Keywords are viewed from two perspectives; the internet user, and the website owner. From the internet user’s perspective, keywords are words and phrases typed into search engines, that help the user find what they are looking for on the internet. From a website owner’s view, keywords are basic words and phrases that describe the message and content on your website’s web pages. Reduce all the graphics, pics, and paragraphs to the simplest words that describe the page and these are your main keywords. For more on this, check out this in depth discussion on keywords, search engines, and search engine result pages (SEPRs). In determining your website's keywords, there are multiple dimensions to consider. First, there is no one term or phrased used to find a specific item - there are hundreds, some times thousands of variations that can all lead to the same place. Secondly, the most common keywords, in many market segments, are highly sought after by many companies. Most of these market segments will include large companies, who have large budgets, and a team people and/or agencies working full time to rank on certain keywords. Knowing this, you may think "Is it even possible for smaller or newer businesses to generate traffic from search engines? Absolutely. To determine which keywords would generate the most traffic from search engines with a reasonable level of effort, you need to conduct a keyword analysis.
To start, make a list of your current offerings that you would like to rank for. This isn’t just a list of every product you offer, but groups of similar products, i.e. categories that would have different sets of keywords. If you offer shirts, you might have categories such as winter and summer, or casual and formal. A law firm may have services for family law and small businesses, or a winery may have an offering of wines and also an event space for rent. You can easily see that each group would have a different set of keywords. The main keywords, or core keywords, for a winery business may include “winery” for the overall business, “wine” for the various wines they produce, and “event venue” for the event rental space and services.
Similarly, a business with different locations would utilize different keywords for the different locations. If location one is a larger flagship destination location with a view, and location two is a smaller neighborhood establishment that has live music, the two locations would have two different sets of keywords.
^^The ideal website structure looks like a pyramid, starting with the home page at the top, then categories, subcategories, and individual posts and pages. Image credit Yoast.
The first objective of website is to clearly communicate your offering to prospective customers. A website should have a clear navigation system, and be intuitive to use. Every web page should be accessible within three clicks. While you do not build a website solely based on keywords, if you have more than one product category that is is intermixed on the same pages, you may want to consider if the product categories should be separate pages and sections on your website. During a keyword analysis, a set of keywords known as a keyword grouping or keyword cluster, will be generated for each core keyword. A cluster of keywords may be a few words, all the way up to hundreds.
This is important to understand from an implementation standpoint. Let's look at an example, using the winery scenario above. Looking at the three core keywords, "wine", "winery", and "event venue", you can begin to imagine the different keyword clusters. Once identified, these keyword clusters would be implemented into your web page copy and HTML. It's clear that each of these keywords should have their own page, as trying to form keyword clusters for all three would create a non-effective SEO strategy, due to the page's complexity. From a website navigation perspective, users looking to rent the venue space may be confused when the information they are looking for is hidden low on the page after the winery's hours and their wine selection.
You can see how you categorize your products will affect the website navigation, the core keywords, and the generation of keyword clusters.
One of the initial steps in formulating a keyword analysis is the process of determining the keywords and phrases your web pages currently rank for. Most companies will have “branded” search terms that they rank very highly for i.e. the name of your business. Branded search terms are search queries that include your company or product names, such as “Bob’s Best Home Repairs” or “Grapes 'R' Us Winery”. To attract new customers not familiar with your company requires ranking for non-branded terms. Understanding which non-branded terms you rank for, what the current search volume is, their competitive score, and the estimated cost per click can provide insight into low hanging fruit that could increase visitors from search engines relatively quickly.
Non-branded keywords that rank in the top 30 positions, with a decent amount of search volume and a lower competitive score could definitely be worth including in your keywords. Cruxdata’s Current Ranking SEO dashboard provides the top 100 keywords and phrases that your website ranks for, allowing you to explore related keywords and phrases.
Most business owners can readily rattle off their primary competitors, but you should also keep an eye out for your SEO competitors. Your SEO competitors are the companies that rank for the same main keywords for each category as you.
You can use Google incognito mode to identify which companies and which web pages of their websites are competing for the same keywords as you. After you identify the top three to five competitors for a core keyword, you can check to see what other keywords they rank for. You can also use this to rule out keywords that you do not want to include in your broader keyword groupings. If a competitor ranks high for a keyword and has a lot of backlinks for the associated page, you might not want to spend your resources there. If the competitor’s high ranking keyword is viewed as strategic, you need to view it as a long-term investment and put the effort into outranking your competitor with backlinks and higher quality frequent content.
There is no exact formula for which keywords to include and not include in each keyword grouping. A keyword analysis specialist uses a variety of tools that are available. Hubspot published a great article on tools that can be used to analyze your competitors. Cruxdata provides consistent keyword monitoring and on-going competitor analysis
Each search engine user is unique, and each will have their own way of searching what they're looking for. Take, for example, the above keyword, “winery”. When you search for “winery,” Google includes two types of SERP features; “People also ask” and “Related Searches” sections.
As you can see, some of these search phrases may be quite long. Regardless, they will still be referred to as keywords, keyword phrases or long-tail keywords if they are long enough. “Best local winery open on Saturday with tastings” would be considered a long-tail search term. “Related Searches” and “People also ask” are based on what other users searching for "winery" are also searching. These can provide great ideas and information for additional keywords.
These are just two of the various types of SERP features. There are 38 different SERPs that google could return on any given search. SERP types that show for some keywords and not others can lead to an opportunity to rank for a keyword that has similar search volume and lower competitive ranking score.
Keyword research tools are a great resource to help with the development of your keyword clusters. Google Keyword Planner is very well known tool, and is completely free to use. You need to set up a Google Adword account to gain access, which we recommend doing. Cruxdata provides an enhanced Keyword suggestion table in your SEO dashboard. But, to further your research even more, there are a number of commercial tools available. Some have free versions, others require subscriptions. The top ones include:
Cruxdata continuously provides updated keyword suggestions for your keyword clusters based on your your semantic core, leveraging a proprietary data base of over 5 billion keywords and 600 million SERPS - and growing.
After you have categorized your keywords, conducted competitor research, analyzed key SERP features, explored suggested keywords, and created your initial keyword clusters, you are almost guaranteed to have too many keywords in each cluster to implement. As you consider a keyword to add to one of the clusters, make sure each keyword matches the intent of the users that you are targeting.
Looking again at the keyword “winery”, with the objective of selling bottles of your wine. If you analyze the SERP features for the keyword “winery, you will discover that many of the SERP features are informational in regards to business details (address, hours, brand), and can be national or even global in scope. "Winery" may be a better keyword for a page on your website that is providing information about your actual winery. A keyword that matches the intent of users that want to visit your page about purchasing your wine may be something like, “buy wine,” “local wine”, “best Oregon wine”, or “highest rated red wine”. Matching a user's search intent is critical for a successful SEO program. Search engines like Google determine what SERPs will be displayed for a given keyword based on billions of searches and what users clicked on and consumed.
Users' search intent falls into four types:
Most websites have different pages for various search intents. A "how we make our wine" page would be a separate search intent category from the eCommerce page where you sell the wine, both of which would be a different search intent category than the page where your describe your event venue. The main keyword and keyword clusters for each of these pages would be different for an effective SEO program.
As you add keywords to a cluster, you may choose to delete keywords as well. You will discover a keyword that has high search volume, matches your search intent, and has a low competitive score, so you add it. You then use that keyword to find other keywords with similarly desirable metrics. You can decide to replace a few of the keywords with lower search volumes or higher competitive scores in the group. There is no perfect number of keywords for a page, but there is a practical limit on what can be used and implemented in the web page content, web page HTML, and used in your content plan. You may not use all the keywords in your group in your initial web page optimization and the first pieces of content, but use them over time.
The other aspect of iterative design that you may refine is website structure. As you discover keywords with different search intents for your various products & services and a unique enough keyword grouping you may decide to change your website structure.
The semantic core is the documentation of your core keywords, keyword clusters, specific page URLs (website page), and key HTML fields for each URL. This is typically kept track of in a spreadsheet.
Cruxdata has formalized and standardized the structure of the semantic core. Documenting your core keywords and keyword clusters, associating them to a specific URL, and configuring the HTML data that needs to reflect those keywords has never been so simple.
Not only does Cruxdata formalize and structure the semantic core, the application also uses semantic core as the driver of your keyword analysis. Your keyword rankings, density, competitor reports, keyword monitoring and tracking are all integrated with into your SEO dashboard, and then personalized based on your semantic core.
Over time, most businesses will have worked on their SEO with a variety of providers, from freelancers to agencies. Using Cruxdata to maintain your semantic core ensures continuity in your analysis and performance tracking. SEO is a long-term marketing effort that should not have to start over if personnel or agencies change. Always have your own metrics, analysis and documented semantic core with Cruxdata. Any good agency would welcome the additional data points.
SEO is a long-term and continuous fine-tuning game. We can’t stress this enough, so we will say it again: don't expect immediate results. For highly competitive keywords in competitive market segments, it could take years before you see results. Short-term wins can be seen within 9 to 12 months. Monitoring, analyzing, and adjusting are part of an SEO program. Most businesses should run an analysis once every 3 to 6 six months. There are lots of SEO agencies and freelancers that offer specific keyword services. Check out our blog How to Hire an SEO Agency or Freelancer for some quick tips and best practices.