Keywords are the lifeblood of any search program.   The more we process data in our application the more I believe companies should spend far more time than they do analyzing them.   I have talked about the chaos of the data, the different numbers between paid and organic and the need for better segmentation and opportunity monitoring.  The big question is who should do this – agencies, interns, SEO teams, PPC teams – it varies by company but one thing is for certain, to maximize your opportunities in search marketing someone needs to do it.

Last Friday on a call with a large company we had 8 members of their search and digital marketing team on going through the demo the Digital Marketing Manager asked me who would do this work and monitor the opportunities and challenges with the keywords.   The team discussed a few opportunities and suggested it rest with the Global Search Manager who should have a lens into the overall picture.   I then suggested that they give access to the application to the Social Media and PR teams as well as the content development teams.  We mange preferred landing pages, keyword priorities and persona segmentation so these would be good to keep those uniform in the company.

They realized the Social Media team was not using the same words the Search Team has agonized over to prioritize and identify as critical.  The PR team was using the keywords and associated URL’s in releases to help build links to the most relevant pages.  To illustrate this, at OMS in San Diego I asked the 150+ audience in the Social Media session how many of them had talked to the search team about keywords and/or loaded the search team’s keywords into the conversation mining tool.  The answer was none!

Out of nowhere, a senior manager jumped in after having the epiphany that “keywords are critical to our digital marketing success” and suggested to the team they have some sort of a “Keyword Czar?

What would the Keyword Czar’s role be other than to rule over the keyword pot of gold?

Search Opportunity Analysis

This is the role that will aggregate all of the keywords and data and develop the opportunity models and other data needed by the teams for resource prioritization.  This person will also develop refine the monthly “Always On” performance reports and well as the paid and organic co-optimization models.  In my experience, this is typically not a new role but one that is shifted from analytics, data mining or taxonomy management.   There have been a few large companies, which have invested in this type of role, and they have yielded some very interesting results.

Content Needs and Opportunities

As companies migrate to more efficient content creation models this role will be come valuable since it can identify new opportunities for messages, keyword synergies and keywords to be added to paid search and organic programs that has never been considered.

Those of you who have read and follow the key principals in the great book Optimize by Lee Odden should be able to see the benefit of this role to the organization.  As Lee suggests in Chapter 8, you need to create content that “Attracts, Engages and Inspires” and this can only be done if you understand your audience needs, wants and problems.  We can learn what they are interested in using search query data and social media conversation monitoring.  These, when matched to your current content inventory (Preferred Landing Page Management) it highlights the gaps in your content.

As indicated, this will help increase traffic and conversion potential as well as creating the content matrix for preferred landing pages that can be used across all forms of digital marketing tactics.

 Keyword Arbitration

In many companies there are real problems with competition between business units.  In my recent post on Keyword Arbitration  we identified specific challenges when you don’t align across paid and organic, business units and agencies.   This role can manage the scorecards and process to do allow the process to be completed in a timely manner to ensure issues are resolved quickly and fairly.

Keyword Data Sharing

The most common cause of keyword overlap is the lack of sharing of keywords data.  his person would be the keyword data wrangler and keeper of the most current lists.  While we would love for you to use our Keyword Management Suite to manage them – Excel sheets on your Intranet or Google Docs can work as well.

I talked to a Search Manager recently that was stressed that their social media agency was using a list of words and URL’s from the previous year since no one thought to update them with the latest version.  Another company told me they lost a huge opportunity for links to a key part of the site via earned media since the PR team used the wrong URL and less than optimal keywords.

Keyword Expansion

You can read my rant on the necessity of keyword expansion and while I question the need for many companies that role does fall squarely on the Keyword Czar.  We do often find that companies are not matching key combinations of products and phrases.  While one company identified 25 different adjectives and descriptors for their buy cycle less than 20% of their products and categories used them.  This is the type of analysis that this role should be doing.  I the case just mentioned, by closing that gap that company increased search revenue by 12% mostly attributed to ferreting out these buy cycle terms that had a higher chance of conversion.

Keyword Czar’s Qualifications

Data Geek – First and foremost this person has to be a data geek.  They have to love data and be comfortable with data.

Excel Master – Yes, you can do a lot in our application but you will still need to do a lot of work in Excel or Open Office.  This person should be an advanced level with deep knowledge of analysis and pivot tables.

Understand Linguistics and/or Taxonomies – I worked with a company about 5 years ago that had a couple Masters and PhD candidates in linguistics, text processing and taxonomies that thrived in this area.  They spent the summer digging into all of their keywords and took the word base from 12,000 to over 450,000 that resulted in a total rebuild of the site around the taxonomy they developed based on the words.

There are also some personality traits that you may want to look for.

Trend or Nugget Curious – this person needs to be curious and ask questions why.  They need to be able to see patterns in data and want to dig into them.

Minimally Ambitious – why normally this is a bad thing – this is not that recent MBA grad willing to get in at the ground level that wants to the CEO of a multinational corporation in 10 years.  No, I am not talking about the career burger flipper but a person that is fine with a fairly defined role with latitude to be creative and without a lot of room for advancement.  These are often hard to find with the other skills but they are out there if you look around.

Business Justification

You will have to run the numbers.  Many companies don’t do anything with their keywords and data now so there is a lot of upside.   You could estimate a segment of words and their demand/opportunity and indicate that there is significantly more and that value might be enough to support it.  If your paying agencies to manage keyword and do that research this could be shifted as well to allow the agency to focus on more strategic and technical activities.  You could allocate a port of the time to your current team or agency and monitor the findings as in the case of the company that had the 12% increase in revenue that was 100% attributes to this activity.  Same with the company that found $400k worth of revenue by focusing on End of Life product keywords.