I‘m covering SMX West — the Search Marketing Expo, taking place at the Santa Clara Convention Center this week — as press, alongside hundreds of marketing professionals, SEO gurus and webmeisters who are chiefly interested in how to boost their search marketing IQ.
For instance, 200 to 300 people turned out at Tuesday’s session on SMX Boot Camp: Keyword Research Tools & Techniques by Christine Churchill, founder and CEO of KeyRelevance. I haven’t spotted any other writeups of the session, so I’ll share the highlights here — because I believe that the community becomes richer as we become better informed about the tools available to us.
“Keywords are the bedrock of search marketing,” Churchill told the audience. After all, she pointed out, we still live in a text-based world. How often do you type terms into a Google search box? Yes, exactly.
Why do keyword research? She listed several reasons:
- It’s a fundamental step in search marketing.
- It’s a way to correct bad keyword choices.
- You increase conversion by speaking the customer’s language.
- You develop a list of relevant terms to target in SEO (search engine optimization), pay-per-click, blogs, images, videos, press releases and social media marketing. (Yes, you should add a descriptor to your images and videos and include a keyword in the headline of your press release.)
- You can glean competitive intelligence: see what the competition is doing.
- Keywords can provide insights for your site design and navigation.
- Knowing traffic potential helps plan budgeting (mostly for pay per click).
- You can discover new keyword opportunities.
- Consider going beyond well-known keywords. “There’s a long tail for popular keyword searches, too.”
Churchill recommended creating a keyword list using diverse sources:
- online and traditional print magazines
- company and product reviews
- online thesauruses like thesaurus.reference.com
- talk to focus groups, customer interviews, support or sales personnel
- discussion forums, user-generated content and blogs
- and this: look at keywords your competitors are buying in pay per click and in SEO.
Keyword research tools
Here are some of the leading research tools that social media marketers should keep top of mind:
- Google keyword tool
- Wordtracker (paid service)
- Trellian keyword discovery (paid service)
- Google Webmaster tools (it’s a good way to find out how Google perceives your site
- Google Insights
- Google Trends (allows you to compare popular phrases — you can see which terms are popular by state or region, and you can even look back at specific date and see what was popular a year ago)
- Google’s Search based keyword tool (free)
- Hitwise (a high-end competitive information tool)
- Keyword Discovery (searches multiple databases: global premium, historical global, international, news, shopping, eBay. By entering a key phrase, you can see questions related to the search term, which helps you come up with new content ideas.)
I’ll work with my colleague Joanna Lord to provide a deeper look at these at a later date.
More search and data mining tools
- adCenter Labs (an advertising and data mining toolet from Microsoft)
- Clusty (a search engine that offers clustered search allowing users can see related terms)
- Quintura (it works by navigating by “clouds”; bold words are most related, good for brainstorming and broadening keyword buckets)
- Ask.com (provides keyword suggestions and shows related searches)
- Google Suggest (as you type in a phrase, Google offers keyword suggestions in real time)
- Yahoo! (Churchill says she likes Yahoo’s keyword selection tool the best but didn’t explain why)
- SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool (learn which keywords you should be targeting to increase your website rankings and traffic)
- SEOBook’s Permutation Tool (free)
- Microsoft’s Ad Intelligence (a new plug-in for Excel 2007)
- Technorati (the blog search engine — type in a phrase and below posts it will show related tags)
- Flickr (explore popular tags on Flickr)
- Amazon’s most popular tags
Best line of the morning, from Churchill: “Traffic alone isn’t the goal. You want targeted traffic that resonates with your audience and will lead to greater sales of your products.”
Interesting factoid: 80% of searches on the web are noncommercial, says Churchill. People conduct three kinds of searches: navigational (I want to find your site), informational (what’s in a Mai Tai?) and transactional (buying a product, subscribing to a service).
Competitive intelligence tools
- comScore Marketer (find out what terms are working)
- Trillian’s Competitive Inteligence
- Keyword difficulty tool
- Keycompete (enter domain name and they’ll show which domains are being bought)
- Keyword Spy
- Keywords Analyzer
Some final tips from Churchill:
- Longer phrases often convert better
- Single words rarely perform well
- Look at popularity as traffic potential
- Review keyword competition
- Group keywords into buckets of related terms
Use keywords everywhere, Churchill implored: in blog posts, press releases, images, videos, podcasts, tags, social media and website metadata titles.
Single keywords don’t work well, she pointed out, so look for two- to three-word phrases. Also, don’t embed keywords in graphics (a bit confusing, since we were told to add keywords to images).JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.