Keyword Research for Lead Generation

Search marketing and lead generation go together like peanut butter and chocolate.

You’d be surprised – but search is one of the best channels for lead generation – unlike marketing channels of the past where you had to build a brand over time using multiple and expensive exposures… or hope a prospect blundered into your company at an event – search lets you serve exactly the right message to exactly the right prospect at exactly the right time.

And for infrequent purchases – anything from emergency trips to the dentist, to renting a moving truck, to hiring an estate planner – search offers a unique opportunity for even the smallest company to compete with large enterprises.

These rare, typically high-dollar-value purchases, used to require huge branding budgets to build familiarity into potential customers. Now small, scrappy companies of all sizes can reach consumers at their moment of need through search.

Let’s look at how to find and prioritize those search keywords that will drive leads. If you’re looking for a specific process for how to find the best keywords for products, check out our guide on keyword research for Ecommerce ›

Use Your Own Data

(if you don’t have any of your own data, go ahead and skip to section 2.)

Typically your own data – if your site is getting any search traffic already – is a great place to start.

Often there are low-hanging fruit opportunities – like keywords similar to the keywords you already rank for – that you can tap into.

If you’re running paid search, that’s a great place to look at.

By contrast, if you’re not, take a look at your Google Webmaster Tools Search Insights report (discussed in the Search Explorer blog post about keyword research for bloggers), and understand what key phrases are driving traffic to different pages that capture leads.

Add these to your list – they’ll form an important part of the keyword expansion process.

Public & Other People’s Data

If you have a new site – or your site isn’t ranking well yet or you haven’t started investing in search marketing – you’ll need to start by using public or other people’s data.

In this case, let’s say you’re generating new leads for errors and omissions insurance. (E&O insurance is insurance for professional service providers – if you do consulting or professional services for a living, you should probably have some.)

Let’s start with searching for the keyword, and seeing what websites are ranking and advertising:

E&O SERP

You may notice:

  • A large amount of paid search competition – This is a good sign that these terms convert very well.
  • Terms like “E&O”, “E&O Coverage” and “Professional Liability Insurance” – all of these are useful in the search to find more keywords that you can target
  • A Mixture of Landing Pages and Editorial Content – Meaning that in addition to ranking landing pages, you could put some thought to creating and placing editorial content with these key phrases
  • Wikipedia Page on Professional Liability Insurance – You can use this in your next step.

Next, let’s find more keywords relevant to the purchasers of E&O insurance.

To do this, let’s analyze the competition, use Google’s tools, and build a big list that we’ll use later to expand and prioritize keywords.

Using the Google Adwords Keyword Planner to Find More Keywords

Next, surf over to the Google Adwords Keyword Planner.

While there’s many ways you can use this tool, let’s take that Wikipedia page from the previous exercise and plug that in as a landing page in the GAKWP:

using wikipedia as base for generation

There’s a category specifically for E&O insurance, so let’s go click on that and see what we get:

more GAKWT EO results

This is a pretty strong list of E&O keywords – let’s grab it and add it to our keyword sheet.

Additionally, you can see that relatively small changes in keyword syntax – and vs &, plurals vs non-plurals – can lead to giant swings in search demand and competition.

Competitive Information with SEMRush & SpyFu

Next, let’s go back to the SERP for the original term and check out that top result:

hiscox killing it at search marketing

Hiscox is doing a fine job with their search marketing – so let’s use a tool like SEMRush to check out what they’re doing:

hiscox organic search visibility

Many of these are great keywords to add to our list. I would leave the more generic business insurance keywords alone, as well as the ‘leap year’ keyword, because those aren’t going to drive leads that our example business can’t use.

Additionally, in an industry like this, we’ll also want to take a look at their paid search keywords.

Let’s use SpyFu to do that:

spyfu for ppc intelligence

Next, let’s think a little more broadly about E&O Insurance – we can use UberSuggest to find out what people search for around E&O insurance.

ubersuggest eando

You may also notice a pattern of “E&O Insurance for X”, where X is a profession – this could be a lead gen/landing page/search marketing gold mine, so let’s run that through UberSuggest as well:

e and o verticals ubersuggest

 

We’ll add all of these together into our matrix for prioritization.

Expand & Prioritize Keywords with Term Explorer

Now that we have a big list, It’s time to do some keyword expansion.

This is one of my favorite features of Term Explorer’s Bulk Keyword Tool, which has a free tiersign up for an account here and see if you find it valuable.

Now let’s take our big list – of competitive keywords, keywords from UberSuggest, and from other sources – and put them into a Keyword Job in the Term Explorer Bulk Keyword Tool.

term explorer keyword expansion

Next, we’ll filter these results for E&O related keywords using TE’s filters:

term explorer filtering

This will give us a list of keywords, along with their CPC, search volume, and more.

Next, let’s select those most relevant to our offering (in this case, E&O insurance is the only kind of insurance the example business sells), and send them to Term Explorer’s Keyword Analyzer.

term explorer keyword profiling

Additionally, since many of these results seem to be localized in some way, let’s go ahead and add our location to the ‘Set Location in Country’ field.

Prioritization with Conditional Formatting

Next, it’s time to prioritize.

Unless you have a giant budget and a lots of capital (or a phenomenally understanding boss/client), taking on the head terms with the largest volume is typically a bad idea.

One good practice is to group keywords into the following buckets:

  • Long Term Goals – High volume, high competition. Great to target, but we won’t get there for quite a while.
  • Medium-Term Goals – Medium volume, medium competiton – good to shoot for.
  • Low-Hanging Fruit – Long-tail keywords that can be captured with a piece of content or two – good to hit in the near term and show quick wins to build buy in.

One useful way to look at these different terms is to copy and paste the Term Explorer report into Excel, and using conditional formatting to highlight differences in competition, CPC, volume, and more:

conditional formatting

In this case, keyword 1 represents the high demand, high competition keyword, keyword 10 represents a middle competition keyword, and keyword 27 represents low hanging fruit.

Charts like this can help you prioritize your keywords, and end with not only a list of keywords, but fundamentally a plan of attack.

Now Go Forth and Generate Leads

That’s one methodology for doing keyword research for lead generation.

By utilizing a combination of Google data, competitive data, and tools like Term Explorer and Excel to tie them all together, you can intelligently target keywords and drive as many leads as your sales team and budget can handle.

Good luck and good SEO’ing!

Image credit: smittenkitten.com

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