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