Keyword Planner Tool & SEO
Posted on January 01, 2014
Wait, what?! "But keyword planner and AdWords are PPC stuff, not SEO…" I hear you say. Actually my dear reader, the keyword planner tool is not just a PPC tool for determining keyword volumes and ad group ideas, it's a source of keyword search volumes that can be segmented and a place to find keyword ideas that can perform well that you might not have thought of. Still not quite getting it? That's ok, let's take a little step back first...
PPC is a great companion to SEO because it rounds out your customer engagement online by capturing leads who are looking to transact. In the name of "privacy" (slash an effort to drive up AdWords profits), our access to keywords that people have searched to find our sites is going to disappear soon. I know it's crappy, and I know let's not whine and just get smart about how to leverage the systems we have available to us. So before it disappears, make sure you review your keywords in your Google Analytics account and try to determine trends.
Sidebar There are some of you out there, and it pains me when you give me puzzled looks when I mention Google Analytics, but if you don't have GA installed, install it now. It's ok, I will wait, just go set it up and install it right now because you are already 10 steps behind your competitors if you don't have analytics on your site.
Use and abuse the keyword planner
Sign up for AdWords if you haven't already (it's free!) and fire up the keyword planner tool. You are now going to be able to search for keyword volumes in different regions, and all the related search terms that Google suggests might be of value to you. The beginner mistake is to pick keywords with the most searches. This isn't always the best because lots of searches are typically a sign of a "research" term and are used by a vast amount of people wanting to know about that keyword rather than actually transact with it. Every click you get from someone who isn't looking to buy/download/signup but is looking for something else (possibly related), this is known as a false positive and is a waste of time optimising for or spending money on with advertising.
What you are ideally looking for are "transactional" keywords, which are typically mid-range volume and can be used in your online marketing with a solid strategy to ensure those customers convert rather than becoming false positives. I am starting to digress though, this isn't a post about how to make an effective advertising strategy, it's about using the same tools as advertisers to capture necessary information to aid your SEO efforts! You catch my drift though - The keyword planner is a great source of keyword intelligence and the best we have for keyword research.
A little from column A, a little from column B
So you've got the keywords you want to start optimising your site for, but do you know how well they will work for your particular site? The best way to approach this is to actually run an AdWords campaign and do a little A-B testing! Keyword search volumes tell you one thing: how many search for that keyword. They don't give you context within which it was searched, and what is disappearing is the keywords people used to land on your site, so that is now what we need to find. A good way to do this is to run a multi-tiered advertising campaign (it doesn't need to be big or costly) and test keyword variables with copy - This is to focus on which different keywords or keyword groups are the most effective in driving valuable traffic to your website. Not just driving any old traffic though, specific traffic who want to be on your site and have a high likelihood of transacting.
Close the loop
You've heard me rabbit on about closing the loop before and I'm going to again: the learnings you can gather from PPC keyword analysis, investigation and testing can be invaluable to your SEO efforts. PPC is an effective way to quickly send traffic to different parts of your site to test user reaction, and it makes sense that if users like it, so will Google. Keep calls-to-action clear and your testing should reveal whether or not your content is potentially valuable. The cost to run ads for testing purposes are far less than the cost and resources required to organically rank in a top position.
You need to be intelligent about how you utilise tools to capture valuable information, and your PPC might even already be doing some of this work for you, bringing you leads and providing data that you can double up on the usefulness of.