How To Prioritize Your List of SEO Keyword Research

Last year Casie wrote a post on how to generate keyword lists and ideas. The objective was to provide resources and tactics for coming up with as many keyword phrases as possible around a particular topic.

Developing a list of good keyword opportunities can be both time consuming and challenging. Once completed, B2B marketers face a different challenge: making certain the generated keyword list matches content marketing tactics as best as possible.

This actually leads to two lists of keyword priorities:

  • Keyword targets that can be applied to existing content marketing assets.
  • Keyword targets that need to be integrated into new, or to-be-developed content marketing assets.

Let’s assume the values associated with your list of keyword opportunities look something like this:

Generic Keyword Research

Based on estimated search volume alone, there are several significant opportunities to acquire organic search traffic, IF you’re able to rank well for the list of keywords defined.

But are all of these opportunities available for implementation right now? Probably not.

Prioritizing Your Keyword List

Successful application of SEO keyword research means matching content with the potential search intent of the user. It also means understanding the types of web pages and websites that appear in existing search engine results.

As detailed in a recent column I wrote for Search Engine Land, consider the following types of criteria, when reviewing organic results and their alignment with proposed content marketing assets:

  • Type or objective of content in each result.
  • Social sharing and inbound link metrics.
  • Domain and web page / web address.
  • Presence of structured data and blended results.

The first bullet — type and/or objective of content — is critical for applying keyword research to existing content marketing assets. Ask yourself: Do you have the right type of material today to apply keyword research?

Take a look at the search engine results for “customer experience management”.

Organic SERP Example

Breaking Down Keyword-Specific Search Results

In the above example, you can realize the following types of content marketing assets appearing prominently on the first page of Google search engine results.

  • 4 articles / resources seeking to define what “customer experience management” is and why it’s important.
  • A Wikipedia entry (research-oriented).
  • 4 technology-oriented solutions pages.
  • Knowledge Graph (top of page), image results, and related search queries.

If this was one of your or your clients’ strategic keyword targets, the key question would be whether you have a comparable content marketing asset that aligns with perceived intent in existing search engine results.

If the answer is “yes”, great! You can apply keyword research to core elements of the web page and monitor changes for improvement in organic search performance over time.

If the answer is “no”, two additional questions must be considered.

  • What’s the potential likelihood you can develop content marketing assets designed to fulfill objectives of the searcher?
  • How significant are the web pages and websites found in existing organic search engine listings, when considering SEO-specific performance indicators?

Assessing Keyword Viability with SEO-Specific Metrics

There are several ways you can tackle this analysis.

Moz offers a keyword difficulty grader for obtaining the domain and page authority (as dictated using their proprietary scoring system) of individual results, as well as an overarching “keyword difficulty score”.

Keyword Difficulty Grader

Both SEOBook and SEOQuake offer free browser-based extensions that provide SEO-specific performance metrics associated with individual results, right in the search results listings (example below).

SERP Result with SEO Extension

The goal in this analysis is to prioritize keyword targets based on the likelihood content created will rank for a particular keyword target. This in turn is based on SEO performance metrics of your client’s website, in comparison to already ranking web pages and websites.

In one example, KoMarketing refined a set of keyword targets based on the fact that competition websites for a particular keyword set all had domain authority scores at least 15 points higher than our client’s website. Further keyword research uncovered a more specific set of targets with more comparable domain authority scores.

Understanding comparable SEO metrics found in existing search results should improve clarity of performance expectations.

Coupled with defined content marketing objectives, you’re better able to prioritize keyword research and develop tactics with short-term and long-term objectives in mind.

Final Thoughts

Keyword prioritization seems simple in theory but is much more difficult in practice; particularly when dealing with a high volume of content (existing and new). It is critical to keep as objective a perspective as possible, since pressure for performance and broader subjectivity certainly come into play.

What do you think? Hopefully this gets you started down a deeper path of keyword research for your organization’s web pages. Feel free to add your thoughts and opinions via the comments below.

“KoMarketing understands how to present and execute recommendations across the organization, from the IT professional to strategic marketing leadership. They go beyond expectation in working with the client to evaluate, execute, and implement program initiatives.”

silvina-el-baba — Silvina El Baba, Senior Manager, Web Marketing, EFI

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