Keyword Research for Better Content & Audience Engagement: #SMX New York, 2014, Day 3!

Oct 3, 2014 | 1,917 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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SEO thought leaders and seasoned experts in this session shared amazing and top insights regarding keyword research including tried and tested methods. The speakers also shared some of their favorite tactics and tried plus tested methods. The session explored how keyword research can make all the difference to audience engagement and better content.


Christine Churchill – President, KeyRelevance (@keyrelevance)

Q&A Coordinator:

Laura Ann Mitchell – Digital Marketing Strategist, Intel (@intel)


Joe Pawlikowski – Marketing Team Leader, PushFire (@joepawl)

Jason White – Director of SEO, DragonSearch (@sonray)

Michael King – Digital Marketing Consultant, iPullRank (@ipullrank)

Joe started the session with an interesting take on how keywords can be used to generate content ideas and importance of finding out how content related keywords are faring socially. Jason focused on creating projections for better keyword research. Michael spoke of personal driven keyword research and the vital importance of matching the keyword to the persona.

Keyword Research to Generate Content Ideas

Joe began the presentation by analyzing what drives a search in terms of user intent and spoke of how there is a need to examine their:

  • Problems
  • Objections
  • Motivations

Joe conducts keyword research to find out more about these.

Top Tools

To conduct keyword research, Joe uses the following tools:

  • SEMRush
  • Keyword Tool
  • Meta Glossary
  • BuzzSumo

He then goes to demonstrate how to use these tools for keyword research.


This tool is used for conducting competitive research by Joe and he shows how he uses the PPC tool to generate keyword ideas for SEO. Joe also shared the valuable top that he prefers keywords that are associated with search traffic in double digits. Giving customers more than they thought possible is the key to success here, Joe said.

This is an amazing keyword tool, feels Joe. He has indicated that one of the highlights here is you get 750 Google Keyword suggestions for free. All that has to be done is to type in keyword(s) or phrases and find queries that include it.


This really helps in analysis about how content related to keyword(s) or keyword phrases are performing socially. Joe says this actually helps in analyzing if content is better than one's competitors.

Key To Better Content

Joe said that when it comes to content, the following is very important:

  • Thinking up at least 10 blog post ideas per day
  • Weekly review of ideas
  • Mating the ideas or coupling them together

Projections for Better Keyword Research

Jason started his presentation by giving all present a reality check. He presented projections to show the requirements of a client.

Client's Case

Jason's client was looking to raise $200,000 via the following ways:

  • Social media
  • Referral traffic
  • Organic Search

Response and Course of Action

Jason looked at the following to find out the conversion rate he needed, he said:

  • Historical conversion rates
  • Loan volume

He explained that the tools he used to map the rate of conversion needed on a monthly basis were:

  • Keyword Planner
  • Google Webmaster Data

The campaign was then shaped and shared with the client through what Jason termed as the "mini audit."

Keywords were assessed by him on the following criteria:

  • On page optimization
  • Click through rate
  • Time on page
  • Bounce rate
  • Link Building
  • Social Sources
  • Conversion optimization
  • Return on investment

Persona Based Keyword Research

The State of Keyword Research

Michael began the presentation by sharing how keyword research is currently in disarray and the types of ideas that are being propounded are offbeat. Michael said that good keyword research may account for intent but it is an abstraction at the end of it all.

Critique of Current Keyword Research

Michael pointed out the following drawbacks of existing keyword research:

  • Keyword research nowadays is chiefly about search volumes and a list of popular keywords-it does not go beyond this.
  • Modern content management and marketing need more strategic research
  • Though some aspects and kinds of keyword research are metric driven, this does not solve the problems
  • Keyword research is only valuable if it involves some determination of intent. Current research is purely transactional and navigation driven

The Essence of the Keyword

Michael has discussed how keywords are just vehicles people use in their search to meet needs and requirements. He says it is the abstraction of the keyword that has made it less linked to its basic functional purpose.

He feels that standard keyword classification fails when keywords are ambiguous. Michael gave some interesting examples of this. One such is:

  • Keyword is subway but this could mean either transportation or a restaurant

Entity matching is the essence of a useful and effective keyword, opines Michael.

Keyword stuffing is just not going to work in modern search, he adds. A broader content strategy is needed for success rather than focusing on adding as many keywords as possible, Michael indicates.

Broader Content Strategy

Michael said the days of keyword matching are over and now Google is concerned with matching of keywords to ideas and entities. This is what will make content perfect, he added.

Mapping Keywords to Personas

You need to map keywords to a specific type of persona that is looking through the search engine, says Michael. Targeting through content and metadata becomes easy as a result of this, he explained.

Consumer Decision Journey and Keywords

Matching keywords to different stages of the consumer decision journey is the way out because keywords need to be mapped to the different persons searching online.

The phases of the consumer decision journey are as follows, as shown by him:

  • Phase 1: Awareness
  • Phase 2: Familiarity
  • Phase 3: Consideration
  • Phase 4: Purchase
  • Phase 5: Loyalty

Keywords are Gone!

Michael says that keywords are not important as much because Google gives enough data to show what kind of users are logging on to a site. This can be used in the context of landing page, internal search as well as channels.

Building User Journeys Through Analysis

A journey map shows what stages the consumers go through before they accomplish a specific task, said Michael. He also cited a Moz Webinar which said that ethnographic research which is a combination of iterative social listening and keyword research is important.


Michael has traced the stages of Netnography or online social listening as:

  • Research definition
  • Community selection
  • Community observation
  • Data Analysis and insights
  • Product solutions

Comprehending the vocabulary of the users and getting a sense of understanding of what defines what people talk about regarding their search is important, says Michael.

Common customer behavior phases are traced by Michael as being from discovery, research, choice and purchase.

At BigDoor, Michael traces how the steps are:

  • Discover
  • Compare
  • Consideration
  • Commit
  • Retain

Michael asks search marketers to compare, consider, analyze and question the user at every phase to get good insights.

They should also see what kind of touch points are available for ensuring the consumers move through the phases of the decision journey and customer behavior, says Michael.

Best And Top Tools

Michael's top tools are:

AdWords Keyword planner: He says this is the best source for keyword information. A pro tip he gives is to put in the domain name and see what keywords Google associates and generates.

  • SEMRush: This improves its user interface and data making it ideal for keyword research, feels Michael. He says the API is an added charm.
  • A good substitute for Ubersuggest, according to Michael.
  • Bottlenose Sonar: Social listening tool which displays the relationships between highlight queries based on Twitter conversations and it's a great tool for real time, he shared.
  • Topsy
  • SEOTools for Excel: Michael spoke of how Postman can be used for pulling out API calls with no codes here
  • GREPWords: This has a strong and robust API for keyword data
  • Keyword Studio: suite for keyword research which is all in one, he says.
  • Alchemy API: Entities can be extracted from pages
  • NTopic
  • SearchMetrics: Co-occurring keywords optimization tools
  • Stat: Easy for tagging and segmentation + app like UI
  • Excel-Rest: Postman can be used here as well
  • Postman
  • SEOGadget for Excel: Can pull out from a number of APIs like Grep words
  • Keyword Portfolio: Includes search volume analysis and audience surveys

So, King traces the journey from skepticism to validation, affirmation and trust for the consumer.

Keyword portfolio should include numerous data points on each keyword that involves strategic planning, content strategy, SEO and paid research among others, Michael discussed.

Voice share can give an idea of just where the traffic is being driven by a keyword as against the actual amount that is being captured, he said.

There is no automating persona and need state identification as this must be done by hand, says Michael.

He also discussed the built visible method for data keyword visualization which has been proposed by Richard Baxter.

Michael showed a method for calculating what he called "rank difficulty" which was relative keyword difficulty by Moz.

Michael concluded by saying that iPull Rank has pioneered the approach leading to incredible conversion improvements.

Keyword Research for Better Content & Audience Engagement: #SMX New York, 2014, Day 3!, 5.0 out of 5 based on 3 ratings
1.thumbnail Keyword Research for Better Content & Audience Engagement: #SMX New York, 2014, Day 3!
Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
1.thumbnail Keyword Research for Better Content & Audience Engagement: #SMX New York, 2014, Day 3!
1.thumbnail Keyword Research for Better Content & Audience Engagement: #SMX New York, 2014, Day 3!