Guide to Keyword Research for Highly Technical Clients

SMS Text

As Internet marketing professionals, we often partner with clients in highly technical industries. Developing an effective keyword strategy can pose to be a great challenge when content and search terms involve specialized terminology. A top-notch, detailed keyword research report will help steer your strategy in the right direction.

Keyword research reports can be used for writing content, meta data, PPC ads, site development, and branding strategy. Hopefully this guide will assist you in discovering the correct keywords to deploy in your keyword strategy.

A Brief Intro to Keyword Research Tools

Several tools are available on the web for conducting keyword research, but only one is essential to perform keyword research. Our favorite tool is Google AdWords. This tool is the most widely used tool for keyword research, and it’s free. Although AdWords has received a lot of criticism for having inaccurate traffic estimations, it is still highly regarded as the best tool for the job. On top of providing traffic estimations for keywords, it will also suggest keywords similar to your inquiry. Adwords can also be used to find keywords people are using to reach individual pages on the site.

If you have analytics access to the website, Google Analytics is another great, free tool for finding keywords.  In Google Analytics, you have the ability to view keywords people used to access each page on the site – similar to AdWords. Google Analytics will also show referring websites to the client website. Those referring websites may contain keyword-rich content related to your client.

One of the best, paid software suites for keyword research is Raven, an all-in-one suite for Internet marketing. This suite pulls data from Wordtracker, SEM Rush, Majestic SEO, and several other marketing software platforms. The combination of all these software platforms makes it a very powerful weapon in any Internet marketers’ arsenal. Raven has the ability to pull detailed lists of top competitors in an organic search, and analyze competitor keywords.

Case Study: Sencore

Sencore specializes in video delivery and signal monitoring for professional video networks. With Sencore, words and phrases like DVB-S2 satellite modulator, transcoder and MPEG transport stream come into play. Unless you are an electrical engineer or a broadcasting technology enthusiast, these terms may sound like a foreign language to you. This creates a tactical challenge for Internet marketing professionals performing keyword research.

Highly specialized tech companies like Sencore usually get most of their traffic from branded keywords. After analyzing traffic sources for the client, we noticed that nearly all of the keywords being used to reach their website were product model numbers along with the word “Sencore.” All traditional keyword research techniques were blown out the window because of this. Branding a line of products with model numbers only can be very limiting, and often unsuccessful.

Starting Technical Keyword Research

Save yourself lots of time and heartache by starting with a client interview. Ask them to explain their products and services in short phrases, using the most relevant wording possible. Read any catalogs or literature written by the company. Many of these phrases may be used as keywords, and will also point you in the right direction of what you’ll be looking for. Investigating the client’s website and product descriptions will also give hints for keywords.

Obtaining as much knowledge of the subject as possible will greatly benefit you in the long run. After grabbing as much information as possible from the client and their website, it may be helpful to build a glossary of technical terms. In Sencore’s case, we put together a list of technical terms we gathered from their site, and put together a document containing the definitions for all of them to help us better understand their products.

Examining back links is also helpful for learning more about the client. Sencore people attend a lot of industry events, which provided a link. They also have a series of highly technical videos and webinars. All these things gave us a much better idea of what they do and how their products work. For example, a great keyword to associate with Sencore’s Modular Receiver Decoder MRD 3187B would be digital content delivery, something found by watching Sencore’s video about the product. After running the keyword through AdWords, we determined that it gets a decent amount of traffic.

Diving Deeper into Technical Keywords

Once you have compiled a starter list of keywords, create a spreadsheet to keep track of them. It may help to separate them by category. Be sure to include model numbers in the categories as well. Run each keyword through AdWords with the “broad match” option selected. This will open the door to new keyword opportunities. By running “digital content delivery” on a broad match search, we were able to come up with another 25 relevant keywords. Running the model number through AdWords will give you an idea of how to use branded keywords.

Keep in mind that broad match measures different combinations of the words within the keyword phrase. Broad match will measure phrases containing the words digital, content and delivery, but not necessarily in that order. This will skew traffic estimates. The keywords you come up with may not have any search volume in an exact-match search. To ensure the traffic estimate is for the exact keyword, you will have to run an exact match.

By now, you may have hundreds of keywords in the spreadsheet. Manually running every keyword through AdWords is terribly inefficient and completely unnecessary. Instead, sort the keywords alphabetically. Thoroughly examine the list, and remove any duplicates. Paste all the keywords into column B of a new worksheet. Put in a left bracket in column A. Put a right bracket in column C. Using the fill tool, fill columns A and C with the brackets as far down as the keywords go. In cell D1, enter in the formula in this image:

Using the fill tool, drag the formula down to insert it for every row. The results in column D should look like this: [digital content delivery]. This is the format AdWords uses to run an exact-match search. Paste the keywords into AdWords, and run the estimate. This will give you much more realistic traffic estimates for the keywords. If you notice any keywords getting high amounts of traffic, try running it through broad match to pull more keyword ideas from it.

Harrison Jones

Harrison Jones

Agency Lead, Analytics and Testing at Envisionit Media
Harrison Jones is the Agency Lead, Analytics and Testing at Envisionit Media - a digital marketing agency in Chicago. He specializes in SEO, data science,... Read Full Bio
Harrison Jones
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • Mike

    Thanks for the great post. The image containing the formula is a broken link?

  • Great post. I like the tools and it’s a great guide for doing better at keyword research. Thanks.

  • Paul

    Great post, thanks for taking the time to write this up.

    A couple of issues with the editing of the post…

    The link to the image for the formula appears to start fhttp instead of http, causing it not to work.

  • I do use Google Adwords and Analytic for my SEO purposes and the great thing is these valuable tools are FREE. And as you have mentioned “AdWords has received a lot of criticism for having inaccurate traffic estimations” that is very true but when its free at least we should cope with some of the errors. I love both the tools and they are do a lot for online research. Thank you so much for such a great post!!

  • I agree with you. Having a conversation with your client will save you miles of unwanted travel down some rocky roads.

    We have found that if a client has a deep understanding of their business and they can honestly answer the questions below, it makes key phrase research a lot easier on both of us. It really helps us guide the process.

    1. What are the major problems your products or services will solve for those prospects?
    2. Why would prospects want to buy your products and services?
    3. After prospects purchase products and/or services from you, what changes in their business?
    4. What makes you different from your competitors?
    5. How efficient is your company when it comes to delivering what you promised?

    Also, Raven is an awesome tool

  • Great article! I always find that technical clients tend to be so “inside the box” they just don’t understand how other people don’t “get” their business. Taking a technical business and sharing it with a non-technical audience is always a challenge. This is a great post about where to start and the steps to take in the right direction. Good job with this one!

  • Thanks for the refresher.

    In the past I had to go through all of these steps for a manufacturer of industrial ceramics and at the time it was definitely a “learn by doing” experience. The difficulty of the project was compounded by the fact that we were white labeling our service and couldn’t work with the client directly.

    In my experience, I found that GA was much more productive in our situation than anything else, but I’m sure that can vary based on each project.

  • Lindsay

    This is so helpful! I’d love to see the updated image for the formula, it sounds like a real time saver.

  • Column A will have a [
    Column B will have the keyword
    Column C will have a ]
    Column D will have this formula:

    The outcome will look like this

    Which is the correct format for an exact keyword match in Google Adwords.

  • Reading the post the formula in D1 would likely be =A1 & B1 & C1 You can then fill down as described. This could also by written as =”[” & B1 & “]” …if you don’t want extra columns of identical values (in Columns A and C).

  • Great Post. Also to add, discussions with folks in different departments of the company can lead to a lot of keyword ideas and sometimes present opportunities to improve keywords being targeted to them as well.