The starting point for any search campaign, be it PPC or SEO, all starts with quality keyword research. The success of all your efforts for paid and organic will be contingent on selecting just the right keywords.
SEO Keywords vs PPC Keywords
While PPC and SEO have a lot in common as far as digital marketing tactics, the strategies are very different. The most important thing to remember with PPC is that it is a cost-per-click model. That means, if you’re bidding on a term that never gets searched, and thus never clicked, your budget will never be dinged. On the contrary, if your SEO keywords never get searched, you’re wasting your efforts!
SEO Keyword Research
SEO strategy for keyword research comes down to a delicate balance between search volume and competitiveness. Of course, you’ll want to use a term that has a high search volume, which can be measured in Google Keyword Planner, but you don’t want it to be so broad that the chances of you ever appearing for that term are dismal. It’s important to remember here that if you’re not on the first or second page (really the first page), you might as well not be there. You can normally tell competitiveness just by considering how broad the term is and how short it is. For a more calculated approach, you can always do an intitle search, such as the following:
The term ac repair shows up in the title tag of about 272,000 webpages. Those are all the pages you’d be in competition with. hvac repair might have less search volume, but this simple trick also points out that only about 41,800 pages have that term in their title tag.
You’ll want to do keyword research for each page you’re optimizing (whichever pages are important for your business to rank for). By the time you’re all done with your SEO keyword research, you should have 3-5 keyword phrases per page. I recommend the keywords in the page be different in nature, so you can take advantage of the variety. For example, I wouldn’t recommend having repetitive keywords like: grocery store, grocery stores, buy groceries. Rather, you want to incorporate some diversity. You’d be better off doing: austin grocery store, best local supermarket, fresh market grocer.
PPC Keyword Research
For PPC, you’ll want to start with search volumes from Keyword Planner, but it’s a good idea to:
- Brainstorm how the right customers might find you
- Spend some time search to see what your customers are bidding on
- Use tools like SEMRush and SpyFu to see keyword recommendations based on the industry or competitors
- Bounce ideas off friends or family members NOT in the industry to see how they might search
When starting PPC keyword building, it’s best to incorporate all relevant keywords and wean off or bid lower on the keywords that aren’t converting or have too high of a cost-per-click.
It’s also important to consider match types with PPC. The broader you go, the greater the reach, but also the lower the relevance. By contract, when you use phrase or exact match, you narrowing your reach, but are only bringing in the right users. Here are some examples below:
With PPC, it’s important to periodically check your queries by running a search term report. This report will tell you more specifically what the users are actually seraching in to get to your site. With cost and performance data included, you can determine negatives to add. For example, the wedding cake company might decide to add the following negatives so they don’t show up for certain queries: crab, birthday, dress, toppers, etc.
Long-Tail Keywords vs Short-Tail
Similar to the broad vs exact example is the long-tail vs short-tail balance. Simply put long-tail keywords are those that are specific and literally longer. An example might be:
Short Tail Keyword: sweaters
Long-Term Keyword: irish knit sweaters online
The benefit of long term keywords is you’ll bring in a more specific user that is further down the buying cycle and more likely to convert. Also the competition will be far less. Long-tail keywords are a smart and efficient way to use keywords, especially when you can incorporate a high-volume term, in this case sweaters. Of course, it’s important to avoid going so specific no one would ever search that way.
Keyword research is such an important stage of any search campaign. Whether you’re doing it on your own or with another company, it should be taken with the highest degree of care.