Keyword Clusters: Revealing Profitable SEO Opportunities

Keyword Clusters: Revealing Profitable SEO Opportunities

In today’s guest post, Blueclaw’s Digital Strategy Manager Sam Raife, outlines the need for greater focus on keyword clusters, when it comes to developing an effective SEO strategy.

All of the team from Blueclaw loved being part of last month’s Search Masterclass. It was a great venue and an event that was filled with digital marketing leaders from a whole host of different backgrounds.

However, even with all this professional diversity, one of the issues that came up time and again was the need for SEO leaders to have a greater input on strategy, and the problematic focus on individual rankings as the dominant (or only) measure of SEO success.

The problem with using rankings as a measurement KPI is that people tend to focus on the success or failure of a single ranking.

Taking a straightforward, mainstream product, let’s consider the keyword “Blinds”.

This keyword is responsible for 90,500 searches a month in the UK according to SEMrush. That is a lot of searches.

It is easy to see why anybody would get fixated with that. Move me to position 1 for this and we get more sales. So far so simple – but there’s more to the story.

Moving from Keywords, to Keyword Clusters

As an SEO professional, you know that the term “Blinds” is important, but you also know that the sum of the search volume of other related phrases such as “Roman Blinds”, “Window Blinds” and “Roller Blinds” has a combined total search volume much larger than that of just “Blinds”,

More than this, you know that more specific terms such as these are a good buying signal, and so visitors who arrive on the site from these keywords are more likely to convert.

This is a basic example, and one that most people will be able to understand, but what about when you consider FAQs, or long-tail phrases that are 5+ words that still have valuable search volume?

Making the case for looking beyond single keywords requires a change the focus and knowing you have a way of building content that will help capture a greater spread of terms and traffic.

Creating Content to Target Keywords Clusters

Planning out content to accommodate long tail keyword clusters can be done by following a straightforward process:

  1. Document the core topics, issues, queries and problems that your target customers might relate to your product or service.
  2. Compile each of these topics into grouped areas of similarity.
  3. Expand the central topics using keyword research from the tools you are most comfortable using.
  4. Use competitor research and some internal soul-searching to establish the content that you are most effective at producing for each keyword cluster.
  5. Create and write the best possible content you can, aligned to keyword clusters.

This is of course an abbreviated overview of a task that can be challenging – we all know companies often struggle to produce great content on an effective schedule for SEO or any other purpose.

Making the justification that these long tail phrases are just as if not more important as part of a genuinely strategic SEO and content plan than a main target keyword can be a challenge – but there are tools and approaches that can help.

Data-driven Strategy with The SEO’s Pro’s Friend: Excel

The number of analytical tools and platforms available to SEO professionals today is getting higher by the day but one of the best (though least pretty) is found on pretty much every desktop – Excel.

Combining analysis from tools like SEMrush and aHrefs with the long-established (though powerful) functions of Excel is a winning way to ground your keyword strategy.

Pivot tables in particular are an effective way to explore the cumulative impact of your target keywords, opening up scope to plan using clusters of keywords rather than individual ‘vanity’ keywords

To adopt this approach yourself, we have built an Excel tool that SEO professionals and marketers can use, based on a simple but powerful combination of pivot tables and a SEMrush csv.

Just follow the instructions on the spreadsheet, paste your data and hit refresh. The template will help you do the analysis detailed above, and help build the case for targeting keyword clusters – not individual keywords.

Click here to get the Keyword Cluster Tool

The fact is, small individual ranking movements don’t matter if you are making regular progress to increase the average position of these pages and the rankings associated with them across a valuable cluster of keywords

Of course, if you have any questions about SEO, how to use SEMrush or the tool, read more here or write to us at contact@blueclaw.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help. Any and all feedback appreciated!

Author Biog

Sam Raife - Blueclaw

Sam Raife heads up the ‘Offsite Strategy Team’ at Blueclaw. In his role, Sam supports and develops campaign strategies that deliver tangible uplifts in rankings, traffic and revenue for his clients.

 

Winning Top Tier Coverage for Search Engine Impact

Winning top tier media coverage for search engine performance - Martin Calvert, Blueclaw

In today’s guest post, Blueclaw’s Marketing Director Martin Calvert examines the impact of quality media coverage on visibility and search performance. 

Links remain the lynchpin of off-site SEO strategy, but not all links are created equal.

Google’s commitment to rewarding sites that provide the most value to human visitors, means the search engine is looking for indications that your site is organically featured and linked to by high quality sites.

As Google’s Matt Cutts states –

‘…the objective is not to ‘Make your links appear natural’; the objective is that your links are natural.”

Natural links from great website and publications help your site – unnatural links from poor quality site do nothing or actively damage your rankings.

Unlocking that higher tier of coverage and winning over publications, blogs and influencers takes great content, aligned to your SEO strategy.

However, lessons can be drawn from other disciplines – including PR.

Content Marketing, SEO and PR

Considering…

“What sites can I be featured on? What would their readers find compelling about what we have to say? What topics would capture their interest? Where can I reasonably expect to win coverage?”

….are all questions that professionals in another content-centric industry are very familiar with – PR.

As SEO becomes ever more like PR in terms of these questions, the more marketers can look to the established habits of great PR firms to guide their content strategy, while also incorporating the SEO criteria and metrics they need to drive rankings.

As in PR, the more authoritative and discerning a publication/site you target, the better your content must be. Remember, these publications thrive on maintaining high standards, and have their own SEO and readerships to consider.

SEO is a bit of an arms race in that with so many companies attempting to implement a link-earning strategy, the best sites have become more discerning about who they link to.

Meanwhile, more ‘accessible’ sites lose value quickly – and could even result in a penalty.

Higher Value Links, Greater Results

The gold standard of leading industry publications, mainstream media and .gov and .edu domains remains in force.

The effort to produce this content of a quality that will win coverage (and links) from this type of outlet can be off-putting.

For some companies, they will continue to suffer from the fatal half measure of lacklustre content generation leading to lacklustre results.

Breaking out of that routine and really taking your SEO strategy forward, requires creativity, insight and authentic content of unambiguous value.

The good news is the better your content is, the further it can travel and the greater results you can anticipate.

This is particularly the case if there is an element of virality – content that people cannot resist linking to and sharing on social media and elsewhere.

Manning the Pump

The internet is awash with mediocre content, churned out on a timely schedule.

The written word is vital but engaging, entertaining and insightful visual elements also increase the value of content as the delivery mechanism for the crucial link to your site.

A vanishingly small number of companies can produce content on a consistent basis that retains high standards of quality – and some will choose never to invest that time, effort or money.

We know that Google loves new content, are hungry to index it and will give a boost to fresh material on the assumption that newer = more timely, relevant and interesting.

That’s something to bear in mind when producing content for your own site, but it’s also at the forefront of the minds of savvier website owners. Your great content helps their site – so they’ll be willing to scratch your back in turn with a follow link.

Consistency in Content

Consistency in content creation in terms of timeliness and quality is just as important for the mainstream media.

Though they may be less concerned about their own search rankings, they do demand dependable partners who can be relied upon to help with a quote, a bit of insight or a meaty piece of content that makes their story or their site that much better.

In short, your SEO programme will suffer and winning, retaining and expanding your media relationships will be harder without regularity of great content – that crucial connective tissue – to keep the reciprocal relationships working well.

Differentiating on Content for Next-Level SEO

Content marketing is the delivery mechanism for off-site SEO – and the better your content, the greater leeway you have to engage and negotiate with the sites that fit the ideal profile for your SEO strategy.

What qualifies as great content will vary depending on your industry, and demands of the press, industry publications, sector-specific sites and influencers.

Content marketing is in a hype phase at the moment, meaning that there is a flood of sub-par content.

Differentiating is critical, as is creating a reputation for quality and consistency – looking to PR for inspiration is just one route.

Author Biog

Martin Calvert - Blueclaw

Martin has an 11-year career as an international researcher, speaker and client and agency-side practitioner in the field of online communication and influence. Drawing on his diverse experience, Martin provides a practical, personable and data-driven view of digital marketing and SEO.

Having recently joined Blueclaw as Marketing Director, Martin is responsible for enthusing major brands and challengers alike about the new art of the possible in digital marketing.

Martin’s session at next week’s Search Leaders Masterclass at Etihad Stadium, Manchester: Earning media coverage, social shares & engagement for next-gen SEO

 

Content Marketing: The Delivery Mechanism for Contemporary SEO

Content Marketing - The Delivery Mechanism for Contemporary SEO by Martin Calvert, Blueclaw

As part of our build-up to this month’s Search Leaders Masterclass at Etihad Stadium in Manchester, Blueclaw’s Marketing Director Martin Calvert examines the role of content marketing as a delivery mechanism for next-gen SEO.

SEO is dead. Content is king.
Well…that’s what a lot of clickbait blogs have been announcing for some time.

The fact is SEO and content marketing are inextricably linked, and too many SEO programmes are undercut by a casual approach to content that leads to poor results.

Grown up SEO
To a large extent, a scalable and effective SEO programme still depends on inbound links from high-authority sites.

Google and other search engines are continually instructing marketers to produce websites that are accessible and of legitimate interest to actual humans, rather than focusing on how to manipulate bots.

In other words, SEO has grown up.

Of course, the smarter Google gets at detecting web content that is spammy or otherwise odd (and algorithm updates like Google Panda and Google Possum are arriving frequently), the more danger there is for website owners who host dodgy content.

The way to their heart (and to obtain the coverage and links you need) is through genuinely superior content that makes their publications and websites better, and add real value, amusement and/or insight to the reader on the page.

Winning valuable coverage for SEO is best achieved through content that deserves coverage and commentary – content that is ‘linkable’ even by those who have no interest at all in your particular brand.

SEO and Content Marketing
Content Marketing – The Delivery Mechanism for Contemporary SEO by Martin Calvert, Blueclaw

SEO in its most basic definition is about getting the right traffic to the right pages, through better understanding of ranking factors and approaches. SEO is all about the outcome.

Content marketing is an approach that (among many other things) helps achieve that outcome – the connective tissue between your intended audience, a target publication/blog/website and the delivery mechanism for that coveted link through to your site.

The Delivery Mechanism
In the olden days of off-site SEO, the delivery mechanism – the means to secure links to your site, may just have been the link itself, a dense keyword-rich article or a bit of detail for a directory listing.

What’s changed is that the delivery mechanism – the content that surrounds, embraces and supports the link you want to obtain – must be much closer to what a human reader will consider to be good.

Out with the Old
So. Keyword-stuffing is out. Duplicate content and oversold meta-descriptions are out. Google’s Panda update is becoming ever-more effective at spotting (and delivering penalties to) ‘over-optimised’ sites with a dubious, unnatural link profile.

Today, content produced for SEO-benefit must be of a higher quality, greater depth and more human to win authentic coverage and abide by the best practice demanded by search engines.

That’s for the benefit of both the publications you depend upon to link to you, who need to protect and boost their own rankings, as well to retain the SEO value of any link to your site.

A Supporting Role
Content marketing specialists may feel a little uncomfortable about this description of the supporting role that content can play in SEO.

Indeed, it’s the lack of investment in content marketing expertise that is responsible for so many underwhelming SEO campaigns.

By not prioritising genuinely superior, targeted and high quality content, some companies reduce the content element of SEO to just ‘fodder’.

Contemporary SEO success is contingent on getting out of that mindset – and SEO specialists working with (and giving credit to) content marketing experts who can hit the standard required to deliver truly top-tier on-topic coverage, inbound links and productive relationships with media partners.

Author Biog

Martin Calvert - Blueclaw

Martin has an 11-year career as an international researcher, speaker and client and agency-side practitioner in the field of online communication and influence. Drawing on his diverse experience, Martin provides a practical, personable and data-driven view of digital marketing and SEO.

Having recently joined Blueclaw as Marketing Director, Martin is responsible for enthusing major brands and challengers alike about the new art of the possible in digital marketing.

Martin’s session at the Search Leaders Masterclass in Manchester on Tuesday 29th November 2016:  Earning media coverage, social shares & engagement for next-gen SEO

Influencer marketing; from corporate to personal brand

Influencer marketing: From corporate brand to personal brand

In today’s guest post, Blueclaw’s Martin Calvert takes a closer look at the power of influencer marketing and why brands needs to embrace it.  

Influencer marketing is a method to boost your brand in the eyes of your ideal customers by building relationships with the people who influence them. There are two key reasons why influencer marketing really shouldn’t be ignored:

  • The harsh truth that customers prefer to interact with people rather than brands 
    Finding ways to meaningfully engage with your ideal audiences using networks of influencers with existing followers is a way to humanise your brand and capitalise on influencer trust.
  • Old school keyword stuffing tactics won’t cut it in contemporary SEO
    Engaging with industry influencers is a way to achieve high-quality, high-authority inbound links from individuals and networks that are seen as experts or worth following by your customers…and if your customers think they are authoritative, so too does Google.

Influencer marketing matters because customers are increasingly informed, densely networked with peers and accessible influencers and less inclined to trust what brands have to say about themselves.

The implications of that lack of trust are serious, while the opportunities that go along with being a legitimately trusted brand are significant:

Behaviours for trusted companies

Every day we all take information from influencers in weighing up who we do business with in our private and business lives.

In practice, we are all subject to influence.

On the spectrum of influence many people of course will take the advice of friends, family and colleagues most seriously but influencers can take many forms. For example, Amazon invites us to ‘Say hello to Chiara’.

Say hello to Chiara

Chiara is a fashion blogger with a large following but, more importantly, a more relatable persona than a massive online company.

In 2016, personal brands are more immediately powerful than corporate brands.

From the Kardashians through to micro-celebrities like Chiara, and technology gurus like Cory Doctorow, to influential social hubs like Mumsnet, Buzzfeed and MoneySavingExpert, there is a massive ecosystem of influencers who are valued for their capacity to suggest desirable and/or sensible ways to live, shop and do business.

Not high on that list? Corporate websites….and that is reflected in the type of search results that search engines now prioritise.

Influencer marketing and SEO

Increasingly, search engines are conditioned to respond to natural language queries. This means a search for ‘best travel destinations on a budget’ will be treated as a phrase with more meaningful results presented that do not necessarily feature exact-matching collections of keywords.

Influencer marketing and SEO

As the ‘semantic web’ grows ever more sophisticated, efforts at search engine optimisation must take account of influencers, meaningful authority and the information sources that are most trusted. It’s worth noting the lack of big brand domains in the SERP in the example above.

By engaging with key influencers in specific industries, companies have an opportunity to revitalise their own brand position and to reach the audiences that matter most to them.

However, to encourage influencers to link to corporate sites and otherwise implicitly or explicitly endorse your services, companies must be prepared to think carefully about how best to incentivise and resource influencers – and that takes excellent content and a collaborative mind-set.

Not every company is ready to fully engage with influencer marketing, but for those that do the rewards are very significant – and point the way at least in part for the future of SEO and brand communications.

Author biog

Martin Calvert - Blueclaw

Martin Calvert, Marketing Director at Blueclaw has been tracking online influence as a researcher, marketer and strategist for over ten years.

You can chat with Martin at the PR & Social Leaders Masterclass in Manchester on Tuesday 24th May 2016, where he’ll be chairing a session that explores the implications of influencer marketing for SEO, content marketing, brand and more.