Welcome to our first guest post with Tom Demers of WordStream. Tom is the Director of Marketing at WordStream, an SEO and PPC software provider specializing in Keyword Management. Tom is a frequent contributor at the WordStream Internet Marketing Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter. Tom will take it from here!
When people think about keyword segmentation or keyword grouping, they tend to think about tightly knit pay-per click Ad Groups, and their impact on click-through rates and Quality Scores.
In reality, the true power of keyword segmentation is its impact on messaging and creative, for both paid and natural search.
What I mean by this is that intelligent keyword segmentation makes it much easier to create messages that resonate, and to build landing pages that convert. In thinking about conversion paths and user experience, we need to start at the beginning: in the case of PPC and SEO, this means the search query.
Anatomy of a Search Query: How Keywords & Queries Should Be Driving Your Content and Creative
One of the most important aspects of optimizing for conversion is to think through the source of your visitor. You can learn a lot about how someone will interact with your site simply by analyzing where they came from.
For this reason, you should be asking yourself three questions about the types of keywords you’re grouping together to create a landing page or post click experience for:
1) How Many Terms is the Searcher Using?
You can get a general idea of the level of intent inherent in a query based on the number of terms. For instance take a look at the graphic below:
Obviously there’s an ascending level of intent moving from left to right. Someone looking for a “conference” has a much different interest (and requires a much different message) than someone looking for conference USA basketball.
2) What Do the Searcher’s Modifiers Mean?
Of course, the really revealing thing about the graphic above is not so much the number of terms, but the content. The reason moving from “left to right” above is cost effective is that each and every additional term a searcher appends to their query reveals another layer of intent, and requires a different message and experience:
- Conference - If we’re writing a page for conference and want to create a good user experience, we’ll want to create a series of paths. We can’t possibly answer this question exactly, so an effective answer here likely offers the searcher a series of high-level paths to different categories of conference (academic, marketing, etc.)
- Marketing Conference – Aha! Think of what a valuable additional layer of intent this is! Even if traffic volume drops significantly from conference to marketing conference, we might see more conversions simply because now we can get more specific and can better respond to the searcher’s query. For instance, we might create a prominent offer or path for this searcher pushing general marketing conferences, and we might also include a series of more specific marketing conference offerings (online, search, Email, etc.) so that we can message to an audience whose interest is still pretty undefined.
- Search Marketing Conference – Now we’re really in a place where we have a pretty good feel for what the searcher wants. We can show them search-focused marketing conferences and feel very confident that they’ll have a good experience and will be likely to convert. We’ll likely want to show them multiple conferences, since they haven’t yet told us things like location, time period, etc. Once we move deep enough into our keyword database we’ll be able to really target terms like “search marketing conference Boston” with very specific messages and offers.
3) How Exactly Do I Segment My Keywords for Maximum Conversion?
So how do you put all this in motion? How do you take a list of keywords, and segment it so that you have a series of Ad Groups or a collection of SEO oriented pages?
There are two different means of segmenting a keyword list that I’m partial to:
Semantically – Here you’re just looking at the actual words and phrases themselves. You’ll take a high-level theme or idea and leverage it as a campaign in AdWords or a category in SEO. From there I like to look for the most popular cluster of keywords in my keyword database (for this you can leverage a tool like our Keyword Niche Finder, or if I already have a list a tool like our Keyword Grouper or RKG’s Duck).
Keyword Intent – In this instance you’re looking to things like modifiers and query length to discern the intent of the searcher. This can be a great way to structure content because typically you want to treat instructional queries one way, investigative queries another, and transactional queries quite another. Here’s a quick run-down of the different types of queries:
Ultimately semantic grouping reveals intent, and there will be semantic elements to intent-based keyword segmentation, and the main idea is that you think through how you match content with intent. For a slightly deeper dive on the subject of keyword grouping and segmentation, we have a free keyword grouping white paper which goes into greater detail.
Thanks Tom for a great guest post! We’re looking forward to more.