This post was originally published on State of Digital
It’s a bit late to say it’s a new year with new opportunities, but I am going to say it anyway! We have all been busy building out new campaigns, and trying to find opportunities for our clients or brands that we work with, as we get full flow into 2015.
One thing that I have been working on a lot over the past few months, is spotting opportunities. Whether that is for existing clients, or for potential clients through pitch meetings and I wanted to share my ideas with you.
The process is a simple, and easy one to follow, but the start requires time and patience, however the outcome could be amazing!
Before we start, some housekeeping – I am using dummy data, and I have no affiliation to any of the brands mentioned in my examples. I am using Linkdex as a tool (our software provider), but all of this could be done within a spreadsheet, although that requires a little bit of work.
Now that is out of the way, let’s begin!
Gather the right data, not ALL the data!
There are two very important but time consuming steps to identifying the right opportunities, and the first is keyword research.
We are all capable of doing keyword research, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but just make sure that the terms that you are targeting are highly relevant.
To help gather this information, I use a combination of the following tools:
- Linkdex Visibility Tool
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Google Keyword Planner
- Merge Words
- Search Metrics
Conducting your keyword research using these tools should help you come up with a comprehensive list of highly relevant terms.
One thing that I would recommend, that I think is overlooked far too often is, looking at the search terms that you are already visible for. These terms may be ranking page 2+, but it is a clear sign that the search engine is finding them relevant for certain terms.
A quick way of finding the search terms you are already visible for is running your website through SEMrush. They will provide all the terms that the website ranks for within the top 20.
Whilst conducting your keyword research, make sure that for every keyphrase you get the following data based on an exact match query:
- Monthly Search Volumes
- Average CPC
- and get the keyphrase ranking whilst you are at it
This will become helpful when identifying the opportunity. Hopefully, by now you will have a large number of keywords in your spreadsheet ready to start tagging.
Tagging by Topic
No, we are not running a PPC campaign here, but we should be using some of the methods that PPC practitioners have been using for years.
Tagging keywords into specific groups/topics, allow you to be more granular with your analysis to spot the opportunity.
Some of the keyword research that I have come across, on most occassions have tags associated to the very top level. They have been tagged simply as high, medium or low, which is OK, but doesn’t really provide you with the information you need.
If you are keen on using the high, medium and low tags, then I would suggest that you use them in collaboration with more specific tags.
For tagging keywords, I like to keep it simple, and related to the website that you are working on, therefore I use the navigation structure.
As an example of what a tagging structure could look like is as follows:
Category – Sub-category
Category – Sub-category – Product
You are also likely to want to include a modifier tag as part of your process, such as location, price, style, etc.
Location – London
Location – Ediburgh
For my example, and since I am looking at the cruise industry I used the following tag method.
Brand (Everything related to a specific brand).
Brand – Cruise Liner (Everything relate to a specific brands ships).
Brand – Cruise Liner – Ship Name (Everything to a specific ship for a specific brand).
Brand – Cruise Liner – Ship Name – Details (Everything that related to a specific ships specification, for a specific brand).
There were others, but this should give you the idea.
Now you understand the tagging process, you need to go through each keyphrase giving a tag or mulitple tags if required.
For the search term “Balmoral deck plan” I would give the following tags.
Brand (Fred Olsen)
Brand – Cruise Liner (Becuase it is a cruise liner)
Brand – Cruise Liner – Balmoral (Keyword targeting a specifc ship)
Brand – Cruise Liner – Balmoral – Detail (Keyword is targeting specific details of a ship)
This may look like overkill, but when you come to analysing it becomes key to see where the opportunities really lie.
This process is very time consuming, and you could automate it to a certain extent, but it is a very important step. Adding a keyword to the wrong tag could mean missing a huge opportunity, so make time to do this properly.
Once you have completed this, you can either upload it to your SEO software (Linkdex in my case), or you can continue the analysis within a spreadsheet.
Analysing opportunities by tag
Once uploaded to Linkdex, the software will do a lot of the hard work for you. They will provide you with estimated traffic based on ranking positions and search volume, as well as providing you with how much the current levels of traffic would cost through PPC activity.
If you are using a spreadsheet, you can do the maths through formulae by using estimated click through rates, and the search volume figures you have.
Now it is time to start analysing your keywords at a tag level (Group Analysis in Linkdex) to identify any noticeable opportunities.
When looking at the data provided by Linkdex, or filtered in your spreadsheet it is key to not be too focused on the search volume column.
Take a look at all the data provided, with a keen look at the number of keyphrases ranking within the top 20. There is no point in starting to target terms that have lots of search volume, but no current rankings. Start by looking at the keywords that are ranking, but also have good search volumes as these are realistic opportunities.
Once you have identified an opportunity, such as Fred Olsen highlighted in the image above, it is time to look at the tags at a more granular level.
Looking at the more specific tags that have been identified within the Fred Olsen branded tag, it is clear to see that they all have very good potential, and are only driving very limited estimated traffic.
On initial view, this looks like we have an opportunity, but we need to see what a forecasted return would be.
What is the potential – Forecasting
Forecasting is a dubious subject within the SEO industry, as there are so many variables, and the limited accurate data that is available, but C-Levels want to see what there return would be.
Forecasting within Linkdex is easy, using the forecast tool. Select the keyword tag that you want, identify the target window that you will improve, and estimate where you will get them in terms of rankings. By doing this, the forecast tool will estimate the uplift in traffic.
This can also be done using a spreadsheet (we have one internally), to provide the current rankings and estimated potential rankings that will provide a new traffic figure.
But this data alone, will not necessarily swing the decision for you or the C-Level that you will be reporting too.
The next step would be to add in a conversion rate and an average order value to provide you with a return.
In this case it was £108,884,34 per month, and yes that is just for one tag!
But, before we get carried away, let’s ensure that the competition isn’t too strong, and we get nowhere near our targets.
Identify, analyse and judge
Before we go to the C-Level with a great opportunity, we need to do our due diligence on the competition. Who are they? What terms are they ranking for and with what content? Can we realistically compete with them for these terms?
A quick competitor analysis will allow you to find that information and provide the final piece to the jigsaw.
With all this information, you can decide if you have an opportunity that is worth taking to the C-Level to invest in.
These are my steps to identifying an opportunity, and they can be used for any brand or business. The time consuming parts of the process are at the start, but once you have the keywords, and they are tagged properly, identifying the opportunity is the easy bit!
I hope this is useful. I’d love to know how you spot keyword opportunities, and whether you agree or disagree with my approach either in the comments or on twitter: @danielbianchini.