How to identify and evaluate product-focused search terms used by engineers at the start of the buying process.
A background primer
You have to be where your prospects are. According to Google, 71% of B2B buyers begin their search with a generic search query, which means they are looking for possible solutions to their problem first, not your product name or company name. This means your website must rank as high as possible for these non-brand search terms in order to be found in this early stage of the buying process. This blog will help you to identify and evaluate these keywords.
- Q. If you search for “Bluetooth” in Google what search results do you get?
- A. Results that explain what Bluetooth is, from Wikipedia and other sources.
Why these pages?
In part, this is due to Google’s perceived importance of the web page/website being displayed in the search results – Wikipedia is a website of high authority; but in the main, it’s because Google believes that anyone search for a very broad term is after a definition – the person searching hasn’t entered any specific details, and is looking for basic information.
Let’s try adding a qualifier to our search: ‘Bluetooth 5’
But that’s still not specific enough. We now receive informational search results with high-level definitions of the Bluetooth 5 specification. This type of search is referred to as an ‘informational search’ and illustrates why ‘Bluetooth 5’ wouldn’t be a good keyword to use for optimization – it’s too generic. Other informational searches often starting with interrogative words such as ‘how’, ‘what’, and ‘why’ and can be targeted through the use of blog posts and videos. We’ve previously written about how to use your blog to target engineers – but for this post, I’m focussing on a product or ‘transactional’ search.
For this, we need are more specific phrases, that signify the user intent as being an interest in Bluetooth 5 products.
Time for some jargon. One word by itself is called a ‘head term’, and forms part of the ‘short-tail’ of searches that are performed in search engines. What we want is the ‘long-tail’.
A long-tail keyword is sometimes defined as a targeted search phrase that contains three or more words, but this is technically incorrect because what makes a keyword ‘long-tail’ or not has nothing to do with its length.
Two elements that truly make a keyword long-tail are:
- Search volume
The more specific you get with a search phrase, the less volume of hits on it there are likely to be. Many long-tail phrases in niche sectors will have ZERO existing search volume. That’s because around 16-20% of daily Google searches are for completely new phrases that have NEVER been searched for before.
Individually, long-tail searches generate far fewer searches than head terms (long-tail keywords make up around 40% of all search traffic on the web), but:
- Collectively, they far outweigh the number of searches for head terms
- They signify user intent
- There’s less competition for these phrases, so it’s easier to get higher rankings.
Where to start
We’ve already started. We’ve identified our head term: Bluetooth 5
Now we need to expand this and add the long-tail. Let’s qualify the search by identifying exactly what hardware is being sold, presumably one of the following:
- Bluetooth 5
This is good, we’ve narrowed our search to products, but competition is strong and we’ve hit a problem…
Synonyms – which keyword or phrase to target
Bluetooth 5 or BLE?
Google understands many synonyms (e.g. microcontroller/MCU) so these terms can (and should) be used interchangeably in copywriting. You can see this in action if you Google ‘low power MCU’.
Google bolds matching words in search results, and if you search for the above, you’ll see that ‘microcontroller’ gets the bold treatment – Google recognizes the synonym.
But it doesn’t recognize ‘Bluetooth 5’ as a synonym of ‘BLE’.
So, which do we target?
This is where Google Trends comes in. Comparing “Bluetooth 5 module” to “BLE module” in Google Trends shows an outright winner (BLE module), so this should be our primary focus. However, remember the long-tail, and be sure to also include ‘Bluetooth 5 module’ somewhere in the copy.
But we’re not quite there yet. If you Google ‘BLE module’ there are nearly 26 million results. Most engineers won’t have time to evaluate more than a handful of the search results to determine which module has the right specifications, so they’ll add more qualifiers to their search, e.g.
- Longest range
- Lowest power
- IoT devices
You could manually create a list of keywords, but there are tools available to help with this.
First, my advice as someone working at an SEO agency for engineering businesses would be don’t use Google’s Keyword Planner. It’s biased to show more commercial terms – those with higher search volumes. Instead, my advice would be to use one of these:
The above tools will provide long lists of options, many of which will be irrelevant and can be filtered out. Even after filtering, you’ll still be left with a huge number of variants – and it’s impossible to include them all within the press releases/articles/blogs that a technical content marketing agency produces.
So how do we evaluate which ones are worth targeting?
This is quite a tricky subject so be aware that the keyword difficulty scores may not actually be that useful in these cases.
Keyword difficulty scores tend to look at a search result and then ask, ‘How many links or how high is the domain authority and page authority or all the link metrics that point to these 10 pages?’
A problem can occur when there are only a few people targeting very specific keywords. You could have powerful pages that are not actually optimized for these keywords that aren’t really relevant, and therefore it might be much easier than it looks from a keyword difficulty score to rank for those pages.
Instead, it’s best to manually review the search results on the first page of Google. If you see that none of the 10 pages listed actually includes all the keywords or only one of them seems to actually serve the user intent for these long-tail keywords, you’ve probably found a great long-tail SEO opportunity.
The next step is to group the keywords into themes – related keywords that apply to a particular long-tail phrase. These will include synonyms, and similar adjectives and superlatives.
You can now create a keyword-rich piece of content, focusing on a particular theme.
Once our search optimized content has been published on one of our client’s websites (in the industrial, electronics or general deep tech sectors) or published to a 3rd party website with links back to a relevant landing page on the client’s website a major question has to be answered.
How do we evaluate performance?
At this stage, we’ve included multiple keywords in our technical content marketing copy, any combination of which may be searched on. We know that Google may show our page in search results for other keywords that it deems similar, even though we haven’t included these specific words in our copy.
We can’t see what keywords were used to find our landing page (because Google Analytics no longer provides us with this information) and we can’t track search rankings for every possible variant as the volume of possible long-tail searches could be vast. Even if we could list and track all of the search phrases people might use, this doesn’t help us as Google displays different results dependent on our search history, who we’re connected to on the web, what geographic location we’re searching from, in addition to many other influencing factors.
All we can do is look at the number of visitors to our landing page, and track this over time.
Is the number going up or down?
If it’s going up, then great, but what if it’s going down? Firstly, we need to understand why.
- Is the product obsolete, or been superseded? In which case, we should turn our attention to a new landing page.
- Has the search terminology become outdated (e.g. Bluetooth Smart) The page may need a few tweaks from your technical content creation agency to update the jargon.
- Identify your starting phrase (head term) e.g. BLE Module
- Use keyword research tools to identify long-tail variants
- Filter out irrelevant phrases, and group the rest into similar themes (synonyms, adjectives, and superlatives)
- Create optimized content that uses these themed keywords prominently in the copy, and link to similarly themed pages (both on the same website, and also on 3rd party websites).