A weekly Google Hangout dedicated to discussing content marketing, search marketing, SEO and more.
Topic: Keyword Metrics – Best Practices/Changing Practices for Marketers.
In this episode, Erin and Ray discuss having the right tools and the right data to get the right visitors to your site.
Ray Grieselhuber, Founder & CEO at GinzaMetrics
Erin O’Brien, COO at GinzaMetrics
FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Erin: Hey, everyone. Welcome to FOUND Friday. It is June 5 and we are basically at the halfway point of the year. I’ve got my favorite partner in crime, GinzaMetrics founder and CEO, Ray Grieselhuber with me. Welcome, Ray.
We’ve done a lot of discussion recently about how to assess and measure your current marketing situation and make adjustments. We talked a lot about using the halfway point of the year and the summer doldrums and things like that, as well as Google algorithm changes and other updates to make some of these adjustments.
One of the things that’s often overlooked is keyword best practices that attract the right visitors to your content. There are lots of reasons to get a refreshed view on keyword best practices, keyword and topic findability changes, the industry competitor landscape stuff happens, available keyword tools shift, and your content hopefully has changed too over the last 6-12 months. So making sure you’ve got the right keywords for your content and are tracking changes is really important to your overall brand findability.
Let’s talk about some of the questions that we hear from our audience. Let’s start out with a baseline question which is, what is keyword ranking and why is it important?
Ray: Most people can pretty intuitively understand the concept of ranking itself in the sense that when you’re searching for something on Google most commonly you’re looking for some topic. And when you put in that search query, obviously you’re going to get a list of different pages. Most people pretty much get that.
What’s easy to forget and what people don’t really think about – even people who are pretty experienced marketers tend to need this reminder from time to time – is that the rank matters for a very specific reason. There’s a reason that you want to be on top and obviously part of it is just because that’s where most people see your result. But even in terms of specific numbers, there’s a reason for that, as well, which is for a keyword to really be valuable to your business, it needs to have a certain amount of people actually looking for something on that keyword. We talk about this in terms of search volume and we take measurements from a lot of different data sources to help marketers estimate how many people are roughly searching for that keyword on a monthly basis.
Another part of that is something that we call the click-through rate, which is if you rank number one – this also makes intuitive sense but a lot of people don’t always think about it – if you’re ranking at the very top position on a search results page, you are much more likely to get a higher percentage of those clicks (even if you’re ranking on position five which is still on the first page).
What you really have to do is keep those two things in mind: the overall search volume, the number of people looking for that keyword on a monthly basis and then the actual click-through rate. There’s a lot of data. We have data built indirectly to GinzaMetrics that has click-through rate or CTR data right there. So you can basically estimate your monthly potential traffic from a certain keyword based on your ranking. Keeping those two concepts in mind is really important.
Erin: One of the things that’s really interesting about the evolution of why keyword ranking is so important is it used to be that you could control this a little bit by gaming the system and doing a lot of things on your own time with your own marketing efforts to rank specifically for a keyword. If you are willing to do the work, you could make it happen.
Google’s recent algorithm changes over the last year or so have really been focused on ensuring that the content that you’re creating is married better to the keywords that you’re trying to rank for. One of the reasons that this is really important is what you were talking about with click-through rate. It used to be you’re number one and your click-through rate is a lot higher. But if you had to game the system to rank for a specific keyword and the content that people got to after they clicked on that link was not what they expected, they were going to drop off. So you got a huge bounce rate associated with these keywords that you’d spent all this time ranking for.
Google is actually somewhat trying to take care of some of that for you. It’s like, “Hey, you know what, we’re actually going to change.” One of the things we’ll see change is bounce rates will hopefully stop being so high associated with top ranking keywords because hopefully there’s going to be a better match between the content that people actually get and the keywords that you initially were seeking to be a part of.
Speaking of how this keyword stuff works and while this is important, let’s talk a little bit about how keywords fit into the competitor landscape and why is it important to know what else is ranking for the keywords and the topics that you want associated with your brands. Because there are a lot of reasons I think to pay attention to what’s going on in the landscape because it has so much effect on overall findability.
Ray: Definitely. It’s next point that really becomes the topic to consider when you think about what search volume and what click-through rates mean for your business. The more keywords that you can find that are relevant to your business and your competitor’s businesses, the more opportunity you have a chance to measure overall market demand. You can use these keywords and their associated search volume and their click-through rates as a way to get a share of voice or a market share reading on things.
You may think that you have only a potential visitor volume of X because you’re only paying attention to a certain number of keywords that really could be Y. Because if you start expanding out the number of keywords that you’re paying attention to and other keywords that your competitor is paying attention to, there actually could be a much greater market opportunity that you’re missing entirely. So understanding the overall market and doing some really good analysis in order to get a good reading on the market size and then estimating both your position and your competitor share in that market is a critical, strategic move that you need to do both up front and on an ongoing basis.
Erin: It’s so true. It goes into a question that we were going to jump into later, but I think this is a really good time to address it. People ask a lot about what’s the best way to find keywords with a lot of traffic but low competition. I really think this is not necessarily the right way to approach this. I think it’s less about lots of traffic and low competition, which seems like something you’d want. But actually what you really want to do is find the most relevant traffic to your content and hopefully have the best content to cut through the noise.
This may be keywords with a million searches per month or it may be keywords with only 50 to 100 searches per month. But what we’re really advocating for is that people go with the more specific keywords that target the precise users of your products and services as opposed to these really broad topics that everybody is trying to rank for and that may not really be relevant.
If you look at it as a pie graph and say you wanted to do something – say what you’re selling is men’s trail running shoes – if what you’re saying is, “I just want to rank for shoes,” okay, maybe a really, really small portion of that pie is actually something that would care. So stop spending your time trying to rank for shoes and instead really focus on the topics in and around the industry and areas of conversation that you really care about. Even though it has lower search volume, it probably has a lot more relevant search volume, you’re probably going to have lower bounce rates, higher click-throughs and eventually higher conversions.
Ray: Absolutely. That’s a classic mistake and it’s something that invites people who’ve been doing this for a while. You have everybody from the CEO of your company asking why you’re not ranking number one for shoes if you’re in the shoes business, which is basically impossible unless you’re – I’m not even sure Nike or Zappos…
Erin: I was going to say Zappos maybe.
Ray: Maybe. You just have to be realistic about what the opportunity is to rank. Another thing that’s really important is understanding the types of searches that people are doing.
There are ways to categorize it that are common searches, things like navigational searches versus searches with commercial intent, and also informational searches.
A navigational search would be someone is actually just trying to find a specific part of a website and they’re using Google to help them navigate it.
Informational search would be something like you may be reading up on an actor or a movie. A lot of times you’re going to get really good content just on Wikipedia and sites like that.
Searches with commercial intent have a range of purchasers or customers – we call it the customer journey. It’s basically this idea that people usually originate their searches online for a new product that they’re interested in with very basic things like the best shoes for running or the best brands for fall fashion or whatever. They’ll look at these things. We’re just trying to get inspiration and ideas. Once they’ve decided on a brand or a model, whatever they’re going to start getting very specific and they’re going to do things like best price on black Nike running shoes or something. They’ve decided what they’re going to buy and now they’re looking for the best deal.
Being able to categorize these searches within your own business is also really important because you can tell how much effort you want to spend on acquiring visitors to your site and it can also help you frame the conversation when you’re speaking with the executive team around like, “Shoes, yeah, it’s a great keyword. But there’s not really necessarily commercial intent behind that and it’s probably not that relevant keyword for us in any way.”
Erin: What’s really interesting about that conversation where people fall within these different types of searches is that one of the things that marketers focus on a lot is that idea of the funnel. It’s almost as if what you want to do is match your keywords to specific parts of the funnel so that you could really understand what’s generating awareness versus what’s in the more consideration phase versus what’s in the intent to purchase and conversion phase. That’s not to say that keywords cannot be part of every aspect of the funnel. But like what you were saying, there’s this exploratory phase that people may go through about asking more general questions and they get into this more research phase of making a choice. Then they have the opportunity to go to a specific site and make a purchase or to find a place to make a purchase and then go to that physical brick and mortar, depending on what it is. Ironically, I just looked up shoes on Google and Shoes.com is number one and Zappos is number two.
Ray: Probably a domain with the actual keyword in the domain.
Erin: Yeah. One of the things that we saw back a number of years ago was people buying up a lot of domains and sitting on them. Also one of the reasons that the U.S. has a lot of patent trouble when it comes to software and tools is because there’s a lot of very broad language unfortunately that doesn’t take into account the more specific nature of people’s brands and marketing efforts. I think that marketers and a lot of niche providers are probably running into some issues right now.
Another question that somebody had was “Do you have tips for using keyword information to find the trending topics?”
There are a lot of ways to do this. I’ll go over how I use Ginza to do this. Ray, do you have any specific thoughts?
Ray: Yeah. You probably touched on this when you talked about GinzaMetrics and how we have some of these tools within Ginza. The canonical source of data is Google itself. Most people who have been doing this for a while are aware of the Keyword Planner, which is basically a tool that is part of the AdWords campaign, manager toolset that basically allows you to research new keywords that you would potentially buy ads for. The reason that’s useful was because when you’re doing research on a keyword, you want to know how many people would potentially see your ad. It’s also targeting the exact same source of user acquisition once it’s searched. This happens to be the difference between paid and organic. You can get pretty good rough estimates of organic search volume from that same number. So people will use the Keyword Planner data. We have that integrated directly into GinzaMetrics so you can use that as a keyword search tool right there.
Also another really good one is – I’m a big fan of getting people to spend more time looking at their own data because they don’t really do it enough. This became really difficult for a while about a year or two ago when Google implemented secured search. It basically started off as getting all of the keywords that were driving traffic for people. So you used to get this really rich set of data from your Google Analytics, directly showing you exactly how many keyword searches you’re getting for different keywords. They pulled that away citing security reasons. For a while people were left out in the dark.
Fortunately, they boosted up the functionality in webmaster tools. So now you can get that. It’s not the exact same metrics. You’re not seeing visits, you’re seeing clicks. But it’s close enough to be relevant. You also get CTR and so forth. We also have that integrated directly into GinzaMetrics and have discovery tools that are usable from that, again built directly in Ginza’s [14:25 inaudible] as a way to [14:28 inaudible] a lot of traffic that you could not be paying attention to. Those are two really good ones to start with.
Erin: I think that there are a lot of changes that have been made that have made what used to be one methodology of research have the switch modes.
One of the places I always go for GinzaMetrics users is the top keyword activity area, which a lot of people overlook because it’s down at the bottom of the dashboard homepage. It’s really cool. It highlights the most improved ranking keywords that you’re tracking for your content and it also does the same thing for your competition. What you can really see here is where a lot of big moves are being made in changes in rank for content across the board as matched to specific keywords. One of the things that’s cool about this is it starts to tell you where audience members are paying attention because things are changing in rank and that has an effect. But it also tells you where your competition is spending time and energy on their marketing efforts, as well. I think that that’s a really good place to take a look.
For a lot of folks one of the things that they miss out on is to look just at their data for their content or using their Keyword Planning tools but they won’t consider how their competition’s marketing efforts in that same industry are affecting things across a broader scale. I think it’s important to keep an eye on that stuff. It’s one of the reasons that we did Competitor Discovery and Keyword Discovery and all those things – to give people more of that information.
Speaking of Keyword Discovery, let’s talk a little bit about what that is and why marketers should pay attention to it.
Ray: The Discovery portion?
Erin: Yeah, Keyword Discovery.
Ray: The Discovery portion is really important because there is this concept of the overall universal keywords that you’re targeting. This is what we were mentioning at the very beginning where if you are missing keywords, if you’re missing an opportunity to capture specific keywords, you’re basically leaving those entirely up to your competitors and its market share that you could be taking advantage and you’re not. Keyword Discovery itself is really important because it’s that process through which you go out and find exactly the keywords that you should be targeting. What that means for you as a marketer and a content creator is once you’ve determined the keywords that are relevant to you, that’s the set of keywords that you should be targeting when you’re creating your content.
Erin: it’s funny. There’s an old saying which is: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” One of the things that’s really important about this is people will say, “I have this list of keywords and this is either what we track now or what we’ve always tracked,” which is really dangerous because it means that you’ve gotten stagnant with your keywords.
This is one of the points of today’s conversation: you need to make sure that you’re keeping this information fresh, that you are updating your keywords and the topics not only to match your product and services but to match the way that people are discussing them. Over time linguistics changes the way that people discuss things and talk about things changes. And the features that people are interested in likely change, as well.
So even if you think that you’re in an industry that hasn’t changed in the last 100 years, I guarantee you, something about your industry has evolved. So the things that you track and the way that you track them probably need to mirror that.
One of the things that Keyword Discovery is really great for is refreshing and keeping on top of what else is going on in your marketplace, not just for you but for competition. Looking at how Keyword Discovery and Competitor Discovery work together in tandem will show you competitors or other brands in your market that are creating content that attract your audience based on these keywords and things that you are targeting. Then looking specifically the type of content that they’re creating around those keywords can oftentimes give you clues into what else might move the bar when it comes to real traction for your company.
One of the things that we were talking about a long time ago was – let’s go back to this trail running shoes thing because it’s been my longstanding example – let’s say I am a manufacturer of trail running shoes. Maybe one of the things that actually ranks really highly or somebody that’s competing with me that I wouldn’t have normally thought about is somebody that makes information about trails and weather for people who actually use these shoes. Maybe what I would want to do if I will say Nike in the trail running shoes creation department would be to create a map of popular trails in different areas and create forums where people can discuss the best trails to use the shoes that I’m making. So many other content opportunities out there that maybe I would not even thought of because I may be just focusing on the features of the shoes and the price of the shoes and how I’m better than everybody else’s shoes. Maybe I should be focusing on how to talk to the people who would buy these in different places.
Ray: I think it’s a really good point. The other thing that’s interesting about looking at what your competitors are focused on – and this is something that’s been really challenging for people and we’re actually developing some new cool features around this that we’ll be releasing over the next few months – is actually being able to, in real time, get recommendations for new keywords based on your competitor’s content as they’re creating it. This is something that is a really important thing for people. We’re seeing a lot of opportunities to help people discover their keywords there, as well.
Erin: Talking about finding new keywords and GinzaMetrics and all these different opportunities, I want to leave off this week’s episode with finding the right keyword tool. What’s out there right now? How has keyword tools evolved a little bit over the last year or so? Is it time for an upgrade? Or if you’re not currently using something, should you be? I know you mentioned Google’s Keyword Planner tool. Is that enough for everybody? If you don’t want to spend any money, is that cool? Should you just use that?
Ray: It’s going to be hard to beat Google in terms of source. There are other tools out there that will do things like help you find new keyword combinations that you may not have been thinking about. There are some APIs and services out there that do semantic analysis of things of existing content. They can help you find some ideas. They’re all really valuable but you really have to go back at the end of the day and see what Google thinks about those keywords in terms of overall search volume in terms of trying to figure out the actual opportunity for those keywords. Then from there this integration of that data into the rest of the context of your businesses is the part that’s going to really make it relevant for you, which is why we emphasize that so heavily within Ginza.
If you’re looking for resources and basically really good listings of tools, the best article that I’ve found so far, there’s a site out there called Backlinko.com. It has an article called “The Definitive Guide to Keyword Research.” It’s a long article but by the time you finish reading that, you’re going to know pretty much everything you need to know about doing really good keyword research. I usually point people in that direction.
Erin: For people who aren’t necessarily in the United States or the U.K., say folks in Asia where you may have Daum, Naver, Yandex, Baidu, Sogou, Khoj, whatever is over there – what would they need in terms of tools? Is there something that you would recommend? Or is it that every search engine has its own localized tool that you could use or are some folks just going to be in the dark?
Ray: Some have them. Goo [? 23:16], as far as I’m aware does not have anything. Sogou, as far as I’m aware doesn’t have anything either. But Baidu, they do. They have an API. Their APIs are a little bit tricky to work with. They do have an interface that’s similar to the AdWords bid management interface. I think you can get keyword search volume from there, as well. But it’s all Chinese. It’s not localized English at all, so you need someone who can read and write Chinese in order to actually interact with it.
Erin: What about using Google’s Keyword Planning tool or Google’s tools just in general and applying them to whatever other search engine? Do you think that there’s any similarity there? Could somebody get by with using Google and then applying it to something on another search engine?
Ray: Yeah. It depends on which country you’re talking about. Google has a majority market share in most countries around the world. The major exceptions are China, Russia, and Korea. Pretty much everywhere else, you’re going to get a very reasonable proxy. One other probably side note would be Japan where Google and Yahoo Japan have relatively equal market share, so you’re going to be missing some of the search volume there but it’s still pretty reasonable. But places like China, nobody uses Google. Russia, it’s a very minority search engine. Korea, nobody really uses it.
Google just doesn’t have the data on the number of searches for different keywords and it probably doesn’t have the freshest keywords in there. So to be better than nothing, if you don’t have access to the Baidu data, for example, if you’re in China but it’s definitely not going to be equivalent to the quality of data you can get natively.
Erin: This is where using a platform where you can look at multiple search engines and get some data the way that we track across multiple countries and things can be really helpful especially if you’re a global brand and you need the information across these multiple different places, especially when you’re talking about being able to actually localize into different languages or track searches in different languages, having a way to actually segment those out and follow those over time. That’s a really tough thing to do without a more sophisticated tool.
Speaking of what you guys were talking about last week, is there anything in terms of keyword research that’s different for people who are focused on mobile?
Ray: Yeah. Mobile is really interesting. Luckily the Keyword Planner does provide a mobile filter for the search volume data that you can get so you can get pretty good data there. Also, when you’re looking at your own data with webmaster tools, you can apply mobile filter to that too. You can see from your own traffic data where those keywords searches are coming from.
Baidu, I would actually have to go back and check. As far as I’m aware they don’t provide any of those filters. If you’re talking about a country like China then you’re a little bit out of luck on getting really super accurate readings on that. This is going to be an area where in the next year I think people are going to be paying more attention to this. You can probably see some better updated versions of tools that are coming out with more support for mobile.
Erin: Hopefully folks who haven’t updated their keyword research and keyword tracking views over the last year or so will consider doing that. We talked a few weeks ago about this time of summer doldrums for a lot of folks, especially those in the more B2B enterprise space. This may be a really good time to go in and re-evaluate and take a look at that and know that some of our conversations over the next couple of weeks are going to help folks who are using this time to re-evaluate second half of the year marketing strategies and come together and figure out what are the best places that they can do some really good things that shouldn’t take a ton of time necessarily but should yield some great results. Refocusing on keywords, understanding keyword and content marrying on your site and how that really works, and redeveloping some strategies around that should hopefully give you some more relevant traffic, if not necessarily more traffic but more relevant traffic which would hopefully create some more conversions. With that, unless you have anything else to add, I think we are done for the day.
Ray: I think that’s all I have.
Erin: Alright. Sounds good. I will see you next week.
Ray: Sounds good.