Having created personas the next job is to start to build your focus keyword list. This might seem daunting, especially as some companies have target keyword lists that run in the thousands. However, if you break down the process into the following steps the process is relatively painless:

  • Step 1: create logical segments.
  • Step 2: mine your data.
  • Step 3: mine secondary data sources.
  • Step 4: sense check.

Note that within this section we will use the term ‘keyword’ as a catch-all for search terms. While some searches are just one keyword, increasingly people use natural language and therefore longer phrases.

Step 1: create logical segments

Most businesses sell a multitude of products or services, some of which might well be quite diverse. So a good starting point is to split your products/services into logical segments. The good news is that if your site hierarchy is logical you have probably already done this. Then consider each segment in detail. Which are the most valuable to you? How do customer types vary? Which should you prioritize?

Step 2: mine your data

An obvious step is to mine the data you already have. However, even in the digital world we sometimes go backwards and, sadly, in October 2011 Google implemented changes that mean it is now extremely difficult to work out the keywords or phrases that site visitors used to find a particular site. What used to be simple (check analytics) is now very difficult.

This is due to Google removing the keywords returned within Google Analytics and instead simply labelling all SEO traffic as ‘keyword not provided’. This has been a frustration for many digital marketers as knowledge is a crucial part of building any strategy.

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