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Keyword Research for SEO

Mar 6, 2020 5:25:03 PM

Did you know that the single phrase “Keyword Research Services” generates between 200 and 400 search queries each month on Google? Once you factor in all the different variants of this search, we're talking several hundred queries, if not thousands, every single month.


What does this tell you?

That hundreds, if not thousands of business owners and executives, like you, are looking for ways to drive more web traffic, more leads and ultimately more revenue through their website and digital efforts.

And like you, they are finally coming to realize that the days of billboards, television, radio and print ads are a thing of the past and have been for quite some time.

Consumers don’t want disruption. Aside from Super Bowl Sunday, when was the last time you intentionally watched television commercials?

Today it’s less about disruption and all about attention, and when it comes to attention, Google is the gatekeeper. If you want your products and services to be found online you better play by their rules, and there are lots of rules, over 200 of them.

In the world of SEO, these are referred to as ranking factors. Examples of important ranking factors include secured sites, mobile-friendly sites, and page speed.

You could do all the right things when it comes to ranking factors but still entirely miss your goals. Why?

It's probably a variety of factors but ultimately comes down to your strategy. And your strategy probably has little time spent on keyword research. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen new sites go live or new content published with little thought around keyword choice. And it’s even more funny to see digital agencies push out content with little regard for keyword research all well. So don’t sweat it, you’re in good company, with the so called “experts.”

By now you’re probably wondering how someone properly performs keyword research services. What exactly does this mean or whats included, right?

Below I’ll walk you step by step on how I go about performing keyword research services for my clients.

Step One: Start with the end goal in mind

Identify how much you want to sell of a particular product and service through digital channels. For illustration purposes, let’s say you’re organization is looking to drive an additional $5 million in recurring revenue through a new product and service offering over the next 12 months.

Step Two: Breakdown revenue into units

Identify how many units you must sell of that particular product or service to hit your revenue goals. In our example, let’s assume our annualized customer value is $50k per year. Therefore, we’d need to secure 100 new customers to hit our goal of $5 million in sales.

Step Three: Determine opportunity to close ratio

Determine what your opportunity to customer close ratio is. If it’s a brand new offering, you’ll need to make some assumptions. I’d suggest having a conservative and aggressive estimate to work with. For our example, let’s use a conservative 10% close ratio (1 of 10 deals are won) and an aggressive 25% ratio (1 of 4 deals are won).

Step Four: Determine lead to opportunity ratio (Marketing Qualified to Sales Qualified)

This exercise is similar to the above. However, we want to determine how many Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) our marketing team needs to generate in order to run enough opportunities to hit our revenue goals. For illustration purposes, let’s assume we're able to promote ~30% of our Marketing Qualified Leads to Sales Qualified Lead status during a 12 month period.

Step Five: Determine Web traffic to Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) Ratio

In this step, you want to analyze your current web traffic volume in comparison to lead conversions. Depending upon the industry, typical conversion ratios tend to fall in the 1% to 5% range. In our example, let's assume we see a 3% conversion rate in web traffic to MQL.


Step Six: Determine Keyword Search Volume to Web Traffic


Now that we have our goals and ratios established we need to come up with a keyword strategy that will drive sufficient traffic given our website. The keyword choices we make need to map directly back to the products and services being provided. And they need to be keywords that will drive sufficient volume and not be too difficult to rank for.


There are several tools on the market that help with determining keyword search volume and rank difficulty; I personally love SEMRush however it may be a bit pricey for a novice just starting out. A great free tool for performing small queries is Keywords Everywhere. It’s a plugin for Chrome or Firefox that provides results right in your browser. I use both of these tools combined with Google Search Console data to come up with solid estimates for keyword volume.

Step Seven: Determine Keyword Performance Assumptions

Now that we’ve identified the keyword targets we need to determine what type of performance (ranking) we can expect based upon the competitiveness of the industry and the domain authority of your site. If your domain is brand new and you’re going after highly competitive keywords, this is a losing strategy right out of the gate, unless you have a big budget for link acquisition. For our illustration, we’ll assume we’ll capture top 3 rank for 50% of our targeted keywords.

Step Eight: Determine Your Customers Average Selling Price (ASP)

The final piece of information we’ll need to determine is your Customer Average Selling Price over a defined period of time. All you have to do is divide your sales by the number of units sold, say during a 12 month period. For example, if you sold 100 units and had sales of $100,000 your average selling price is $1,000.

Step Nine: Calculate Your Assumptions

Now let’s run the calculations against our keyword targets to get a sense around how our inbound campaign might perform.


In our illustration above let’s focus on “Example A” to start. This scenario assumes all the keywords we intend to target will rank in the top 3 organic Google positions with the majority of them in the number 1 position. While possible, this is highly unlikely, unless we absolutely crush it. Example A should be used to understand what our potential upside is, with the best case scenario.

Now let’s look below to the more conservative scenario “Example B.” In this scenario were planning to capture top rank for only ~50% of the identified keywords and were assuming 3% of them will end up being a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), and 30% of those should end up being Sales Qualified Leads (SQL’s). With a 10% close ratio and ~$50K ASP that only provides us $2.5M against our $5M target, leaving us a $2.5M shortfall. Not good!

If we feel confident about our current assumptions, we need to do one of two things. A) we need to increase the number of keywords we plan to target to bring in a higher volume of web visitors or B) we need to implement tactics that can ensure higher rankings for the chosen keywords, e.g., link acquisition programs, which we’ll cover in a later blog post. If we choose to go after keywords this means we need to invest more in content creation. If we choose to invest in backlinks we'll need to be strategic about the keyword choices we make as this can get very expensive. Perhaps its not either or but a combination of the two.

Having a content strategy that includes keyword research services will help you better understand whether you having a winning or losing strategy well before you publish your first pieces of content. I'd also suggest that while the current data available is good its far from perfect, therefore, you want to give yourself enough margin so that you don't fall short on your traffic, conversation and revenue goals.


Written by Marketing