Source: This article was published themarketingagents.com By Rich Brooks - Contributed by Member: Robert Hensonw

A keyword analysis (or keyword research) is the art and science of uncovering which keyword phrases your prospects are likely to use at Google or other search engines. 

Why is this important?

Because search engines are looking to return relevant results when someone performs a search. The closer the words on your web page, blog post or online video are to the search that was just performed, the more likely you are to rank higher for that search. 

Higher rankings mean more qualified traffic. In fact, a recent study showed that the number one result averaged a 36.4% click-through rate (CTR.) The second place result only managed 12.1% CTR, and the CTR declined with every subsequent result. 

Although using the right keywords isn’t the only reason why your page ranks well or poorly–the quality and quantity of inbound links is important, too–it’s one of the easiest variables for you to affect.

How do you perform a keyword analysis?

Keyword research is a three-step process:

  1. Brainstorm: Whether by yourself, with team members, or trusted customers and clients, you should start by brainstorming a list of your best keywords. These would be the words you think your ideal customer would use when searching for a product or service like yours, or phrases you’d like to rank well for. Anything from “Boston tax accountant” to “how do I write off a business expense?” I talk about using five perspectives to generate the best keyword phrases.
  2. Test: After you generate your keywords, you’ll want to determine if they actually will bring you enough traffic. Often, we’ve been in our industry for so long we use jargon that our prospects don’t use. Or, we are missing out on new, related phrases that could attract new customers. Using a tool like Google Adwords Keyword Tool will help you determine which words and phrases are most likely to attract the most qualified traffic. By entering your phrases into this free online tool, you can discover how much competition you would have from other sites to rank well for a phrase, as well as how many people are actually searching for that phrase. In addition, GAKT will provide a lot of related phrases that may perform better than your original list.
  3. Rewrite: Once you have your list of your best keywords, get to work putting them in strategic places on each page of your site, including the page title, any headers or subheaders, early and often in the body copy, as well as in the intrasite links from one page to another.

How do you know if it’s working?

Improved search engine visibility rarely happens overnight. Continually adding new, keyword rich content to your blog or website over time will improve your search engine ranking and attract more qualified traffic to your site. 

Two reports in Google Analytics can help determine if this is happening. The first can be found at Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization > Queries. This report shows your site’s average ranking for any keyword that “resulted in impressions, clicks, and click-throughs.” You can see if you’re moving up or down over time.

 The second report can be found at Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization > Landing Pages. This will show you how your individual pages are fairing from a search engine standpoint. 

Finally, take a look at your overall search traffic and the number of leads you’re generating from your website. If the number of leads you’re getting a month is increasing, your work is making a difference.

Categorized in Online Research

What do real customers search for?

It seems like a straightforward question, but once you start digging into research and data, things become muddled. A word or phrase might be searched for often, yet that fact alone doesn’t mean those are your customers.

While a paid search campaign will give us insight into our “money” keywords — those that convert into customers and/or sales — there are also many other ways to discover what real customers search.

Keyword Evolution

We are in the era where intent-based searches are more important to us than pure volume. As the search engines strive to better understand the user, we have to be just as savvy about it too, meaning we have to know a lot about our prospects and customers.

In addition, we have to consider voice search and how that growth will impact our traffic and ultimately conversions. Most of us are already on this track, but if you are not or want to sharpen your research skills, there are many tools and tactics you can employ.

Below are my go-to tools and techniques that have made the difference between average keyword research and targeted keyword research that leads to interested web visitors.

1. Get to Know the Human(s) You’re Targeting

Knowing the target audience, I mean really knowing them, is something I have preached for years. If you have read any of my past blog posts, you know I’m a broken record.

You should take the extra step to learn the questions customers are asking and how they describe their problems. In marketing, we need to focus on solving a problem.

SEO is marketing. That means our targeted keywords and content focus should be centered on this concept.

2. Go Beyond Traditional Keyword Tools

I love keyword research tools. There is no doubt they streamline the process of finding some great words and phrases, especially the tools that provide suggested or related terms that help us build our lists. Don’t forget about the not-so-obvious tools, though.

Demographics Pro is designed to give you detailed insights into social media audiences, which in turn gives you a sense of who might be searching for your brand or products. You can see what they’re interested in and what they might be looking for. It puts you on the right track to targeting words your customers are using versus words your company believes people are using.

You can glean similar data about your prospective customers by using a free tool, Social Searcher. It’s not hard to use — all you have to do is input your keyword(s), select the source and choose the post type. You can see recent posts, users, sentiment and even related hashtags/words, as reflected in the following Social Searcher report:

social searcher screen shot

If you are struggling with your keywords, another great tool to try is Seed Keywords. This tool makes it possible to create a search scenario that you can then send to your friends. It is especially useful if you are in a niche industry and it is hard to find keywords.

Once you have created the search scenario, you get a link that you can send to people. The words they use to search are then collected and available to you. These words are all possible keywords.

seed keywords screen shot

3. Dig into Intent

Once I get a feel for some of the keywords I want to target, it is time to take it a step further. I want to know what type of content is ranking for those keywords, which gives me an idea of what Google, and the searchers, believe the intent to be.

For the sake of providing a simple example (there are many other types of intent that occur during the buyer’s journey), let’s focus on two main categories of intent: buy and know.

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Let’s say I’m targeting the term “fair trade coffee:”

Google search result page

Based on what is in results, Google believes the searcher’s intent could either be to purchase fair trade coffee or to learn more about it. In this case, the page I am trying to optimize can be targeted toward either intent.

Here’s another example:

Google search result page

In this scenario, if I was targeting the keyword, “safe weed removal,” I would create and/or optimize a page that provides information, or in other words, satisfies the “know” intent.

There are many tools that can help you determine what pages are ranking for your targeted keywords, including SEOToolSet, SEMRush, and Ahrefs. You would simply click through them to determine the intent of the pages.

4. Go from Keywords to Questions

People search questions. That’s not newsworthy, but we should be capitalizing on all of the opportunities to answer those questions. Therefore, don’t ever forget about the long-tail keyword.

Some of my favorite tools to assist in finding questions are Answer the Public, the new Question Analyzer by BuzzSumo, and FaqFox.

Answer The Public uses autosuggest technology to present the common questions and phrases associated with your keywords. It generates a visualization of data that can help you get a better feel for the topics being searched.

With this tool, you get a list of questions, not to mention other data that isn’t depicted below:

Answer the public chart

The Question Analyzer by BuzzSumo locates the most popular questions that are asked across countless forums and websites, including Amazon, Reddit, and Quora. If I want to know what people ask about “coffee machines,” I can get that information:

question analyzer screen shot

FaqFox will also provide you with questions related to your keywords using such sites at Quora, Reddit, and Topix.

For example, if I want to target people searching for “iced coffee,” I might consider creating and optimizing content based on the following questions:

faq fox screen shot

Final Thoughts

There are constantly new techniques and tools to make our jobs easier. Your main focus should be on how to get customers to your website, which is done by knowing how to draw them in with the right keywords, questions, and content.

Source: This article was published searchenginejournal By Mindy Weinstein

Categorized in Online Research

Many business owners see SEO and content marketing as separate, but columnist Trond Lyngbø argues that solid keyword research can and should be used to inform content marketing strategy.

Imagine that you are in an auditorium, facing a large audience of your best customers. You’re getting ready to speak to them.

You can say whatever you want, but there’s just one condition: As soon as you complete your first sentence, people can decide whether to stay inside and listen to the rest of your speech — or get up and leave.

What will you tell them in those crucial first moments?

This is a dilemma every business owner, blogger and content producer agonizes over every day. A visitor to your website decides within a few seconds if she is going to stick around and explore it or leave for another destination.

Unless your content is carefully planned and masterfully crafted based on a deep and intimate understanding of your target audience’s needs, your SEO initiatives will likely fail or underperform. Keyword research and analysis is one of the most critical elements of your content preparation, planning and production.

Key questions to consider here are:

  • How do you link SEO and keyword analysis to content marketing?
  • How do you produce content that your prospects will find irresistible?
  • How can you expand, grow and consolidate your profitability with an intelligent content strategy?

These are questions we’ll address in this column.

How to tell your story

In one of my most popular posts on content marketing and SEO, I highlight the important element of effective content marketing:

Tell stories that people find interesting.

But how can you know what they will respond to?

You can keep your eyes and ears open and observe what’s happening in your niche — but that takes time, and you’ll only scan a tiny segment of your market.

You can conduct formal surveys of customers and prospects — though there’s always a risk they might mislead you, for various reasons.

Or you can use a very reliable tool: search engines!

People type queries into the search box that are of interest to them. If you can leverage tools like Google Trends, Google Predictive Search, Google Keyword Planner and KeywordTool.io to mine this rich treasure trove of keyword data and identify patterns, you’ll soon have a pretty good idea of what your audience wants.

You can use search engines to find out what worries people, what interests them, which problems they want solved and which desires they dream of having fulfilled.

Know what your people want

Unless you involve keyword research and analysis as a part of your SEO content preparation and planning, you’re spinning your wheels. With strong keyword data, you can communicate better, prioritize your SEO content in accordance with your market’s requirements and engage visitors more deeply to convert them into buyers with less time, effort and expense.

Knowing your customers is the key here. Your keyword research should help illuminate what they want and why they want and need it. From there, you can determine how your product helps them solve their problems and achieve their goals.

This knowledge helps you strategically plan your content marketing and brings several benefits to your business.

1. Better understand your customers

When your content seems to magically answer their unvoiced questions, visitors arriving at your website via search engines will be highly impressed.

Keyword research and analysis helps you to understand your prospective customers. By knowing what search terms they use to find your product or service offerings, you gain insight into their needs and desires — what problems they want solved, what they expect to find on a destination website and so on.

By reviewing the keywords searchers are using — and closely analyzing the search results that surface for those keywords — you can tell, with reasonable accuracy, where a searcher is on the decision-making continuum that ends in closing a sale.

For example, if you run a hotel website, then a visitor arriving at your site from a search on generic or broad terms (like “Norway holiday”) is less likely to book a room than one who is running more specific queries (like “budget hotel in Oslo” or “Oslo hotel vacancy 15th March”).

Thus, if you’re receiving significant traffic from visitors searching on these generic terms, you might want to consider creating and optimizing content that better speaks to their needs and is designed to move them further down the sales funnel.

When your content is designed to match user intent, you will grab attention instantly — and retain it for as long as you meet your visitor’s unspoken needs.

2. Communicate more effectively

Another advantage of keyword research and analysis is that your communication will be more effective, targeted and specific. Your content can be crafted in a manner such that a reader intuitively feels that you are “speaking their language.”

You develop empathy more easily. You connect more deeply. Engage with more sincerity. Convince, educate, inform and guide more meaningfully. And all of this happens because you meet the user where they are at the moment and lead them toward a destination that you know they want to reach.

With keyword research, you can construct content that perfectly targets your message while appealing to visitors who use specific search terms to find you. Each piece of content can be individually designed to speak to a specific, clearly defined segment of your overall market.

When your message is so finely targeted at a particular interest group or niche audience, it becomes very effective at getting prospects to do what you want. Conversion rates are higher. Marketing expenses go down.

3. Plan content more easily

Strong keyword research allows you to correctly prioritize content. It can inform your editorial calendar, as you’ll have a reasonable idea of what content is most in demand and when it is likely to deliver the greatest impact on your business goals.

If you focus on the right keywords and plan accordingly, your content will reach prospective customers right at the moment they are starting to look for it.

4. Go beyond relevant — be memorable

Many SEO and content experts recommend creating “relevant content” for your target keywords. But relevant content is no longer adequate; it isn’t ambitious enough. As search engine algorithms grow more sophisticated and are better able to surface accurate results for a given query, your “relevant” content will just drown in an ocean of other “relevant” pieces.

Instead, you should aim to create amazing content — the kind that makes your website the ultimate destination for your audience. To win at SEO, your content should go above and beyond that of your competitors, anticipating any and all questions a visitor might have (based on the keywords they’re using) and answering those questions fully.

An excellent content strategy will force people to remember you. It is good for branding. Others may even link to your content; if you’re lucky, you’ll receive high-quality backlinks from authority websites in your niche, including newspapers, industry leading sites and thought leaders who will share it on social media. All this improves your SEO and drives more free traffic your way.

5. Combine creativity with data

Many people think working with keyword data cramps creativity in content. It doesn’t have to be an either-or choice. You can be creative while using search data effectively.

The truth is, without data, you run the risk of wasting time and money on content that won’t move you closer to your business goals. Without granular and detailed keyword data, you’re just another person with an opinion, wasting your (or your client’s) money on a risky gamble.

Stop taking chances and secure your business’s future by basing your content marketing on solid search data and knowledge.

Implementing keyword research in your business

Are you beginning to see how great an impact keyword-focused content can have on sales, revenue and profit? If you’ve been ignoring this aspect of SEO for a long time, you are probably damaging your business, limiting its potential and holding yourself back from maximizing revenue.

With the right guidance on keywords and a smart content strategy, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively with customers. When you know your readers’ innermost thoughts and can intuit their intent, it is easy to reverse-engineer this insight so that it is mirrored in your content.

Doing this dramatically improves the level of engagement with your audience. People no longer merely like your content… they love it. They’ll share it with others. And come back for more of it. They’re influenced and informed by it. And this, in turn, improves conversion rates, generating more sales and higher profits.

While content is just a small part of the overall SEO landscape, it’s an important part. Make sure that you get it right!

Author : Trond Lyngbø

Source : http://searchengineland.com/keyword-research-key-element-seo-content-marketing-246418

“Google, what are the best Italian restaurants near me?”

“Siri, where is the closest coffee shop?”

“Siri, find me a barber in New York City.”

What you’re looking at is the new face of search, and it’s coming at warp speed.

As it stands right now, voice search is growing faster than any other type of search out there. Today, 41% of U.S. adults use voice search every single day, and that number is increasing daily.

When you think about it, it’s not surprising that voice search has become so popular. As our lives get increasingly busy, voice search represents a simple, hands-free, accurate way to track down all of the things we need online – from a great cup of Joe to the answer to a pressing question.

The only potential downside of voice search is that it’s changed the way SEOs and online marketers do things behind the scenes.

Before voice search exploded to its current proportions, short-tail keyword research was enough to help companies rank well and appear for relevant queries.

As search terms get more complex, though, and voice search drives a shift toward more complex, conversational search queries, short-tail keyword research may be dying.

Read on to learn more.

The Difference Between Typed and Spoken Search

Do you type the way you talk? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably no. As it turns out, this is one of the biggest things search engines have had to deal with in recent years.

Say, for example, you’re looking for a place to exercise. If you’re going to type a query into Google, it might look something like this:


If you were going to conduct a voice search for the same query, though, it’d likely look more like this:

Voice Search Screenshot

In addition to the fact that the search terms are different for these queries, the search results are, as well.

This just goes to show that voice search and short-tail keyword search are notcreated equal and the companies who want to rank in the dynamic and ever-changing environment of voice search will need to adjust their strategies accordingly.

How to Adjust to the Passing of Short-Tail Keywords

As voice search continues to gain prominence, the best thing marketers can do is stop relying so much on short-tail keywords.

While short-tail keywords used to be incredibly valuable for delivering targeted, relevant results to users, today’s search algorithms are much more focused on context, value, and semantics. This means that, as search engines have gotten smarter, they’ve begun to consider the intent behind a person’s search.

For example, if I ask Google where I can work out in Austin, it understands that, in addition to some listings for gyms, I probably also want a compare-and-contrast piece that helps me decide which workout classes are the best for me. If the writers of that article were just targeting short-tail keywords, they never would have ranked for my query.

By providing results that help to answer my questions rather than just showcase what’s available, Google and search engines like it are beginning to drift toward intent-based search, and away from short-tail keywords.

While this may feel scary if short-tail keywords have been a big part of your content strategy, these tips will help you adjust.

SEO, keywords, english

1. Create FAQ Pages

Since many voice searchers are looking for quick answers to questions, it’s smart for modern marketers to implement FAQ pages. For an example of a company that’s done this well, check out PetMD, which ranked as the top result for my simple query here:

PetMD Screenshot

FAQ pages are simple, but they’re also a great way to accommodate the trends of voice search and ensure better rankings for common questions.

2. Make Your Seed Keyword Phrases More Conversational

While many marketers familiar with keyword research have used stuffy seed keywords, for example, “content marketing specialist Los Angeles,” now is the time to start making seed phrases more conversational.

Instead of the above example, it’s a great idea to research a phrase like “why do I need content marketing help in LA?” Since the latter phrase is more in line with what people will search for on voice-enabled platforms, it’s more likely to provide data that marketers can use to rank well in the voice search-dominated climate.

3. Redouble Your Long-tail Keyword Efforts

Long-tail keywords, which often correlates with long-form content, have always been a valuable marketing tactic, but they’re more important now than they’ve ever been before.

Since long-tail keywords are more detail-oriented and more in-line with the natural patterns of human speech, they’re better equipped to provide targeted search results and help your pages appear in front of the correct audience.

4. Ensure Your Site’s Local Data is Spot-On

If you have a map or physical address on your website (and you should), ensure that it’s accurate. This helps you appear in “near me” searches and can have a dramatic positive effect on your local ranking.

5. Use Schema Markup in Your Favor

Schema markup is a great way to boost relevance and local SEO. Designed to be placed on a website, schema markup is code that allows search engines to interpret your business correctly and deliver relevant results to Google users.

Ideal for any company with a local presence, schema markup can go a long way toward overhauling your search results.

Short-Tail Keywords, Make Way for The Future

While short-tail keywords have long since been a valuable part of marketing strategy, their time in the limelight is ebbing off. As search engines and search terms become more complex, conversational, and human-focused, short-tail keywords have been forced to step aside for long-tail phrases and semantic approaches.

While this may seem tragic, it’s actually a very good thing.

When marketers embrace the dissolution of the short-tail keyword, they position themselves to prepare more effectively for voice search, and all the things it has to offer.

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com

Categorized in Online Research

Even before the first Apple iPhone was released in 2007, marketers were asking the question: “What should my mobile strategy be?” And it’s a question that many are still asking today. One thing is for sure, though: the mobile web is here to stay.

recent report from BI Intelligence projected by the year 2020, there will be 3.5 billion smartphones shipped worldwide. And users are increasingly shifting to mobile as their primary device for accessing the internet. In fact, Google announced last year that now, “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the US and Japan.”

This makes sense, because (as Benedict Evans recently wrote), “It’s actually the PC that has the limited, basic, cut-down version of the Internet…it only has the web.”

Our mobile devices have much more information to draw on than a desktop device:

  • photos
  • geolocation
  • friends
  • physical movement

As well as greater interactivity:

  • with the external world (through technology like beacons)
  • with you when you’re not using it (through notifications)
  • with your personal identity (because a phone is always signed-in and it is almost always an individual device rather than a shared one).

So how do search marketers ensure that this boom in mobile web usage won’t leave them behind? By staying on top of the basics of mobile search.

How Google Deals with Mobile Search

Google has many different crawlers for different use cases and different indexes, such as:

  • Googlebot
  • Googlebot News
  • Googlebot Images
  • Googlebot Video

For mobile search (specifically for smartphones), they use a version of Googlebot which uses a smartphone’s user-agent, so that the crawler can have the same user experience as actual mobile users (such as redirects to mobile versions, etc.).

This is the current Googlebot user-agent for smartphones:

Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 8_3 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/600.1.4 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/8.0 Mobile/12F70 Safari/600.1.4 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)

For comparison, this is the regular Googlebot user-agent:

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)

It is worth noting that Google does not consider tablets to be the same thing as mobile. Although they do consider tablets a separate class of device from both mobile and desktop, nonetheless, their view is that “Unless you offer tablet-optimized content, you can assume that users expect to see your site as it would look on a desktop browser.”

The mobile-friendly pages discovered by the smartphone Googlebot crawler, as well as mobile page versions discovered by the desktop crawler, are indexed as usual. However the SERP may include a different set of results for a mobile user than a desktop one, and mobile-friendly pages will be given a slight ranking boost, all things being equal.

Note that Google judges mobile-friendliness on a page-by-page basis rather than across an entire website, so if you have limited resources it is best to start by making your most valuable pages mobile-friendly first and branching out from there.

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update (“Mobilegeddon”)

In 2015, Google announced a new rankings update for mobile search, which was nicknamed “Mobilegeddon”. On April 21, the rollout began, and the internet started to see the effects.

Some websites were directly impacted, losing up to 35% of mobile rankingswithin the 1st month — and some more indirectly, by the incentive to move towards mobile-friendliness before the update hit.

Google announced a 4.7% increase in the number of mobile-friendly sites in the time between announcing that the update was coming and when it actually rolled out.

Around the same time, Bing also announced they would be rolling out a similar update, although they haven’t provided as much information on the timeline of this. However, generally speaking, a site which is well-optimized for Google mobile search should perform well in Bing.

A new version of Google’s mobile-friendly update has recently been released(in May of 2016), so we can expect to see a further impact from this as a ranking factor over time.

So how do you make sure your site is correctly designed and optimized for mobile search?

Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly

There are three main approaches to making a website mobile-friendly. These are:

  • Responsive Design: the page – URL, HTML, images, everything – remains the same, but the CSS rearranges the page layout depending on-screen width.

TIP: Google has expressed this is their preferred approach, although they support the other two as well. This is primarily because responsively designed sites don’t require any additional technical implementation to optimize them for search.

  • RESS/Adaptive/Dynamic Serving: the URL remains the same, but the server sends a different version of the HTML (and CSS) based on what type of device is requesting the page.
  • Separate Mobile Site: as the name implies, this is when you simply create a second, “mobile-friendly” website for mobile users. Separate mobile sites usually sit on a subdomain (e.g. m.domain.com) or sometimes a subfolder (e.g. www.domain.com/mobile).

When creating a separate mobile site, the best approach is to keep all the same pages and content in the same structure (e.g. www.domain.com/first-page and m.domain.com/first-page). This makes it easy to redirect based on user agent/device, and also to indicate to Google what pages are equivalent on the mobile vs desktop version.

But since it’s a separate set of pages, you could choose to have a completely different site structure, in which case the mobile URLs might be different.


If you’re wondering how best to implement a mobile-friendly design for your site, check out this guide from my company, Distilled, on “Building Your Mobile-Friendly Website”.

How to Figure Out if Your Site is Mobile-Friendly

Here are a few tools you can use to check whether your site is mobile-friendly:

SEO for Mobile Search

If you have a responsive site which is optimized for search, you won’t need to do anything different for the mobile crawler. Note that when you are auditing the site, it is worth crawling it using a mobile user agent in addition to your regular crawl. This will allow you to identify any crawl issues which only occur on mobile.

Site performance (around things like speed and page load time) may also impact results for mobile search. An effective responsive site serves appropriately sized assets for the user’s screen size, even if the underlying HTML/CSS is the same. It’s worth checking site speed separately for mobile and desktop (and easy to do with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool!).

If you have a dynamically served site or a separate mobile site, you’ll also need to add a couple of things to your pages to make sure that Google understands that the two versions are connected.

Optimizing an Adaptive Website for Mobile Search

An adaptive (or dynamically served) site uses a single URL, but serves a different version of the HTML/CSS depending on the type of device requesting the page.

While basic SEO principles remain the same as for a responsive site, you also need to make sure you avoid the appearance of cloaking.

Cloaking is when you show one thing to a search engine, and something different to a human user, and Google will devalue sites that are doing this for SEO gains. (Note that visually hiding or minimizing content for UI purposes, such as including a menu which is collapsed on load, do not count as cloaking as long as the content is accessible to users and crawlers alike.)

In the case of a dynamically served site, you want to signal to Google that you are showing different content based on user agent to provide the appropriate version of the page for the device accessing the page, rather than to trick the Googlebot user agent for nefarious SEO purposes.

To make it clear that this is what you’re doing, you should use the Vary-HTTP Header.

Using this header has two additional benefits:

  • It will let the mobile crawler know there is separate mobile content on this URL, and therefore encourage it to crawl the site.
  • It will signal to caching servers that they should consider the user agent (e.g. the type of device) when deciding whether to serve a page from the cache.

Optimizing a Separate Mobile Website for Mobile Search

A mobile site on a separate URL is effectively a different site, so you’ll need to optimize these pages in addition to optimizing the desktop version. Again, the basic SEO principles remain the same, with a few extra guidelines:

  • Create a parallel URL structure

Unless you’ve built your mobile site with very different content than your desktop site, the URL structure for your mobile site should mirror the relevant pages on your desktop site as closely as possible. So www.example.com/funny-story should become m.example.com/funny-story, not m.example.com/different-page.

  • Add mobile switchboard tags

A separate mobile site with the same or similar content as the desktop version could potentially be seen as a case of duplicate content, which may be suppressed by search engines.

This is where the mobile switchboard tag comes in. This tag indicates to Google crawlers that this is an alternate version of the site intended for mobile devices. A version of this tag is placed on both the desktop and mobile versions of the page.

To set up switchboard tags correctly:

  1. On the desktop version, place a mobile-specific rel=”alternate” tag indicating the relevant mobile page.
  2. On the mobile version, place a rel=”canonical” tag indicating the relevant desktop page.

These annotations can be included in the HTML of the pages themselves and sitemaps (but you don’t have to do both).

As an example, where the desktop URL is http://example.com/page-1 and the equivalent mobile URL is http://m.example.com/page-1, the tagging for this example would be as follows.


On the desktop page (http://www.example.com/page-1), place the following:

<link rel=”alternate” media=”only screen and (max-width: 640px)”

and on the mobile page (http://m.example.com/page-1), include:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.example.com/page-1″>

The rel=”canonical” tag on the mobile URL indicating the desktop URL is always required.

In Sitemaps:

You can place the rel=”alternate” tag for desktop pages in your sitemaps, as follows:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>

<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9






media=”only screen and (max-width: 640px)”

href=”http://m.example.com/page-1″ />



The required rel=”canonical” tag on the mobile URL must still be included in the mobile page’s HTML.

  • Consider user-agent redirects

Some visitors will arrive at the wrong version of your site for their device, and you may want to redirect them. Use server-side redirects rather than Javascript redirects. You may use either 301 or 302 redirects.

  • Additional guidance for handling redirects to a mobile site:
  1. Don’t redirect all desktop pages to the mobile homepage; instead, point them to a mobile page which is relevant to the original.
  2. Include a link to ‘view desktop version’ on your mobile site (and vice versa). Use cookies to ensure that if a user clicks on this option the user agent detection will be overridden, and they will not be redirected again (unless they choose to switch back via the ‘view mobile version’ option).
  3. Send tablet users to the desktop site, rather than the mobile site (unless you have a tablet-specific version). Tablet browsing patterns typically resemble desktop browsing patterns more than mobile.
  • Keep both versions crawlable

Make sure you’re not blocking the Googlebot smartphone user-agent from your desktop version in robots.txt and don’t block regular Googlebot from the mobile version.

Schema.org, Rich Snippets, and Rich Cards

As Google shifts towards more of a card-based format in the SERPs, and especially on mobile devices where the screen height means limited screen real estate, any steps we can take to obtain enhanced results like rich snippets and rich cards (through the use of structured data markup) becomes increasingly valuable.

visual of rich snippets and rich cards

If you aren’t sure what type of structured data might be right for your website, you can use my guide for performing a structured data audit.

Other Key Mobile Search Trends from Google

In addition to trends around mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor, Google has been working towards a few other key trends which relate directly to mobile technology and user behavior:

  • The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project to improve site speed and page load times for mobile content, and allow this content to be cached and served directly within a SERP (rather than sending the user to the original website)
  • Removing sidebar ads from the desktop SERP layout for a more streamlined, “mobile” look
  • Integrating app content with web search through support for app indexation and app streaming

We don’t have space to go in-depth on these topics here, but here are a few recommended resources you can check out if you’d like to learn more:


SERP Layout

App Indexation and Streaming


Mobile technology is changing rapidly, and this has created major shifts in user behavior and mobile web usage worldwide. More than ever, mobile search is becoming the future of SEO, and with that comes a host of new challenges. But the key principles remain the same: ensure that crawlers can access, read, and understand your content, ensure user experience is working well for all devices, and keep testing and iterating for better results.


Categorized in Search Engine

It’s time for the first meeting with the customer. You may be a seasoned search marketer, but you’re still a little nervous. How do you achieve that perfect balance of getting the information you need while still exuding an aura of consummate professionalism, knowledge, and generally make yourself seem like the search Dalai Lama?

First, realize that the real Dalai Lama feels no need to prove himself, he just *is*. Project an aura of confidence, and realize the most elusive concept in our industry. It is not about you, it is about the customer.

Sidebar: Even if you’re an in-house marketer, you can still use these techniques. Pretend your VP of Product Development or someone similarly entrenched in the product/service is your “customer”.

Similarly, that first meeting should be all about the customer. This is your best chance to get an outsider’s perspective of how your customer views their products and what language they use to describe them.

After this first meeting, you’ll be an insider, and asking some of these questions will make it seem like you don’t know what you’re doing. So let your customer do most of the talking.

As you listen to the answers, jot down key phrases, jargon, and abbreviations they use to inform your keyword research later. Don’t forget to ask them to clarify anything you don’t understand.

Note that this is by no means an exhaustive list of questions you should be asking; merely a sample of questions for keyword research purposes.

Question 1: I’ve reviewed your website, and have learned about your business. However it always helps to hear you explain it in your own words. So, Mr. Customer, how would you describe what you do?

The answer to this is likely to be the same words you read on their website or see in a brochure. Point out any jargon that you don’t understand, as this will set the stage for later, when you tell them they need to change the way they describe their product.

Question 2: In your opinion, what is it that makes your product/service special? What differentiates you from your competitors?

These are their value propositions; the key elements that need to come across on their pages to compel a conversion. If one of them is that they offer the lowest cost, then you know to research keyword modifiers like [cheap], [low cost], [price]. Alternatively, if they’re not low cost, you know to avoid these keyword modifiers. More on this in my next article.

Question 3: What do you think are similar services/products that you do not consider competitors?

The keywords that come out in this answer will help you refine the research. Often, keywords that are very similar may have a completely different meaning in a particular clients’ industry.

For example, “phone lines” and “phone trunks” are very different and each appeal to a distinct target market. You’ll only want to explore the right one in your research.

Question 4: Which products/services are most profitable for you? Are there other reasons (inventory, seasonality, location) that you would want to push one product/service over another?

Again, the answer to this question will help focus your research. Spend the most time expanding and refining the products that the client indicates are most important. This can sometimes save you from exploring an entire product line, if the customer says something like, “Product A is a necessary evil. We have to carry it, but we also have to price it below cost.”

Obviously, that’s not an area you want to focus on. You’ll include some keywords to be thorough, but you’ll spend more of your time on the “money” keywords.

Question 5: What do you think are your top ten most important keywords?

Ask for ten keywords. The reason for this is that some customers think they need to rank for their entire keyword universe of 1000 × 10100 keywords.

On the flip side, there are clients that think they only need to rank for one keyword and it will solve all their problems. Chances are that’s a virtually unattainable keyword like “tablet”. This question will help you determine which type your customer is, as well as let you know what keywords absolutely must be included in your final research.

Asking these five questions will complete a formidable amount of your keyword research before you even sit down at your computer. It will also help you focus priorities and set realistic expectations with the very first client meeting.


Categorized in Online Research

As search engine optimization (SEO) professionals, we obsess with search data from a wide variety of resources. Which one is best for our clients? Which keyword research tool reveals the most accurate search behaviors when rebuilding a site’s information architecture? Does our web analytics data validate our keyword research?

And, more importantly, did these tools provide your most desired information? Some answers might surprise you.

Keyword research data

I love keyword research tools. I use all of them because I can discover core keyword phrases, which are commonly used across all of the commercial web search engines. And I can also tailor ads and landing pages to searchers who typically use a single, targeted search engine (and it isn’t always Google, as one might imagine).

However, keyword research tools are not a substitute for a knowledgeable and intuitive search engine marketer. All too often, website owners and even experienced search engine optimization professionals launch into a site’s information architecture without gauging user response. As good SEO professionals, we should understand when it is appropriate to implement keywords into a site’s information architecture: when keyword usage overwhelms users, and when keyword usage needs to be more apparent.

This situation occurred recently when I was performing some usability tests on a client site’s revised information architecture. This particular client website is being delivered in multiple languages. We were testing American English, British English, and French. Therefore, the test participants were American, British, and French.

All of the keyword research tools showed the word “student” or “students” (in French, “étudiant” or “étudiants”) as a possible target. The appearance of this word in both keyword research data and in the site’s web analytics data led my client to believe that we should make this area a main category.

If we had relied on the data from keyword research tools, we would have been wrong. If we had relied on the data from web analytics software, we would have been wrong.

The face-to-face user interaction gave us the right answer.

The facial expressions were enough to convince me. Almost every single time the word “student” or “étudiant” appeared during the usability test, I saw confusion. When I asked test participants why they seemed confused, they said that the particular keyword phrase was not appropriate for that type of website. They then placed the student-related information groupings in one of two piles:

  • Discard – Participants felt that the information label and/or grouping did not belong on the website at all.
  • Do not know – Participants were unsure whether the information label and/or grouping did or did not not belong on the website.

The discard pile won, with over 90% from all three language groups.

Now, imagine if this company did NOT have one-on-one interaction with searchers during the redesign process and only relied on keyword research tools. How much time and money might have been wasted?

Keyword research data is not the only type of data that can be easily misinterpreted.

Web analytics search data

One search metric that clients and prospects inevitably mention is “stickiness.” In other words, one of their search marketing goals is to increase the number of page views per visitor via search engine traffic, especially if the site is a publisher, blog, or news site. Increasing the number of page views per visitor provides more advertising opportunities as well as a positive branding impact. The average time on site (if it is longer than two minutes) is also commonly viewed as a positive search metric.

Or so it might seem. Here is an example.

Many SEO professionals, including me, provide blog optimization for a wide variety of companies (ecommerce, news, software, etc.). Not only do we provide keyword research for blogs, we must also monitor the effectiveness of keyword-driven traffic via web analytics data.

Upon initial viewing, the blog’s analytics data might indicate increased stickiness. Searchers are reading more blog entries. Searchers are engaged. Therefore, the blog content is great…that is a common conclusion.

For an exploratory usability test, I ask test participants to tell me about a blog post that they found very helpful. I asked them why they liked the blog’s content, and I listen very closely for keyword phrases. Audio and/or video recording makes this job a little easier.

When I asked test participants to refind desired information on a blog on the lab’s computer, I did not hear, “This blog content is great!” Comments I frequently heard were:

  • “I can’t find this [expletive] thing.”
  • “Now where could it be? I saw it here before….”
  • “I think this was posted in [month/day/year]….”
  • “Where the [expletive] is it?”

As you might imagine, the use of expletives became more and more frequent with the increased number of page views.

Sure, searchers who discover great blog content might bookmark the URL, or they might link to it from a “Links and Resources” section of their web site, or they might cite the URL in a follow-up post on another website. All of these actions and associated behaviors make it easier for searchers to refind important information.

However, when I review web analytics data, I often find that site visitors do not take these actions as frequently as people might think. Instead, with careful clickstream analysis combined with usability testing, I see that the average page view per visitor metric is heavily influenced by frustrated refinding behaviors.


I have always believed that search engine optimization is part art, part science. Certainly, keyword research data and web analytics data are very much part of the “science” part of SEO.

Nevertheless, the “art” part of SEO comes into play when interpreting this data. By listening to users and observing their search behaviors, having that one-on-one interaction, I can hear keywords that are not used in query formulation. I study facial expressions and corresponding mouse movements that are associated with keywords. I see how keywords are formatted in search engine results pages (SERPs) and corresponding landing pages, and how searchers react to that formatting and placement.

I cannot imagine my job as an SEO professional without keyword research tools and web analytics software. In addition, I cannot imagine my job as an SEO professional without one-on-one searcher interaction. What do you think? Have any of you learned something that keyword research tools and/or web analytics data did not reveal?


Categorized in Search Engine

Keyword research involves so much more than just looking up search frequencies. Critical factors such as budget restrictions, competition levels, and business strategy must be considered in order to develop a results-driven search marketing plan.

Rounding out our 3-part series on keyword research, this week’s infographic illustrates what goes into the final selection process.



Categorized in Online Research

In part 2 of our 3-part series, today’s infographic details an essential element of keyword research: exploring conversations that are happening on the web. By combing through competitive and industry websites, relevant blog postings, and popular tag sites, new phrases are discovered and search frequencies can be determined.



Categorized in Online Research

Thorough keyword research, done with the website’s goals in mind, is critical for a successful search marketing campaign. In part 1 of a short series dedicated to keyword research, today’s infographic explores the first—and arguably most important—step in the process: thinking like the customer.



Categorized in Online Research
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