It is easy to lose sight of your customers when doing keyword research by relying on tools. These tools are not going to spend money with your company; tools just show you the most popular phrases regardless if your customer’s actually use these words or not.
One of the best sources for keyword research is your customer’s own words. Here are a few simple ways to conduct research by just examining your customer’s information.
Gathering The Data
The first step is to gather the data in a single place so that you can analyze the information. There are generally a few places where you can find your customers’ actual words.
Email communications. Every day you receive communications from your customers. These come in the forms of contact emails, support requests, request for services, etc. These communications contain the customer’s actual words.
Most companies use either forms or direct email on their website. These form fills or emails are sent to a CRM system or directly to someone’s inbox. Pulling data out of an email inbox is not an easy task. Instead, use a form system that saves the data to a database, and then forwards the information to the appropriate CRM or inbox. By taking this simple step, you can start to collect all of your customer’s communications in a single place.
Blog comments. If you have a blog on your site, then you are logging comments to a database. It is a simple process to export the comments from your database. For most blogging platforms, just go to your host control panel and use the phpMyAdmin interface to export the comments.
Product reviews. Many ecommerce sites allow their customers to post reviews about individual products. In general, I find reviews useful to examine; however, the words your customer’s use to name the product is often heavily skewed towards the name you gave the product on the product page. Each system has a different method for exporting reviews, so you will want to examine how the reviews are being saved in your system.
Social mentions. Many social sites contain comments from your customers about your products. However, they do not always have an easy way to gather the data. If you are using a social monitoring tool, there may be a simple way to export the data.
If you are not using such a tool, then the low tech approach is to use Google alerts. Set up alerts for your brand names, products, etc. and then save all of those emails in a single place. You can even have those emails auto-forwarded to a database system so they are easily aggregated into a single place.
Of course, you can always just go to Twitter or another social search tool and conduct a search for your brand name and then copy and paste the results into a file.
Forums. If you have forums on your site, this is another great place to mine for keywords. Forum posts are generally more free-flowing than product reviews, and are often longer than blog comments, which make them a great place to mine for keywords.
If you are using a free forum system, then you should be able to export the forums from your hosting control panel. Otherwise, examine how the forums are stored to export the data.
Analyzing The Data
Now that you have a structured lists of your customer’s own words, it is time to analyze the data. There are a two easy ways you can use to extract keywords from this data.
Keyword density analyzer. The simplest way to analyze the data is to use a keyword density analyzer. Plug your customers’ words into a tool and it will show you the most common words and phrases they are using. Mine this list for new keywords.
Since this data may contain sensitive information that you do not want to use on a website, you might want to download a density analyzer that runs on your local machine to maintain the privacy of your users. In that case, Textanz is a good option.
AdWords keyword tool. Copy your list from your keyword density analyzer and paste it into the AdWords keyword tool. You can quickly find search volume, competition, and average CPC for all of your customers’ words so you can decide if you want to use the keyword for your paid search campaign.
The AdWords keyword tool can be used to spider your site. This is another easy way to find new keywords. If you have forums, reviews or blog posts that you were having a hard time exporting as structured data, you can instead have the AdWords tool spider those pages for keyword suggestions.
In addition, you can spider a social site for keyword suggestions. Twitter does not allow search results to be spidered, and Google’s keyword tool respects the robots.txt file, so you need to get around this limitation to spider Tweets. An easy way is to first search on Tweetscan for your keywords, and then have Google spider the Tweetscan search results page.
Another way to find keywords among your customer data is to temporarily publish the data to the web and then use the AdWords keyword tool to spider that data for new keyword suggestions. Be careful what you temporarily publish. I recommended you remove any personal customer data before uploading it to the web where a spider can find it.
When you use your customer’s actual words as keywords, you no longer have to guess at what words someone might use to find your products or describe your services. Your customers give you data every single day.
The first step to analyzing your customer’s words is to save it in a structured manner.
The second step is to analyze the data.
The third step is to add it to your paid search account and measure the results.
The steps are simple.
However, if your customers’ communications are not captured and stored in a manner that makes it easy to examine for keywords, then each day you are losing a valuable opportunity to find new keywords.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.