO mangers drive their target audience to these pages. Not only does this increase traffic, but allows both managers to capitalize on the increased relevancy and higher conversion rates associated with landing customers on product pages. Furthermore, the ability to report on and analyze performance provides SEM and SEO managers with the transparency needed to fine-tune keyword lists, polish ad creative, and optimize campaigns to achieve business goals and objectives.

To begin building out a list of potential SEM keywords, generate an on-site search report. This analytics report is a quick and easy way to begin discovering SEO-challenged landing pages. In many cases, an on-site search report can reveal the pages your customers are searching for that they couldn’t find either through a search engine or your website’s navigation. Keep in mind that any new keywords added to your SEM campaigns should have an appropriate and specific landing page—the goal here isn’t necessarily to find new keywords, but to drive additional traffic to the deeper and less visible pages of your website.

Subsidizing Expensive SEM Keywords

Expensive SEM keywords are typically characterized by high competition and heavy search volume. These are the popular keywords that everyone wants to rank organically on and are more than likely already a part of your SEO strategy. However, there are plenty of SEM keywords out there that consistently generate clicks and conversions, but at an unprofitable cost per click (CPC). These keywords should be presented to SEO managers as secondary, or “nice to have”, keywords within the overall SEO strategy. It’s important to back up each keyword suggestion with performance metrics, such as impressions, clicks, average position, average CPC, conversion rate, and revenue per click. Keywords with higher values should be prioritized for SEO.

But let’s be honest, ranking on the first page for these “nice to have” keywords is easier said than done and is fairly difficult without the SEO machine supporting them at 100% capacity. However, if optimizing only a handful of keywords results in an increase in organic traffic, both SEM and SEO managers benefit. As increases in organic clicks occur, more SEM budget is freed up to purchase less expensive keywords or test new ones. When leveraged appropriately, these previously unprofitable SEM keywords will allow SEO managers to increase organic traffic and acquire more revenue.

Feedback

As I mentioned last month, SEM and SEO managers must continuously provide results and feedback on recommendations to remain successful. Don’t be afraid to proactively seek out feedback. Understanding what works and what doesn’t will help limit losses and open the door to capitalize on opportunities. When implemented correctly and optimized effectively, the two strategies I presented here can pay big dividends and enable SEM and SEO managers to acquire more revenue.

How to Make SEO Keyword Research and Analysis Work with SEM

By September 12th, 2012

SEM SEO High FiveYesterday, I shared a story I commonly refer to whenever I talk about how SEM managers using keyword research and analysis can help their SEO counterparts.  As I discussed, the knowledge share of mutually beneficial keywords is typically absent not because there’s a shortage of keywords, but rather because the value of sharing isn’t often realized. As part of my Roundtable Forum discussion at SES San Francisco last month, I’ll continue exploring the importance of communicating the findings between SEM and SEO managers during keyword research and analysis.

What Does SEO Offer SEM?

Natural search query reports provide an incredible amount of insight into the keywords that result in natural search clicks and conversions. Typically, since short tail keywords across a website are already leveraged within an SEM program, the keywords of interest within these reports are longer tailed. And in the spirit of storytelling, I’d like to share another one about my experiences working with a pet supply retailer.

Due to an expanded monthly budget, I was tasked with building out an extensive list of keywords that had to hit an aggressive return-on-investment (ROI) goal. Working with my SEO manager, and reviewing extensive natural search query reports, we discovered several keywords that drove an incredible amount of natural search traffic and conversions to a product page embedded deep within the website. Based on our findings, I decided to add these keywords into my SEM campaign. Because SEM competition already existed on these keywords and the cost-per-click was relatively low, the heavy influx of paid clicks and conversions was entirely incremental and highly profitable. In other words, after turning on these new keywords there was no decline in natural search performance, and I was able to hit my monthly ROI goal.

Keywords like the ones I’ve described above often fly under the radar of even the most disciplined SEM manager. Keep in mind SEO managers are constantly working within natural search query reports as well as analyzing high volume and top performing landing pages. To continue moving the needle, SEM managers need to integrate these SEO reports and insights into their keyword research and analysis.

More Feedback

As with any mutually beneficial relationship, positive feedback is critical in promoting continuous success. If a new SEO keyword is found to perform well for SEM, it’s important that the performance metrics and analyzes are shared with the SEO manager. Don’t be afraid to proactively seek out feedback. Keep in mind that keyword research and analysis is just one of the many mutualistic strategies that SEM and SEO managers can engage in. Keeping the lines of communication open and providing positive feedback can lead to more aggressive but mutually beneficial strategies, like leveraging SEM keywords to drive traffic to SEO-challenge landing pages.

Why SEM and SEO Keyword Research and Analysis Work Better Together

By September 11th, 2012

SEM and SEO Manager HandshakeLast month at SES San Francisco, I was posed a question during my Roundtable Forum discussion about the sometimes non-existent relationship between search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) managers. In the case of keyword research and analysis, this is often the case. However, the knowledge share of mutually beneficial keywords is absent not because there’s a shortage of keywords, but rather because the value of sharing isn’t often realized. Today and tomorrow, as part of that roundtable discussion, I’ll be exploring the importance of communicating the findings between SEM and SEO managers during keyword research and analysis.

What Does SEM Offer SEO?

About three years ago I was managing the SEM program of a large motorcycle retailer and actively bidding on the keywords “dirt bikes” and “motocross bikes”. For SEO purposes, the landing page I was leveraging for SEM had been optimized for the keyword “motocross bikes”, since motocross was how this retailer described this particular type of motorcycle. After a couple months of keyword research and analysis, I discovered that the keyword “dirt bikes” received over twice as many paid clicks and conversions than the keyword “motocross bikes”. As a result of my findings, I submitted a keyword report to the SEO manager in an attempt to shift the SEO strategy on the “motocross bikes” landing page.

To generate more natural traffic and conversions on their “motocross” landing page, the SEO manager needed to leverage the more popular keyword, “dirt bikes”, throughout the page tags and content. Prior to implementation, this landing page had never appeared within the first five pages of natural search results for the query “dirt bikes”. A couple months after implementation, it was appearing within the top three positions on the first page of natural search results. As a consequence, natural search traffic and conversions drastically increased across this landing page.

I commonly refer to this story whenever I talk about how SEM managers can help their SEO counterparts. Sometimes SEO strategies can be limited by how businesses think about their own products (i.e. motocross bikes), rather than how customers think about their products (i.e. dirt bikes). The ability to continuously implement and test new keywords for volume and profitability enables SEM managers to discover SEO worthy keywords. When leveraged correctly, these insights allow SEO managers to increase natural traffic and acquire more revenue.

Positive Feedback

As with any mutually beneficial relationship, positive feedback is critical in promoting continuous success. If a new SEM keyword is found to perform well for SEO, it’s important that the performance metrics and analyzes are shared with the SEM manager. And don’t be afraid to proactively seek out feedback. Keep in mind that keyword research and analysis is just one of the many mutualistic strategies that SEM and SEO managers can engage in. Keeping the lines of communication open and providing positive feedback can lead to more aggressive, but mutually beneficial strategies like using SEO to absorb the cost of expensive SEM keywords. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at how SEM managers can benefit from the keyword research and analysis conducted by their SEO counterparts.

Fighting the Keyword Battle: An Introduction to Competitive Keyword Analysis

By July 23rd, 2012

Competitive keyword analysis should play in integral part in your paid and organic search optimization strategy. As paid search activity continues to grow, so will the number of businesses you compete against within the search landscape. Understanding who your competitors are and the keywords they’re optimizing for is critical to staying relevant, competitive and profitable in your pursuit to acquire more revenue. In this post, I’ll be walking through several quick and easy tips for conducting competitive keyword analysis and how to apply your findings to your own optimization strategies.

Meet Your “Neighbors”

If you don’t know who your competitors are, there are a couple simple tools you can use to find out who they are. The easiest way is to search on the keywords that best describe your product or service offering. Both the organic and paid search results will give you an initial list of the visible competitors in your space. You might be surprised as to who shows up.

Another popular tool is SpyFu. In addition to providing a detailed list of your top paid and organic competitors, this search keyword tool also provides the top paid and organic keywords, the daily budget, the average position as well as the paid and organic click volume of your competitors. Simply enter a domain or keyword and start spying away.

SpyFu UI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Behind Enemy Lines

Now that you have a list of competitors, it’s time to start learning more about them and the keywords they use to define your space. The best place to start is their website. Go to the homepage, right click and “View page source”. Search for “<title>”, “meta name=“description”” and “meta name=“keywords””. The content in these lines of source code will give you the best idea as to what keywords your competitors are optimizing for. In addition to the homepage, view the source code for each of your competitor’s product or category pages and begin compiling a list of potential keyword opportunities.

Expand Your Territory

Though there are plenty of free keyword expansion tools available, we’re going to focus our attention on the Google Keyword Tool. This easy-to-use tool is great for determining potential traffic and competition for new keyword ideas. Take your compiled list of keyword opportunities (via SpyFu and page source) and paste them in manageable quantities into the Google Keyword Tool. Click here for a walkthrough on how to use the Google Keyword Tool.

Google Keyword Tool UI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consider the Competition, Monthly Search volumes and Approximate CPC (when logged into your AdWords account) metrics when exploring new keywords. Low-volume, low-competition keywords will likely come with lower CPCs, but may not result in many clicks or conversions. High-volume, high-competition keywords will likely achieve the opposite. The ideal would be high-volume, low-competition. Though you probably won’t discover the holy grail of keywords, you might discover a new set of keywords that perform well at a lower cost-per-click compared to the rest of your keyword list.

Explore Your Margins

Remember when I mentioned that you might be surprised as to who shows up in your search for the keywords that best describe your product or service offering? That’s because many of these businesses compete with you at the margins of your business. That is, they only compete against a subset of your overall product or service offering. For example, if you’re a sports equipment retailer, these competitors might only sell snowboarding apparel or basketball shoes exclusively. Since they are specialized in what they offer, these competitors can be a good source for unique, inexpensive and long tail keyword opportunities. Leverage their SpyFu and page source keywords to the extent that your product or service inventory allows.

Look In the Mirror

Apply your keyword findings to your own website. Keep in mind that your customers don’t always use the same keywords as you when searching for your products or services. If you discover a new keyword that performs exceptionally well during your competitive analysis, make it a part of your SEO strategy. Justify your decision to optimize for these new keywords based on click and conversion data and build them into your website to improve your landing page relevancy and organic search ranking.

As always, when adding new keywords to your paid search program, remember to optimize. Researching negative keywords, setting appropriate keyword bids and generating relevant ad creative are just a few tasks to keep in mind.

Find us on Facebook