Keyword Hierarchy: The First Step in Ecosystem Marketing
Marketing ecosystems revolve around information, or content, that can be found on websites. The first step toward understanding the digital ecosystem that surrounds your products is to create a keyword hierarchy. In other words, you need a quantitative answer to the following question:
What terms and phrases—keywords—are used by your buyers as they think about making a purchase?
Seven concepts are consistently helpful in answering the above question: buyer’s journey, jobs-to-be-done, level of aggregation, inclusivity, search volume rank, degree of relevance, and content strategy. Each is discussed briefly below, and links are provided if you would like to access additional details.
1. Buyer’s Journey
Business people often start a buyer’s journey when they want to determine whether they have a problem. Sometimes it is obvious because something in their business is broken and needs repair. Other times, buyers are thinking about their business more generally and want to be up-to-date on the latest thinking in their industry or profession.
Then buyers might try to assess the size of the problem and whether they can solve it on their own or need outside assistance.
If the buyer concludes they need assistance, then they start to look at more specific topics such as price and product features and benefits.
As buyers look for useful information during their journeys, they enter search terms into browsers. These keywords tell you what the buyer is looking for. They give you insight into what is important to them.
To use the buyer’s journey in building a hierarchy, write down the major stages of the buyer’s journey, and then list words or phrases that typify each stage of the journey.
When creating a list of keywords, it is important to include all of the various jobs buyers are trying to complete as they move through their journeys.
During the “Do I Have A Problem” phase, one job buyers are trying to complete is to understand their situation better. For example, they often ask basic questions like “What is GDPR” or What is website security?”
Each job a buyer is trying to perform contains at least one if not more keywords. Add these terms to the list from #1.
To help you apply the jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) concept to your own business, the table below provides several brand names and the associated JTBD.
3. Level of Aggregation
Keywords can be sorted by their degree of inclusiveness and precision. For example:
- Industry-Level: IT (information technology)
- Product Category Level: GDPR Compliance
- Product Level: Website Data Security
- Product Features: User Data Encryption
When building a list of keywords, it is important to include all levels of aggregation. This way you can determine which keywords are most common, and how they relate to one another.
As buyers search for information on the internet, they often use a variety of words to find useful content. Sometimes they use abbreviations, other times they spell things out. Sometimes they start with detailed keywords and later realize they need more general information. Other times they start with broad search terms and then drill down to what is more interesting to them in subsequent searches.
So, when you create a keyword list, be inclusive rather than exclusive. Later you can assess the degree of relevance of each keyword. Keyword lists commonly have 30 to 60 words or phrases.
5. Search Volume Rank
Once the hard work is done and you have a comprehensive list of potential keywords, the next step is to measure the monthly organic search volume for each term, and sort the list from high to low.
6. Degree of Relevance
An inclusive keyword list will have terms that vary widely in relevance. For example, an industry-level keyword may be very popular, but not highly relevant to the buyer’s journey. Or, industry-level keywords may give you ideas about how to tag your website content.
Once your keyword list is sorted by search volume, the next step is to establish their relevance to your business. Often it is helpful to create a relevance color-code. For example, light green terms are highly relevant to your product but not as popular. But, dark green terms are somewhat less relevant but far more popular. Yellow terms might be relevant but rarely typed into browsers.
7. Content Strategy
A common content strategy is “drafting” (like in NASCAR): Use less relevant but more popular keywords to draw attention to your more relevant but less popular keywords.
For example, website data security might be a more popular term than user data encryption. So, the title and subtitle for a new blog post might include both terms.
The keyword hierarchy can be used to assess the degree to which your current website content covers the most relevant and popular terms. It can also help you assess your competitors.
Need help with creating a keyword hierarchy or a content strategy? We can create a keyword hierarchy for as little as $1,500 per product. To find out more, contact us.
About the author(s):
Mark Blessington has served many of the world's largest corporations as a sales and marketing consultant. He has published four books, over 50 articles, and hundreds of blog posts.