When it comes to search engine optimisation, one of the most important aspects of every campaign is keyword research. After all, everything starts with a word in a box.
Keywords (KW) are not just defining what your target audience searches for; they show your target audience’s’ questions, wants and intentions. We can safely say that keyword research is to digital marketing, what market research is to traditional marketing – which is nothing new. We all know how important it is to thoroughly research your KWs, come up with solid categories and make sure that you enrich your list with anything you can find. After all, there are so many excellent guides out there, and recently even an SEO movie!
What I have found difficult so far is how to measure keyword performance and particularly how to set KPIs that you can commit to, and your clients will easily understand. But, wait a minute, don’t keywords have the most simplistic way of tracking their performance and reporting to clients because it is SERPs positioning? Well not exactly, if that were the case we wouldn’t bother with all of those additional metrics that come next to every keyword position:
- Search Volume
- CPC Cost
So it goes without saying that promising your client a position change of one keyword is not just a tough promise to make but also somehow deceitful.
In order to walk you through my way of thinking for this, I need to pick up an example. I could use a client of ours and just go through the keyword analysis we have done for them, but you know NDAs and stuff, so as I am writing this blog late at night and I am thinking of having my second dinner of the day what could be better than pizza.
Step one: group your KWs.
It is quite essential from the beginning of your keyword research to start grouping your keywords in as comprehensive categories as possible. Categories that show intent should be different from categories that have purely navigational purposes. However, going through the steps of keyword analysis is not our purpose here, so let’s say that this step is already done. Nevertheless, if you feel like you would like some help on this one, then you can check this guide on grouping KWs.
Having a clear group of keywords will help not only monitor its performance but also set the right KPIs, per group and not per KW. That is quite essential because of how the rank engine works. It is very easy to focus on one keyword and just because of your SEO efforts (trying to keep everything organic and white hat of course) end up ranking for many phrase matches this KW. That is perfectly normal; you are not alone. So have your groups ready and set KPIs for each one of them individually.
Understanding the KW weight index.
KW weight index is a term that we have introduced to some of our most demanding projects. Basically, it is an index used for websites that are already ranking for lots of KWs, or would like to do so in the near (or not so much) future.
What we need to make clear at this point is that KW weight is not an absolute number but is tailor made to the needs of each project.
Here is our example, Pizza Crust (AU). We have selected a sample category (type of services) and just a few KWs to use as an example.
We can pretend that we are working on a campaign to increase the overall visibility of Pizza Crust for the type of services they offer. Where should we focus our efforts? What can we promise for this project? Here comes the ‘weight index’ to the rescue.
Weight index = Search volume/current position
Above, we have introduced the weight index to the KWs in our group. We can use a projected total weight to set a KPI for this project. So we can promise that we will increase the weight of this group to 850.
To do this, we don’t have to focus all of our efforts on a single KW with extremely high difficulty (e.g. delivery), but we can focus on “takeaway”. We need to bear in mind though that to achieve the KPI we set (thus the increased visibility/traffic) we just need to increase “pizza takeaway” by just one position or all the others some pages.
Weight index is a simple way to track and report your SEO efforts. It is more accurate as KWs are not separate and usually come in word clouds rather than one word only. In opposition to this, someone could ask why not use an average position? Yet, the average position does not tell the whole story of a keyword group. It fails to attribute the gravity to those KWs that you rank on page 3 onwards, but have a significant search volume, and maybe they can be the perfect target for your campaign.
Things to consider:
It is crucial to pick your groups wisely, including all possible combinations. Create more than one category with keywords overlapping. Also, it goes without saying that it is important to have the project specifics in mind. For some projects, some types of KW are more important than others. Feel free to organise your groups by impact, based on the needs of your project. In the example used, we could have a further segmentation, e.g. Type of service-delivery/high conversion KWs. This list would include: “pizza delivery near me” or “pizza delivery now”.
In any case, this is a straightforward way to evaluate your KW ranking efforts and keep clients happy with realistic promises and clear reports that they can understand.