Keyword research is where all your SEO and SEM (search engine marketing) should begin. The keywords you choose to include in your ad campaign and content strategy must match the keywords you expect people to type into a search engine to find your website.
Keywords are the centre of Google AdWords PPC and differ according to:
- Search volume
- Conversion rate
Once you’ve identified the right keywords for your campaign, you can start the next step of advertising with Google or creating a content marketing plan.
Consumer behaviour and keyword research
Let’s have a quick look through the typical customer funnel:
- Experience a need
- Awareness of your brand that can satisfy this need
- Interest in your brand as a potential solution to their problem
- Investigation and research to learn about your brand’s solutions, and that of your competitors
- Active shopping
Now that you know what the different steps are, you can create groups of keywords that fit into the relevant step. This will ensure your keywords, ad content and landing page align with the position in the buying cycle.
Let’s look closely at the different parts of the buying cycle:
You need to let people know you’re in business. If they don’t know about you, they can’t buy from you. Your job as marketer is to make sure people know that your products and services can solve their problems.
What keywords fit into the brand awareness phase?
The keywords in the brand awareness part of the buying cycle are very general. You want people to find you when they do broad research. Since the customer doesn’t know much yet about how to solve her problem, she’ll search using very general keywords such as:
house for sale
The keywords are high volume and low-converting (and often very expensive). When you bid on these types of keywords your brand will appear in the search results and possibly get some clicks – but remember your customer is still in the awareness phase. The next step is for you to create interest in how YOUR products or services can solve her problem.
What you need to do in this phase is to match your customer’s problems with the solutions and benefits you provide. You want to create an interest in YOUR brand.
The keywords and ad copy you use should focus on the benefits to the customer.
Research and Learning
During this part of the buying lifecycle your customer is doing the research and learning about what you and your competitors offer. This is when they really get into the nitty gritty and look at product specifications, prices, sizes, dimensions, colours and more. They compare like crazy – especially if buying a high value item such as a car or TV.
During this stage your customer is learning the lingo of the industry – so this means that any further searches will be a lot more specific and refined e.g. 14 inch plasma screen instead of television.
The Shopping Phase
At this stage of the buying cycle your customer is ready to buy something very specific. The only question is: does she buy from you or the guy down the road?
The only question left is: where do I buy this?
What does this all mean?
You need to appreciate that every keyword you add to your Google AdWords campaign fits into a particular stage in the buying cycle. Creating keyword and ad groups as part of your various campaigns help you stay super-relevant.
Types of keywords
Let’s say your dishwasher just broke and you need to buy a new one. The types of keywords you could use include the following:
Navigational: if you know exactly where you’re going to buy a new dishwasher from and just want to get to the website, you would use a navigational search e.g.
dion wired hyde park
Explicit: these are keywords when you name the specific product you are looking for e.g.
Describing a need: these are queries where you describe what your problem is e.g.
my dishwasher broke
need a new tv
vacuum cleaner bust
You can also try and solve the problem yourself using symptom search e.g.
dishwasher won’t drain
tv screen blank but sound working
vacuum cleaner won’t suck
And if you’ve done your research you can even do very specific model or name search e.g.
defy S-500 dishwasher
samsung s-300 plasma
Some people only search for information and the intent is NOT buying e.g.
how to fix a dishwasher
how to reprogam a samsung s-300 plasma
user guide for electrolux SX-4200
What’s the INTENTION?
Remember to understand what your customer’s INTENT is when creating keyword lists. This will help you be relevant and you’ll target the right audience with the right message.
The process of keyword research
- Research your site, your marketing material and your competitors and find ideas based on the products and services in your industry
- Create groups: bundle your keyword lists into related, logical groups. This will also be the basis for your website content architecture (content silos)
- Look at the current search environment: what ads appear in the search results and what are the main keywords in your industry?
- Dive into Google Analytics and understand how people are finding and using your site. This will give insight into the important keywords you should be bidding on
- Use your site’s internal search engine: what people are searching for on your site will give you some clues as to the keywords you should be bidding on
- Use Keyword Tools e.g. Google Adwords Keyword Planner
Once you’ve done keyword research you can start grouping and organising your keywords logically. This is where tools such as Microsoft Excel are useful.
If your business is online shopping with thousands of products and categories, this can become very complicated – and this is when true skill and logic come into play. The better you are at structuring your keyword lists and your Google AdWords account, the better your PPC campaigns will perform.
Ready to do some keyword research?
I’d love to know how it goes – please let me know on Twitter @tonylopeswrites.
Good luck and enjoy doing keyword research – if you’re a geek like me you’ll find it hugely satisfying.