A Campaign Approach to Analyzing Keyword Performance

Reid Trier
Posted by Reid Trier on October 2, 2015
Weeds in front of rolling hills.

Content marketers face a dilemma when trying to improve organic search traffic. When you're targeting an entire swath of keywords, it's difficult to understand how well each is performing because an individual keyword has its own search patterns and level of difficulty. It's very easy to get lost in the weeds.

Yet, if you only look at overall organic search traffic, you might see positive growth results, but then the question is: What parts of your content are showing improvement? It's not easy to identify themes of content success when you take the bird's eye view at organic search traffic.

With keywords, the problem marketers face is that they're either looking at search traffic from 5000 feet, or they're on the ground looking through hundreds of individual search terms. In this article, we'd like to present a strategy based on HubSpot's technology to better plan and implement keyword monitoring and targeting.

Using Campaigns to Thematically Plan Keyword Targeting

The key lies in HubSpot’s Campaigns tool—an “all-in-one” component of HubSpot that allows your company to establish clear goals for visitors, contacts, and customers generated from a chosen dimension of your marketing activities. Within this tool, HubSpot gives you the ability to tag various inbound marketing activities, such as blog posts, keywords, landing pages, etc., as part of a campaign.

For an effective keyword strategy, we recommend using campaigns as a thematic keyword grouping tool. Each keyword in HubSpot's keyword tool should belong to a campaign, so that you can understand keywords in their intended thematic context, rather than just as individual terms.

To make this strategy work, however, it’s imperative to keep the three stages of the buyer’s journey in mind. You’ll need to have an understanding of the necessary keywords to target for prospects at each respective stage, so you can effectively convert them into contacts, and eventually paying customers.

Step 1: Organize Keywords by Relevance in Your Buyer's Journey

Begin by formulating a keyword list that addresses awareness level questions of the buyer’s journey. In the case of an equipment manufacturing company, prospects might be asking, “Why has my _____ production stagnated over the last quarter?”

As a result, you would want to address highly targeted, long-tail keywords that likely have low search traffic and answer your buyer's questions. This reflects the buyer’s process, as capital equipment is a highly considered, big ticket item—not something searched for regularly.

An awareness level keyword strategy is simple, especially if you have a deep understanding of your ideal personas. Regardless of industry, we suggest creating a list of hundreds of keywords that reflect buyer’s most pertinent, early stage questions.

From there, you should begin organizing keywords you want to target into various thematic groupings, which you'll refine in the next step.

Step 2: Construct an organizational scheme for your keyword targets

Now that you have begun to target buyer’s individual needs, you can categorize your keywords into various campaigns according to themes, such as:

  • Types of services their company offers
  • Steps of their industry’s purchasing process
  • Key geographic areas you want to target
  • Industry verticals

These campaigns ensure that you are addressing keyword opportunities at areas important to your company. While you already have an understanding of the buyer’s journey, each term in your list of keywords should be categorized based on theme.

In HubSpot's Campaign tool, you can make a campaign for every service offering, industry target, or step of your process.

HubSpot campaign tool set to track a campaign called Equipment & Machinery Manufacturing.

By assigning many keywords to a single campaign, you can see their greater thematic effect. If you have built a long list of keywords, you can more easily understand them, and compare campaigns by their effectiveness in attracting visitors and contacts.

Especially for companies that rely heavily on organic traffic, this is a highly effective way of understanding how your desired targets and currently-ranked-for keywords compare.

Step 3: Implement keywords in site copy and content

With these simple and organized campaigns, you’ll know exactly what keywords to target in your content, and who they target. Then, using campaigns as a guide, you can construct more content in areas where your keywords are underperforming and moderate your content creation in areas you're already doing well.

In addition, you can follow-up on certain content areas to further optimize for selected keywords. For example, if you've written a lot of content in a certain campaign area, but your keywords aren't driving a lot of the visits, then one solution might be to do historical optimization and try to boost the page rank for each of those content pieces.

Aligning organic search and content is an ongoing process that will change according to adaptations in buyer behavior. If you can match this behavior, you'll capture attention for your brand and the respect of your potential buyers, showing you're conscientious of their journey.

The Key to Success

Your specific campaigns should always center on what matters most to your company, including your ideal prospects. By evaluating your organic search strategy using thematic campaigns (and HubSpot's Campaigns tool), you're essentially creating a middle level of analysis between total organic search results and individual keyword performance. This strategy helps to align search to content creation, providing a fluid way of planning and constructing content.

Compare organic SEO to Pay-Per-Click

Topics: Search Engine Optimization, Content Marketing

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