How to Evaluate Keywords

Keywords are a core component of several marketing tactics. From SEO to content marketing to paid search, the keywords a business uses can make the difference between making a profit or going bankrupt. Thus, it's very important to use the right keywords when beginning a marketing campaign.

Evaluate your keywords for:

  • Traffic
  • Relevancy
  • Competition

Evaluating Keyword Traffic

Keywords need to bring traffic to your website. And while they don't need to bring every Google searcher to your website (nor would you want them), your keywords also shouldn't be too niche. They need to bring in enough traffic that you can see an increase in your conversions.

The average conversion rate for a landing page is 2.3%. The average CTR for the 10th ranked page on Google is 3.1%. Taken together, this means for an average website a keyword has to be seen in search results 1,500 times before a single sale happens. Think twice about using a keyword that has a lower search volume.

Evaluating Keyword Relevancy

The keywords you use must be relevant to what's being offered on your site. This means if you're a cookware store that only sells cast iron pots, using the keyword "cast iron skillet" is a bad choice. Skillet searchers would find nothing they want to buy on the site, and you would be spending effort and money on users who aren't likely to buy.

"Cast iron skillet" may receive 35K more searches a month than "cast iron pots", but search engines will notice site user behavior and downgrade your site. An irrelevant keyword then isn't just attracting the wrong website visitors, it makes it hard for the correct ones to find the site in the future.

Evaluating Keyword Competition

The higher the competition for a keyword, the more money or effort you'll have to invest in it. High competition keywords are those that have a lot of bidders in paid search or content for SEO/content marketing all trying to capture the attention of a user. A highly competitive keyword is usually lucrative – other businesses use it for a reason – but their high cost needs to be weighed against other factors.

All three of these, traffic, relevancy, and competition, should weigh heavily when evaluating new keywords and determining which ones to use. If you’re evaluating current keywords, which should be done often, there's an extra factor to consider - ROI.

Evaluating Keyword ROI

ROI stands for return-on-investment, though in some cases it's referred to as ROAS (return-on-advertising-spend). Traffic, relevancy, and competition all affect ROI, but it's hard to determine a keyword's exact worth until you invest in it. After all, it's only after you see the results can you calculate it's worth.

Ultimately, the keywords you choose should be profitable. If you bid $1 a click on a keyword for paid search and receive 5 clicks but only generate $4.60 in sales, you'll have a negative ROI and should stop using that keyword. If you invited two hours' worth of time optimizing a webpage for a product and saw a revenue increase of $100 a week, that's a positive ROI and a keyword to expand your SEO with.

In some cases, the ROI your looking for may not be profit, but the number of lead gen forms filled out or an increase in web traffic. It’s up to you to determine what you want your campaign to do.

Keywords are an essential part of online marketing, so it’s important you evaluate them for effectiveness and success. There might be trade-offs between each factor depending on your business needs, but it’s important to use keywords that will drive your business forward.

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