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5 steps to an effective keyword strategy: Step 1 - Start from Scratch

So, you've decided to refresh the content on your site and hit the realisation that, hey - there's actually an awful lot to consider!!

So, where do you start?

Well, not with the keywords I am afraid. Not yet at least.

Why not? Well, a comprehensive content overhaul could very well mean a new site structure.

There might be new sections, new routes to information, new entry and exit points for the customer, new forms and new protected content, the list goes on and you can't define the keywords until you have defined the pages. The "Information Architecture" (a lovely bit of baffling jargon we like to use) needs to be defined.

Written by
Guy Redmill
Published on
1 Jun 2010

In our experience there are THREE critical (but fortunately quite entertaining) activities that need to be done at this point. It's a game for all family here and it's where we try to involve a good cross section of our client's people to pitch in with ideas.

1) Creating user personas

2) Sorting information

3) Brainstorming

1) Creating user personas

As lame and "marketing" as it may sound, it's incredibly helpful to have a few key customer personas in mind when you begin to define the structure and the content of your site.

The site will no doubt attract a number of different types of visitors; the technically literate engineer, the busy decision maker, the procurement information gatherer and the casual browser all need to be catered for.

They will have different needs, different expectations and possibly different journeys to the target information. Defining who these key people are and what their preferred routes would be is key to the success of your new content

2) Information sorting

With these key personas in mind it's time to start sorting the information.

In our marketing workshops, we like to use good old fashioned cards for this and try to get a cross section of our client's people to work in several small groups. First thing to do is to define the different types of content that will be available on the new site - product info, service info, downloadable content, news, information on markets served, references, case studies, contact details.

There's probably going to be a lot of it. The next step is to organise it.


"Anyway you like" is the answer we usually give. It could be by theme, by type, by complexity, by product group, by importance and on so on ad nauseum. It takes a while and it can be confusing but there is always a valuable insight to be gained from this process.

This is also where we add our some of our value as consultants, going away with this info and coming back with a site structure, complete with sensible groupings, definable customer journeys and most importantly PAGES!!

3) So finally, we can get onto the topic of keywords!! You have your pages and now you can decide what goes in them.

This is where we re-visit our user personas and put ourselves in the shoes of "Fred in the shed", "Paul in procurement" and their imaginary colleagues.

At the most basic level it's a no nonsense brainstorming activity that we want here. "Fred in the shed" has a problem that widget B addresses, so what terms would he use to find his solution?

This is where we try to feel Fred's pain, tap into his frustration and imagine the terms and phrases he is most likely to use to find widget b. Once this is complete, we go through the same process for Paul in Procurement, then Ron in R&D, Helen at Head get the idea. The differences may be minimal, a single word here or there, but these small differences may be vital.

Now there are (at last count) seven basic keyword qualifiers that we could investigate here, not all may be applicable but it's a nice framework to use when looking for those long tails that turn a generic, irrelevant, competitive term into keyword gold.

More of that next time, when we come onto the subject of longtails, keyword tools and qualification categories.

If you can't wait contact us now to learn how we can help develop an effective keyword and content strategy for you.

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