Monday, November 10, 2008

Gen-Y SEO Part 1: Keyword Research

Gen-Y SEO - Keywords
(Over the next few posts I am looking at Gen-Y SEO. This is part 1 on keyword research. The goal of this series is to gather some basic research, bounce off conversation and end up with a community eBook/Report/Whitepaper that anyone can use when looking to target SEO to Gen-Y. I am by no means the authority on the subject, just the person looking to organize this madness. I need your help as well. Thanks. -Greg)

Keyword Research is generally the first step in any search or SEO campaign. You need to see what people are searching for, and for obvious reasons. When looking at Gen-Y and search marketing, there are a few things you need to consider when looking at keywords.

AdWords Keyword Tool - Free and generally reliable
SEO Book Keyword Tool - built off of the Wordtracker API, can't beat the price tag
Questions keyword tool - shows you relevant results for commonly asked questions, also from Wordtracker

Gen-Y doesn't talk much different from any other demographic in conversation, yet when it comes to texting, instant messengers, e-mails, Twitter and other short forms of QUERTY communication, a whole new language has been born. How does this translate into search? Let's take a look:

I first looked at some typical texting terms and looked at the AdWords tool for relevance. The first was "message vs. msg."

(click the image for larger view)

Text messages is clearly a more searched phrase when compared to the short hand txt msg, and text msgs - although they are not terms I would completely rule out in a targeted search campaign.

Knowing if certain terms have shorthand, mispellings, clever spellings are other tactics can be a key strategy in creating copy for search in targeting Gen-Y and looking at creating keyword lists.

Places we hang out and associations
Knowing "hot spots" and hangouts online and off can help in generating keywords for Gen-Y. Looking at SocNets like Facebook and Myspace and how Gen-Y talks and acts can be a good indicator of what key searches are. Look at groups and see which have a large number of members to find what Gen-Y is being a part of.

Gen-Y is also a very socially aware generation. Knowing what topics may impact your business and gain some pull through content creation for search can be a big one up for your site. Knowing that your business is doing things to bring the "green" lifestyle to your business or the recent election can bring significant search traffic to your project. The key to remember here is to be authentic. Just because a cause or issue is popular to your target audience, does not mean you shold run, jump and force yourself into the conversation. It can cause more harm than good if you are not authentic or providing content that is relevant to the searcher.

Gen-Y loves to jump on trends and flavors of the week. This can be tricky for SEO but can be great for social outreaches that have search implications. Some places to look for trends include:
  • YPulse - Teen and Gen-Y Marketing, News and tips (look for the YPulse essentials that are updated daily)
  • Google Trends - Hot searches at the moment
  • YouTube - look at featured videos, most discussed and most viewed to see what content is hot among the younger demographic
How to capitalize on trends with search? This is a hit and miss topic but if you target strong keywords, have great content and even better timing your stories can land great search traffic from Google due to Universal Search.

The screenshot below shows the first page for the term "obama election." It shows you the top 10 organic results, the AdWords that made the first page but also Blog Posts related to the terms show up at the bottom of the page. In terms of sites that I have worked with I alwayds say that its best to be #1 or #10 and not in between. Eyeballs like the bottom of the page and Google knows that. It's a good opportunity for Google to show relative results for that search before you look for another term. The posts below were written in the last few days and have to do with the topic of "obama election."

(click the image to enlarge)

So for a term that is getting somewhere around 12,000 searches a month, your blog post that was written today can get 1st page notoriety very quickly. Just be sure that your blog is being spidered quickly and frequently.

(click the image to enlarge)

I've written some blog posts on the hurricanes for local Florida sites and seen search engine traffic spike through the roof and then written about Fourth of July parties and seen in thud. The key is timing, writing great content and making sure Google stops by in the nick of time to spider.

When building your keyword list for a Gen-Y targeted search campaign, there are many factors to consider. I am sure that I left out a few factors and there are endless possibilities that can be used when gathering relevant keywords.

As an overview, be sure that you are taking the keyword research you gather and relate it Linkto content that Gen-Y is willing to take action upon. Do not use slang for the sake of using slang. Do not jump on trends because its hot right now, jump on the train that your business has created track on. Having top rank for strong, demographic based keywords can turn into giant profit when done right, or it can create a bounce rate consistent with an Allen Iverson crossover.

The next post will revolve around an overview of market and competition research and apply it to a search campaign for Gen-Y.

For a complete look at keyword research beyond these short tips, check out Stoney deGeyter from Search Engine Land's 12 part series on Keyowrd Research. Or Rand and the SEO Moz guys have a beginner's look at keywords.

-Greg Rollett


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