Keyword research: Myth-busting and back to basics with Joh Kohler (NEWBIE)

Keyword research: Myth-busting and back to basics with Joh Kohler (NEWBIE)
Reading Time: 30 minutes

 

Peeling the fiction away from fact to help Google find you

 

Keywords, we’ve covered them before and we’ll cover them again.

Why? Because no matter how long I swim in the murky waters of SEO, I still see so much misinformation about how keywords are found, researched, and eventually used.

Especially on low-grade SEO copywriting courses (shh, naming no names).

These so-called experts are stuck in the keyword past, talking about density and shoehorning them into every paragraph and meta description.

But with Google’s improvements in understanding the context of our content, (the why behind the what), the deeper intelligence around the natural language process (hello Bert), and the fundamental improvements in learning how language itself works, these old school ideas won’t help you get found.

So today we’re going to bust some myths, refresh some memories and get back to the basics of keyword research.

 

Tune in to learn:

  • Who’s responsible for researching keywords: the client, the copywriter, or the SEO agency
  • What to do once you have your list of keywords
  • What role search intent plays in your choice of a keyword
  • Why there is no one “perfect keyword”
  • When to start assigning your keywords to posts, pages, and products
  • Keyword myths: Why you shouldn’t use the same keyword for every page
  • How service-based business keyword usage differs from keyword usage for eCommerce businesses
  • How to find investigation and informational keywords
  • How effective blogging is for keyword ranking
  • Joh’s favourite keyword tools
  • Joh’s number one tip for keyword research

 

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And big thanks to Lisa Galea – Burning Love Creative for their lovely review:

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Kate’s honest approach to business and her wide range of guests all dropping knowledge bombs brings me back for more. Kate’s creative vocabulary has had me rolling in tears.

 

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About Joh Kohler

 

Johanna Kohler is an Adelaide-based website copywriter and content strategist.

Using SEO smarts and strategic creativity, Joh’s website words help customers find and understand the services you sell.

A despiser of sleazy sales tactics and black-hat tricks, Joh’s user-centric approach will make your website speak to the heart of your ideal customer (and the heart of the search engine algorithms).

Fun fact: Joh is a game show tragic – she went on the ABC’s Vidiot as a teenager and won Family Feud in 2016. if they ever reboot Sale of the Century, she will be there.

 

 

Connect with Joh Kohler

 

 

Useful Resources

 

 

Transcript

 

Kate Toon:

Keywords. We’ve covered them before and we’ll cover them again. Why? Because no matter how long I swim in the murky waters of SEO, I still see so much misinformation and misunderstanding about how keywords are found, researched and eventually, used, especially, on low grade SEO courses. Sh, I’m not naming any names. You know the ones, I mean. These so-called experts are stuck in the keyword past, talking about density and shoehorning keywords into every paragraph and method description.

Kate Toon:

But with Google’s improvements in understanding the context of our content, the why behind the what, the deeper intelligence around natural language, predeceasing hello, Burt, and the fundamental improvements in learning how language, itself works. That’s Google mom, people. These old school ideas won’t help you get found, anymore. In fact, they never did. Today, we’re going to bust some myths, refreshing memories and get back to basics with keyword research.

Kate Toon:

Hello, my name is Kate Toon and I am the head chef at The Recipe for SEO Success, an online teaching hub for all things related to search engine optimization and digital marketing. Today, I’m speaking with Joh Kohler. Hello, Joh.

Joh Kohler:

Hello

Kate Toon:

Good to speak to you. Good to see you. No one else can see you, but I can. I’m going to introduce you, now. Let me explain that Joh Kohler is an Adelaide-based website copywriter and content strategist. Using SEO smarts and strategic creativity, Joh’s website words help customers find and understand the services you sell.

Kate Toon:

A despiser of sleazy sales tactics and black hat tricks, Joh’s user-centric approach will make your website speak to the heart of your ideal customer and the heart of the search engine algorithms. Fun facts. We always have a fun fact these days. Joh is a game show tragic. I love this. I knew this already. She went on the ABC’s Vidiot, was it called Vidiot, as a teenager and won Family Feud in 2016. If there’s ever a reboot of Sale of the Century, she will be there. I’ve not heard of Vidiot, but I have heard of Family Feud.

Joh Kohler:

Yeah. Vidiot was a teen like pop culture quiz show. It was a lot of fun.

Kate Toon:

Was it and you won Family Feud?

Joh Kohler:

We did. Yeah. We won Family Feud. That was pretty exciting. 

Kate Toon:

What did you get? Did you get a barbecue and a caravan or something like that?

Joh Kohler:

No, it was Celebrity Family Feud. We raised money for charity. I think we raised something like $30,000 for my brother’s chosen charity of the RSPCA, which was fabulous.

Kate Toon:

What a shame, though that you didn’t. That’s the one thing.

Joh Kohler:

No. It was so much fun.

Kate Toon:

How lovely, charity. Oh yeah, that’s good. We won’t talk about your famous brother. We’re instead, we’re going to talk about keyword research. You can Google Joh and find out who her brother is, if you want to. She’s far more interesting. I’m going to say that right, now. Joh is, she did the SEO course, probably in one of the first rounds. She’s now the nominated keyword person on the course. She comes along each round and helps me talk about keywords.

Kate Toon:

Obviously, I know about keywords, too. But it’s always good to get a different perspective. I’d say Joh is a working keywords person. You’re helping clients right now, discover their keywords. Right, Joh?

Joh Kohler:

Yes. Yeah, that’s right.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. When you’re on the call phase, it’s a little bit different to when you’re teaching from some lofty plinth. Today, we’re going to dive a little bit deeper into a copywriter’s insight, into using keywords for humans, not just the Google machine.

Kate Toon:

Let’s talk about the role of researching keywords, because I think for any copywriters or marketers or web developers or anybody, they’re like, is that my job or should that be handled by a fully qualified SEO expert or an SEO agency? Is it something the copywriter does or the agency? What do you think?

Joh Kohler:

Well, every answer in SEO and marketing, it depends. It really does depend on the particular project and scope and who’s involved in it. All of those people could do it, if they have the knowledge and the skills and the tools to do it. You need to determine that, depending on the project. But whoever does the keyword research, whether it’s an SEO agency, whether it’s the client, whether it’s the copywriter, they need to make sure they’re focusing on the context of the keywords, the search ring tandem, making sure the keywords relate to the website and page messages.

Joh Kohler:

I guess, as a copywriter, I feel that we have a bit of an advantage in this area, because we are all about the message and all about what we’re trying to communicate on the page. I have had times where I’ve received a big list of keywords that are just not relevant, at all. Well, even I have a bit of a dig into those myself. It does depend, it depends on the project.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. I want to talk back to that a little bit, about the big long list, because I think you’re right. Copywriters are uniquely placed to understand the brand, the brand values, the offering, the features, the benefit, the customer, the customer’s demographics, their desires, their fears. Often, I find that SEO agencies don’t think about that.

Kate Toon:

They go into a tool and pull out what they think are high volume keywords that might deliver traffic but make no sense in the context of the page and almost impossible to use. I think that’s the real problem. Don’t you? The keyword lists are often senseless. They’re just ridiculous sometimes.

Joh Kohler:

Yeah, absolutely. I’ve certainly, seen that in my time and I will push back and try to, I guess, educate the client and just say, look, yes, these keywords have some nice data and figures around them. But when we look at what we’re trying to achieve with the website, the people you’re trying to attract, the message you’re trying to convey, we need keywords that are going to support that.

Joh Kohler:

Like I say, I do a lot of keyword research for other copywriters. They’ll pay me to do the keywords for them and I think, they appreciate that I come at it from that perspective, from the understanding that these keywords need to make sense and need to be relevant to the brand, to the message, to what we’re trying to achieve with attracting the right customers.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. We’re going to talk a bit more about intense in a minute. But I guess, this is a bit of a permission for you. If you are a copywriter or business owner and you get a list of keywords, that it is fine to push back. Even some of the supposedly, good SEO agencies have a really misguided view of keywords and don’t really think about the context and the searcher intent. Pushing back and also, the other thing I find, and we’ll talk a bit more about this as we moved through, is you just get a big, long list and they’re not grouped together in any context. That job of finding little gangs of keywords, of focus and some synonyms, is often left up to the copywriter, which can be challenging, as well. We’ll talk a bit more about that as we move through. But let’s think about it.

Kate Toon:

The first step, I always say with keyword research, is to just brainstorm. Use tools like Keyword Shitter and Ubersuggest, any of the free ones. Talk to your audience. I have a contact form where I ask people what keyword they just typed in to Google. Use whatever sources you can to create a seed list of keywords. Then, I guess, once you’ve got that big old list, maybe it’s a sexy little Excel spreadsheet, what do you do next, Joh, once you’ve got your seed list?

Joh Kohler:

Yeah. Once I’ve got a seed list from all those sorts of sources that you’ve talked about, or if I’ve been given it by a client from them or from an SEO agency, the first thing I want to do is find the data for those keywords. I’ll use my preferred keyword research tool. I’m looking for things like the search volume, the level of competition, what’s happening on the search engine results page for that keyword, at the moment. Who’s ranking number one? What’s their DA? What are the features of that search? Is there a featured snippet?

Joh Kohler:

Are there lots of images? What’s going on, to understand the types of content we might need to be thinking about, if we want to try and rank high for that keyword. I’d like to look at what the client is already ranking for and analysing their existing content, to see if there might be opportunities to improve or further optimise. That would be the first thing I’m doing, is just let’s get the data down for the list of keywords.

Kate Toon:

Yeah, exactly that. I think we’re going to talk about some tools that we love at the end of the show. Hang on for that. We’re going to recommend some free ones, some low-cost ones and some paid ones. Yeah, I do exactly the same. Maybe, I’ll start with volume and see which of those are going to deliver the highest volume. Then, as you said, I look at difficult. Each tool calls it something slightly different, don’t they? Difficulty or whatever. I look at the difficulty rating. But then, I love what you said there, that you’ll actually, go and look at the search results, because I think another really interesting metric that people underestimate with keyword research, is click-through rate. There’s this great keyword, it’s got good volume and it looks really easy to get, but when you look at it, the click-through rates are really, really low.

Kate Toon:

Why is that? Often, when you pop these keywords into Google, you see that the search results are crowded out with the content. What I mean by that is, above your organic listing, there may be ads, there may be a shopping carousel. Then maybe, people also asked or a local pack. You are organically, listed number one, which sounds amazing. But on the page, you’re actually going to be in position 10, which means really, you’re never going to get the click-through.

Kate Toon:

I think some people spend too long in the tools. Again, I know you’ve experienced this, as well, Joh. Sometimes you get this keyword list and it’s got the volumes. It’s got the keyword difficulty and it’s fabulous and from that they’ve determined, you should use these keywords. But they haven’t looked at the SERPS and they haven’t realised that these keywords aren’t an opportunity. They’re going to be impossible to get. Do you find that sometimes?

Joh Kohler:

Yeah, definitely. I mean, most of the time is when I’ve received a list of keywords. Sort of, I say a generic marketing agency or something. It’s really, just volume and competition and that’s been the only real metric they look at. But yeah, like we’ve said, that the SERP matters, the context matters. There’s a lot more to it.

Kate Toon:

Yeah, exactly. Once we’ve looked at the traffic and obviously, we find these wonderful keywords that are high volume, low competition, great click-through rate and the sites that were going up against, to have terrible domain authority. Let’s be honest, that never really happens. Often, you are picking the best of a bad lot. People, someone asked me on the recipe course, yesterday. Oh, I found these keywords and they only have a volume of 80 to 100 a month, which seems terrible. I’m like, that’s great. Sometimes we are picking at the scraps. How do you view volume? People say what’s the lowest volume I should go for? What’s your answer to that?

Joh Kohler:

It, again, it depends, but I would rather have a keyword that’s only getting searched, say 20 times a month, but I’m going to rank and it’s really relevant. It’s a high conversion type keyword, that’s going to lead the right people to the right content, that’s going to convert into a sale. Then, rank for a keyword that might be getting 2000 searches a month that isn’t really relevant and isn’t bringing me the right audience. Again, it comes back to the context.

Kate Toon:

Absolutely. The example I always used, and I may have used this on the podcast before, so please forgive me if I have, is I used to rank number one for copywriter in Australia. I think Wikipedia has taken my spot and because it was a huge volume for that. It was amazing that I got to rank number one, but in terms of the revenue that made me, back then, zero, because most of the people searching for that were copywriters, not potential clients.

Kate Toon:

I went further down the long tail. I found keywords like financial services copyright or financial services writer, maybe only being searched 10 times a month. But if I could rank number one for that, and I could convert a client every month from that keyword, because obviously, it’s 10 a month forever, that was worth a whole lot of money to me. I think you really have to think of volume within context. We’ve got the data. We have chosen some keywords that we think are right for us. What do you do next? How do you organise those keywords in a meaningful way?

Joh Kohler:

Yeah. I guess, once you’ve analysed that data and got a feel for the keywords, cross out the ones you don’t want to bother with, and you’ve gotten it down to a short list, which could be a quite long short list, still, you do start sorting them into groups. You are looking at topic clusters, putting them together. Looking at synonyms, because, and to steal a phrase, you use a lot, Kate. If you’ve got a keyword of piglet jumpers and a keyword of baby pig jumpers, you’re not going to want to put those on two separate pieces of content.

Joh Kohler:

They’re saying the same thing. Google knows they mean the same thing. If you’ve got a piece of content about that, you want to group those synonyms together, to support each other on that piece of content. Looking at the real context of the keywords or the website or the brand, that you’re going to use them for, are they worth it? Are they relevant? What content could they support and do they answer real customer questions?

Kate Toon:

Yeah. I love that. I think we talk about clusters. We talk about maybe having a focus keyword that we’re going to push the hardest. Then, these synonyms, plurals word, order changes, if they don’t dramatically change the result. But I love when you said, we’re going to talk about searcher intent and I think that’s the real decider. People say to me, should I have two separate pages for these two keywords? The question you should answer is, would someone searching for keyword A, be satisfied with the content that you’re going to arrive for keyword B? Would both these people be satisfied with the same piece of content? Baby pig jumpers, piglet jumpers? Yes, of course they would. It’s essentially, the same content. I think we need to think about keywords that yes, every post product and page is another ticket in the SEO lottery, but we don’t want to just go for quantity.

Kate Toon:

We don’t want to just have gazillions and gazillions of pages. Better to have fewer quality pages that could possibly, rank for hundreds of keywords, if you do play your cards right than have lots of thin empty pages, just to try and saturate the keyword market. It doesn’t really work.

Kate Toon:

Look, let’s talk about searcher intent. We’ve talked about this on the podcast before. For those of you who don’t really, know what searcher intent means, it’s about dividing. Google looks at the intent of humans in four different ways, possibly five. Number one, transactional intent. I want to buy something. Number two, informational intent. I want to know something. Number three, investigation intent. I want to compare X with Y and number four, navigational intent. I just want to get to this spot on the internet. I want to get to NetBank’s login or whatever, and then, also possibly, location intent. I want something, but I actually want it in my local area. What role do these searcher intents play in your choices of keywords, Joh?

Joh Kohler:

Yeah, it’s vital. I think it’s the most important thing, because there’s no point in ranking for a keyword, if your content doesn’t answer the searchers question. I guess again, coming from that copywriter perspective, which is all about what’s the message on the page? What action are we trying to drive? What do we want people to think, feel, and do once, they’ve visited this website page. The keyword needs to match that. Searcher intent, I’m forever, when I’m looking at keywords and doing keyword research reports for clients, I’m always, what’s the intent? What do I want when I search this keyword? Does that page give me the answer that I’m searching for. It’s absolutely, vital.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. I guess in simple terms, you want your transactional intent keywords to be for your product pages and your services pages. You want your informational keywords to be more for your blog posts. For basic pages like your privacy policy and your returns policy, you basically, just need navigational keywords. You don’t need to try and shoehorn keywords in there. It’s literally, like name of brand and privacy policy. That’s a perfectly good keyword phrase for that page.

Kate Toon:

I think that’s really important to understand, that you have to then, once you’ve grouped your keywords into these little gangs, you’ve chosen the leader, you’ve chosen the synonyms, you then, as you said earlier, pick the right type of content for them to go on.

Kate Toon:

We’ll cover off a little myth here. I think I had it later in the episode, but we’ll cover it here. One of the things that people say a lot is, well, if I really want to rank this keyword, why don’t I just use it on every single page? Then, Google’s going to really, know that I want to rank for this keyword. What’s your answer to that one, Joh?

Joh Kohler:

Yeah. No. You should be choosing one unique focus keyword and the related synonyms per the page. Not trying to rank for those synonyms across multiple pages, because you risk, like you say, having someone search for something that isn’t matching the searcher intent and you risk cannibalising your keywords and just competing with yourself for rankings, which is not much point. You can use the same words. I have people say they’re worried, oh, well, I can’t use that word anywhere else on my website, if it’s my main focus keyword for this page.

Joh Kohler:

I’m going to use the word copywriter on every page of my website, because that makes sense to the humans reading my content. But if I’ve got a longtail keyword that I’m trying to rank for, I’m going to dedicate that to one piece of content, and I’m not going to try and repeat that again and again, on lots of pages. It’s just going to confuse things. It’s not going to lead people to that particular piece of content that I’ve written for that keyword, that really nails the answer to the question for that searcher. No, it is a myth. You shouldn’t use the same keywords across your whole website.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. You made the perfect distinction, there. It’s really that longtail thing. You would never be using a single word term as a focus keyword anyway, because you’re never going to rank for it. It’s the longer tail phrases. If I’m using financial services copywriter Sydney, I only want to use that on one page, because as you said, that one page is perfect for the searcher intent. It’s going to answer all the questions. It’s got samples and examples and testimonials. That’s the page I want Google to show.

Kate Toon:

If I use that phrase on other pages, maybe they’re not as strong. That’s actually, happened on my own website when I was early days. Wasn’t so aware of keyword research when I first started out 14 years ago. I had a portfolio page, called financial services copywriting and the sales page, called financial services copywriting. Google inevitably, chose the wrong one. It wasn’t a terrible thing. But I would’ve much preferred that they went to the money page than the example page.

Kate Toon:

You have to be really careful about that. Some confusion comes up just to carry on this point, before we move on to talking about the golden keyword. People get very confused about where they should use their brand. Should their brand be a keyword? Should it be in every title? What are your thoughts on that?

Joh Kohler:

Oh, I’m in two minds about this one. You want to rank for your brand and it certainly, took me a bit of time and I’ll talk about that in a minute, because my brand, I didn’t know a lot about keyword research when I picked my brand. But ultimately, your brand, you want to rank for it really, on your home or your about page. That’s where you really want people landing, if they’re searching for your brand. But you definitely, want people landing on your brand. You want them to put your brand into Google and find you, because there’s nothing more frustrating than doing that, knowing you’ve got a company that you’re looking for and they’re not popping up as number one. Yeah, you do want to rank for it.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. I think for me, one of the first steps I have on my course, is we want to get everyone ranking for their brand. The easiest way to do that is, use it on your home page. Once you are ranking for your brand, maybe you can migrate it to your about page, which is probably a better page, maybe for that to rank on. But you don’t need to put it at the end of every title tag and include it in every meta description, especially if it’s going to lose real estate for the actual keyword that you want. I’ll use my example again, because I’m self-obsessed. Financial services copywriter. If I then, try to shoehorn Kate Toon copywriter into there as well, I might actually, go over the limit for the title tag. I’ve already said the word copywriter.

Kate Toon:

At that point no one’s actually, looking for Kate Toon. If they were looking for Kate Toon, they’ll find you. Do you know what I mean? It’s the Liam Neeson approach to SEO. I will find you. I think, use brand where it makes sense, but don’t feel you have to use it in every single aspect. Don’t feel you need to put at the start of every title tag and every single page, because you’re just wasting real estate for other keywords. When you start out, you want to be found for who you are and then, after that you want to be found for what you do. Yeah, just have a little think about that, when you are using your keywords. We’re going to talk a bit more about using them in just a second. But perfect keyword, Joh, does it exist? The golden keyword’s that’s going to deliver all this traffic to our site. Does it exist or is it a myth?

Joh Kohler:

Oh look, it doesn’t. I mean it can exist, but it doesn’t really. The reality is that it can be very much trial and error with the keywords that you’re really, wanting to rank for. Sometimes you’ve just got to go for it. Write the piece of content. Use the keyword in all the right places and see what happens. But you’ve got to give it time. I had a call last week from somebody who launched a website. I only a month or two ago and just wondering, how can I rank for my brand name one, I rank with my brand name? I said, well, just launch your site It’s going to take a little bit of time. When I looked at their brand name and much like my story, I thought, oh, well, she should have come to me before you decided put on the name, because it wasn’t a great brand name to rank for.

Joh Kohler:

I’m Compelling Copy, is my brand name, and for the first year of my website life, HubSpot and other marketing blogs, who everyone’s got the blog post about, how to write compelling copy. I was not winning in that game. But after some time, I have risen to number one for my brand name, in Australia. It does take time.

Joh Kohler:

But after some time, if things aren’t working for the keyword you’re trying to rank for, consider reviewing it, if you’re not getting the results. Also, remember keywords aren’t everything, because the other SEO factors are also, going to play the part here, and they could be what’s stopping you from ranking. You’ve really, got to be looking at your SEO from a holistic level, as well. Not just the keywords.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. I’m so glad you brought that up. I was going to, but I forgot. I think lots of SEO copywriters kind of write in a vacuum. They get the keyword list. They write the copy and the client is then expecting that, that’s going to rank. But often, you can’t, as I say, it’s a Kate Toonism, but you can’t out-write poor technical SEO, just like you can’t out exercise, poor nutrition. This is why on the big recipe course that I have, we teach all aspects of SEO backlinks, measurement. We teach content marketing, keyword research copywriting, and all the tech – site speed, crawlability, schema, amp, core web vitals, because as a copywriter, if you don’t understand all of those, you could be writing checks that can’t be cashed.

Kate Toon:

You could be saying, yeah, I can write you a great blog post. Is going to rank and then, because you didn’t understand the tech, maybe the site is taking 15 seconds to load. The best blog post in the world isn’t going to save that site. I often think that, because a lot of copywriters, I don’t know, don’t want to think about the technical side of SEO. They ignore that and it causes problems. You don’t need to do technical SEO, but you need to be aware of the factors. Do you agree, Joh?

Joh Kohler:

Yeah, I think definitely, as an SEO copywriter. I don’t know how to fix the tech things when it comes to SEO, but I’m aware of what they are and I can see if there’s a problem with my client’s site and I can say to them, look, you need to speak to your web developer. You need to speak to your SEO agency. You need to get onto these issues, because they could be having a detrimental impact to your SEO. The last thing I want to do is have somebody spend money and investing in me to come up with a great sort of on page SEO strategy and work on their keywords and their content, only to have some really minor tech thing blowing it all out all away.

Joh Kohler:

As a website copywriter, I think we’ve got to be aware of those things and just to be a good service provider, we’ve got to help teach our clients, because they don’t know it all either. We can’t just expect them to know what it means to take away that content and not understand that there’s other aspects to it. It’s not just about putting the keyboards in the right places.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. Sometimes more content is not the answer. Maybe they should not be investing their money in content. They should be investing it in building relationships and building back links or fixing technical issues. I think that’s an ethical point for copywriters to not just, take that brief, to do 20 blog posts, targeting the word banana and actually, push back on the client and explain what that will actually, do, which is nothing.

Kate Toon:

Okay. We’ve talked about brainstorming. We’ve talked about gathering the data, grouping our keywords together, looking at the searcher intent and matching it to the page that we’re going to put on. Accepting that there may not be a perfect keyword. But now, we’re at the end of our keyword research process. We have our big list of focus keywords and synonyms. We’re assigning them to pages, posts and products. What’s your process for this, Joh?

Joh Kohler:

Yeah. I guess, at this point, we’ve got our groups of keywords. We’re looking at what content is going to best fit the keywords and map those keyword groups to those pages or pieces of content. We’ve got a focus leader keyword in that group and then all the synonyms, and we want to say, well, this group of keywords belongs to this piece of content. It might be that there’s an existing piece of content that could be further optimised for those keywords, or it could be that we’ve identified some new and interesting topic clusters.

Joh Kohler:

That means we’ve got some new content we might want to create. The mapping is a really vital step. One of the things I love about keyword research, aside from the SEOness of it, being a copywriter, being a really customer and user centric copywriter. It can give you so much insight into what your customers want to know and need to know and what sort of content and you should be creating.

Joh Kohler:

I often find, that with some of the keyword research I do, yes, I’ll say, well, here’s some keywords for this page and that page and this service page and whatever. But I think the gold in what I offer is often the big list of like content topics that I’ll say, well, have you thought about a subpage for this topic area, because there’s some really interesting keyword activity happening around this topic and you haven’t got anything about that on your website, or here’s some blog post ideas, based on what I’ve found in this keyword research. Yeah, we’re now, going to map those keywords to either optimise an existing content or creating some new content to try and rank for them. 

Kate Toon:

Okay, so we have looked at mapping our keywords and let’s talk about some different types of keywords. People often say that there’s a huge difference between doing research for service-based businesses, as opposed to eCommerce businesses. Do you think that’s the case? How does it differ for you?

Joh Kohler:

There is a bit of a difference, but it just comes back to that whole intent side of things. For an eCommerce business, you’re looking at more, really like those conversion and transactional keywords. Buy X online. X for sale. Discount X or those descriptive keywords, like white linen shirt. Buy white linen shirt. That kind of really, transactional eCommerce, these people want to come and buy a product now, they want to know the benefits, features materials of that product. They’re looking to purchase something, generally fairly immediately or doing that research before they purchase.

Joh Kohler:

Whereas a service-based business, they’re likely to want to use a lot more information keywords and establish themselves as say, thought leaders or experts in their field. They’re looking to build trust with their customers who might take a little longer to make those buying decisions. They’re not clicking a buy now and adding something to a cart generally, with a service-based business, like an eCommerce business is. There are some differences in the keywords, but the process is really generally, the same and the vital aspect of it all, is that searcher intent and context.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. I agree. It’s all about those modifiers, isn’t it? 

Joh Kohler: 

Yeah. 

Kate Toon:

Thinking about the hierarchy of the site that maybe, on the homepage or going after your kind of eCommerce category. Do you sell clothes, you sell fish? Fish? What am I talking about? Then, going down to your actual category pages, they can actually, be really strong for SEO. Like often, you find that lots of eCommerce stores don’t have any content on those pages, other than images of products, but they can be quite powerful, in terms of ranking. Then, with your product descriptions, making decisions about the order of the keywords. You’re going to go with brand, if so, then, you’re going to be competing with maybe, the main seller of that brand. If you’re a reseller, is colour the most important factor? Is size? Is material? Is gender?

Kate Toon:

If it’s a woman’s soft purple Mo hair jumper, what order do you put them in? Because it could dramatically, change the search results. Maybe, it’s Mo hair jumper is the most important thing. The fact that it’s for a woman and its purple, is a secondary consideration. There’s no right or wrong answer there. You know your product well. We’ve got lots of people in the group, who in Digital Masterchefs, who have eCommerce stores and I’m thinking of Lou Duggan, who sells the cakes.

Kate Toon:

Most of the time people go in and they’re searching for the type of cake, the style. Is it a Pokémon cake? Is it a whatever cake? Much less important to people, is the flavour of the cake? Is it a chocolate cake? Is it vanilla cake? That’s going to influence her keyword strategy. Sounds small, but it can make a huge difference. Can push you up just a couple of places.

Kate Toon:

Look, next question. We’ve talked about conversion keywords so far, but let’s just quickly, cover off investigation and information keywords. We’re talking about the kind of keywords we’re using for blog posts. What kind of keywords would you look for, for clients who are hoping to create a bit of a content strategy and create some blogs?

Joh Kohler:

Yeah. One of the first questions I ask my clients are, when we start doing brainstorming for content strategy is, what are the common questions your customers are asking you, because if your customers are asking you these questions and others might be asking Google those same questions. We use tools like Answer the public, which gives you some information around what people are searching for. Looking at what your competitors are ranking for, as well, which most of the SEO tools like SEM rush and Ahrefs and SEO ranking will have a tool to do that.

Joh Kohler:

Looking at what people are getting, to your competitors through. You’re doing some of those copywriter tricks of message mining your customer reviews and competitor reviews for language tips, like going and having a look at your Google reviews. Have a look at your Google reviews and just see what are people saying about your type of product or service and seeing, if there’s some potential content ideas in there.

Joh Kohler:

I always say to my customers, keep a notepad sort of by the phone and all your sales stuff, all your frontline stuff, have a notepad by the phone. Every time you get a question from a client, just jot that down and keep a tally of how many times people are asking that same question, or similar sort of question or asking for that similar information, because then, you can go back and you can see those topic areas of the information people want to know about. You’ve got some fabulous blog ideas from that, you know are going to answer real questions from real customers, because blogging can be really effective, because you’re using those more long-tail keywords, which are generally, more specific and easier to rank for, and you’re giving real valuable information that your customers are actually, looking for.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. Perfect. I think we should finish off with some tools. What do you think? Everyone always wants to know the tools.

Joh Kohler:

They do.

Kate Toon:

One thing I will say, is that tools are great, but you need to understand the data that’s coming out of them. That’s really crucial that you really understand how to balance the volume versus the difficulty versus the click-through rate, and how to think about the intent. Also, the SERP features that are going to be generated by particular keywords. One thing I always find interesting, Joh, is sometimes keywords that I would think have absolutely zero conversion intent.

Kate Toon:

When I put them into Google, they spawn the shopping carousel. Obviously, Google feels that they are conversion keywords, even though I don’t necessarily, think they are. You don’t always need to put, buy or price or sell with, as a modifier for Google to understand, that this is a conversion keyword. Just be aware of that. What tools do you use? I’ll share some of mine. Then, you share some. You share some of yours first. You go first. Which ones do you love?

Joh Kohler:

Okay, well, a KW finder is my go-to keyword research tool. I’ve been using that for quite a few years, now. The reason I started using that was, because back in the days when I first took your course, and I didn’t really understand SEO, SEMRush, just did my head in. It was too much. I couldn’t cope with it. These days I understand it, but back then KW finder was relatively new, back then. It’s just, I really recommend it for people who are maybe, a bit new to keyword research or a bit overwhelmed by the really big tools. It gives them just really clear data that’s easy to understand. It’s a little more affordable than some of the, some more commonly used tools and they have quite a good reputation for their competition and difficulty scores.

Joh Kohler:

They seem to sort of nail that pretty well. Mangools, who is the company that, I guess KW finder is one of their products. They have this ever-growing suite of tools and I quite like some of their other, the tools you can do some backlink analysis, profile your site, to see what your domain authority is and some other key metrics there. They’ve got a really good SERP watcher. It’s not a full rank tracking tool, like SEM Rush. I use a tool for SE ranking for that, which I quite like, as well. It’s got a really good competitor research tool, to have a sneaky peek at what your competitors are ranking for.

Joh Kohler:

I guess a few other things I use you, as the public I’ve mentioned, looking at that Google autofill when you start to type a keyword in, and then, the people also search, that’s right down the bottom of those Google search pages. Really good to get some good keyword ideas there. Keywords everywhere, also good for that. I use that SEO, meta one click. It’s not a keyword research tool, but I will use that to analyse those top ranking pages and have a look at who’s on the number one URL, and have a look at their SEO data, just to see what they’re doing with their title tags and all those bits and pieces.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. Fantastic. I’m a fan of some of the bigger tools. I use SEM Rush and Ahrefs. Obviously, you pay for those tools and a lot of SEO types will have multiple tools that they can then, cross and compare, because no tool is perfect. But I love the Mangools tool as an alternative. It’s so much more affordable. Yes. It only does one thing, but sometimes that’s all you need. Google search console obviously, has great data around what keywords you’re already ranking for, what the click-through rates of those are, what position you have. That’s a great way of finding out where you are already ranking for keywords and looking for opportunities. If you find a keyword in Google keywords, in Google search console, and you are ranking in quite a high position, but you’re not getting the click-throughs, go and have a look at the search results.

Kate Toon:

Maybe your meta description is really bad. What else is going on in the SERPS, that’s not getting you that click-through rate. Other tools. We’ve mentioned a few, keyword sheeter and keyword shitter, Ubersuggest. Google trends can be interesting, as well. There’s loads of great tools. Pick a couple and stick with them. I think are really good. Look, we’re going to finish off with the final tip, Joh. If you can leave the listeners with one thing that they should really think about next time they go and research their keywords, what would it be?

Joh Kohler:

Oh, look, I’ve banged on about it through our whole chat, but searcher intent. Always consider searcher intent and make sure that the content matches it.

Kate Toon:

Short and sweet, as well. I thought you were going to go on a bit then. but well. Searcher intent. I like that.

Joh Kohler:

Short and sweet, searcher intent. Make sure that the keyword, the content and the searcher intent are all going to be in a happy marriage together.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. I love that. I think my final tip would be, don’t think like an SEO. Think like a human. Don’t think like a robot. Think like a human. These soulless lists of keywords that we get, that really don’t connect with feelings, thoughts, desires, fears. They’re just not going to get the cut through and you’re probably, not going to rank for them.

Kate Toon:

The glory, the gold is in the insights, in those longer tail keywords that really capture someone. Yes, the volume may be lower, but the chance of conversion is so much higher, because you’ve hit the nail right on the head. Look, thank you so much, Joh. We can find out more about you at Compelling Copy, where you now rank very well. Oh no. I’ve just realised Joh, forgive me. We have a question from an audience member. You okay to answer this one?

Joh Kohler:

I am.

Kate Toon:

Okay. We got a question from Felicity Anne from the book basket and she says, I’m confused about how to use key phrases like baby gifts delivered to Sydney. Phrases like this have a strong demand and they’re kind of the thing that I type in myself, if I was looking for baby gifts, but they don’t make sense, grammatically, and are hard to weave into the copy. Should I ignore them or can I make use of them? This is the classic question. Do I need? Can I include prepositions and ‘and’s and things like that in my copy? Is that going to screw up my ranking? What are your thoughts, Joh?

Joh Kohler:

Yeah. No, look, it’s fine. As a copywriter, I completely understand it, because first and foremost, I want my copy to read well, to make sense to a human and not sound robotic, because it’s been spat out of the keyword research tool. They call those things stop words, things like in, its and, for, the. All that sort of stuff that can help make sense to the reader. Now, occasionally your stop word can change the intent and the meaning of the phrase.

Joh Kohler:

You’ve got to make sure that it doesn’t do that, but in this case, it might make more sense to the humans, to use baby gifts delivered in Sydney or baby gifts delivered across Sydney or something like that. Google gets the context these days. It’s getting better and better at that, so it will recognise that keyword phrase in there. Make sure the copy makes sense to the reader, first. Google’s getting much, much better in understanding the keyword phrases that are more human.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. I remember getting those lists from SEO agencies. It’s like Sydney dentist and I’m like, how hard, that’s going to be pretty hard for me to use in the copy. So can I say dentist in Sydney? They’re like, no, no, you can’t use it. That’s a real Google ads, broad match and exact match kind of mentality. Sure, if you want to use these sort of phrases that have no stop words in them, in kind of hidden places, like alt tags, image file names, maybe even, in the title tag.

Joh Kohler:

URLs.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. URLs. Exactly. But you know, in the copy, the copy is for the humans, not for the robots. Never sacrifice clarity and readability, just to try and worship the Google Gods.

Joh Kohler:

Yeah. Don’t confuse your readers.

Kate Toon:

Don’t confuse your readers, because this is it. Most important thing to remember, is that SEO gets people to your door, but you then have to drag them through and convert them and staccato poorly written, so-called “SEO copy”, and I’m doing air fingers, does not convert customers. You have to marry the two together as Joh said. Marry them well together.

Kate Toon:

All right, Joh, thank you so much. I’ve mistakenly, tried to end this podcast three times, but this really is the end. So thank you for your time today.

Joh Kohler:

You’re very welcome. Thank you. It’s been great to chat.

Kate Toon: 

So that’s the end of this week’s show. If you have questions about keywords head to my I LOVE SEO group on Facebook. You’ll find the last Keyword Research episode with Kristal Audain on the Recipe Podcast a few episodes back as well. And if you’re ready to plan out your site’s keywords, you should check out my Keyword Planner in the Clever Copywriting School Shop. With SEO copywriting, two of the most important tasks are assigning focus topic keywords to pieces of content, and crafting title tags and meta descriptions for each piece of content. The Keyword Planner spreadsheet makes it easy.

Kate Toon: 

I’ve managed huge SEO rewrites for websites of 5000+ plus so I’ve learned a thing or two about how to manage them. So it’s the same spreadsheet I used to manage the SEO copywriting for Kmart Tyre and Auto, O’Brien Glass, and Calvary Hospital. It includes Step-by-step ‘How to’ instructions, a keyword planner spreadsheet and nifty character calculations so you can ensure you’re sticking to the best practice character limits. Wow, that was a big sell. You’ll find a link to it in the show notes on the Recipe blog.

Kate Toon: 

If you want to learn all things about online marketing, come join the Digital Masterchefs. We have monthly trainings, saved Masterclasses about keywords and all other kinds of SEO things. So that’s the end of that, I’m going to read out a testimonial. I’ve never done this month selling at the end of the podcast

Kate Toon:

The next testimonial is from Lisa Galea from Burning Love Creative. Lisa says, “I laugh and learn in every podcast. Kate’s honest approach to business and her wide range of guests all dropping knowledge bombs brings me back for more. Kate’s creative vocabulary has me rolling in tears. Listen in to learn how to create ‘google juice’, understand the ‘google beast’ and build your business with digital strategy.” Thank you, Lisa.

Kate Toon:

I’m going to cut it short here and say if you’d like to leave a review, please do. And if you want to read the show notes for this episode you know what to do.  So until next time, happy SEOing.