On June 23, 2021, Matt Bailey presented a digital marketing masterclass as part of Simplilearn’s webinar program. Matt is a member of the Digital Marketing Faculty for Simplilearn, the Digital Marketing Instructor for the Direct Marketing Association in NYC, and an instructor for the OMCP (Online Marketing Certified Professional) Program. He is the author of Internet Marketing: An Hour a Day (2011), Wired to be Wowed (2015), and Teach New Dogs Old Tricks (2017)
Matt’s topic was keyword research for different digital marketing channels. As part of the masterclass, Matt ran a number of live demonstrations of keyword research techniques.
Keyword Research is the Indispensable Digital Marketing Skill
Matt said if he were to sum up the one skill that digital marketers need to have, regardless of where your focus or your concentration might be, it’s keyword research. Matt had a digital marketing agency for 10 years, and when he would get a new client, his team would do keyword research for at least four to five days on this client (of course if they were e-commerce, they had products and so it would take a lot longer). At its core they would focus on finding everything relevant about this client, about their business, and what are people saying. They would examine the keywords in many different ways so that they would be the experts on the keywords for this client. They didn't rely on the client to tell us everything about their business; they went online to see what other people said, what the keywords said, and what people were looking for.
By the end of this keyword research project, every analyst who is working for this client was intimately familiar with the words that people use. In doing this, they could create better optimization, better paid search campaigns, and better content in the content marketing plan because we knew what people wanted and more importantly they knew the words that they used. That is what is so critical about keyword research. To Matt, it is the heartbeat of digital marketing because we use these words and we use the intelligence that we find in so many other areas.
Choosing a Keyword Research Tool
There are many keyword research programs, all Software as a Service. WordTracker is the one that Matt has used the longest and he continue to use it for the quality of the results that it provides. Moz, ahrefs, and Raven Tools are other examples: if you go to google and type in “keyword research tools” or “keyword research software,” you'll probably get a dozen or more. Many will offer a free trial, which is very helpful in getting a sense of how it works and what you can do with it. Keyword research tools will offer different levels of upgrades to let you get keywords from other countries and other languages. Not everything on the web is English and most keyword research companies are based in the US, so you want to be sure if you're in a regional or a different country that the keyword research tool you select has searches that are native to your country and to your language. That is a vital part of optimization as well as keyword research.
Matt walked through the WordTracker interface to show some of the functions that are available. One thing Matt likes about WordTracker is he can search more than just Google. Matt debunked a myth about keyword research: no keyword research tool has a direct relationship with Google to access 100 percent of all Google searches. Anyone who offers keyword research with a Google option uses an api and only gets a small percentage of the actual searches done on Google. Even digital marketers who do paid search campaigns in Google and research keywords in Google don't see the full breadth of searches and the full the accurate search counts. Google does not share its entire search database, so any keyword research engine is only getting a small fraction of the data and they are extrapolating from that, cross referencing it with other data from ISPs, browsers, and many other sources. They create an algorithm to estimate how many searches are done that month.
With a tool that receives feeds from Amazon, YouTube, eBay, and other search engines, you can also search based on those engines’ search results. Depending on what you're doing and what your user base looks like, it can help to research on those other platforms because you will find that people search differently on YouTube than they do on Google or Amazon. On Google searching is information driven; on Amazon, it's product driven; on YouTube, it's a little bit of both but people are actually looking for advice and comparison, so YouTube is a very interesting way of researching keywords.
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Keyword Research Strategies
Matt then demonstrated keyword research strategies using “hiking boots” as his root search term. He showed how to follow search term variations and qualifiers, how to look at seasonal changes in search patters, and how to look at regional variations. Matt says keyword research is a listening exercise: it's listening to thousands of people tell you what they think through their searches, and the essential task is soaking in as much information as possible. You will be able to follow his demonstration in the masterclass video embedded above.
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