Tag Archive | "Targeting"

SearchCap: Google Search Console live, Quora ad targeting & Google search app update

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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SearchCap: Smart devices, SEO in 2018 & ad targeting

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The importance of targeting branded searches

Though many search marketers focus primarily on non-branded searches, columnist Thomas Stern believes it’s crucial to invest in a branded search strategy.

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How to Use the "Keywords by Site" Data in Tools (Moz, SEMrush, Ahrefs, etc.) to Improve Your Keyword Research and Targeting – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

One of the most helpful functions of modern-day SEO software is the idea of a “keyword universe,” a database of tens of millions of keywords that you can tap into and discover what your site is ranking for. Rankings data like this can be powerful, and having that kind of power at your fingertips can be intimidating. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains the concept of the “keyword universe” and shares his most useful tips to take advantage of this data in the most popular SEO tools.

How to use keywords by site

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about the Keywords by Site feature that exists now in Moz’s toolset — we just launched it this week — and SEMrush and Ahrefs, who have had it for a little while, and there are some other tools out there that also do it, so places like KeyCompete and SpyFu and others.

In SEO software, there are two types of rankings data:

A) Keywords you’ve specifically chosen to track over time

Basically, the way you can think of this is, in SEO software, there are two kinds of keyword rankings data. There are keywords that you have specifically selected or your marketing manager or your SEO has specifically selected to track over time. So I’ve said I want to track X, Y and Z. I want to see how they rank in Google’s results, maybe in a particular location or a particular country. I want to see the position, and I want to see the change over time. Great, that’s your set that you’ve constructed and built and chosen.

B) A keyword “universe” that gives wide coverage of tens of millions of keywords

But then there’s what’s called a keyword universe, an entire universe of keywords that’s maintained by a tool provider. So SEMrush has their particular database, their universe of keywords for a bunch of different languages, and Ahrefs has their keyword universe of keywords that each of those two companies have selected. Moz now has its keyword universe, a universe of, I think in our case, about 40 million keywords in English in the US that we track every two weeks, so we’ll basically get rankings updates. SEMrush tracks their keywords monthly. I think Ahrefs also does monthly.

Depending on the degree of change, you might care or not care about the various updates. Usually, for keywords you’ve specifically chosen, it’s every week. But in these cases, because it’s tens of millions or hundreds of millions of keywords, they’re usually tracking them weekly or monthly.

So in this universe of keywords, you might only rank for some of them. It’s not ones you’ve specifically selected. It’s ones the tool provider has said, “Hey, this is a broad representation of all the keywords that we could find that have some real search volume that people might be interested in who’s ranking in Google, and we’re going track this giant database.” So you might see some of these your site ranks for. In this case, seven of these keywords your site ranks for, four of them your competitors rank for, and two of them both you and your competitors rank for.

Remarkable data can be extracted from a “keyword universe”

There’s a bunch of cool data, very, very cool data that can be extracted from a keyword universe. Most of these tools that I mentioned do this.

Number of ranking keywords over time

So they’ll show you how many keywords a given site ranks for over time. So you can see, oh, Moz.com is growing its presence in the keyword universe, or it’s shrinking. Maybe it’s ranking for fewer keywords this month than it was last month, which might be a telltale sign of something going wrong or poorly.

Degree of rankings overlap

You can see the degree of overlap between several websites’ keyword rankings. So, for example, I can see here that Moz and Search Engine Land overlap here with all these keywords. In fact, in the Keywords by Site tool inside Moz and in SEMrush, you can see what those numbers look like. I think Moz actually visualizes it with a Venn diagram. Here’s Distilled.net. They’re a smaller website. They have less content. So it’s no surprise that they overlap with both. There’s some overlap with all three. I could see keywords that all three of them rank for, and I could see ones that only Distilled.net ranks for.

Estimated traffic from organic search

You can also grab estimated traffic. So you would be able to extract out — Moz does not offer this, but SEMrush does — you could see, given a keyword list and ranking positions and an estimated volume and estimated click-through rate, you could say we’re going to guess, we’re going to estimate that this site gets this much traffic from search. You can see lots of folks doing this and showing, “Hey, it looks this site is growing its visits from search and this site is not.” SISTRIX does this in Europe really nicely, and they have some great blog posts about it.

Most prominent sites for a given set of keywords

You can also extract out the most prominent sites given a set of keywords. So if you say, “Hey, here are a thousand keywords. Tell me who shows up most in this thousand-keyword set around the world of vegetarian recipes.” The tool could extract out, “Okay, here’s the small segment. Here’s the galaxy of vegetarian recipe keywords in our giant keyword universe, and this is the set of sites that are most prominent in that particular vertical, in that little galaxy.”

Recommended applications for SEOs and marketers

So some recommended applications, things that I think every SEO should probably be doing with this data. There are many, many more. I’m sure we can talk about them in the comments.

1. Identify important keywords by seeing what you rank for in the keyword universe

First and foremost, identify keywords that you probably should be tracking, that should be part of your reporting. It will make you look good, and it will also help you keep tabs on important keywords where if you lost rankings for them, you might cost yourself a lot of traffic.

Monthly granularity might not be good enough. You might want to say, “Hey, no, I want to track these keywords every week. I want to get reporting on them. I want to see which page is ranking. I want to see how I rank by geo. So I’m going to include them in my specific rank tracking features.” You can do that in the Moz Keywords by Site, you’d go to Keyword Explorer, you’d select the root domain instead of the keyword, and you’d plug in your website, which maybe is Indie Hackers, a site that I’ve been reading a lot of lately and I like a lot.

You could see, “Oh, cool. I’m not tracking stock trading bot or ark servers, but those actually get some nice traffic. In this case, I’m ranking number 12. That’s real close to page one. If I put in a little more effort on my ark servers page, maybe I could be on page one and I could be getting some of that sweet traffic, 4,000 to 6,000 searches a month. That’s really significant.” So great way to find additional keywords you should be adding to your tracking.

2. Discover potential keywords targets that your competitors rank for (but you don’t)

Second, you can discover some new potential keyword targets when you’re doing keyword research based on the queries your competition ranks for that you don’t. So, in this case, I might plug in “First Round.” First Round Capital has a great content play that they’ve been doing for many years. Indie Hackers might say, “Gosh, there’s a lot of stuff that startups and tech founders are interested in that First Round writes about. Let me see what keywords they’re ranking for that I’m not ranking for.”

So you plug in those two to Moz’s tool or other tools. You could see, “Aha, I’m right. Look at that. They’re ranking for about 4,500 more keywords than I am.” Then I could go get that full list, and I could sort it by volume and by difficulty. Then I could choose, okay, these keywords all look good, check, check, check. Add them to my list in Keyword Explorer or Excel or Google Docs if you’re using those and go to work.

3. Explore keywords sets from large, content-focused media sites with similar audiences

Then the third one is you can explore keyword sets. I’m going to urge you to. I don’t think this is something that many people do, but I think that it really should be, which is to look outside of your little galaxy of yourself and your competitors, direct competitors, to large content players that serve your audience.

So in this case, I might say, “Gosh, I’m Indie Hackers. I’m really competing maybe more directly with First Round. But you know what? HBR, Harvard Business Review, writes about a lot of stuff that my audience reads. I see people on Twitter that are in my audience share it a lot. I see people in our forums discussing it and linking out to their articles. Let me go see what they are doing in the content world.”

In fact, when you look at the Venn diagram, which I just did in the Keywords by Site tool, I can see, “Oh my god, look there’s almost no overlap, and there’s this huge opportunity.” So I might take HBR and I might click to see all their keywords and then start looking through and sort, again, probably by volume and maybe with a difficulty filter and say, “Which ones do I think I could create content around? Which ones do they have really old content that they haven’t updated since 2010 or 2011?” Those types of content opportunities can be a golden chance for you to find an audience that is likely to be the right types of customers for your business. That’s a pretty exciting thing.

So, in addition to these, there’s a ton of other uses. I’m sure over the next few months we’ll be talking more about them here on Whiteboard Friday and here on the Moz blog. But for now, I would love to hear your uses for tools like SEMrush and the Ahrefs keyword universe feature and Moz’s keyword universe feature, which is called Keywords by Site. Hopefully, we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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SearchCap: Amp links at large, Google AdWords demographic targeting & more

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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SearchCap: Google mobile index, Bing ads in-market targeting and Pinterest search

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Hacking Keyword Targeting by Serving Interest-Based Searches – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Depending on your industry, the more obvious and conversion-focused keywords you might target could be few and far between. With Google continuing to evolve, though, there’s a whole host of other areas you might look: interest-based keywords. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand shows you how to find them.







For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Hacking Keyword Targeting whiteboard

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about keyword targeting and specifically some of the challenges that happen when your keyword targeting list is rather small or hyper competitive and you need to broaden out. One of the great ways you can do that is actually by hacking the interests of the people who are performing those searches, or might perform those searches in the future, or might never perform those searches, but are actually interested in the product or service that you have to offer.

Classic, traditional keyword research is all about focusing on the product or service’s purchase intent. Meaning, here’s let’s say Charles over here. Charles needs to better track his fitness. He knows that what he’d like to able to do is get some tools to track his fitness. Maybe he’s looking at a Fitbit or something like that.

When we, doing marketing to Charles, have a fitness tracking product or a piece of software or a piece of hardware to offer him, we’re thinking about terms like fitness tracking software, track weight loss, workout measurement, and monitor workout progress, very direct, very obvious kinds of search terms that are clearly going to lead Charles from his intent right over to our website.

This is perfect keyword targeting keyword research if you’re doing paid search, because with paid search you need a return on that investment right away. You don’t want to be bidding on keywords, generally speaking, that are not going to directly bring you sign-ups, conversions, potential costumers.

This is not so true, however, when it comes to SEO. A lot of times when folks look at their SEO campaigns, they go, “Man, the list of keywords that I could target that really say expressly I want a fitness tracking piece of software or a fitness tracking piece of hardware is not that long. Therefore, what else should I create? What other terms could I potentially go after?” That’s where you want to do a little bit more of what social display and retargeting does, which is to think about reaching people based on their interests, their attributes, and the actions that they’ve taken.

If you go to Facebook and you do some ad targeting there, it’s not based on, hey, Charles expressly did a search for fitness tracking software. But you can go and find all the people who’ve labeled fitness as an interest of theirs. You can then further refine by demographics and psychographics, job, location, income, and all these other attributes.

This is what you can do in, for example, Google’s Display Planner as well. You can look at I want all the people who’ve read articles on MensHealth.com. Or you can get even more specific with some kinds of advertising and say, “I only want to advertise in front of people who looked at articles specifically on cross training, because we happen to know that maybe that’s that best target group for us.”

This is a very cool process too. But in SEO we can actually merge these two things. We can put them together, and a lot of smart SEOs do this. They combine these two practices in their keyword research and targeting. They find people who like fitness, and then they talk to them. They ask them questions. This can be implicit, explicit. This can be through surveys. This can be through interviews. You kind of sit down, and you’re like, “Okay, that’s really awesome. Can you tell me more about what inspired your love for fitness? Tell me about the content that you looked at prior to this. Tell me about books that you read, people that influenced you, all those kinds of things.”

You’re trying to gather that information, those subjects of interest. Not just fitness, but other things that they touch on. Content that they may have found or liked before learning that they wanted to track their fitness progress. Websites that they frequently visit. People and brands or accounts that they follow on social media. Who are their influencers?

We learn all this, and now we have kind of this topic set for pre-interest keyword research. Pre-interest, meaning, before the party is actually interested in the product or service or solution that we provide, what are they interested in? We can do keyword research and targeting based on those things.

What’s awesome about this is it’s like potentially much lower competition, earlier brand exposure, which means that all of our others efforts that are targeting them further down the funnel are likely to be more effective because they’ve already been exposed to our brand. They know us. Hopefully, they like us already.

This is huge for content marketing. Very rich content opportunities. Usually, content marketing opportunities and content creation opportunities that aren’t just purely self-promotional either. You go and create content about this and you’re a fitness tracking company, well, that’s pretty typical. That’s to be expected. It’s going to be self-promotional whether it’s explicitly promotional or not.

But this type of content is very different. This type of content is all about promoting a movement or promoting information about a topic that you know potentially your subjects will have interest in, in the future, and because of that it’s much easier to promote and share without being perceived as prideful and self-promotional, which tamps down a lot of the sharing that you could get.

Instead of things like fitness tracking software, I’m going to get running trails, comparison of cross trainer sneakers, strength training exercises, healthy meals for muscle growth. Awesome.

This is really cool. This process is what you want to use in that keyword research and brainstorming. Start before you get bogged down into, hey, these are the only terms and phrases that we can target because these are the only things that express intent.

Sometimes this might cross over into PPC. Most of the time this is really useful for SEO and content creation.

All right, everyone, I look forward to seeing some tools, tactics, and tips from all of you in the comments. We’ll catch you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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SearchCap: Google & Apple Safari Partnership, Yahoo Test Ads & Google International Targeting Report

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: 4 Predictions for Mobile Marketing and Call Tracking in 2015 – December 9 Webcast Mobile search exploded in 2014, and next year it is promising to be even…



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Illustrated Guide to Advanced On-page Target Targeting for SEO

Posted by Cyrus-Shepard

Topic n. A subject or theme of a webpage, section, or site.

Several SEOs have recently written about topic modeling and advanced on-page optimization. A few of note:

The concepts themselves are dizzying: LDA, co-occurrence, and entity salience, to name only a few. The question is
“How can I easily incorporate these techniques into my content for higher rankings?”

In fact, you can create optimized pages without understanding complex algorithms. Sites like Wikipedia, IMDB, and Amazon create highly optimized, topic-focused pages almost by default. Utilizing these best practices works exactly the same when you’re creating your own content.

The purpose of this post is to provide a simple
framework for on-page topic targeting in a way that makes optimizing easy and scalable while producing richer content for your audience.

1. Keywords and relationships

No matter what topic modeling technique you choose, all rely on discovering
relationships between words and phrases. As content creators, how we organize words on a page greatly influences how search engines determine the on-page topics.

When we use keywords phrases, search engines hunt for other phrases and concepts that
relate to one another. So our first job is to expand our keywords research to incorporate these related phrases and concepts. Contextually rich content includes:

  • Close variants and synonyms: Includes abbreviations, plurals, and phrases that mean the same thing.
  • Primary related keywords: Words and phrases that relate to the main keyword phrase.
  • Secondary related keywords: Words and phrases that relate to the primary related keywords.
  • Entity relationships: Concept that describe the properties and relationships between people, places, and things. 

Keywords and Relationships

A good keyword phrase or entity is one that
predicts the presence of other phrases and entities on the page. For example, a page about “The White House” predicts other phrases like “president,” “Washington,” and “Secret Service.” Incorporating these related phrases may help strengthen the topicality of “White House.”

2. Position, frequency, and distance

How a page is organized can greatly influence how concepts relate to each other.

Once search engines find your keywords on a page, they need to determine which ones are most
important, and which ones actually have the strongest relationships to one another.

Three primary techniques for communicating this include:

  • Position: Keywords placed in important areas like titles, headlines, and higher up in the main body text may carry the most weight.
  • Frequency: Using techniques like TF-IDF, search engines determine important phrases by calculating how often they appear in a document compared to a normal distribution.
  • Distance: Words and phrases that relate to each other are often found close together, or grouped by HTML elements. This means leveraging semantic distance to place related concepts close to one another using paragraphs, lists, and content sectioning.

A great way to organize your on-page content is to employ your primary and secondary related keywords in support of your focus keyword. Each primary related phrase becomes its own subsection, with the secondary related phrases supporting the primary, as illustrated here.

Keyword Position, Frequency and Distance

As an example, the primary keyword phrase of this page is ‘On-page Topic Targeting‘. Supporting topics include: keywords and relationships, on-page optimization, links, entities, and keyword tools. Each related phrase supports the primary topic, and each becomes its own subsection.

3. Links and supplemental content

Many webmasters overlook the importance of linking as a topic signal.

Several well-known Google
search patents and early research papers describe analyzing a page’s links as a way to determine topic relevancy. These include both internal links to your own pages and external links to other sites, often with relevant anchor text.

Google’s own
Quality Rater Guidelines cites the value external references to other sites. It also describes a page’s supplemental content, which can includes internal links to other sections of your site, as a valuable resource.

Links and Supplemental Content

If you need an example of how relevant linking can help your SEO,
The New York Times
famously saw success, and an increase in traffic, when it started linking out to other sites from its topic pages.

Although this guide discusses
on-page topic optimization, topical external links with relevant anchor text can greatly influence how search engines determine what a page is about. These external signals often carry more weight than on-page cues, but it almost always works best when on-page and off-page signals are in alignment.

4. Entities and semantic markup

Google extracts entities from your webpage automatically,
without any effort on your part. These are people, places and things that have distinct properties and relationships with each other.

• Christopher Nolan (entity, person) stands 5’4″ (property, height) and directed Interstellar (entity, movie)

Even though entity extraction happens automatically, it’s often essential to mark up your content with
Schema for specific supported entities such as business information, reviews, and products. While the ranking benefit of adding Schema isn’t 100% clear, structured data has the advantage of enhanced search results.

Entities and Schema

For a solid guide in implementing schema.org markup, see Builtvisible’s excellent
guide to rich snippets.

5. Crafting the on-page framework

You don’t need to be a search genius or spend hours on complex research to produce high quality, topic optimized content. The beauty of this framework is that it can be used by anyone, from librarians to hobby bloggers to small business owners; even when they aren’t search engine experts.

A good webpage has much in common with a high quality university paper. This includes:

  1. A strong title that communicates the topic
  2. Introductory opening that lays out what the page is about
  3. Content organized into thematic subsections
  4. Exploration of multiple aspects of the topic and answers related questions
  5. Provision of additional resources and external citations

Your webpage doesn’t need to be academic, stuffy, or boring. Some of the most interesting pages on the Internet employ these same techniques while remaining dynamic and entertaining.

Keep in mind that ‘best practices’ don’t apply to every situation, and as
Rand Fishkin says “There’s no such thing as ‘perfectly optimized’ or ‘perfect on-page SEO.’” Pulling everything together looks something like this:

On-page Topic Targeting for SEO

This graphic is highly inspired by Rand Fishkin’s great
Visual Guide to Keyword Targeting and On-Page SEO. This guide doesn’t replace that canonical resource. Instead, it should be considered a supplement to it.

5 alternative tools for related keyword and entity research

For the search professional, there are dozens of tools available for thematic keyword and entity research. This list is not exhaustive by any means, but contains many useful favorites.

1.
Alchemy API

One of the few tools on the market that delivers entity extraction, concept targeting and linked data analysis. This is a great platform for understanding how a modern search engine views your webpage.

2.
SEO Review Tools

The SEO Keyword Suggestion Tools was actually designed to return both primary and secondary related keywords, as well as options for synonyms and country targeting. 

3.
LSIKeywords.com

The LSIKeyword tool performs Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) on the top pages returned by Google for any given keyword phrase. The tool can go down from time to time, but it’s a great one to bookmark.

4.
Social Mention

Quick and easy, enter any keyword phrase and then check “Top Keywords” to see what words appear most with your primary phrase across the of the platforms that Social Mention monitors. 

5.
Google Trends

Google trends is a powerful related research tool, if you know how to use it. The secret is downloading your results to a CSV (under settings) to get a list up to 50 related keywords per search term.

What are your best tips for creating semantically rich, topic focused content? Let us know in the comments below.

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Keyword Research and Targeting Without Exact Match – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Whatever the motives behind Google’s recent removal of exact-match keyword targeting from AdWords, the resulting uncertainty makes keyword research that much more difficult. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand talks about the implications of the change, and offers tips for the most effective research going forward.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video Transcription

Howdy Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about keyword research and the challenge that’s being presented with the loss of exact match bidding capabilities inside of Google’s AdWords platform.

AdWords has sort of become a keyword research and opportunity tool of choice for SEO and, of course, PPC folks for a decade now. We’ve always had some optionality around how we choose keywords inside of AdWords.

Say I was selling groceries online. Maybe I’m selling Asian groceries online and, specifically, fish sauce, and I want to do some modifications to which terms and phrases I bid on. So I could use things like these brackets to say exact match only, bid on keywords that are precisely fish sauce, no modifiers, no changes, not fishes sauce, not fish sauces, not Vietnamese fish sauce. I just want the word fish sauce. Or I could go with a partial phrase match, meaning no modifications to this part of the phrase, but yes if it’s Vietnamese fish sauce or fish sauce recipes, that’s fine. Or I could go fish sauce broad match and then let Google sort of extrapolate out and add all sorts of things on there.

Now, as of September of 2014, Google AdWords is making a change to their policy. All campaigns and keywords that you employ inside campaigns must use close variance. Essentially, they’re removing the exact match and saying, “Hey, we don’t think this power tool is useful, and that control is going to be lost to folks.”

There are two ways to look at this. One is Google took down their plaque on the wall that said “Do no evil” and put up a plaque that said “Be kind of evil when it makes us more money.” That is one perspective.

As many folks have pointed out, including Larry Kim from WordStream, many, many campaigns, in fact a vast majority of campaigns that are integrated with WordStream he noted, don’t even actually use exact match in this format. So maybe they’re not losing all that much, and Google is just saying, “Hey, this is a very tight feature, and we’re worried about how small businesses and people who are bidding might be employing it. Not all the users who are using it are power users. People are getting confused. So we’re taking away that functionality.”

My guess is the truth is probably somewhere in between. This will almost certainly lead to a considerable amount of more revenue for Google, because a lot more people will be bidding on terms and phrases that perhaps they should be bidding on and really want and perhaps they didn’t intend to bid on and don’t particularly want.

In any case, it loses some of that fine control. That’s very frustrating for PPC folks, but it can also be frustrating for us SEO folks. Now, we honestly don’t know. We don’t have data. It’ll be pretty interesting to see whether in September this changes.

If you go to Google’s Keyword Planner today inside of AdWords — which is free by the way, you just need to sign in with a Google account — you can do a search term like “fish sauce” and it’ll return a bunch of things. I did a search for fish sauce, and it returned for me things like fish sauce, average monthly searches 22,200, competition low. This is not competition for SEO, by the way. You can get that from something like Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Score. This is competition in AdWords itself — how many people are bidding, how aggressively they’re bidding, that sort of thing.

Then, it suggests other things like Thai fish sauce, fish sauce substitute, vegan fish sauce — I don’t think that’s going to work — sauces for fish. Sauces for fish? Are you kidding me? I understand that technically has the words sauce and fish in it, but that has an entirely different meaning. It’s sort of odd that they’re showing that to me. Then, they give me the search volume for all these and this kind of thing.

What we don’t know is whether these are exact, partial, phrase match, broad match. My guess is they’re broad match, whether they include those close variance or don’t include them, the number.

It’s been kind of tough. It’ll be very interesting to see if, when this shift happens in September, a lot of these numbers change dramatically, and we’re seeing like oh, yeah, Google was showing me more specific exact data previously for these terms, and now they’re showing broader numbers for each of these, or whether that’s already the case today. I suspect it’s actually already the case today, and it’s been a while, a couple of years, since Google actually offered truer, closer to reality numbers around what these are.

I think these numbers probably include a lot of close variance and potentially even some broad case matches. For example, fish sauce, this 22,000 number might actually include sauces for fish right in there. This makes keyword research really tough, really hard.

For us in SEO, the lost ability makes it a lot more difficult. The bidding situation in AdWords makes it a lot more difficult to determine keyword performance, and keyword performance is something that’s critical to us. That tells us when someone searches for “Thai fish sauce,” they’re much more likely to buy from us, or when they search for a particular brand of fish sauce they’re much more likely to buy from us, versus the broad phrase

“fish sauce.”

That’s pretty frustrating, because we often use AdWords data, PPC data to say, “Hey, this is a super valuable keyword. SEO team, let’s go get this search term and try and rank for it organically, because when we rank for it in paid search, we get a lot of ROI from that.” That’s going to make it harder, absolutely.

Potentially, it means more noise in these keyword research numbers. That noise could come from the inclusion of more close variance in the data. We’ll see how that happens. That potentially muddies the research and prioritization process for us. It might be the case that this is already happening though.

What Can We Do?

There are a few things we can do. We’re not powerless. We do have some ability to influence this. First off, any time you’re doing keyword research I now suggest that you just can’t rely on AdWords alone. It’s not good enough. You’ve got to be using at the very least something like Google Suggest. I love the tool SEMrush. I love keywordtool.io. I think those are both excellent.

1) Google Suggest

Google Suggest, for example, when I start typing “fish sauce,” knowing that I’m in Seattle if I am geo located, it’ll show me some things. It did show me fish sauce Seattle, fish sauce Portland. Portland, I think, was actually higher than Seattle. I guess we’re looking for fish sauce from Portland more so. It showed me fish sauce chicken wings, which is particularly popular around here and delicious. It showed me fish sauce uses, nutrition, fish sauce versus oyster sauce.

These were not things that I got on my suggested list. Granted, I didn’t go through all 800 or so suggested keywords, but a few of these were very different from what I saw over here. I think AdWords tends to be very focused on commercial intent terms, things that they know people are trying to buy or do some sort of commercial activity around. So it is valuable for advertisers.

A lot of this is more informational searches, which is huge for content marketers, huge for bloggers, big for anyone who’s doing SEO to try and attract awareness, brand attention, links to their site, those kinds of things. So you can’t ignore these keywords.

The other thing that’s very nice is if you do these, you can do them geo modified or non-geo modified, and if you do them, they tend to be in popularity order. That means I know that “fish sauce chicken wings” is probably a more popular search term in Seattle right now than “fish sauce uses.” Also fascinating useful information. I can rank some of that stuff against the numbers that I’m seeing over here and try and compare and contrast.

It’s not always perfect, by the way. Sometimes they over geo modify, or people in your search area are searching a little differently from how the rest of the world is searching, whatever the case may be. There are a lot of temporal factors going on here. So if all of a sudden there’s a fish sauce food truck that opens up in Seattle, that might get super popular in the search terms even though it’s not very popular anywhere else.

2) Google Analytics/Adwords

A second thing you can do is follow up directly inside of your Google Analytics or AdWords to see which specific, unique exact terms sent traffic and how that performed. Unlike organic search, where Google’s taken away 95%, 97% of all keyword referral data, that referral data does still exist in GA and in AdWords. It doesn’t appear that this change will mean that Google will take sauces for fish and report it as fish sauce in your campaign. It looks like they’ll still be reporting the actual keyword that sent traffic, and so you can infer from that this prioritization importance process.

3) Bing/Yahoo! Referrals

Number three, you can actually use Bing and Yahoo or any search engine that is still reporting referral data. Approximately 5% of Google’s keyword data is still being reported. You can use those referrals to help infer relative quantities and relative performance on a per keyword basis at least for your most important keywords. For stuff in the long tail and the chunky middle, it’s going to be harder, maybe even impossible in the long tail. But at the head of the demand curve at least you can say, “Yes, Thai fish sauce doesn’t perform quite as well as Vietnamese fish sauce for us. It turns out Vietnamese fish sauce really gets us the great quality traffic that we’re looking for. We’ll focus on that one first.”

4) Broaden Your Keyword Targeting

I think because of all of this keyword data removal, just in general we have to almost become more like Google Hummingbird, the update, around how we do keyword and intent matching, a little less towards the exact phrase, exact match keyword targeting, and a little more towards the intent of the searcher and all of their potential interests and intent around that. We need to serve a wider set of potential search visitors with the actual content on our pages.

That’s going to be a challenge too. But basically we can say, “Hey, how can we group this stuff into content for SEO that’s going to make for a meaningful, useful searcher experience and potentially has that ability to rank for all of these different combinations of terms that are closely aligned in intent?” That’s kind of where we’re going broadly with search, keywords, and keyword research and targeting.

All right, everyone, I apologize that Google keeps taking more and more useful and functional data and power tools away from us. I wish there were more that I could do to stop them from doing that, but it’s not my place. Hopefully, this will help out your processes.

I’m sure there’ll be some great comments and suggestions in the comments around other things people are doing and can do. We should all get ready for this change. I hope we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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