A weekly Google Hangout dedicated to discussing content marketing, search marketing, SEO and more.
Topic: Creating Keyword and Content Groups to Improve Marketing Intelligence
The importance of creating and using keyword and content groups to better understand your marketing and SEO performance.
Ray Grieselhuber, Founder & CEO at GinzaMetrics
Erin O’Brien, COO at GinzaMetrics
Karen Scates, Marketing & PR Manager at GinzaMetrics
FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Karen: Hey, everyone! Welcome to this week’s edition of FOUND Friday. I’m your host, Karen Scates, and with me today are Erin O’Brien and Ray Grieselhuber. How’s everyone doing?
Ray: Doing good.
Erin: Doing good.
Karen: Alright. We’re going to have to excuse Erin today. She’s got a little head cold.
We’ve been talking a lot lately about best practices for marketers and SEOs and we’ve been getting some questions about to get the most out of your marketing intelligence. For lots of people, understanding marketing performance means viewing data in predefined ways that are set up by analytics companies who don’t know your business model. In the end you’re left with viewing all your marketing activities and content either lumped together or on an individual basis.
So I thought today we talk about the importance of creating and using keyword in content groups to better understand your marketing and SEO performance. A few of the core topics we’ll cover are: what keyword groups and content groups are in terms of marketing analytics, why they’re important, and what you can learn from them; how you can set them up quickly and efficiently and how to integrate them into your reporting.
First, let’s define what we mean by keyword and content groups since they may not be familiar terms to everyone. Erin and Ray, one of you might want to answer the question: “What are keyword groups and content groups and how are they different?”
Erin: Keyword groups and content groups are both really important in terms of setting up analytics in my opinion. Keyword groups are going to be the full list of keywords and topics that are important to your brand. It can be segmented and set up in a lot of different ways.
A typical marketing content and campaign can be set up around things like geographies, user personas, features, product lines, specific actual campaign messaging. You can actually group all of the words that you’re tracking by these specific types of groups and with like GinzaMetrics specifically, you can actually create multiple groups. So a keyword could be part of multiple keyword group. Let’s say you wanted to track both marketing campaigns and product lines, you could add a keyword to both these marketing campaigns and to product line types and then you can actually slice and dice.
Similar with content. Content groups are all of the content that you have that you’ve created can be added to different groups so that what you can do is you can say, “This group of content may be specific to a particular product or feature,” but this blog post, this landing page, this e-mail, and this social post may also be part of a marketing campaign. So you may want to be able to group and view traffic that way. From a definition standpoint, it’s a way to segment and view the topics and keywords that you’re tracking and the content that you’re tracking separately and be able to bucket them into multiple different places.
Karen: Why do you think it’s important to set up and measure keyword and content groups for marketers and SEOs? Ray, do you want to answer that one?
Ray: Yes. The thing that happens very quickly with any sort of sizable operation – we are doing content marketing and SEO – is they very quickly end up with these very large lists of keywords, topics, and content, list of pages that you’ve created.
Just from an organizational perspective alone, thinking in terms of groups and categorization can really help you just manage things. It can help you aggregate all the different KPIs and metrics that you’re tracking to a much more manageable level. Sort of minimum – having grouping is really important for those things.
One of the things that I think we’re going to get into a little bit later is you can actually become very effective at managing keywords and topics in terms of groups when you start assigning some additional meaning on top of them. You can start grouping keywords in terms of how they relate to your campaigns, how they reflect, for example, the purchase intent of your users/your customers. So being able to create content, create new campaigns, manage the keywords that you’re targeting in terms of these sorts of categories are really important.
Karen: What benefits are there to reporting on things segmented by group and how can this help marketers better understand their own data and explain insights to others?
Erin: As we mentioned, this idea that what a lot of people get kind of stuck in. Because a list of keywords will happen very quickly, right? You’ll import from an analytic system, you may end up with hundreds or thousands of keywords, thousands of pages of content, if not hundreds of thousands of pages of content depending on what kind of site or sites you’re managing, specifically a problem for e-commerce. Being able to actually report and segment on these things as we mentioned is going to be able to give you layers of insight on everything from what’s actually creating conversions, how people are moving throughout a product life cycle. One of the things that I think is really important here is being able to cross compare the effectiveness of different variables.
One of the things we talked about a few months ago is that because marketing is an ecosystem and relies on a lot of different variables such as the interdependencies of creating content and in sharing that content across multiple distribution methods, is that a lot of times people will say like, “We’re getting a lot of things from Facebook but not a lot from Twitter so we’re just going to stop doing Twitter.” The problem is that they don’t understand that that’s an important part of the ecosystem Or they may say, “This one e-mail got better performance than another e-mail so we’re going to really just stick to this one subject.” But they don’t understand that that other e-mail was kind of an introduction to some people or that it’s what led to people wanting to take action the second time.
I think that being able to see these kind of interdependencies and being able to slice and dice across different views and cross sections will give you a better idea of what specific things are important. It’s the really smart middle ground between the lump of everything that you have and the overall picture of all keywords, all content, all marketing efforts, and a general statistic or individual page and individual content-level statistics which also often leave off a huge part of the story. This is actually where the story crafting really comes in.
Karen: If having keyword and content groups is so awesome, why aren’t more people doing it?
Erin: More people aren’t doing it – Ray, you can definitely speak to this because you created the GinzaMetrics part of the system that does a lot of this – but people aren’t doing it because if you don’t start out with it, it becomes really cumbersome in most analytics platforms. As Ray mentioned, once you’ve got this really quickly growing list of hundreds or thousands of keywords, having that individually go in and assign them all to various groups takes a ton of time and people don’t want to do it. Same with content, especially when you get into the thousands and hundreds of thousands of pages.
So one of the things that GinzaMetrics did was allow you to create keyword and content groups using title, URL, and topic matching systems so that we can actually go through and create a first [8:07 inaudible] for you so that the system doesn’t seem insurmountable. Because I think that a lot of people feel like – it’s like a really messy room – it’s easier to keep something organized once it’s organized than it is to take this massive pile of stuff and try to start organizing it from there. So we always try to give you like the first [8:30 inaudible] organization.
Ray: We actually use internally the level to which customers have created keyword groups and content groups kind of a symmetric for determining how far along they are and their own marketing maturity. It’s not a value statement. We’re not judging you but it’s more a question of what can we do to further help you be more successful with this. Because the companies that are performing very well in search and content marketing are those companies that have taken the time to create a discipline process around managing things according to groups.
So it’s partly organizational, partly each steps take the time and do it. As Erin mentioned, a lot of the tools out there really just don’t create and support an easy way to create these groups and manage them. Within Ginza, it’s one of the things that we’ve done and there’s probably always room for additional work on this. But one of the things that we’ve done is we’ve created some additional tools that allow you to intelligently create groups on the fly based on different sorts of pattern matching and perimeters that you can do.
So if you don’t have content groups or keyword groups and you want to get up and running with them fairly quickly, within Ginza at least, it’s something that you can do without a huge amount of effort.
Karen: We’ve been talking a lot about best practices, so let’s go back to that. Since it seems like there are a lot of barriers or at least some barriers to get in this setup, what are the best practices for creating groups? How can you set them up quickly and efficiently?
Erin: There are a few things from a preparation standpoint that’ll help out. The first should be before you start going in or assigning things, map out a little bit about what you want to achieve and what you want to be able to measure because this will help you do the “measure twice cut once” method of just do it right the first time as opposed to going in and then being like, “Oh, I wish I would’ve assigned to these groups differently and now I’ve got to undo all this work.”
So if you’ve come out and you say, “I want to be able to measure things like products or features or user types or geographies or all of these things,” have some idea of these buckets and try to put a few of your keywords and a few of your pieces of content into those groups to make sure they actually work. Because a lot of times what you’ll see is once you actually start trying to populate the group that maybe you needed to segment the group slightly differently.
The other thing that I would say that’s really important here is for most brands, one of the things that works out really well is if you have parallel keyword groups and content groups so that when you go to slice and dice, you can actually see this list of feature keywords and this list of feature content have correlations. Now you can also add some that aren’t part of the other, but I think for the most part for your core elements, it’s good to have a one-to-one match for at least your core marketing things.
The last best practice I have before I hand it over to Ray for his stuff is, have an idea of a set period of time that you want to be able to let your keyword and content groups run before you go back and check in and make sure that it’s actually working because missing a couple of pieces of core content out of your full content list will really skew your numbers. So you need to make sure that everything that’s supposed to be in there is in there. And if you create new content, you need to make sure it has been added.
A lot of this is about developing good habits. If you set up and start out the right way early on, it’s really easy to keep it. It’s like SEO best practices. If you just create pages with SEO best practices in mind, it’s easier than going back and fixing it later. If you always just add content to content groups and keywords to keyword groups when you add them into the system, it prevents that cumbersome task of going in and having to add everything at once.
Ray: When I start talking with people about how to get started with creating content groups, keyword groups and so forth, I try to get them to focus on basically one model that’s going to make sense for them and represent their business. If you are a large food delivery company, for example – there are companies out there now where you can basically take orders online, etc. – you’re going to be targeting lots of different geographic locations, you’re going to be targeting lots of different food types. Those might be two collection of groups that you would create in order to manage things. You could target things by geography, group everything into different parts of the country. You could also group everything into types of food or types of delivery, etc.
Another way to look at it is – I touched on this briefly earlier – in terms of looking at things in terms of how your customer will find your products and potentially buy them. This is basically customer journey-centric keyword group matching or mapping. What this means is if you think about how customers reach your site, they typically go through a number of different phases to use language from purchase intent. You may have heard of this “purchase intent” thing.
Basically, purchase intent is when you evaluate your customer’s navigation, their search patterns, the way they search to find things on your website, you’re looking at the types of things they’re looking for and it ties back directly to where they are in the funnel. Very early in their purchasing phase, they’re just doing these research-type queries.
They’re looking on Google, they’re trying to find the best set of running shoes, the best clothing for whatever it is (they’re going camping, for example), so they’re going to use very generic keywords. Then they’re going to figure out what sorts of potential product advice. They’re going to start doing more comparison-type keywords like this product versus this type of product will be the sorts of keywords that you’ll see there. They may be looking at alternatives, so they could be looking at keywords that are more like how-to-related, so “how to do this with this” or “how to do this with that.” You could group things in that form.
Once they’ve decided on what they’re going to do, they’re going to start making a price comparison queries, as well. They’ll be searching for things like best price on black Nike running shoes. These queries will be like, “I’m ready to buy,” and of course you want to be there. This is where a lot of companies focus. They’ll say, “We want to be right there when they’re about to make their conversion.”
But the thing that you have to remember from a content marketing perspective is if you haven’t been there the entire time, you’re going to be facing much more of an uphill battle in terms of actually getting them to use your site. So being early in their purchasing days is really important too, and that’s where content marketing can really help you.
Karen: It sounds like marketers can use these keyword groups for SEO and overall findability.
Ray: SEO and findability and content marketing, you can use them as tools if you focus more on creating new groups and categories before you even focus on creating keywords. They’re going to help you create more keywords because you already decided what your strategy is based on grouping and you can use that as a way to generate more keyword ideas and do additional things like verifying the search volume and so forth.
Erin: It’s such a funny thing because too often we talk about tail wagging a dog with regards to content marketing from a keyword perspective. If you allow what has always led traffic to your content to be the only thing that you focused on as opposed to doing a combined method of how are people currently finding your content, coupled with thing that you want to talk about and how you want to be found, that’s where you’re really going to get this better intersection of what your brand has as a unique offering, how you uniquely position it and how people are naturally finding it anyway. So you really need both aspects.
Like what Ray said, thinking through the keyword groups and how you want to segment them is going to lead to better finding better keywords moving forward and is going to lead to better suggestions from whatever kind of keyword planning and content marketing platform you’re using because it’s set up in a way to learn and aggregate that information based on those groups as opposed to just based on this random list of things that’s all user-generated or that’s all existing user-driven. You need to be part of this give-and-take system.
Karen: We talked last week about reporting and how marketing reports can help inform future decisions. How can keyword and content groups be integrated into reports to informed decisions?
Ray: When I look at this I always try to characterize everything in terms of the business value that you’re creating through SEO and content marketing. Because as a marketing manager, you’re going to be thinking in terms of, sure, you’ve got the big picture in question but you’re also very tactical as part of your day-to-day job. So you’re thinking in terms of keywords, content, social things and all this stuff that you get involved with. But when you’re reporting on that data, generally you’re reporting to the executive team. Sure, they recognize the importance of all the work that you’re doing but at a higher level they also don’t need all the information. They don’t care about it.
Basically, what they want to know is every company has a couple of core strategic questions that they’re basically working to improve on a daily basis. It will be things like: how’s our brand growth going? Is it increasing? Is it decreasing? How is customer satisfaction? What is retention? What do return visitors look like? What do return shoppers look like? Are we getting people to convert from one-time buyers into ongoing repeat buyers? What is our market share versus our competitors? What are our competitors doing? Everything that you’re doing should be rolling up into answers for these high-level strategic questions because these are what matter for the business.
In one way you could think about structuring your keyword groups and your content groups to focus on some of those. You may have to do multi-layered groups. But as you’re creating these reports, you want to be focusing on creating reports that answer these questions. Your job is to get good at taking this data and translating into that format.
Erin: I think for a lot of people, they know they need to answer some of these strategic questions but they’ve been given two different problems. They’ve been given a template that doesn’t actually help them learn to answer these questions because they’ve just been told to give somebody these five or ten metrics and then somebody else is going to look at the numbers – the person whose day-to-day responsibility has not been empowered to think strategically.
I think the other part of it is when you’re tasked with a lot of these day-to-day analytics and pieces is that there’s so much information out there that learning how to take that and set it up most analytics tools and most channels aren’t necessarily set up to help you because there are all these disparate systems, which is one of the reasons that multi-channel chart (like when we released that which is aggregating all inbound traffic to your content and everything) is helping you get a better big picture view. Because previously what you were stuck with was you could only see it like organic traffic in one place, paid traffic in another, social traffic in this other thing. Then you’re like, “If I’m not responsible for all of these channels, I don’t know how my work influences other people and how other people’s work influences me.”
When we’re talking about better reporting – Karen, I’m going to go back to my favorite thing which is this idea of media, method, and message – it’s an ecosystem. You can’t just turn something off if it’s not the top-performing thing because it’s all hopefully working together to create an experience and a system that populates. That doesn’t mean that you should just keep doing things that don’t work but I think that just systematically shutting stuff off is always a bad idea.
One of the ways around that is this media, method, and message idea. You should be able to tell, like what Ray is mentioning, people want answers to these questions about why people are converting, how people are making it through the product journey, all these higher level answers. One of the things that people don’t often look at is what specifically about something is working or not working. It’s going to be either the channel itself. Is it Pinterest? Is it Instagram? Is it YouTube? Is it e-mail? Is it landing pages? Is it SEO?
Is it the method? How are you sending it out? Is it video that’s working? Is it photos that are working? Is it that text that’s working? Is it some combination? Which one of those types of mixes works really well for you?
Is it the message? Is it specifically what you’re saying that’s not resonating or is resonating? Are you trying different things? Sometimes somebody will say, “YouTube is the perfect channel for us.” Is YouTube the perfect channel for you based on these metrics? Or is it that all forms of video would actually be great that you could share video on other platforms? Or is it specifically what you said in that video and that you should take that message and apply it to e-mails, Vine, Instagram, landing pages and all these kinds of things? Always just assuming that because one thing worked on one channel that it’s either the channel or the message means that you’re not grouping things in a way to measure them to really answer that question and then maximize the answer.
That’s my final answer on that. I go back to the media, the method, and the message as my strategic desire because if you learn the medium, the method, and the message, you can answer the strategic questions that you need to report on.
Karen: I think that’s about it for this week. I do want to leave our viewers with a few key takeaways. Ray, do you have a couple of takeaways to share? Then we’ll go to Erin.
Ray: As always, with a lot of this stuff, the biggest takeaway that I have is if you’re not doing it, start doing it on a smaller scale. Don’t worry about getting everything perfect the first time because you’re not going to. It’s actually impossible to without actually doing it and then doing it again after you realize what works and what doesn’t work.
So just start on a small scale. We’ve thrown out some ideas that you can use. You can focus things on customer journey or purchase intent or grouping around geography or target users and so forth. There are lots of different ways to do it. My advice is try to do it in terms of what’s going to make sense for you managing things on a day-to-day basis and also helping you report back to the executive team during those monthly meetings. That’s my takeaway.
Karen: Good advice. Erin?
Erin: Ray is totally right with the idea. You’re not going to get it right the first time and don’t be discouraged. Don’t let it be the reason that you don’t try. It’s like getting organized or exercise or anything else, the first mile is the hardest. Then you get back out there and you try it again. You keep going and then pretty soon that first mile is simple and you’re five miles in.
It really is like a building process and it does get so much easier. Once you start thinking in a group way, once you start thinking in terms of keyword groups and content groups, so much will be easier about the rest of your job because you’ll be able to think through campaigns more quickly, you’ll be able to think through reporting more quickly.
Like Ray said, start small. Maybe just create one group around one campaign or around one geography or around one thing. You get started that way as opposed to trying to take on the whole world at once and see how it goes.
As with everything, we’re here to answer questions and to help out if people have questions or want to talk to us about best practices and getting set up. We deal with this stuff every day.
Karen: I was going to say the takeaway for me is that it can be frustrating and you might have a lot of questions and we’re happy to answer those questions.
We’re available at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re all here to help. Give us a shout. Join the conversation on Twitter at #FOUNDFriday. Let us know how it’s going for you. Let us know some of the challenges. We’ll be happy to address some more of those kinds of things here on our weekly FOUND Friday.
So guys, I’m going to sign off for today. We’ll see you soon.
Erin: Bye, everyone.