One of the most labour intensive parts in managing a huge SEO account involves grouping keywords in categories that make sense.
That means categorizing them so you can:
- quickly scan your keyword groups and see which categories have been impacted.
- closely watch the set of keywords you're actively building content around.
- keep an eye on keywords that your customers are looking to optimise for.
Beyond the productivity benefits implied in this part of keyword management, think about the strategic approach you need when first organizing your customer’s keywords in terms of campaign building blocks and evolution.
We know it’s a struggle at first, implying a lot of energy and hours on your part. But once you do the work of choosing a strategy for your keyword management, you’ll save a lot of future time in your busy daily agenda.
Plus, keyword management is not just about saving time. Depending on how the keyword groups will be used or what specific problems they address, there are multiple ways to categorize them and make them work for your agency needs — getting the strategy down from day 0 will save you the hassle of drastic changes when managing your SEO campaigns.
And you’ll get to quickly identify performance increases, as your strategy is set in motion since the beginning, making also sense of the ROI, which the client is focused on, after all.
In this article, we’re exploring 3 approaches to keyword management for your SEO team, taking into account:
- Levels of categorization based on keywords evolution (dynamic versus static).
- Categories defined by agency roles and their particular needs.
- Categories that depend on business interests and how keywords impact them.
We’re highlighting the pros and cons of every approach, so you can further decide which one goes best for which clients.
What's the highest level of keyword categorisation?
If you take change as the main component in how you interact with your keyword groups, then you can use the following structure to create your keyword categories:
Dynamic keyword groups
These are the groups that change based on how ranks evolve. For instance, a group that tracks 1st-page keywords will constantly change its contents, making you aware of the conversion funnel and your tracked keywords.
The dynamic groups then can be set based on a number of different dimensions, that inform your strategy and what you want to further track:
- Intention — what is the meaning behind the keyword?
You can think about product categories as a form of mapping navigational or transactional intention. Take 'pots', 'crooks' and 'cans' — they represent a kitchenware category, while ‘towels’, ‘shower curtains’ and ‘toiletry’ represent the bathroom category. It looks pretty straightforward, but it depends on the degree of complexity you wish to introduce here: modifiers, excluding informational keywords etc.
Also, you can create a separate Branded keywords group to observe direct informational or navigational intention for your client’s website. This way, you get to better highlight your SEO results.
- Rank — where does your customer’s website currently rank on for a keyword?
Maybe you want to keep track of keywords that your customer’s website is ranking on for the second page, or top 3, or top 5. This allows you to track changes and optimize the client’s content targeting a specific rank or get alerted when the best rank for a specific keyword is achieved.
- Sessions — The number of clicks that a keyword has generated
If you take sessions as your organizing dimension, then it allows you to track what are your high generating keywords and optimize them. For example, you can create a group with the keywords that generate more than 1.000 sessions (or at least 1% of overall SEO traffic), but are on the second page of results, so you can improve their position.
- Google Ads — How is PPC influencing your organic traffic?
This is one important grouping, especially for retail and eCommerce — the keywords group that cannibalizes your organic traffic because of PPC. An example would be keywords ranking in the top 3 organic positions for which you also have Google Ads, thus downplaying your organic results.
With this set-up, you are in control of your SEO strategy, while making your client aware of how SEO and PPC can work together or not.
- SERP features — How are they influencing your keywords?
SERP features are problematic as they keep on evolving and are shifting based on device, so you may need to group your keywords in accordance with the type of SERP influencing them. It can be the local pack, the images pack, questions etc. correlated with your targeted keywords. This allows you to go as granular as you need with a specific SERP.
- Competition — What targeted keywords are the client’s competitors ranking on?
When you do your keyword research, one critical aspect is looking at competitors and see how your targeted keywords fare in connection with them. You can create a separate view for competitors and keep that group closely monitored. This helps you with identifying new keyword opportunities or rapidly understanding what you can further optimize.
Static keyword groups
Once you’ve finished with dynamic keyword groups, you can think about setting apart the static ones — the groups of keywords that remain the same. Intention focused keyword groups are static in nature, a ‘pot’ will remain a kitchen item if there’s no other modifier involved.
Here, you can also include the keywords your client targets by default, probably navigational in nature — product categories, services categories etc.
This approach to grouping keywords helps you decide what goes into your SEO strategy and what doesn’t.
What’s the limitation here?
The dynamic versus static grouping gives you a good overview of your client’s standing. Yet, inside the dynamic grouping, there are a lot of dimensions to consider, so be careful not to include “all” keywords. Let’s take a food delivery client who needs to optimize for a certain location. If you want to zoom in on good SEO performance, then you’ll want to target local keywords, their ranking, sessions, SERP features, and make sure you’re not cannibalizing organic with PPC. That campaign won’t be interested in how the client is doing on other fronts.
How to group keywords based on roles
Another way to strategically approach how you will do your keyword management is based on roles in your SEO agency and their specific needs regarding the use of keywords and groups.
Let’s dive right into it!
The Account managers team
As they are the client-facing role in your SEO team, they will need to have access to recent wins, and other important events regarding an SEO campaign. So you can think about setting up a dynamic group that shows keywords that have recently entered TOP10 and can be used in reporting. Or another group that managed to enter TOP3 for your client.
Depending on your objective, define both small and big wins for your account managers to observe and report.
The Content team
When it comes to the content team in your SEO agency, keyword management gets pretty straightforward — they need to track the targeted keywords that they built content for.
In this case, it’s important to group keywords based on their relevance for the type of content written, be as granular as you need to be, and maybe also include a group for future opportunities, depending on the strategy.
Seasonality is another dimension that can help the content team in advance, so keywords can be grouped based on that to inform the content calendar for a specific client.
The Technical SEO team
Your SEO agency’s technical team again has some specific requirements for keyword categories, so they can easily address the client’s SEO campaign issues. They will need to:
- Track keywords that have cannibalization issues — this one can be a keyword group that will inform what’s next for the technical team to tackle together with the client’s team.
- Track keywords for pages with recent HTML changes — an important topic to directly observe in order to correct issues that affect rankings.
- Track landing pages — just like the issue of HTML changes, this is another important topic to track so as to correct the ongoing campaign when relevant keywords are missing landing pages.
With all these groups focused on potential technical problems, your SEO experts can act fast and correct campaign course, while also keeping the client in the loop for their side of tasks and business decisions.
What’s the limitation here?
Focusing just on roles is a limited approach by design — beyond their specific needs, you’ll still want to make sure that you’re checking strategic groupings like 2nd-page keywords, competitors, intent-based categories, SEO opportunities and so on.
How to group keywords based on business interests
One last type of grouping that we’re analyzing here is informed by your client’s business interests — the need to understand new trends in their industry, demand and its shifts, and how keywords reflect all that for their business strategy.
Connecting business results with the keywords management strategy can imply looking at conversion rates, goals, and profitability.
If you filter keywords by conversion rate, then one important use case can be connecting consumer intent with stock levels. Maybe the SEO performance is great, but the products that are popular in demand are out of stock, which provides a negative user experience for your client’s buyers. This is highly relevant for eCommerce businesses and is a keyword group to have in mind.
Another avenue for grouping keywords is based on goals conversion rate and profitability — what are the keywords triggering goal completions and are they relevant to your client’s current business interests? Or maybe you can advise them on shifting their focus on certain products and services based on what you observe at a keyword level.
New business opportunities
Using search data as a relevant input for business intelligence is a good way of understanding current trends for your client’s industry — you can see how demand and consumer behaviours shift with year over year trends and monthly reviews.
From there, you can create keyword groups that reflect new business opportunities and start optimizing accordingly. For instance, if you have an eCommerce client that usually sells stationery, but also has an arts&crafts section, you can pinpoint the SEO strategy in that direction, provided you see a rising trend in DIY. So you create a keyword group with relevant input for that new business opportunity.
What’s the limitation here?
Highlighting business results and new business opportunities involve a narrow focus and a clear-cut strategy from the beginning, without checking something else. That puts the pressure on the setup, and implies choosing your keywords carefully.
Let’s say you have a travel client who wants to optimize their presence for Germany, yet they have their keywords grouped by destinations. You’re interested just in the Germany grouping with its subgroups — that’s where your SEO performance and business results are directly correlated. So that’s the relevant part you’ll track and report.
Yet, you need to take care not to become too narrow in your scope.
Keyword management may seem easy at first, but there are a lot of dimensions to consider:
- You can approach keyword grouping by dynamic versus static keywords and their variations (intent, rank, sessions, Google Ads, SERP features, and competition).
- You can think about the particular roles in the SEO agency and their needs when tracking keywords.
- You can focus on business results and group keywords based on their reflection of conversion rates, goals completion, and profitability or new business opportunities — search data hinting at exploding or tanking market trends.
Here’s a checklist that you can use with your team, with every item we’ve included on each approach:
With SEOmonitor, you can do all of the above with a number of key features:
- You can use the automated keyword search and grouping functions to choose the relevant keywords for your SEO campaign and set it up fast.
- You can manually group keywords based on the variables you need.
- With the smart groups feature, you can get as granular as you want: the advanced filters include ranks, sessions, landing pages, +15 SERP features, SEO difficulty, SEO opportunity and more. Once you set these conditions, keywords are automatically updated in the platform.