How To – Data Driven B2B SEO Keyword Research

By Jonathan Beaton – Principal at 4eyes Marketing

Ranking for valuable keywords is competitive and takes significant resources. There are not many short cuts, if any, but making sure you are targeting the right keywords is crucial to any project’s ultimate success or failure. In this post you will learn –

  • The four most important keyword variables to analyze
  • How to use data to prioritize each variable
  • A step by step guide to obtaining your optimal keyword targets

keyword research

1, Relevance – Each time a user performs a search in Google, they have a specific intent. They may be doing research, looking up an answer to a question or looking for a particular good or service. Logically, you want your business to show up when users are searching keywords relevant to your business.

For example, I run marketing for a company that develops and sells motion capture software. Examples of keywords that are very relevant to our business are – motion capture motion capture software, mocap and motion capture systems. Many users searching for these specific terms are often actively looking to purchase motion capture software and are thus highly valuable and relevant to our business.

If you are looking for even more information on search intent, check out this post here.

2, Search Volume – Search volume is the average times per month that a specific keyword is searched for. Some keywords may be extremely relevant to your business but may also have low search volumes. This means that ranking for these particular terms could have very little impact on your web traffic and thus are not worth the effort.

For example, let’s say you sell “super widgets.” The term “super widgets” may be a very relevant keyword but what if it only has a monthly search volume of 30? That would mean on average, only 30 people per month are actually searching for “super widgets.” Even ranking #1 would mostly likely generate only 10-15 visitors to your site, per month. Ranking #2 or #3 would drop traffic all the way down to around 3-5 visits per month. This may or may not be worth the effort depending on how competitive the keyword is. Which leads us into our next factor…

3, Competition – Competition and search volume go hand-in-hand. What I mean by that is the competition for a specific keyword reflects how much effort/resources it will take to rank highly for that particular keyword. You must then make the decision if the effort/resources are worth it based on the search volume and relevance for the particular keywords.

Allow me to elaborate. SEO is not just about making a couple of changes to your website and then magically achieving high rankings. There is real inbound marketing that has to take place and it requires a lot of hard work, often months or even years worth. By evaluating the existing competitive landscape for specific keywords, a seasoned SEO can gauge how much time/effort it will take to beat your competition. Then based on the relevance and search volume of a particular keyword, a business decision can be made in choosing to go after it.

4, Economic Value – Keywords having varying economic values. What I mean by that is, some keywords are simply “worth” more than others. The “value” of a specific keyword can be obtained fairly easily. Using the Keyword Tool in AdWords, the average cost-per-click can be obtained for any and all keywords. CPC is the the amount of money advertisers are willing to pay each time an ad associated with a specific keyword is clicked. Obviously, every business is different and relative “worth” varies but this is a very easy and quick way to segment keywords based on their current market values.

Bringing it All Together

Step 1 – Create a keyword spreadsheet of all possibly relevant keywords and include columns for both their CPC and monthly search volume. I personally use SEMRush.

Step 2 – Create a  column labeled “market value” and enter a formula that multiplies search volume by CPC.

Step 3 – Sort your spreadsheet by market value, highest to lowest.

Step 4 – Create a column labeled “relevance”  and on a scale of 1-5, 1 being the most relevant and 5 being the least, subjectively rank each keyword’s relevance.

Step 5 – Sort your spreadsheet by relevance, most relevant to the least.

Step 6 – Create a column labeled “competition” and on a scale of 1-5, 1 representing little competition and 5 representing high competition, subjectively rank each keyword’s competition. This is challenging and takes experience but I find that Moz’s keyword difficulty tool to be very useful here.

Step 7 – Create another column called “diff+comp” and input a formula that adds together relevance and competition

Step 8 – Sort the spreadsheet by “market value” once again, highest to lowest.

Step 9 – Now sort the spreadsheet by “diff+comp” from lowest to highest.

keyword research example

If done correctly, the output should  be, in descending order, the most valuable keywords that are also the most relevant and have the smallest degree of competition. Above is a keyword document I created for a recent project of mine. The actual keywords have been modified to protect the innocent.