Top Keyword Selection Formula for Organic Search

Rankings, Rankings, Rankings… Many SEO companies brag and boast about the rankings they have achieved for their clients.  It’s all over their testimonials page and in their white papers; but do those rankings actually generate traffic, and revenue?  Having long tail, non-searched keywords in top positions for your Website, poses no added value to your organic search campaigns. Of course it’s nice to see it on the screen and to tell your business partners; but if it does not yield additional revenue for your company, it’s a moot point.

With over 2.7 billion searches performed on Google a day, it’s imperative that companies select the right keywords for their Websites.  Keywords are not only for SEO purposes but they give businesses a look into their customers and how their customers interact with their business.  Are we inexpensive or are we good at what we do?  Do we think outside the box or are we just like our competition?

Knowing which keywords will drive the most traffic to your Website and ultimately a conversion is something you learn over time using your analytics tool.  You can also use these same tools to help you with your keyword selection process.   In this guide I will show you how to select the top performing keywords for your business and how to optimize your landing pages to convert.

Building Your Initial Keyword List (Seed List)

Most keyword research starts with a keyword seed list.  This is a list of random terms that you feel are very much relevant to your business.  I recommend using your Website to help create the seed list.  You can view your Website’s navigation structure, such as the services page.  What services do you offer?  How would you search for that particular service?  If you sale golf clubs, for example, you would think that being in position one in Google for the keyword “golf clubs” would be great.  Well it would be for traffic; but we want the searcher/user that is closer to the bottom of the buying funnel.  An example term that would yield more conversions would be “Callaway golf clubs” as the user is closer to a purchase decision.

Also look into your analytics program to see which keywords are currently driving visitors to your Website.  If you have goals or conversion analytics setup, utilize it to see which keywords are actually converting and at what percent.  If you are running PPC campaigns, ask your PPC specialist to provide you a report of converting keywords and click data.  This is all data that you will use later to build your keyword portfolio.

Building a very relevant seed list and thinking about driving visitors to conversions, helps you create a better overall portfolio of keywords.  It also helps you drive conversions/leads/sales and not just traffic.  Once you have your seed list, you are ready to move on to generating additional terms off your seed list.

Generate Additional Keywords

Now that you have your seed list we need to see what Google thinks are relevant keywords for your Website.   I like to use the Google Adwords keyword tool, Word Tracker, SEMRush and a host of other tools for the purpose of generating additional keywords, search volume and competition.  For this guide I will stick to the Google Adwords tool.  (There are a ton of tools on the market that help with keyword data collection.  Keep in mind that all tools present supplemental and aggregated data, so there are no exacts, but it’s enough to make good marketing decisions on.)

Take your seed list and paste it into the Google Adwords keywords tool.  The tool will provide you with hundreds of keyword ideas based on what users have searched for in the past and based on what’s relevant to your business.  It will also provide you with plurals and common variations of the keywords you placed in the tool.  Example:

  SEO Keyword Seed List

From here you can go through and select the keywords you feel are most relevant for your business.  I recommend selecting at least 100 keywords, as we will use these keywords for our weighting exercise.  Keep in mind user intent.  If the user is at the top or bottom of the buying funnel and if the user is looking for information or services.

Building a Keyword Weighting Tool

Why go out and invest thousands of dollars into expensive software to weigh your keywords when you can build a keyword weighing tool yourself?  With Microsoft Excel and all the data we have collected throughout our research, we have all we need to weigh and score our keywords accurately.

A keyword weighting tool is what we use to assign values or weighting to each and every keyword.  When you are building a keyword list you must use as much data as you can, as there is no guessing when it comes down to generating revenue for your business.  I like to use the formula below to calculate keyword scores:

Google Search Volume Estimates (Weighting at 40%)

Google search volume shows search volume statistics for the most recent month that Google has data for.  These statistics show the approximate number of search queries matching your keywords that were performed on Google and the search network.  If no one is searching for your keywords, that’s a pretty good sign that the keyword is not a fit for your campaign.

Search volume is weighted at 40% as it is a huge factor in determining if a keyword is a good candidate for driving quality traffic to your Website.  An example of the weighing scale would be a keyword that has 101-3000 searches.  That keyword would receive a weighted score of 2 while a keyword that has 25000+ searches would get a perfect score of 10 (for this weighting section).

Organic Search Revenue (Weighting at 20%)

If you have your goals configured or an eCommerce analytics package installed, you can keep track of revenue generated by each organic keyword that drives users to your site and ultimately converts.  For example – using Google Analytics you can assign a dollar value to each goal, whether the goal is a newsletter sign up, contact form submissions or a product purchase.  There is a dollar value assigned to provide you with an ROI on your marketing campaign.

Organic search revenue is weighted at 20% and is weighted at the dollar value.  For example:  a purchase of $1-$250 would be assigned a score of 1 while a purchase of $15,000+ would be given a perfect score of 10 (for this weighting section).

 Organic Search Revenue

Paid Search Revenue (Weighting at 10%):

Paid search revenue utilizes the same goals or value system utilized for organic search revenue.  The only difference is that the PPC campaigns have their own assignment of value which is done at the conversion code level.   You can still find this data using Google Analytics by clicking on Traffic Sources – Sources – Search – Paid.  Here you can find how your keywords are doing and gain insight into conversions and traffic data for each keyword.

Paid search revenue is weighted at 10% and makes up the third data point to finalizing our keyword portfolio.  Weighting example would be the same as Organic search revenue.  Example:

 Paid Search Revenue

Room for Improvement (Weighting at 10%):

The room for improvement column is used to gauge which keywords show the most room for improvement.  A keyword ranked in the 22nd position, has a better chance of moving up in rankings compared to a keyword that is ranked 2nd position.  Any keyword that was ranked higher than 200 should be labeled as 200 on the keyword weighting exercise.

Room for improvement is weighted at 10% and is determined based on the Google ranking for a particular keyword at that point in time.  Weighting example would be any keyword currently ranking 4-10 would receive a score of 4 while any keyword ranking past 31 would receive a score of 10.

Competition (Weighting at 20%):

Competition is determined by submitting each keyword to the search engine and documenting the number of competing web pages given in response.  When selecting keywords it is imperative that you find a balance between search frequency and competition.  The lower the competition the easier to reach the top using this keyword, but, too low says that the keyword is no good, and the search frequency will reflect this.

Google should be used for the competitive data. Terms that rank extremely high or extremely low in your competitive analysis should be weighted lower than those terms that fall in the mid-range.  For example keywords with 10million to 100 million competing webpages should be assigned a score of 2 while keywords with 400,000 to 800,000 competing web pages should be assigned a score of 10.  Competition data is weighted at 20%

Keep in mind that some of the weighting for columns may need to be tweaked for your particular industry, search volumes etc..  Maybe none of your keywords get more than 10,000 searches.  In this case you will need to adjust your ranges to accommodate your data.

Reviewing Your Scores and Selecting Your Keywords

Now that you have all this data and your columns are lined up in Excel, you must add your ranges from which your formulas will complete the calculations and assign the final score for each keyword.  Your last column in your spreadsheet is where you will place your results/total percent scores. If you have done everything correctly you should see scores ranging from 0.1 to 10.  I recommend selecting keywords that have a final score of 5.3% or better.

Based on human logic/human search behavior combined with the resulting total score from the keyword weighting exercise and paid search data, you should be able to focus your list down to terms that will successfully move the needle in terms of revenue.

If you need help finding the right keywords for your search campaigns don’t hesitate to contact us.  We are here to help!