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When in Doubt, Plan Broad – a Case Study

February 24th, 2010 | | ppc vs seo, SEO Keyword Research

It’s midnight. I just got home, downed mashed potatoes and an orange and now I’m trying to pretend I’m watching a DVR recording of tonight’s White Collar while I recap the day’s case study. Mozzie and Neil start the episode with the chess-by-mail match Neil’s playing.

A real fine way to start…

The Opening

I came home late this evening because I was finishing the initial keyword research for a big corporate site. As big as corporate sites get…

And, yes, we put Google Analytics on the site before the redesign because the client wasn’t aware of their baseline data.

Here’s where the fun starts:

I asked, “What’s going to be the marketing plan?”

The answer:  “We’re not sure yet.”

“Ohh-kay.”

Face palm.

Middle Game

When you’re not privileged enough to know the marketing plan, budget, scope, or intentions and you still have to get the keyword research done, adopt the Dr. Gregory House method:

“When in doubt, plan broad.”

In this case I’m spending much more time on the long tails and sub categories than on the main categories. Do enough years of keyword research and identifying the major keyword themes in a common market can be like hitting a bullseye with a bowling ball. You’re going to hit those themes plus the themes you weren’t thinking about. Tie in some “how to’s” and “what are’s” while you’re attempting to identify the searchers’ spelling nuances and you’ll do pretty well on the first try – pending market and competition.

End Game

I don’t know if the site’s going to involve an integrated PPC campaign that’s backboned by a news blog or whether it’s going to be a hard-pounding offsite SEO campaign, but now I’m prepared to attack the “lower hanging fruit,” and build momentum as I go after the major themes.

Also, I get a chance to watch search behavior on those major themes. The fun part with keyword research is that most of the researchers get their data from the same sources and start focusing their themes around similar items. Maybe it’s just me, but when the industry adjusts to the searchers, the searchers adjust their terms to look for deeper results. And the game changes again.

And I get some time to monitor this behavior. The analytics history after the redesign gets a chance to mature, and I get to fight after the major themes with a planned, polished, multi-piece attack.

(Insert unique “checkmate” ending here)

When you go to research without all the facts, what approach do you take?

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