Everything you need to know about the Keyword Matrix
A keyword matrix is a 2-dimensional table that enables us to cross reference two aspects (e.g., search intent vs. search volume), analyse data, and designate search opportunities. A keyword matrix document is a spreadsheet that indicates full analysis of all relevant keywords. This should house all analysis of each of the keyword variables (intent, volume, and competitiveness)
Principles of Keyword Analysis
To conduct keyword analysis for organic search, we are essentially looking at two main data sets; intent vs volume and volume vs. competition. When applied to keywords, it gives 2 you axis from which to gauge different qualitative heuristics.
The first graph below that depicts Search Intent Vs Search Volume. This is an inverse relationship, meaning a negative correlation as the two variables move in opposite directions.
The second graph below depicts the relationship between Search Volume and SERP Competitiveness. This is a linear relationship, meaning a straight line relationship between both variables. No surprise that as search volume increases so does competitiveness in the SERPs.
As the complexity decreases (from long-tail to head), search volume tends to increase. Likewise, as the complexity of search terms increase, search volume decreases. Search query length (and complexity) increase in relation to intent. So as intention increases so do long-tail queries and complex and varied search terms.
To further expand on this analysis, we have overlaid keyword type and intent within this graph. You will see there is a correlation between head terms and informational navigation, body terms and investigational navigation, and long tail terms and transactional navigation.
Keyword term types:
Head: Signifies a main keyword term, often is one word or is a lower complexity term.
Body: Signifies a longer tail informational search or content search.
Long tail: Signifies a long tail search term where user is looking for very specific information.
Search intent types:
Informational: a specific question where the results are the information the searcher is looking, may contain phrases such as: info, more information, details, features, benefits, etc OR queries that cover a broad topic – Colorado or trucks. Good quality content helps target informational keywords.
Investigational: easiest to identify and least ambiguous, these queries contain specific parameters for researching a purchase, such as sizes, colours, versus, best, price, pricing, etc.
Transactional: indicative of shopping behaviour further down the conversion funnel, at this point the searcher knows what they want – so look for terms like buy, purchase, sale, coupon, discount, or locations. May also contain brand names or be generic – Samsung galaxy s3 or iced coffee maker.
The graph below further explains the keyword analysis by factoring in traffic volume. Per the graph below, you, you should think about how each of your keywords fit in the below
- High Traffic / Low Intent: These keywords may have a lot of competition and will likely not result in conversion
- Low Intent / Low Traffic: Keywords that fit in this category should perhaps be de-prioritised as they will have little impact on your marketing efforts
- High Traffic / High Intent: While this could result in potential conversions, there may also be high competition for this category
- High Intent / Low Traffic: While the traffic is low, the traffic it does drive may be highly qualified and will likely turn into a conversion
Relevance of Keywords for SEO
Optimising for keywords is not a way forward as Google understands context, natural language and intent. Nynonyms, synonyms and meronyms and all the other nyms should now be explored so to build a subject domain ‘Lexicon’ making use of all related lexical ‘onomies.
Coming from an SEO background I’ve always felt that keyword research is one of the best sources for content development. Before Google stole our keyword data, leveraging your existing analytics could show popular topics that were performing well, but were under serviced. For example, a marketing company may find articles around “Facebook Advertising” were generating 25% of their leads, but only made up 3% of their content. It’s a good indicator of topics you could possibly flesh out and create more content around. Of course the other great use of keyword data is using tools like UberSuggest, SEMRush, Google Trends, Google Suggest, etc to build out a content plan around topics that are relevant to the personas you are targeting.
Extensive keyword research will uncover content needed for your site by indicating content needed for all phases of user intent, content to alleviate customer pain points, and deciding what content to include based on how your competitors are performing.
Designating Content for User Intent
Keywords are still important as they are used to shape content for your site. This content needs to be formed to support your user’s intent from informational to transactional. The right content will pull searchers to your site and to help them navigate once they arrive. To ensure users come to your site and successfully navigate your site, you have to ensure your keywords are placed with intent in mind and exist where relevant on the site. It’s extremely important to understand the possible intent of the searcher for each keyword we’re targeting as this allows us to have a better approach and purpose for the overall content Researching user intent is difficult, and making sure you are developing the right content to support the right intent, at the right phase in the conversion funnel is even harder. But using research, analysis, and a dash of creativity gets the ball rolling...
Designating Content to Alleviate Customer Pain Points
Keyword research will highlight consumer pain points. One of the key insights you will uncover through your keyword research is popular queries as they relate to your product or service. Some of these questions will indicate issues that customers have had with similar products or services in the past. Understanding these pain points puts you in a position to create content that will answer these questions or issues before your consumer needs to ask. Hence alleviating customer concerns and building trust in your product or service.
It is essential, before building out your site content, that you understand how your competition is performing with keywords. As you discover new keywords that you believe may drive new and high quality traffic doesn’t always mean you should build the page for it. If your competitor is already ranking as number 1 for a keyword or topic, you may consider not utilising this keyword and corresponding content as part of your strategy. It would take enormous effort to overtake them and the cost may outweigh the benefit.
How to Build a Keyword Matrix
Below we will address how to build your own keyword matrix. The first step is keyword research, next is building your keyword list, then layout your matrix, and finally assess keyword list and build out content pages accordingly.
The initial stage is keyword research and some of the best and recommended tools are – Google's own search bar to give you keyword ideas. By searching for a key term related to your product or service, the corresponding results page can give you other ideas for keywords and phrases. When searching, you should check for plural versions of all singular terms as well. We are also big fans of SEMRush for getting keyword ideas. Throw your keyword ideas into Ubersuggest or SEMRush, it will capture all potential permutations related to your target keyword based on actual search behaviour.
In this phase, it is also important to consider search volume and competitive SERP. You can use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Adwords, or SEMRush to designate this information.
Once your research is complete, you need to compile a final keyword list. To create a final keyword list you should consider organising into groupings or topic areas. Within these groups you should ensure inclusion of all iterations and include head, body, and long tail terms.
Keyword Matrix Layout
To create a keyword matrix as seen below, you need to place the final keyword list in the initial column. Based on research using tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner, you need to start populating for monthly search volume, searcher intent, competitive competition, adwords score, and suggested bid. You should also include a column called “best” which should be used for prioritisation. A “Yes” should be added to this column to indicate the best opportunity for your campaign.
It should start to look like this:
Assessing your Keyword Matrix
To assess your keywords within the matrix, you should seek out keywords with a minimum search volume of 1,000 or more. Ultimately, depending on your UX and content strategy, you should determine the top 20 to 50 (at most) keywords to include content for within your site. This is why it is crucial to reconcile effort vs reward based on the metrics defined within the keyword matrix.
The rest of the document is completed using your best judgement. I select intent using a filter then do a greater than value on volume to then judge whether to make a keyword a ‘best’ keyword. Organic competition can be grabbed from SEMRush and then decide whether each page should be created or needs to be created as a blog post, aggregate page and evergreen pages.
Now you have enough data to start making informed decisions regarding your keyword targeting and timing. Using a keyword matrix gives you the ability to quickly refer back to a set of data (as long as you keep it up to date!) to drive your editorial calendar, your on-page content, when and which pieces warrant video, and any other opportunities for keyword optimization.