Keyword research – identifying the potential words and phrase combinations consumers could potentially type into the search box when they go online to find products and services – is vital to the success of digital marketing campaigns.
However, a white paper “Where to begin – the discovery phase”, published by Hydra, a provider of software-as-a-service marketing technology, says digital marketing teams (internal of third party), simply do not have the resources to conduct it thoroughly. Moreover, monitoring and keeping up to date with terms as they change is almost a mission impossible.
“Keyword research makes the difference between the vendor’s goods and services being immediately visible to the searcher or their being swallowed up and lost in the myriad of returned search results,” says Ruth Zohrer, solutions consultant at Hydra. “Ultimately, the lack of thorough keyword research can prove costly as it leads to vendors failing to maximise on the online opportunity both in terms of directing potential sales leads/traffic to their site and garnering revenues from the online channel.”
In April, Hydra undertook a survey of over 300 UK-based digital marketers and focussed on how digital marketing teams currently operate, based on collaboration, use of technologies and competitor analysis. Asked how current they feel their teams are at handling new keyword trends, less than half (42%) of digital marketers indicated they feel they are ‘on trend’ when it comes to keyword trends.
However, one of the greatest contrasts highlighted by the survey involved new words or expressions being used in the market. Asked whether they know which are worth spending time and money on, over half (55%) of respondents said ‘no’.
With the uncertainty surrounding return on investment from keywords reaching their target audience and handling new keyword trends, it is unsurprising that over 70% of respondents to Hydra’s survey specified that if they had more time to spend, they would review the keywords or phrases in their campaigns much more regularly.
According to Hydra’s white paper, any new natural search project should begin with a discovery phase with the first challenge being to uncover what potential customers will use when they go online to find the products or services the vendor is promoting on their site – keyword research. Next is keyword-page mapping, a valuable exercise that allows the vendor to understand how its site and the target keywords relate and highlights any gaps that may need to be addressed for optimum performance in search engines for a specific term.
Once the effort that each keyword will demand is known, they can be prioritised based on the size of the opportunity they offer. In essence, does the potential reward warrant the spend in that keyword.
“Completing the discovery phase thoroughly, however, is an onerous process for which most natural search specialists today employ multiple technology solutions to help speed up certain steps,” says Zohrer. “As such, even when the discovery phase is undertaken by the same person, the process and its outcome may vary significantly.”