Week 3 Lecture and Reading Notes.

Over the next two weeks, we will put this 6 step keyword strategy into practice:

  1. Define search goals
  2. Identify niche markets
  3. Find niche keywords
  4. Find long tail keywords
  5. Identify and rank keyword phrases with Google Keyword Planner
  6. Conduct semantic keyword research

This week, you will complete the first four steps of this keyword strategy by learning to set search goals and find niche markets. Then, you will master identifying niche keywords and long tail keywords. After completing the material this week, you should be able to:

  1. Describe how to set search goals
  2. Define niche markets with personas and niche keywords
  3. Describe the importance of long tail keywords
  4. Discover long tail keywords
  5. Describe how to use how to Übersuggest 2.0
  6. Explain how to use Soovle

To effectively research keywords, you must first define the search engine optimization (SEO) goals you want to achieve. The following article details how to select optimal SEO goals for your business.

The 6 Goals of SEO: Choosing the Right Ones for Your Business

By: Rand Fishkin

Value-Producing Objectives for SEO:

SEO for Raw Traffic

Optimizing a site for search engines and creating keyword targeted content produces direct traffic from the engines, which typically expands into content sharing, direct traffic and referring links as more and more people find, use and enjoy the work you’ve produced. There are thousands of sites on the web that leverage this traffic to serve advertising, directly monetizing the traffic sent from the engines. From banner ads to contextual services like Google’s Ads to affiliate programs and beyond, web advertising has become a massive ($25B+ according to eMarketer (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.) industry.

  • When to Employ
    Use it when you can monetize traffic without actions or financial transactions on your site (usually through advertising).
  • Keyword Targeting
    Any and all – the goal here isn’t typically to select specific keywords, but instead to create lots of high quality content that naturally targets interesting/searched-for terms. Instead of singular optimization on specific terms, the focus is on accessibility and best practices throughout the site to earn traffic through both high volume and long tail queries. Concentrate efforts on great content, and use keyword-based optimization only as a secondary method to confirm the titles/headlines of the works you create.
  • Page & Content Creation/Optimization
    A shallow, highly crawlable link structure is critical to getting all your content indexed – follow good information architecture practices and use intelligent, detailed category and sub-category structures to get the most benefit out of your work. You’ll also need to employ good on-page optimization (titles, headlines, internal linking, etc) and make your articles easy to share and optimized for viral spreading.

SEO for E-Commerce Sales

One of the most direct monetization and intent-bases for SEO is driving relevant traffic to an e-commerce shop to boost sales. Search traffic is among the best quality available on the web, primarily because a search user has expressed a specific goal through their query, and when this matches a product or brand carried by the web store, conversion rates are often extremely high. Forrester research estimated the e-commerce market to top $235 billion in 2009 (though the recent economic downturn may affect that number somewhat). With so many dollars flowing over the web, it’s little surprise that e-commerce focused SEO is among the most competitive and popular applications of the practice.

  • When to Employ
    Use it when you have products/services that are directly for sale on your website
  • Keyword Targeting
    Pay-per-click is an excellent way to test the efficacy and potential ROI of keyword targets. Find those that have reasonable traffic and convert well, then pursue. You’ll often find that the more specific the query – brand inclusive, product inclusive, etc. – the more likely the visitors are to make the purchase.
  • Page & Content Creation/Optimization
    You’ll typically need some serious link building along with internal optimization to achieve high rankings for competitive, high-value keywords that bring in conversion-focused traffic. Manual link building is an option here, but scalable strategies that leverage a community or customers can be equally (or even more valuable).

SEO for Mindshare/Branding

A less popular but equally powerful application of SEO is to use it for branding purposes. Bloggers, social media websites, content producers, news outlets and dozens of other web publishing archetypes have found tremendous value in appearing atop search results and using the resulting exposure to bolster their brand recognition and authority. The process is fairly simple – much like traditional advertising’s goals of ad repetition to enter a buyer’s consideration set (see Three Laws of Branding. for more), so too do online marketers observe that a website’s pages consistently at the top of search rankings around a particular subject has a positive impact on traffic, consideration and perceived authority.

  • When to Employ
    When you have a business that’s focused on attracting attention from a market more so than any direct traffic or monetization goals. This is frequently the case with new social communities, blogs or companies that need member acquisition and participation.
  • Keyword Targeting
    As with raw traffic, your keyword focii is less critical here – you’ll likely have a few broad terms that receive high traffic you’re chasing, but the long tail may be far more achievable and worth the less intensive effort. Choose keywords that are going to bring you traffic you’re likely to be interested in, and remember your site/brand.
  • Page & Content Creation/Optimization
    The same principles as raw traffic apply – make an accessible site, use good link structure and best practices and focus on links for domain authority more so than specific keywords.

SEO for Lead Acquisition & Direct Marketing

Although less direct than an e-commerce sale, lead acquisition via the web is an equally valuable and important system for building customers and revenue. Millions of search queries have commercial intents that can’t be (or currently aren’t) fulfilled directly online. These can include searches for services like legal consulting, contract construction, commercial loan requests, alternative energy providers, virtually any service or product people source via the web.

  • When to Employ
    When you have a non-ecommerce product/service/goal that you want users to accomplish on your site or are hoping to attract inquiries/direct contact over the web.
  • Keyword Targeting
    As with e-commerce, choose phrases that convert well, have reasonable traffic and have previously performed in PPC campaigns.
  • Page & Content Creation/Optimization
    Although you might think they’d be easier than e-commerce, lead acquisition SERPs are often equally challenging. You’ll need a solid combination of on-site optimization and external link building to direct pages (with good anchor text) to be competitive in the more challenging arenas.

SEO for Reputation Management

Those who’ve dealt with negative or non-existent web information about themselves or their businesses frequently desire to populate the search results with positive links and mentions. SEO enables this process through content creation and promotion via link building. While reputation management is among the most challenging of SEO tasks (primarily because you’re optimizing many results for a query rather than one), it’s in high demand and has a large number of practitioners (for example, the 214 SEO companies offering reputation management. in our marketplace).

  • When to Employ
    If you’re trying to either protect your brand from having negative results appear on page 1, or are attempting to push down already existing negative content, reputation management SEO is the only path to success.
  • Keyword Targeting
    Chances are, this is very easy – it’s either your personal name, brand name or some common variant (and you already know what it is). You might want to use keyword research tools just to see if there are popular variants you’re missing.
  • Page & Content Creation/Optimization
    Unlike every other SEO tactic, reputation management involves optimizing pages on many different domains in order to push results down in the SERPs. This involves using social media profiles, public relations, press releases, links from networks of sites you might own or control along with classic optimization of internal links & on-page elements. It is certainly among the most challenging of SEO practices, especially in Google, where QDD (Query Deserves Diversity) can mean you have to work many times as hard to push down negatives because of how the algorithm employs content preferences.

SEO for Ideological Influence

For those seeking to sway public (or private) opinion about a particular topic, SEO can be a powerful tool. By promoting your ideas/content in the search results for queries likely to be made by those seeking information about a topic, you can influence the perception of even very large groups. Politicians and political groups/individuals are the most likely employers of this tactic, but it can certainly be applied to any subject from the theological to the technical or civic.

  • When to Employ
    When you need to change minds or influence decisions/thinking around a subject – think Anonymous’ campaign against Scientology or theoretical physicists attempting to get more of their peers considering the possibility of alternate universes as a dark matter source.
  • Keyword Targeting
    Tough to say for certain, but if you’re engaging in these types of campaigns, you probably know the primary keywords you’re chasing and can use keyword research query expansion to find others.
  • Page & Content Creation/Optimization
    This is very classic SEO, but with a twist – since you’re engaging in ideological warfare in the SERPs, chances are you’ve got allies who can rally to the cause. Leverage your combined links and content to espouse the philosophy du jour.

Choosing the Right SEO Objectives for Your Business

Before you invest in the long term SEO strategy for your business, you should carefully consider which of these can have a major impact on your goals. Putting time and energy towards a single goal, only to later add on others can result in duplicated work and effort. As a business/organization, decide on what you need to accomplish and ask yourself questions like:

  • Does the company need direct sales, traffic, branding or some combination of these?
  • Are there influencers you’re trying to reach with a message?
  • Is the organization/brand subject to potentially negative material that needs to be controlled/mitigated?
  • Do you have products/services you sell, either directly over the web or through leads established online?

Once you have the answers, you can attack SEO with the right list of goals in mind.

Lecture 3.2: Finding Niche Markets

In Lecture 3.1: Setting Goals, you learned how to pick the right search engine optimization (SEO) goals for a business. With these in mind, you are now ready to determine your SEO target or niche markets. The following explains how to find niche markets

Excerpted from “Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide” from BACKLINKO

Niche Markets: Where (Smart) Keyword Research Starts

Most people begin the keyword research process with a keyword research tool like the Google Keyword Planner. This is a HUGE mistake. Google Keyword Planner is great at spitting out closely related keywords, it’s horrible at coming up with new keyword ideas. The Google Keyword Planner only shows you keywords that are VERY intimately tied to the keyword you gave it. Keywords that are closely – but not directly – related are rarely shown. And these are often the most profitable keywords in your market.

You should still target any keywords that the Google Keyword Planner gives you, but don’t rely ONLY on the Google Keyword Planner (or any other single tool) when creating your keyword research.

Niche Clouds: The Easiest Way to Find Niche Markets

A Niche Market is simply a sub-segment that’s part of a larger market. For example, let’s say that you run a business that sells basketball hoops. As we saw earlier, the Google Keyword Planner is essentially useless at giving you anything but very, very closely related keywords. While some of these keywords might be a great fit for your business, there are dozens of others that are less competitive and are just as valuable to your site. One way to find these untapped keywords is to map out your industry’s Niche Clouds. Niche Clouds are simple mind maps that identify niches that are closely related to your primary niche.

Creating Your First Niche Cloud Map

The goal with your Niche Cloud Map is to map out the different “clouds” that tend to float around your actual industry. Each cloud represents a Niche Market. All you need to start is mind mapping software or (if you want to go old school) a pen and paper.

You should be able to come up with at least 5 different Niche Markets off of the top of your head… which is enough to find some great keywords. If you’re struggling – or want to find more Niche Markets – here are a few simple strategies you can tap into.

Buyer Personas

A buyer persona is a super-simple way to identify other Niche Markets that potential customers belong to. And once you identify these Niche Markets, you can easily find keywords that potential customers use when they’re not searching for your products and services (in other words, most of the time).

Your keyword research-focused buyer persona should include your target audience’s:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Approximate income
  • Hobbies and interests (what they do for fun)
  • Things that they struggle with
  • What they want to accomplish (personally and professionally)

Depending on your niche you may have several different buyer personas. Make a buyer persona by creating a PowerPoint slide. A slide will help you get into the head of your target customer, which will help you think of Niche Markets that you may have overlooked the first time you sat down with your Niche Cloud Map.


Forums are like having live focus groups at your fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The easiest way to find forums where your target audience hangs out is to use these search strings in Google:

“keyword” + “forums”

“keyword” + “forum”

“keyword” + “board”

You can also use BoardReader.com, which is a search engine for forums.

  1. First, click on “forums” in the top left corner of the screen:
  2. Then, enter a keyword and hit “search”:
  3. Find forums that your target audience hangs out on.
  4. Once you find a forum, note how the forum is divided up into sections: Each of these sections is often a Niche Market.
  5. To dig deeper, check out some of the threads on the forum to find other Niche Markets your ideal customer belongs to.

One you’ve found a few Niche Markets that make sense for your site, add them to your Niche Cloud Map.

Wikipedia Table of Contents

Wikipedia is an often-overlooked goldmine of niche research.

Here’s how to use Wikipedia to find Niche Markets.

  1. First, head over to Wikipedia and type in a broad keyword: That will take you to the Wikipedia entry for that broad topic.
  2. Then, look for the “contents” section of the page:
  3. And take a look at the sections of the page. Some of these sections will be Niche Markets that you may not have found otherwise:
  4. You can also click on some of the internal links on the page to check out the Table of Contents of other, closely related entries.

Assignment 3.1: Determining Goals and Niche Markets