Keyword Research Ninja Tactics

OK, getting ready for Keyword Research Ninja Tactics on Day 2 of SMX Advanced London.

Moderator: Mikkel deMib Svendsen, Creative Director,

Q&A Moderator: Merry Morud, Search Marketing Account Manager, aimClear


Richard Baxter, Director, SEOgadget
Christine Churchill, President, KeyRelevance
Lasse Clarke Storgaard, Head of Search, MediaCom Denmark
Kevin Gibbons, Director of Strategy, SEOptimise

@demib @richardbaxter @keyrelevance @kevgibbo

Mikkel gives the intro, says people don’t pay enough attention to keyword research. And we’re on, with Richard Baxter.

This presentation is about how we manage the data.

Problem with keyword research data is that it’s a jungle. Hard to learn the specifics of how people are getting to you. How do I make it actionable for SEO?

How do I get from keywords to websites?

Group those keywords together so they make actionable sense.

  • Action: (for example:) buy
  • Condition: used
  • Brand: Audi
  • Model: S3
  • Color: Black
  • Location: London

Quickly you can look at how users search.

Shows SEOMoz graph on the Search Demand Curve (about how much traffic is in the long tail).

Google SEOgadget pivot charts to see how they build pivot charts off of these.

Keyword strategy:

Brand keywords: [brand] + for sale, “buy used” + [brand]

Aweseome Excel queries:

  • FIND
  • NOT

Those queries will help you segment your keywords.

An Array Formula lets you look across an entire column.

One query to rule them all: {=NOT(ISERROR(FIND([KEYWORD-TYPES],$A2)))}

Where column A has the query.

That lets you see whether each keyword belongs to a query.

So you can build a series of charts on search types.

Increase your data – improve your perspective

Use the Suggest API to increase your KW list by a factor of 10.

This helps you answer the important questions: how do people find products in your industry, what are the low hanging fruits, are there types of search I didn’t know about …

Good tools:

  • Ubersuggest
  • Wonderwheel scraper
  • SEOGadget KW research

Look at Keyword Tools

And now Christine Churchill

Getting More out of your keyword research tools.

There are great tools out there, they’ll help you a lot and keep you sane.

Most of the free ones she lists are from Google or Microsoft.

Google Keyword Tool

Last September they made a change to just use Google, and not their partner sites. Then they made it only about commercial value keywords. Check the Exact match option if you’re using this for keyword research. Otherwise you’re seeing data for synonyms, etc.

In the Advanced Options they just added the ability to compare desktop vs mobile. She did some comparisons, there are some dramatically different results. Type in Pizza and filter out the brand names, on desktop and then on mobile. Dramatic differences. On desktop you’ll see more recipes. On the mobile it’s mostly where you can go. Different user intent.

You can also get Google to tell you what keywords it thinks are relevant for a site. This is great for competitive research.

Google Trends

Great for seeing seasonality and trends.

Google Insights

One of her favorites. Look at the seasonality. Don’t just look at static results from keyword data. If you’re doing budgeting, you need this. Also gives geographic info.

Keyword Discovery

Has multiple data sources, including toolbars and ISP data.

Word Tracker

(Whose doing a great job covering this conference, BTW, on Twitter and their blog)

Been around for a while, very powerful

Google Instant

You have to look at what comes up when people start searching for your term.

They have different databases. Under Shopping you’ll get a different set of suggestions.

Cool tool, suggestions from different perspectives. From Google, Yahoo, Bing, Answers


Type a phrase, hit expand, it will show you possibilities from Instant

YouTube Suggest

These are keywords coming from the YouTube database so it’s good to look at them

YouTube Keyword Tool

Google’s Wonder Wheel

Visual tool, great for brainstorming. She loves using it early in the process.

Google Contextual Targeting Tool

Gives more info than Wonder Wheel. Great for doing lateral thinking, organizing and structuring your campaign

Microsoft Ad Center

Whole suite of tools, great info

Microsoft Ad Intelligence

Related keywords, good keyword info

SEOMoz Keyword Difficulty

SEOMoz’s tools are quick and useful. Get a good idea of how competitive a keyword is


  • Popularity is just one factor, showing traffic potential
  • Review trends and seasonality
  • Use a variety of tools

And now Lasse Clarke:

You don’t have to be the first, or the fastest. He’s a “search philosopher.” Spends most of his time on things that his clients won’t pay for.

Three mindsets: Research (60-80%), Consideration (10-15%), Purchase (6-8%)

Consumer is looking at eye level.

Scalable Strategy PPPi: Pay per purchase intent

The internet is like an onion. [Or an ogre, I guess.] The layers: Brand, products, consumer needs, consumer interests.

It’s like Risk. The corresponding layers: Defend, expand, conquer. Action, consideration, research.

Life is like a game of Battleships.

[Perhaps mixing metaphors is OK if you go completely insane with it]

[Concludes with “So this is what I wanted to say today.” Not really sure what he said. Maybe that Life is like a box of onions on a battleship playing Risk.]

And finally Kevin Gibbons.

How do you optimize for long tail when 20-25% of each day’s queries have never been seen before?

94.3% of searches are long tail [I didn’t catch his precise definition of long tail]. Data from HitWise.

And the more long tail you go, the better the buying intent.

Example case study: Increase traffic by 181%. [Umm .. OK, sorry, I need better than just percentage for an unknown client]

  1. Find common search trends: “how” is used far more than any other question word. (Go to Google Trends, type in the question words).
  2. Answer FAQs in your niche: Go to Google and type in “How to” and words from your industry, see what comes up in Google Suggest
  3. Pick out popular themed keywords
  4. Use segments to analyze long-tail terms
  5. Use PPC & impression share data. Use Google Adwords, at least as a test. Just run something for a month with a small budget. You can see how valuable different traffic is. And use broad and phrase matches so you can learn which similar terms may work better.
  6. Use multiple tools to verify results. WordTracker has a good new tool. Recommends HitWise if your budget allows. Says they’ve improved it a lot, now gives you actual numbers, not just percentages.
  7. Estimate average click through rates (CTR). CTRs differ in different industries, and of course branded vs. non-branded. Moz showed that 42% of people click on first result in Google. You can get great data on this from Google Webmaster Tools now, which has gotten much better recently.
  8. Use Excel to predict traffic values. Shows spreadsheet with keyword, a factor for competition, global & monthly monthly searches, how much traffic they’d get for a #1 ranking, and the value of that
  9. Filter keyword into themed groups
  10. Don’t overthink and go too long tail!

Bonus tip: You need more than automated content now, post-Panda

And we’re done with the presentations. On to Q&A:

Q: Using PPC to predict SEO is tough because of all the seasonality, variance

Kevin: Look at common trends. If you run it for a longer period of time you’ll get better data. Just a few days may not be enough. Hitwise will give you the best sample data.

[Their online Q&A system is down . Mikkel is running with the mike]

Q: How important is it to be first in using a keyword, like Car Insurance 2011. Is it sustainable

Richard: If you know a new product is coming out soon, construct a page for it nice and early, and redirect to it when it’s relevant.

Christine: Make sure that you synchronize your different marketing efforts. Twitter, press releases. Get your foothold and maintain it.

Kevin: We found out that a campaign was coming. Got the content out first. Helped us.

Q: You’ve been talking about search volume. What about getting competitor info?

Christine: There’s a ton of keyword intelligence tools. Hitwise has great data from ISPs. The one problem is that it gets skewed by bots. Remember that on any tool all the numbers are guesstimates. Spyfu, Compete, SEMRush. These will give you insights in both organic and what your competitors are spending.

Richard: If you’re trying to reverse engineer competitor keyword campaigns you probably have an excellent idea of what they’re doing. You can estimate their traffic based on yours, and the rankings. Hitwise UK seems much better than Hitwise US. They have better coverage here.

Q: On targeting the long tail, what about using your internal search results as content?

Kevin: We did this for a client. It worked very well. But got hit by Panda. If you can do it to look unique it could be very good. Need to rewrite the URL so it looks friendly. I’d recommend not quite doing that, but just analyzing the results in Analytics.

Christine: I agree

Mikkel: In Google guidelines, you can’t do that. Of course, that’s not law so do what you want.

Richard: Your logs are just a library of user ideas. See what your users want that you’re not giving them. See how people are searching your site, what pages they’re searching from. Create good content from those keywords. Write the content, and link to the pages from where the users were searching for it. Simplest SEO 101 thing to do is simply create and improve content to match what your users are searching for.

Q: How do you talk to a client about spending money on generic terms with horrible ROI?

Christine: You have to talk them out of it. Explain why it’s a bad business decision.

[Reasks question]

Christine: At least use things like exact matching, lots of negative keywords to make sure you’re limiting the spend

Kevin: You may have an attribution problem. If you have traffic coming on for Shoes that’s early in the buying cycle. You need to track closely to see if those users are coming back later and buying. You need to be able to track how much value you’re getting.

Q: How do you pull data from the Suggest API?

Richard: Front end tools like ubersuggest. Then with a little bit of PHP scripting. Just go to and hire $100 of PHP script development. You’d be surprised how much you can get for a little money there.

Mikkel: It’s funny coming from me, an old black hat. But I should point out that building automated solutions around Google’s tools are a violation of their Terms of Service.

Richard: I forgot to mention. You should be careful with your IP addresses. You can do about 500 in a batch. Then they won’t stop talking to you, they’ll just start sending you junk. Be careful.

Distribute your requests around an IP service. Or if you get the CAPTCHA use something that breaks the CAPTCHA. But realize you’re not going to be making friends at Google if you do this.

Q: What are strategies for using modified broad match

Christine: Broad match used to be great, but Google kept expanding it and now it’s too broad. Modified broad match is you can put plusses in front of the words. +apple +pie your ad will only show up if it has both words with plusses in front of it.

Q: Has Google Instant shortened user’s search queries?

Christine: Long tail use is dropping, according to a study she just saw.

Kevin: One theory is that you can find your search query quicker. The other theory is that people see that you can get better stuff by typing longer queries.

Mikkel: Can you suggest other good keyword tools in other languages

Richard: I see this question all the time. And I feel badly for my colleagues working with other languages.

And we’re done. Lunch time. See you later with Refriending Google: Dealing With Penalties & Suspensions.

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