Best KeywordsBuilding a successful Internet marketing strategy actually requires a combination of four other foundation strategies; website, keyword, content and promotion. Let’s take a look at creating a keyword strategy.

Tip Jar: Keyword Strategy

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[ismember]Calculating Keyword Value

The foundation of any online marketing program should be a keyword strategy. This goal of this strategy is to generate as much targeted traffic to the website as possible from both organic and paid search sources. As such, the strategy must be based on a combination of the following three factors:

  • Products and Services: What keywords are associated with the products and services offered by your company? These keywords will closely – but not necessarily identically – match the company’s offerings.
  • Search Volume: How often are people searching for these keywords? You may be able to easily rank for a given keyword, but if nobody ever searches for it then it is worthless.
  • Competition: How tall is the hill that must be climbed in order to rank well for a given keyword? This is a measurement of organic competition as well as paid search competition.

The best keywords are those that closely match your products and/or services, have high search volume and low competition. As with most things in life, there are always trade offs and so all three of these factors must be weighed accordingly. Here’s my method for calculating value that helps separate the wheat from the chaff.

The first step I take is to gather the products and services keywords and load them into Google’s AdWords keyword tool. Be sure to include both broad and exact match phrases. You’ll get back two important data points; search volume and difficulty. The volume gives you an indication of how many people are searching for that term and the competition returns “Low, Medium or High.” Once I select the keywords I want, I’ll export them to a spreadsheet for further analysis.

The next step is to use the Keyword Difficulty Tool from SEOMoz. Enter your keywords here and it will provide its own index of ogranic search competition. I’ll enter this value into my spreadsheet. The last step is to create a couple of calculated columns that divide the search volume by the two competition values (you’ll need to divide the SEOMoz values by 100 in order to normalize them with the Google indexes). These derived values will provide a relative value; a combination of the volume and competition.

Building The Keyword Strategy

We’re going to use these to slice and dice our keywords so that we can identify the ingredients for our three dishes.

  • Foundation Keywords are a short list of keyword phrases that will form the skeletal structure of a website. Achieving top ranking for these keywords is a key performance indicator.
    • How to spot them: This category isn’t all about the numbers. There needs to be a balance between search volume, competition and business goals. Ideally, you’d want foundation keywords to have high search volume. However, perhaps you’re in a niche market and each customer could result in large revenues. Similarly, it would be great if your foundation keywords had low competition but that’s probably not going to be the case. If you’ve done enough research, maybe you’ve found alternative phrases that have the same meaning but less competition. More than any of the other categories, this one requires tradeoffs.
    • What to do with them: Once you’ve determined which keywords you’ll use for your foundation, they become a critical aspect of your website design and content strategy. Be sure to use them liberally in URLs, page titles and navigation menus. Also, create “hub pages” using these keywords and then create internal links throughout your website and blog that point back to them.
  • Long Tail Keywords form a longer list of keyword phrases that will be incorporated into the site’s pages. This list will form the skeletal structure of the content marketing strategy.
    • How to spot them: These are usually keywords with lower volume and correspondingly lower competition. Their low competition tend to make them easier targets for ranking and so they almost become “free money” if they can drive new leads.
    • What to do with them: Long tail keywords are ideal for editorial calendars and other content. Create a checklist with them and use them often in blog posts, ebooks, presentations and other digital content you create.
  • Opportunity Keywords are narrow search phrases that are highly targeted but typically have low search volume. These phrases can frequently be both easy to dominate and also deliver very high conversion rates. They will be incorporated into paid search and the content marketing strategy.
    • How to spot them: Low costs per click and medium to high search volume represent opportunities that you can leverage immediately with paid ads.
    • What to do with them: The first step is to create a dedicated landing page that is optimized for the keyword phrase. Next, develop one or more ad campaigns that will drive traffic to these landing pages.[/ismember]

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