One of the most labour-intensive parts in managing a huge SEO account involves grouping keywords in categories that make sense.
This means grouping them so that you can:
Beyond the productivity benefits included 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 group 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, also making sense of the ROI.
In this article, we’re exploring 3 approaches to keyword management for your SEO team, taking into account:
We’re highlighting the pros and cons of every approach, so you can further decide which one goes best for which clients.
IIf you consider change to be the main component in how you interact with your keyword groups, then you can use the following structure to create these 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, adding keywords and removing them as needed, making you aware of the conversion funnel and your tracked keywords.
The dynamic groups can then be set based on a number of different dimensions, that inform your strategy and what you want to further track:
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.
You can also 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.
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.
If you take sessions as your organizing dimension, it allows you to track what your high-performing keywords are and optimize for 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.
This is one important grouping, especially for retail and eCommerce — the keyword 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).
Tracking SERP features can be problematic, as they keep on evolving and are shifting based on device. You may need to group your keywords in accordance with the type of SERP feature 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 in order to track SERP features that affect your content.
When you do your keyword research, one critical aspect is to check competitors keywords and observe how your targeted keywords fare in connection to them. You can create a separate view for competitors and keep that group closely monitored. This helps you identify new keyword opportunities or rapidly understand what you can further optimize.
Once you’ve finished with dynamic keyword groups, you can think about setting the static ones apart — 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, service categories etc.
This approach to grouping keywords helps you decide what goes into your SEO strategy and what doesn’t.
The dynamic versus static grouping gives you a good overview of your client’s standing. Yet, inside the dynamic grouping, there are various dimensions to consider, so be careful not to include “all” keywords.
Let’s consider 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 use keyword discovery to identify 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.
Another way to strategically approach how you manage keywords is to group them based on your specific SEO objectives and your action plan.
Let’s dive right into it!
When your goal is to look for content opportunities, keyword management gets pretty straightforward — you'll need to track the targeted keywords that you’re building 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.
If you’re looking to highlight technical issues within your SEO strategy, certain keyword groupings can help you easily address your campaign issues. You’ll want to direct your keyword analysis in order to:
With all these groups focused on potential technical problems, your SEO experts can act fast and correct course, while also keeping the client in the loop for their side of tasks and business decisions.
Grouping your keywords can be very helpful in improving your SEO reporting workflow. You’ll get quick access to insights that can help you in your data storytelling when you present to your clients.
You’ll want access to recent wins and other important events regarding an SEO campaign. For this, you can set up a dynamic group that shows keywords that have recently entered TOP10 and can be used in reporting. You can also create another group of keywords consisting of those that managed to enter TOP3 for your client.
Depending on your objective, define both small wins (e.g. keywords with high conversion opportunities) and big wins for your account managers to observe and report on.
Focusing just on specific tasks is a limited approach by design — beyond the action plan, 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.
One last type of grouping that we’re analyzing here is informed by your client’s business objectives — 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 your 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.
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.
With a reliable keyword difficulty software solution at your disposal, you’ll also be able to identify how viable it would be to exploit a potential new opportunity. Analyzing your keyword suggestions based on difficulty will show you which of your pages can easily be modified to increase their topical authority. “Easy” keywords won’t have a lot of competition in their authoritative space, so you can take advantage by targeting them through your content.
Highlighting business results and new business opportunities involves a narrow focus and a clear-cut strategy from the beginning, without checking anything 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 on.
Yet, you need to take care not to become too narrow in your scope.
Keyword tracking and management may seem easy at first, but there are a lot of dimensions to consider:
With SEOmonitor, you can do all of the above with a number of key features: