I have often gone on the record with my skepticism toward paid search campaign management software, and I have several reasons for being skeptical. My main concern has been that these tools over promise on features and under deliver on performance. They claim to replace the analyst by using algorithms to optimize campaigns, but in reality they replace the fun piece of the analysts job (improving results) and replace it with the tedious task of managing to get their campaigns to work properly in the software. I have been burned by this sales pitch twice and have written about this in a previous post called “Paid Search Bid Management Tools: Great Investment or Save Your Money?” – so feel free to read that post for more details.
You may be wondering why these seemingly different strategies are included as one. The reason is that the strategy is the same: Getting the most out of your budget. The only difference is the tactics to achieve that strategy. Sure you may need to look at different metrics and dimensions of your campaigns to maximize your budget, but in the end you achieve the same thing.

This data gives us a starting point to build out complex keyword mapping strategy documents that set the tone for our client campaigns. Rather than just starting keyword research by guessing what we think is relevant, we have hundreds of keywords to start with that we know are relevant to the industry. Our keyword research process then aims to dive deeper into these topics to determine the type of content needed to rank well.
In more sophisticated use cases, geotargeting doesn’t have to be solely based on a consumer’s real-time location. Locations or businesses a customer has visited recently can be a great predictor of interests and intent, so adding targeting based on historical location as well can be key to delivering a captivating, relevant message. Denny’s had great success with this tactic in a campaign with xAd, detailed below.
Ad copy is the actual text that you’ll write for your AdWords, Bing or Facebook ads that will attract people to click on your ad. Search engines like Google are looking to show high quality ads, whose text says something closely related to the actual search in the search engine. So if you own a plant nursery in Montreal and your keyword is “Where to buy shrubs in Montreal,” a good headline for your ad could be: “Are You Looking to Buy Shrubs in Montreal?” Because the headline is relevant to the keyword and the query, it will be considered a more high-quality ad result in the eyes of search engines like Google.

Say your e-commerce site focuses on college students. Target promotions to local coffee shops within a couple miles of your store front that students frequent. Students that bring in a receipt from the coffee shop to your brick and mortar store get a special discount. You can push this email campaign to users that are within a 10 mile radius of the coffee shop and your store.

1,000+ keywords: if it’s just you or 2 of you, this is probably more than you can chew off. It’s not hard to gather 1,000 keywords though, so if you’ve got the time, the people and the inspiration, it usually does pay off to write a lot of meaningful content. Do make sure that all those keywords relate to your products or services as otherwise it’s nonsense and make sure that you’re structuring your site well around it.
Michiel wrote about Homepage SEO, telling people not to try and rank their homepage for a specific keyword. In the comments there were clearly some misconceptions about how branding relates to your keyword strategy. We’ve been writing a lot about keyword research lately but we’ve not talked about keyword strategy much, so this post elaborates on what these are and how they connect to each other.
Conduct a thorough account audit and gap analysis. Audits are time-consuming and tedious, but they’re absolutely necessary. I use the account audit to understand underlying drivers of performance and to determine whether work being done in the account is in alignment with business goals. Uncovering the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities provides critical information I need to form my guiding principle for account management.
This analysis should help you holistically identify areas of opportunity available in your search landscape, without having to guess which “best practice” you should test next. Once you’ve started this competitive analysis, trends among the competition will emerge, and expose niches where your site can improve and potentially outpace your competition.
Although more and more keywords are getting encrypted by Google every day, another smart way to come up with keyword ideas is to figure out which keywords your website is already getting found for. To do this, you'll need website analytics software like Google Analytics or HubSpot's Sources tool. Drill down into your website's traffic sources, and sift through you organic search traffic bucket to identify the keywords people are using to arrive at your site.
As UX designers, we should go out there and collect as much data as possible before building a real product. This data will help us to create a solid product that users will want to use, rather than a product we want or imagine. These kinds of products are more likely to succeed in the market. Competitive analysis is one of the ways to get this data and to create a user-friendly product.
7. Use a keyword research brief to share for unified messaging. The final tip is to attempt to break down the silos that are typical in medium to large organizations and share with them enough keyword data so they can be encouraged to use your targeted keywords in their respective messaging. One way to do this is to develop what I call a keyword research brief. This is simply a document that is like an executive summary of keyword research for your top keywords. This document should be no more than one to two pages. It should be a quick read. See an example of this below.
Geo-Targeting content is simple and beneficial to most websites, advertisers and publishers, as well anyone using PPC campaigns or SEO. Not only does it enable you to match the most relevant content to your visitor, Geo Targeting also serves as an excellent basis for experimenting with traffic to optimize your funnels. Some ideas were presented here that may be tested, but the options are virtually limitless.
Competitive analysis is an exercise of comparing your business, product, and service to companies and finding similarities and differences. The most critical part of kicking off a competitive analysis is choosing the right competitors to analyze. Otherwise, you will spend tons of time on competitive research with very limited insight to show for it. In other words, the competitors you select determines how you will perceive your company and the final analysis.
GREAT suggestions, Nicholas! I've definitely customized this checklist for clients' various needs too (some care about having an "email signup form" as something to check, while others are international and we'd need to make sure their href lang tags were correct). Please keep the recs coming–this checklist will only get better as we make it work for different scenarios :)
As you can see, we not only changed which keywords to track (the core of the SERPs tool) but also the location setting of the search engine. As a local business, most of Jerry’s customers will come from the UK. Using this setting rather than the general Google setting will give him much more accurate results on how his keywords rank in his location.
Everyone knows intent behind the search matters. In e-commerce, intent is somewhat easy to see. B2B or, better yet, healthcare, isn't quite as easy. Matching persona intent to keywords requires a bit more thought. In this video, we'll cover how to find intent modifiers during keyword research, how to organize those modifiers into the search funnel, and how to quickly find unique universal results at different levels of the search funnel to utilize.
Another way to do this is to analyze the keywords that are driving traffic to your site and match the user intent to the right page of your site. In the figure below, you can see a typical buy cycle for a new searcher. They will start off using broad keywords to get a general idea of what content is out there. Searchers who use these broad terms would infer that they’re in the information gathering stage of their search. So ask yourself, which page on your site is best suited to help them gather the information they’re seeking? Do you have an article, how-to, or comparison page you can lead them to that helps them get the information they need?
You will likely run into some difficulties along the way, and you may need to develop a hybrid strategy to achieve your goals. For example, I have often broken out campaigns between profitability focused keywords and brand focused keywords in order to satisfy clients. This is especially useful when someone demands visibility for certain keywords but does not give enough budget to achieve that visibility. The same goes for balancing visibility and profit.
Keyword research for PPC can be incredibly time-consuming, but it is also incredibly important. Your entire PPC campaign is built around keywords, and the most successful Google Ads advertisers continuously grow and refine their PPC keyword list. If you only do keyword research once, when you create your first campaign, you are probably missing out on hundreds of thousands of valuable, long-tail, low-cost and highly relevant keywords that could be driving traffic to your site.
Nick's Keyword Strategy Implementation Guide is a MUST read. All too often you will see an eBook make wild promises about how it can teach you XYZ. When you finally get it the book is filled with fluff that you have seen on a thousand other sites. What set's Nick's guide apart is the STRATEGY. You cannot hope to use keyword effectively on your site in the current state of the internet without a strategy. Nick has put a ton of information on a few pages, folks this book is dense. If you are in B2B, B2C, SaaS, or eCommerce you can benefit from the strategies outlined in this book.
John Boyd, a famous military strategist, thought a lot about how competitors change the way that we strive for our own goals. The concept he popularized around the OODA loop talked about making decisions faster than your competition as a way to win. It was also key to understanding what your competitor values so you can find other ways than fighting directly.
Unfortunately, I can’t answer all of these questions for you. But I will offer up one solution, and that’s the valuable question of where to begin. Segmenting out an audience is often one of the most important and daunting tasks for a marketer. But the work is worth it. Segmenting visitors into audiences is going to make conversion marketing campaigns more relevant and effective. An easier way to segment is by using something called geo-targeting.
This is a particularly useful strategy for local businesses (or any business that takes calls, really) to target people who are likely to call them directly from a search query. With Call Extensions you can easily add a click-to-call button to your mobile ads and phone numbers to your desktop ads. Additionally, you can track customers who make calls from your website using Website Call Conversions.
Ad scheduling is important for optimizing your ad strategy. You can show your ad whenever a customer searches online or you can show your ad on certain days, or during business hours when you’re there to handle customer inquiries. Your ads give different performance result on different days of the week and different hours of a day. Therefore, have a look at which online days and hours are most suitable for your business and then schedule your ad during these times to increase your exposure. You can also adjust your bid for less performing hours and days.
Once you have determined which keywords you should focus on, use them repeatedly in your content. Use an Excel sheet to keep an organized eye on your usage by tracking how many times you use each of your selected terms in your content. Why? The latest Google algorithm update is penalizing pages whose anchor text is over-optimized, and having an updated list of the terms you have already used will help you to vary them smartly.
As you can see, we not only changed which keywords to track (the core of the SERPs tool) but also the location setting of the search engine. As a local business, most of Jerry’s customers will come from the UK. Using this setting rather than the general Google setting will give him much more accurate results on how his keywords rank in his location.

Your entire PPC campaign is built around keywords, and the most successful AdWords advertisers continuously grow and refine their PPC keyword list (ideally, using a variety of tools, not just Keyword Planner). If you only do keyword research once, when you create your first campaign, you are probably missing out on hundreds of thousands of valuable, long-tail, low-cost and highly relevant keywords that could be driving traffic to your site.

Google's AdWords Keyword Planner tool is another common starting point for SEO keyword research. It not only suggests keywords and provides estimated search volume, but also predicts the cost of running paid campaigns for these terms. To determine volume for a particular keyword, be sure to set the Match Type to [Exact] and look under Local Monthly Searches. Remember that these represent total searches. Depending on your ranking and click-through rate, the actual number of visitors you achieve for these keywords will usually be much lower.
If you’re an ecommerce business, then you need to be running Google Shopping Campaigns. Consumers use Google’s search engine on a daily basis to find all kinds of products that they need (including yours), and running Google Shopping campaigns can help you connect with them. These campaigns pull product information, such as the product image, price, and merchant name, from your company’s Merchant Center data feed and conveniently display them to the viewer. Because it pulls this data each time a user makes a search inquiry, you can be assured that your product ads are always up to date and accurate (so long as you keep your data feed that way), keeping your potential customer from feeling confused or frustrated.
Thanks Ramon! You can easily add more tabs to input more backlink data for additional competitors and then adjust the query formula to use the new tabs. I often increase this to 10, 15 or even 20 competitors for larger clients. The beauty of Google Sheets templates is the ease in which you can make these adjustments. Let me know if you need any help with that.
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