As I was discussing the challenges and opportunities with a new client SEO project recently with one of our staff, I realized how much times have changed in regard to how we generate and apply keyword research.
In the late nineties and ’01 it was pretty much a process of mapping keywords to web pages, citing popularity and competitiveness. We used the KEI information provided by the WordTracker keyword research tool to uncover opportunities with ideal keyword popularity to competitiveness ratios. Things like keyword density, prominence, position, etc were mulled over for each search engine in excessive detail.
Considering trends, seasonality and making keyword level optimzation more user friendly became more important as we took on more retail clients and as the realization that, as easy as ranking was to measure, it simply didn’t matter compare to clickthrough rates, traffic and conversions/sales. However, not many clients were doing a very good job at tracking web conversions and sales, especially BtoB companies with long sales cycles.
So now we spend a lot more time on developing keyword glossaries for segments of web sites based on the kind of content and where it fits in with the visitor’s stage in the buying cycle. Content producers on the client side can easily reference glossaries developed for their part of the web site (product / service categories, business units, etc) and take into account the kind of content and where it fits in with guiding site visitors towards the desired outcome.
For example, a top level category page(s) would be optimized for broader concepts intended to attract visitors conducting research or who are evaluating options and offer multiple options for the visitor to engage (white papers, newsletter, webinar, blog).
More specific product or solution pages would be optimized for specific phrases and copy designed to engage the visitor that is further into the buying cycle and looking to make a decision soon. Offers of a free consultation, direct contact with the sales team or similar calls to action are more appropriate here.
Our increasing responsibility as a SEO firm to provide usability and conversion consulting really makes the best use of the variety of talents required to be good at search marketing. How is that you ask? Good SEO benefits the user as well as the search engines.