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.
The answers remain to be seen, but there’s one no brainer in all of this; one best practice that can dictate any brand’s choices around location-based marketing: ask your users. Explain why you want to target them, tell them how you plan to use their data, and make some commitments about how you won’t use it. Ask for feedback via quick polls, or consider doing some market research on your audience. See what your users most want. Then respect that.
2. Voice Search Comes into Its Own: It’s time to start optimizing your ads for voice search: The ease of use and prevalence of virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, as well as Google’s Voice Search (“OK Google…”) make using vocal search utterly quick and convenient. Voice search accounted for 20 percent of mobile searches in 2016, according to a Kleiner Perkins study quoted by CNN. Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home are on many Christmas Wish Lists this year. Grab the voice searcher’s attention by using the first person question format in your ads and content. Most voice searches are geographically specific, so use correct and popular names for your local neighborhood(s), city, county, and region in your PPC ads.
It is important to set the objective of your campaign. Ad objective will help you to drive your campaign effectively. Identify your ad objective and keep it in mind while planning your campaign strategy. Your ad objective or marketing objective can be brand awareness, lead generation, to increase your website traffic and to increase the sale of your website. For each objective, you need to plan your ad strategy, which helps to fulfill your goals.

Research: These searchers are further down the funnel than informational searchers. They’ve already decided that they want to buy a product, but they haven’t quite decided which one is best. They’re looking for more information, so product keywords usually include words such as "review", “top 10”, “comparison”. And while it may look like spam to you, a word like “cheap” can actually help turn researchers into conversions.
The first part of your competitive analysis only requires basic research. You’ll just be looking up and making note of easy-to-find facts about your competitor’s business. For this part, you’ll need to have some idea about who your small business competitors are, where to find their website and social media pages, and perhaps have access to their offline marketing materials such as brochures, ads, and posters.
Example 1: Say your business focuses on skin care. Your keywords might center around the idea: “how proper skin care can improve your health.” You would then begin looking for a keyword theme that sums up the idea of skin care relating to health. The takeaway message is that your business has a goal, and the right keywords will relay this goal to site visitors in a clear, concise way.
Keyword research is a time consuming and continuous activity. Create your list of core keywords at the time of campaign planning and you should constantly refine and expand your keyword list for long-tail, low cost and highly relevant keywords. Another important step in keyword research is to review high cost, under performing keywords. Remove these keywords from your list.
Conversion: This strategy is what most of us are after. We want our keywords to draw traffic to our website or landing page, and then we want that traffic to convert by making a purchase or otherwise doing something specific like filling out a contact form, picking up the phone, or downloading something. In this case, long-tail or more specific keywords will likely work best for you.
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.
More importantly, take the time as you conduct your keyword research to segment and categorize your keywords to map to the right landing pages. If the page doesn’t exist on your site yet, then that is your cue to build a new page for that set of keywords. By doing this you will achieve the relevance that will lead to more engaged visitors and higher conversion rates.
For branding campaigns, your budget is often not an issue. You may have a fixed budget or your budget may be seemingly limitless. It doesn’t matter, because with this strategy the focus is on position; and in most cases only position #1 will do. This is often the easiest strategy to execute for paid search, but it’s also inefficient. The reality is that bidding into the top position in search results is often a waste of money. Google has gone on the record as saying that conversion rates don’t vary much by position, so in many cases all that the first position buys you in paid search is brand awareness (and vanity).
Now, evaluate your competition's product or service. How does your product compare to your closest competitor's product? What features and benefits are unique to your product? To theirs? The more unique features and benefits your product has, the stronger your market position will be. For example, if you produce and market an office copying machine that staples collated copies together and your closest competitor doesn't have this feature, you have an advantage. You can then sell the same market segment the benefit of added convenience and time saved. However, your competitor may have developed a feature that you don't have on your copier that gives him/her a selling advantage. 

Then, a few months ago, I was driving around town and the beloved Comedy Attic had a brand new LED Sign. A beautiful high-resolution digital sign manufactured by my client. I had a fangirl moment in my car upon recognizing my client’s name in small letters underneath the sign. Next call I had, I mentioned this moment to the client. I asked when that lead came in. The client looked up The Comedy Attic and divulged the sign was purchased in March 2018. The purchase came from a lead that came into the funnel in July 2016.
You need a keen understanding of your ideal customer and the market so that when you launch, your product is positioned correctly in the ecosystem of all products and services. Since competition can come from anywhere, you need to catalog your strengths and weaknesses relative to both direct and indirect category leaders (i.e., those adjacent to your core business).
The Keyword Planner is a free tool, but you'll need to set up a Google AdWords account first if you don't have one already.  Once you're set up and logged in, go to the Tools bar at the top of the home page and you'll find the Keyword Planner there. Click Search for new keyword and ad group ideas. You'll be able to see suggestions in both the Ad group ideas tab and the Keyword ideas tab. You can add new keywords to an ad group by clicking the double arrows >> next to the keyword or remove them by clicking on the ad group and then the X next to that keyword.
When you conduct your competitive analysis, it's worth analyzing the sales models of your competitors. In his article Three SaaS Sales Models, Joel York describes the three most common SaaS sales models based on the relationship between price and product complexity. Companies with low priced and low-complexity products must focus on developing a self-service option so they can maintain a healthy relationship between customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLV). Slack, Trello, Dropbox, GitHub are all low-price, low-complexity products.
First, start with a simple online search for your business type and location. For example, if you’re starting a retail business in Los Angeles, you’ll want to think about how a customer might search for your business (or one like yours). They might search for “los angeles retail store,” “clothing store in LA,” and “LA apparel store.” Create a list of businesses that appear in the search results (and take note of those that frequent the top three results).
Ego and assumptions led me to choose the wrong keywords for my own site. How did I spend three years optimizing my site and building links to finally crack the top three for six critical keywords, only to find out that I wasted all that time? However, in spite of targeting the wrong words, Seer grew the business. In this presentation, Will shows you the mistakes made and share with you the approaches that can help you build content that gets you thanked.
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When looking at competitors for the PwC field service operations group there were lots of competitors (including paper printed out and stuck to the wall). What was interesting was that most of the competitors were originally independent companies, but then acquired by larger companies. What was most helpful was looking at how each organization’s strategy changed their end goals. In the case of Field Service Lightning it was originally about the CRM capabilities of SalesForce, but is now about the integration of machine learning for Salesforce’s Einstein.
When using the Keyword Explorer, Ahrefs will also produce the "parent topic" of the keyword you looked up, as you can see in the screenshot above, underneath the Keyword Difficulty meter. A keyword's parent topic is a broader keyword with higher search volume than your intended keyword, but likely has the same audience and ranking potential -- giving you more a valuable SEO opportunity when optimizing a particular blog post or webpage.
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