Back To Basics: Keyword Crash Course

In the fast-paced, quickly changing digital-marketing world it’s hard to stay knowledgeable and relevant at the speed with which online systems develop and progress. Bonsai Media Group is always working to stay up-to-the-minute current on developments and bring that urgency to help our clients make small changes that reap big benefits. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is one topic we stay up on, and Search Engine Marketing, Inc: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company’s Website 3rd Edition by Mike Moran and Bill Hunt is a massively long resource that we’ve studied, digested and summarized so that we’re saving time making informed digital-marketing decisions for our clients, we’re optimizing our client’s customer experience and as we do these well we continue to improve—we test, learn, test again and repeat. Search Engine Marketing is a tricky business. Without a specific and strategic understanding of SEM, planning, and executing, companies are essentially throwing darts with a blindfold on.



When a searcher searches, the diversity of results is what continues to make SEM challenging. The searcher approaches generally with one of three inquiries:

navigational (where do I find…),

informational (where do I learn about…), or

transactional (where do I buy…).

It seems straightforward, but due to multiple audiences, related meanings, multiple intents, a word with a different meaning as singular or plural, and acronyms, SEM isn't as straightforward.

Multiple Audiences
The results are very different with multiple audiences. For instance, searching the word “security” takes on multiple meanings and industries in reference to home security, computer security, or even in reference to emotional or financial security.

Related Meanings
Related meanings are the difference between searching for “hotel” versus “lodging.” The meaning of these two words are related, but the searcher will end up with different results.

Multiple Intents
Multiple intents refer to the difference between searching for “car” versus “car insurance.” Those these subjects are also related, the searcher has very different intents with these subjects (information or research on cars versus looking for a car insurance company).

Singular Vs. Plural
There are words with singular or plural construction that change the meaning of the word which therefore changes the search results. For instance, “sale” versus “sales,” though different by one letter, represents two different meanings altogether.

Acronyms also factor into varied search results. “LOC Systems” (lines of code systems) can easily get muddled with “LOC” which could refer to the Library of Congress, line of credit (in banking terms), or loss of consciousness (in medical terms).



Knowing how to navigate these subtle, but important, nuances within search engine marketing sets companies apart. It requires that there’s a well-researched plan regarding search strategies, and a clear understanding of the identity, goals, and direction of the company. With the right strategy and goals, keyword prioritization becomes less about throwing darts hoping they produce results and more about specific, micro-adjustments, knowing that the right keywords, over time, will be the rainbow to the pot of gold.

"Always-On" Keywords
Always-on, mission-critical keywords are essential to a campaign and define the largest general category of a product or business. This is the core of your business - the essence of what you do.

High Priority Keywords
High priority keywords are a close match to the company site and are popular and help with the conversion rate. These are still really important, but not quite on the same essential level as those "always-on" keywords.

Medium Priority Keywords
Medium priority is still a close match to the site but is a little less popular and not as essential. These can be viewed as "supporting keywords" that help propel SEO efforts even further.

Low Priority Keywords
Lastly, low priority keywords are a close match to the site but aren’t worthy of an SEO effort - maybe due to their monthly search volume or their lowered relevancy compared to those top tier keywords. They're still worth labeling as "relevant" to your business, but they're not going to be the ones that drive the most traffic to your website.

In addition to keyword prioritization, sentiment analysis is another planning strategy that uses trends gleaned from social media to create a solution to a problem. Monitoring social media for emerging keywords can often spot new, trending ideas. Sentiment analysis helps identify and sort negative feelings that can be used as site content to address and solve the issue.

For instance, Absolut Vodka released a hibiscus-flavored vodka named Absolut Hibiskus, and the company realized people were chattering about not knowing what hibiscus tastes like and as a result didn’t know what drinks that flavor would mix well in. Absolut Vodka used the confusion to their advantage by creating content of drink recipes, instructional mixology videos, and ideas of how to use the hibiscus-flavored vodka.



The money is made in the execution of the well-understood and well-researched plan. Understanding all aspects of the customer experience is the key to search engine marketing, “one of the hardest things about any kind of marketing (and search marketing is no different) is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. You might know how to find the information on your website, but searchers do not.” Becoming so entrenched in the business, the product or service needs to be complemented with a thorough understanding of where and how the customer searches. This reality makes “search marketing…not a one-time event, but an iterative activity that must be improved every day.” Executing a strong search marketing strategy naturally challenges the status quo and encourages innovation while making the business discoverable and relevant to the customer.

SEM does three things for a company: it keeps a company goal-oriented and customer-focused through the iterative processes.

Goal Orientation: Don’t throw darts. Define specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound goals.

Customer Focus: Your business exists to meet the needs of your customer, so make sure they are at the center of all your decisions.

Iterative Process: continue to improve, test, learn and repeat
These three takeaways from Search Engine Marketing, Inc: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company’s Website by Mike Moran and Bill Hunt will keep any company on a solid path in a rapidly developing industry.



Though this hefty 400-page book is extremely extensive in its coverage of search engine marketing, it still didn’t cover it all. This was the third edition, and it came out in 2015. A lot changes in five years. The behemoth volume was thorough enough to educate someone fully about search engine marketing, but like any multi-faceted, varied, and ever-changing discipline like SEM, it couldn’t cover it all. If search engine marketing is a lofty idea that you’ve been meaning to research, take the guesswork out and let Bonsai Media Group help your company develop a strategic SEM plan to make your company the solution to your customer’s problems.



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