Through the lessons covered in the previous classes, we have everything needed to put together a content strategy apart from the final list of topics and keywords.
In this episode, Erika shares a comprehensive approach to keyword and topic analysis, keyword research, and automated clustering for effective content strategy planning.
A massive thank you to Rickety Roo for sponsoring our content Marketing cohort.
Rickety Roo is a digital marketing agency helping small to medium-sized businesses get better visibility online.
They understand what it takes to drive eyeballs, clicks, and ultimately customers for your business leveraging Google.
They provide the following services:
Launch your customer growth with Rickety Roo
What Erika Does: Head of SEO Branding at Semrush
Noteworthy: Erika is also a public speaker, regular webinar host, and awards judge.
Connect with Erika;
💡 Four Steps to Building a Topic List
Erika outlines a four-step process for generating a list of topics and keywords.
This involves identifying gaps from competitors using tools like SEMrush, exploring low-hanging fruit from the client’s site, conducting traditional keyword research using the keyword magic tool, and finally, creating topic clusters based on the collected keywords.
💡Using SEMrush for Keyword Gap Analysis
Erika demonstrates the process of conducting a keyword gap analysis using SEMrush. She explains how to input the client’s domain and up to four competitors’ domains, focusing on missing and weak keywords.
The goal is to identify areas where competitors outperform and strategically target those keywords to enhance the client’s performance.
💡 Leveraging Low-Hanging Fruit from the client’s site
Erika guides the team in uncovering low-hanging fruit from the client’s site using SEMrush’s organic research feature.
By filtering keywords where the site ranks within the top 20 positions, the team can identify opportunities for optimization and content creation, capitalizing on existing strengths and relevance.
Keyword Research Template
Erika Varangouli 0:05
Roshni is going to catch up. And let’s start with a very quick stand up like one minute each in terms of like, how it’s going with the assignment, I saw the recording. So there were quite a lot of questions around the audit.
So I just want a very quick update on how you’re doing and what you’re struggling with, right? Like, this is your, this is a time we should all be very open and transparent, right? It’s not about right or wrong.
Update is kind of like just to get a feel for where we are. So let’s, let’s do this. Who goes first? Chitra, do you want to go first? With a quick update?
Chitra Iyer 0:51
Okay, sure. So yeah, I think it was really helpful. I was kind of struggling with all the, you know, getting in the weeds with semrush. And, you know, with all of those data points that we had to fit into that Excel sheet.
But thanks to the session with Roshni, at least, you know, I can make sense of it. And, you know, I’ve worked on lots of content strategies before were honestly based on with the support of a SEO team who does all of that stuff.
Erika Varangouli 1:18
Chitra Iyer 1:19
I won’t say I’m enjoying the process. Okay. So it’s surely not something I would love to keep doing. But yes, it’s important to know, you know, so that even if you have another team working on it, if you know what, what’s going into the ingredients that are going into it, then it’s always easier to make sense of the outcome.
So and from that perspective, I thought it was good, I haven’t been able to complete mine, but I have made progress.
So that’s a good thing. It’s just really time consuming. I mean, to do that for each and every page and new respect for like the SEO guys, for all my clients.
Erika Varangouli 1:58
Yeah, and I get it. And that’s why I said, Remember, and that goes for every template you’re ever, you know, given by someone, if it’s your client, okay, maybe like look into it more and respected more.
But from my side, the template was like to open up the view, and the approach you take to how you review content, because I think, especially if you come from a more from a more traditional like content writing background, you know more that we tend to just focus on the copy on the page.
And And when we’re doing a content marketing strategy, especially to help with organic visibility. It is a wider umbrella that we need to account for within. Some clients may have like dedicated SEO teams or managers, in which case like this, things may never touch you even right.
But let’s say with smaller clients, or less mature businesses, this is where sometimes I would look first event like the gains from the silly stuff like this sounds silly. But like the gains from optimising your title tags for core pages, and pages, you want to rank can significantly improve performance versus the volume of work required to create much more new content, right.
And those are like, sometimes they’re like the quick wins. So. So for me, the template was not to say, when you, when you hand over your assignment, or where you do a strategy, you should always look at all of those things.
Because remember, we also said, you don’t have access to many tools that can help you speed up, you don’t know necessarily how to use all these tools, but it is to open up your view as to what elements you can look for. And maybe if you’re not going to look at them yourself.
These are questions or things to put on your client and say, Look, I’m looking at this, I think you might need to take a look at that part there with a specialist, right, it’s okay to say I’m not an SEO specialist or a tech person.
But I think clients also appreciate that kind of avenue of like, okay, myself or someone else should at some point look at this, because I see there are some issues and you only know by having even a quick look at those things.
So thank you Chitra. Let’s go. Okay, I’ll go by the list how you’re listed on the site. Emmanuela Can you give us a very quick update on where you are with the assignment what you may struggle with, if you’re struggling with anything.
Emmanuella Ballidawa 4:25
Erika Varangouli 4:26
Emmanuella Ballidawa 4:28
Yeah, well, just like she tried in the last lesson we had, you know, for most of it, I was listening and wondering what it is I was going to do in the assignment because I just wasn’t clicking a lot of stuff.
Yeah, but I’m grateful for the session we had which especially took us through because it opened my eyes and at least things in doable from that. point I’m not done. I’m not done with the assignment. And there may be one or two things. I didn’t. I guess I’ll have them documented later on.
But that’s I’m still I may still be struggling with. But it’s it’s so much more doable. Now I understand it, I get it. When I joined Well, of course, I’m just a writer. And but I wanted to get more involved in, you know, the strategy in, you know, I was just curious about how can I get right about this specific topic?
Why? I just wanted to know, and I wanted to be able to take part in those processes. That’s why I applied to the cohort. And wow, it’s an interesting challenge. I’m enjoying it. A few things. I’m very new too, but okay. Thank you. Good.
Erika Varangouli 6:02
We’ll come back to some things. I just don’t want to stay too long on the updates. It needs to be a quicker stand up Festus Do you want to go quickly on where you are in anything you may be struggling with?
Festus Eze 6:12
Okay, I’m almost at the fair end of the problem. I have two columns to complete on the actual sides, maybe before the end of the day. I will finish up on the assignment.
Erika Varangouli 6:22
okay. Anything you found difficult or you struggled with while doing it?
Festus Eze 6:28
Not particularly anything. The only thing is, it takes a lot of time, it consumes a lot of my time on it? I’ve been working about six hours per day. And this is my 12th day and it took a lot of my time
Erika Varangouli 6:43
for how long? Six hours per day for how many? Like how many hours in total?
Festus Eze 6:48
Erika Varangouli 6:50
Festus Eze 6:50
6 hours a day for 12 days for about 76 pages.
Erika Varangouli 6:56
Okay. Wow. Okay, so this raises also another important thing about like timings and I’m quoting for time, because like, I, I think it shouldn’t take that long or you wouldn’t be able to sell this kind of service, I think to a client. Let’s let’s discuss as well. Lets, go to mae. Thank you Festus.
Festus Eze 7:23
Mae Josémaria O. 7:25
Hi Erika, Hi everyone. this all is overwhelming?
Erika Varangouli 7:37
Mae Josémaria O. 7:39
it’s really overwhelming. I have to tried to like, try and understand why this thing’s like this. I try to understand it. If I can understand this specifically, I tried to look at it from a broad overview.
And I think the sheer amount of data that I need to work with is it’s just sort of given me this analysis paralysis, you get what I have started, I have started but for my clients, I noticed that I can even use semrush, you know, I started out with the SE ranking.
And when I tried to use SEMrush for the site audit, I noticed that the data I was given me was, I didn’t think it was accurate enough. For instance, everybody knows Podio is a project management tool.
And by logically speaking, Competitors will be atlessian and trello or Monday. But when I checked that on semrush, I’m seeing atotally different thing. So I’m, I’m not really sure if I should use it to do the uhm
Erika Varangouli 8:56
sorry, mae. What What was the one you checked? Where and then SEMrush had other data?
Mae Josémaria O. 9:01
Yeah se ranking. I used SE ranking to do the previous assignments? Okay, yeah. The competitior analysis. Yeah. So when I, when I logged in the domain on SEMrush, was giving me a totally different thing, I wasn’t seen.
I wasn’t confident enough to use it to try to like scrap through a se ranking, which is not really, it’s not it’s not a really nifty tool for this kind of thing. So I’m also thinking of Ahrefs. But I haven’t really gotten around to it, but I’ve watched some tutorials.
Erika Varangouli 9:35
Mae Josémaria O. 9:36
that’s basically it. It’s really overwhelming.
Erika Varangouli 9:39
Okay, okay, I’ve got some thoughts. Let’s let’s move on to everyone. So thank you, mae. Onize do you want to go next? How you’re doing? Okay, let’s, let’s go to Peris and we’ll come back to onize. Peris, do you want to go next?
Peris muthinja 9:55
Yeah, it’s okay.
Onize Muhammed 9:57
Sorry. Um, my microphone was muted. Can I go on?
Erika Varangouli 10:06
Okay, let Onize go. And Peris, we’ll we’ll come back to you. Onize do you want to give us a short update on where you are?
Onize Muhammed 10:15
I have actually started. Just like everyone has said, it’s overwhelming. It’s time consuming. But I’m getting the hang of it. I’m getting hang of it.
Because before now, if I open it, I don’t even know where to start from, like, watch today, we’re starting first, or how should I go about in words have been able to like, I’ve watched the video, the recording over and over again, so I know what to do.
Now for now, I don’t have issues. As long as I delete news that my system had issues, so I could’nt really get things moving quickly, here. But now, it’s better
Erika Varangouli 10:59
okay. Okay. Peris? okay.
Peris muthinja 11:05
I’m at the core sight pages, I’m at performance. I think that’s the only part that I have not done in the actual part. Then I’ll do SEO content audit. The good thing is that I have a break this week from today, I think up until Friday, but now the clients start handing start sending work for the month of November.
So I think my Friday should be through, but I had one challenge. In the in the in the core sight pages there’s this part about products, products/service one, products/service two. Now for my website.
I have one product that dog wheelchairs, but I have dog wheelchairs for rear legs, front legs, disabilities. So I’m wondering, do I do per page for the product? Or like just do for the one for the product page? That’s where I’m a bit stuck now.
Erika Varangouli 12:18
Okay. Okay, we’ll get back to this as well. Peris. Thank you for raising this. I’m gonna write down. Okay. And I think we have only Sandra left. If and if I left out someone let me know. But Sandra I think you’re the last one to go.
sandra Tabansi 12:38
Hi, everyone. Hi. Can you hear me? Anyone? Yeah. All right. So I wouldn’t repeat what everybody says. I mean, the it’s really challenging. It has challenged me more than I even thought possible. But I have started.
I’m just starting with the main pages. So it’s very, very slow for me, because this is the first time I’m ever doing anything like this. So it’s really, really slow. I’m taking it. Like, really? Step by step. And yeah, that’s where I’m at.
Erika Varangouli 13:26
okay. All right. So team, let me remind you, we’re here because we all want to learn, right? So including me, so this is not like, Oh, I didn’t finish it on time. Like I’m putting timeframes, because this is the real world of like having deadlines.
Right. But it’s not I’m not asking you today will have the assignments on time is because I could tell from the call. And because I knew from the last class that it was, it was a lot. And it’s challenging, especially if you haven’t done it before.
So what I’m hearing is that, for most of you, this has posed a challenge. For me, this is great. It’s great to a degree that it pushes you to learn something new and do something you haven’t done before. It is not great.
If you feel that I cannot do it. I don’t have enough tools or time to do it. In those cases, I expect you to shape the assignment to watch you can deliver things like a client. Alright, I’m Claude, I’m not Erica.
And I want to see a content audit. And I said, Okay, let’s take 5,10, 20 pages you you tell me right, as long as it’s like a good enough sample for you to practice. And then each one of you. This is the additional challenge I have also for this cohort and you will have you’re not all working on the same client.
So the template also accounts for The fact that in your professional career, you will get clients from different industries with different challenges in terms of their website or their content.
So the template, always keep that in mind, templates are only templates, they are useful to the degree that help you document the essential information you need for you and your client and to understand what to do next.
And do that by saving time not building a new document every time you have a similar task to something else. Templates should not be limiting you or making a task or a project, impossible to manage.
So a good example, festus, I know you’re investing a lot in your knowledge here with SEO as well. But if you’re telling me that you’re spending like six hours per day for 12 days, think of that as a project, you would have to sell to a client would a client ever pay for, I don’t know, 100 hours of freelance work to audit pages on a website, I can tell you probably not. But if I can say like most definitely not.
So, so things that are not profitable for you, right, and the things that also you cannot sell, you just don’t do this way you change them. So in the templates, for example, I had defined some criteria for technical for user experience for content, I would like you to push yourself to look into things you haven’t looked at before, in relation to cars.
So let’s say Chitra have never done, you know, title tags or the technical side of things before I did it for a couple of pages just so I get into the habit or I understand get a top idea. But my client has serious issues with on page content.
And I focused on that for my audit, because I think that’s where the majority of my contributions will come from, right. And that’s absolutely fine. Or if someone says, You know what, Erica, this is good for us to have in mind. But in this specific scenario, getting the data for usability is not good with the tools we have.
So I understand the process, I tried it for a page just to see what I can get. But I think it’s not a good use of my time, a good use of my time has to go into the content on the page. That is also fine. So please remember that this is there to point you in different directions.
You have your client in this case, okay, you have a template, you push yourself to learn how to do because a content audit is it’s paramount to content marketing. Okay. But also, you make you’re judged on the decision making on your side as well. Like, this is not that useful? This is way more useful to spend time on now. Chitra
No, I didn’t mean to interrupt whenever you’re done. I can I have two questions.Okay. Let me very quickly say then so timings and that is also when you work with clients, you need to be quoting for something right.
If you’re gonna do a content audit, you need to quote for your time and your, like cost for doing that. So feasibility of doing something versus cost? How much time is going to take you versus is it worth it for the client?
That’s all to be considered? I think then Peris, Peris, was it you who touched on using seRanking first, and then semrush in the data being very different? I think it was oh, no, mae was it mae
Peris muthinja 18:35
no it is mae
Erika Varangouli 18:36
Mae? Yes, it was mae. Definitely, yes. I think I said it from the first or second class, like when when you’re using a tool like an it’s not a first party data tool, right? You’re not using Search Console, you’re not using Google Analytics, you’re not using first party data, you’re using third party data.
So SEMrush, se ranking could be Moz could be something else. Do not switch between platforms easily. Because the the algorithms, the data sets, the methods are very different from one tool to another, right?
So that’s why when you look at like what kind of traffic SEMrush may show a show for a website versus Ahrefs versus SE Ranking, they are going to be very different. Right? So what I would suggest is that if you’re going to use different tools, I do it in two different ways.
Either get all metrics from one tool, about one topic, let’s say Site Audit. Okay, I want to see how well the website is doing. I will take it all from from SEMrush. Right. Then if I have to use only third party tools, then I will only use another tool.
If I have a blind spot something that SEMrush doesn’t show me and I know that another tool may show me a good side of it. I will do that. But I would not say okay from The Site Audit, the technical audit I did, I’m choosing to see this part from semrush, this part from Ahrefs, this part from there.
Same goes for when you’re doing an analysis of like how well content ranks, right, because how the rankings are brought into each tool also differs. So if for the same keyword you see on SEO ranking, okay, this site is ranking position seven and SEMrush is ranking 10. And the competitor ranks differently in both tools, that’s absolutely normal.
But pick one system to run your analysis in write to the extended this as possible, because every tool has its blind spots, and then you can choose to use another one for complement. So what you said May makes absolute sense, I would say if you can continue with the same tool or process good, if not, then bring parts of this work into one tool.
So for example, keyword research that I want to talk about today, do it within one tool, because every keyword, if you look it up in different tools, you will get different search volumes, different trends.
So you cannot come it’s like comparing apples to oranges, right, you need to have the same data set to be able to do correct comparisons. And to do regarding the product and whether to to bring all of them to write about older product pages, or just that one.
This is essentially the category page if I understand correctly, and then it goes into breaking it down into more product pages. So for me, the right decisions are made any weight more easily when you work with a client because you have actual data.
And they can say okay, these pages drive the most traffic and payments these ones not. In this case, because it is an exercise, I would suggest if they all follow exactly the same format, like they’re they look the same, they have the same kind of design, I would take the top level page and maybe one more from the breakdown or two, just to get an idea of how good of a job they’re doing at describing and selling their products, right.
I want to take all like this is an exercise you I don’t expect you to take all product pages all category or everything. It’s it’s a sample to get into the habit of auditing content. So in real world, I think you will take the pages that drive the business value.
So the category pages some subcategory, we’re going to ecommerce that can be a nightmare. But yeah, for now, I would take the top level page and maybe one more from the specific product. Chitra, you wanted to ask a couple of questions.
Chitra Iyer 22:44
Yeah. Thank you. So I have two questions. One is, you know, SEMrush, ever since I logged that page, you know, thrifty cars.com, or whatever the homepage is for a Site Audit, every couple of days, it sends me an email with like Site Audit Report, and there’s new stuff on it, like, your website is missing, like, you know, whatever, indeed pages Miss canonical links, or you know, every couple of days, it’s something different.
So, I mean, why doesn’t they just give everything together? Is it that all this stuff changes automatically by every few days? Is that something we have to track every few days?
Erika Varangouli 23:24
I don’t imagine so because you’re not rerunning the audit. Right? This isn’t a Site Audit as you said Chitra?
Chitra Iyer 23:30
Yeah, I’m not re-running, it just keeps coming by email.
Erika Varangouli 23:34
I think that’s in the setting. So when you set up your site audit, you have an option to choose. And that’s the default, I think, to only run it once, so it doesn’t eat into your credit or you know anything. And you only rerun it if you want.
But then you also have an option about the notifications you get via email. So if you not, if you don’t unclick it, I think it has an automatic set setting of sending you email, so you can go into the project and change the settings and and untick the email alerts.
I don’t imagine in a website that is like, you know, heavily migrating or things changing. Yes, you might get new errors, but you would also have to set up the Site Audit to run and refresh.
So I think this is just down to the email notifications that you left them on. And then you get notifications about issues which as long as you’re not resolving the system is as as the issues that are there. Yes, I think as this is
Chitra Iyer 24:35
it highlights different issues in every email. It’s never the same issues.
Erika Varangouli 24:39
Because obviously you can see a lot and then prioritises the automated notifications. This is in the project setup. So if you change your settings, you should stop receiving like the email alerts.
Chitra Iyer 24:53
Okay, thanks. And then my second question is about a new client who I actually just spoke with a prospect yesterday and it’s like a brand new SAAS, okay. And they have nothing yet.
So while the founders are seasoned founders, they’ve had good exits and stuff, there’s a whole new project that they’re doing, and they plan to launch by Jan or February, whatever the SAAS product.
So how do you know, a content audit? Like, how do you begin the content strategy when there’s nothing to audit?
Erika Varangouli 25:25
Okay, I’ll be very brief, just because I don’t want to eat into everyone’s time. But Chaitra, I’m happy to chat separately about that if you need more guidance, but it’s a pain, when you have something that is so fresh or not even exist or is so small that you don’t really get valuable data from platforms, what I do is I get their main offering.
So I try to find like my seed keywords or topics that people will be probably looking into. And I asked for, like, who do they identify as their main competitor, or the leaders in that space? Right? It might not be direct competitors, but it may be okay.
Which are the brands and companies right now dominating that space of the audience you want to tap into, and then start analysing them to find common ground, right. So you kind of start with the top performers are good performing website that the client specifies is relevant.
And you also identify with a client like the main offering the main product service, and you try to find the right terms to describe it. So you start with the process. We talked about more in the audience and competitor lessons, those two, but you apply them mainly to their competitors to get more data from them. That’s what I do at least like, I’m not saying this is the only way. Okay, who was next? I don’t know who raised hand next Mae or Onize
Mae Josémaria O. 26:54
You mentioned in our last, in the last call that you usually do this content, sometimes 1000s, or hundreds of 1000s. I wanted to know 1000 into that you used to like get this parameters, this different parameters at once?
Erika Varangouli 27:13
I didn’t hear you very well, I mentioned what in the last lesson?
Mae Josémaria O. 27:18
that you usually, you’ve audited 1000s of pages before by colleagues and 10s of 1000s. I wanted to do is to use a particular tool for that. Like to get you all departments at once. Because I think the reason all of us are struggling is because we have to go through each page.
Yeah, manually. That was a more efficient way to like, apart from tools, I know you already gave us tools yet another efficient way to like get everything because we had to do like 1000 page, I’m not sure any of us would get this thing done.
Erika Varangouli 27:59
The way, way way too. And again, like this, this, this is a great question. Okay. Because websites with millions of pages, so scalable web websites, you are not scalable if you’re doing an audit.
So how on earth do you do it? And this is a great question. I can also answer that briefly. And say this. Typically, the template you have, let’s say, right, what you would get is the URL is already completed, right from the business owner or the SEO team.
So you wouldn’t have to manually get all the URLs and the pages that exist. All right. Then the other thing that I would do myself or I would get from an analytics team, is I would get the performance data completed first, right?
So in terms of like if they have conversion, sales, traffic, pageviews, things that show me exactly how each of those pages perform. And typically, you will order by that performance you want to understand which are the most important pages, right?
Also, mostly SEO but debatable about content, you then fill in, you kind of draw the data around the rankings, what keyword it’s ranking for, like how much traffic is it getting for that keyword, you can get that from Search Console, which you cannot in this lesson because you don’t have access to Search Console.
So they there if you have 1000s of pages, you have a categorization in terms of volume they drive. And the other thing that is quite typical of sites with 1000s of pages, or hundreds or 10s of 1000s is that many of those pages are templated.
So things like E commerce websites, right? The product pages are largely the same the content changes because the product changes but for sample some of the usability or UX features are the same everywhere, right?
So A, for example, the CTA is buried as varied for all of them, because they are designed in the exact same way. So, some of these insights, you can check very quickly a few pages and see that it’s a repeated pattern across many of those pages.
So you end up with some recommendations that are blanket kind of recommendations, right? If they apply to one they apply to most, then you ordered the ones that you need to get done. First, based on performance.
And again, if these are like product or category pages, because they are important, you start with quick wins on the more technical stuff. So like USS or the optimised for the target keyword? Are they doing a good job of that? And then moving on to is the content placed in the right way? Does it have the right content there?
There is an element of doing it manually. Nowadays, there’s an argument for using AI. I don’t know how everyone uses it. You could though theoretically also use AI to assess the quality or efficiency of this content. But in order to to audit 1000s of pages, you need to group them into similar groups, right?
You need to get okay all the product pages together, and find what are the same characteristics for all of them first, and then assess if you need more in detail per page.
But I think typically that comes down like to the optimization, or like the content descriptions, if it has everything, you don’t assess every page and write the content, the description yourself, you’re just saying typically, the descriptions are short, they don’t include the keywords.
So if I’ve encountered this and 510 pages, I assume this is the issue for the large number of pages that are built in exactly the same way. And you go by by grouping those issues.
Chitra Iyer 32:04
Erica, sorry, I have a quick follow up question on the same point that would it make sense to, to start with identifying the traffic to each page, and then you know, I address the ones with the highest traffic and lowest traffic first or, you know, or at least see if some important pages are getting like really low traffic?
Erika Varangouli 32:25
Yeah, that’s why I’m saying you need you usually get your URLs, performance data like okay, traffic or sales coming from them. And you also get, or you should get, I think, the target keyword for that, right?
Because unnecessarily because you may be getting a lot of traffic, but for your target keyword, that traffic may be minimal, because you’re ranking like positions. And for another one, you may look like you’re getting a lot of traffic, but it’s only because you’re getting almost nothing from the other.
So that looks like a lot of traffic for one page. But it’s not actually a page that can go much higher, because you’re already ranking number one for that term. So it’s kind of so that’s why I mean, like this is what gives you context is like this are my pages.
This is their performance. And this is what they’re aiming for. Right? They’re aiming to be found for this type of query. And they are doing okay, not well, very well. And then you prioritise based on that criteria.
But you’re right Chitra. Onize, I want to give you two more minutes, just because I want us to proceed and discuss how we we take it forward, Onize go, I think you’re on mute again.
Onize Muhammed 33:37
Must all pages have meta description?
Erika Varangouli 33:40
Sorry say that again
Onize Muhammed 33:42
must all pages have meta description? Also, if the URL of a page is overly long, is this something to be concerned about?
Erika Varangouli 33:51
And I wouldn’t write it Onize with meta descriptions on URLs, I wouldn’t go into that. Like I wouldn’t spend my time on that a lot.
Onize Muhammed 34:00
Erika Varangouli 34:01
I can tell you why very briefly. So the URLs and the optimization there is, is a very, very minimal factor in rankings, right. It’s very technical, and it causes a lot of issues. But this is I would see that as something very outside of a content marketers like priorities. Of course, the impact is actually minimal.
The meta descriptions for me, yes, they’re good. They should be optimised but mainly for people. However, what we know is that Google rewrites tonnes of them.
So even if you specify a meta description, nine out of 10 times or eight, I don’t know what the percentage is, but Google will will will show something else in the results page, not the meta description you’ve defined because it goes by what people search for and so on.
If it thinks that it’s not a great meta description, whatever. So, meta descriptions I would prioritise for, again like mine core pages may be for sure. But still, I would see it in context without what other issues I have in the content because maybe they’re not even like a top priority to address when I begin.
Onize Muhammed 35:11
Okay. Thank you.
Erika Varangouli 35:14
Excellent. All right. So team, I am carrying the struggles, I, I never wanted it to become like, oh my god so much work for nothing. All this time, I’m not even doing it for a real client getting paid. I do like that you stretch yourself. And I saw the, the discussion and and how you push yourself.
So I think this is good. Please remember to exercise judgement and discard anything that is not adding value right now. Right?
This is for me a template that you I hope is useful in the future when you work with real clients or within your business or anything and, or it gives you some new perspectives. But for this exercise, please use and push yourself to the degree it makes sense.
Okay. We can go over again, the audit, I think based on the actual turnover of this exercise. Let me speak to you about something that I wanted today and see where where we land. Okay. Let me just and we’ll connect it to the to the audit. Okay. Let me share, I hope you can all see
Chitra Iyer 36:31
a week’s topics. Okay. All right.
Erika Varangouli 36:34
Let’s talk about topics. And I want to start with a recap, because I also didn’t see last week. So let’s see where we are what we know so far, based on what we’ve done, right? Through the process of working with Claude.
We know the industry trends, right? Where the industry is going, what are the rising trends there, we know the market status, right?
How convoluted the space is, how competitive we know, our competitors, we know our competitors performance, right? Because we’ve looked into it.
And we also look into our audience, we know our audience, their pain points. And then when our client, so we have Industry and Market, we have our competitors, we have our audience.
And then we have our client, and we know their goals, their positioning, their tone of voice brand materials, all of that asked and shared in advance, and we can see it on the website as well. We know their performance.
And then we also know the current state of the content, because we have been doing a content audit, right? So we already know 10 Things that are super, super important to do this, right?
You have everything you need to put together your content strategy, correct. Someone challenge me or someone say yes or say no
Festus Eze 38:05
we need keywords, keywords, the topics,
Erika Varangouli 38:09
Exactly so you need a final list of topics and keywords. So I like to say topics because the obsession with keywords, make people miss the forest, right the forest is the keywords exposed topics to us, or starting with topics that we may have identified, we end up spotting keywords.
So this is spot on festus, this is what we’re missing this one thing, which is our topics and our keywords. So there are four steps to building this, this list and some of them we’ve seen before, but I wanted to bring them all together, right?
So we have the overview. And don’t worry, I’m not going to put another assignment on you after this this lesson. So please don’t I want us to practice but I want us to practice before we move to the assignment.
So one is identifying the gaps from our competitors. Okay, how do we do that I had shown you before but I have I have SEMrush open here so I can show you but I’ve written it here when you go back to the slides you can always refer to it. So you go to keyword gap.
You add your clients domain and up to four competitors domains. I usually start with missing and weak keywords and we can discuss and then expand to the rest of the keywords once you’ve covered these if you want.
But let me very quickly demonstrate so I go here to keyword gap. If I put SEMrush I’m always using SEMrush like as a as an example. Then I put let’s say ahrefs I can add I think I added similar web and maybe Moz.
Okay, I have me at the top like my client and then three more competitors, I don’t always put too many, because depending on how big everyone is like, then I ended up with like 1000s and 1000s. And then someone said, analysis paralysis, and I don’t want this to be happening to me.
So I’m starting, let’s say with the top two competitors that I definitely want to compete against, and be strong against them. And then as I enhance my strategy, I may look into more, right?
So my advice is like if if it leads to analysis, paralysis, use even one domain, right, your main competitor, there doesn’t mean that because you have the option to put more you should put as many as possible.
And what you end up here with is, is this list of shared keywords with with them, and shared is how many you’ll rank for, in some position, right? missing is the one that you don’t rank but everyone else does, right?
This is the difference from weak weak is where you don’t rank, but at least one other does. So that’s why I’m starting with missing if all of my competitors are ranking for a keyword, and I’m not, it’s probably a good indication that is a very relevant keyword provided that I have chosen my competitors wisely as well, right.
And then you have the strong ones, which is like where you rank better than the others on top, the ones that you haven’t really performed, but the others are performing well. So so then you expand, and then you have all right, you see that even with almost 900,000 keywords between like SEMrush and three competitors, we can missin are very few.
So that’s also what I suggest it’s like, start here, because these are the areas where your competitors are doing better than you. Because they are, if they’re relevant, it’s probably a good indication that you should also do better.
And what I do is once I’ve done that, like if I say for example, missing, I’ve already exported here. So So I build a sheet with like four or five tabs, and then here I export and place them the keyword gap, right, this is where I am, all the information is where I rank, I add, the only thing I add, these are all the columns for the tool.
Okay, the only thing I add is a column for filter. So to save this came from the weak filter, the missing filter, later on, it might be untapped. Just so I know which group of keywords each keyword has come from.
So this is one way right to find to come up with keywords and topics. In the first instance, I know my competitors, and I can do this. Number two is I can identify low hanging fruit from my own site, right for my clients site.
This is not always the case like Chitra in the case of of the client you mentioned, right? It’s not possible because they have nothing live yet.
But nine out of 10 times you have a client that has a website that is performing somehow. So you look at what is the not quick, not easy, necessarily, but low hanging, what does that mean?
We add our comm our domain to organic research. And then we go to positions report where I filter for where where my site ranks within the top 20 positions.
And then I export that report. And then I filter. Let me also show you that. So it’s up here in organic research. And if I have summers, summers actually is a very bad example for this nightmare to analyse this way.
But it has a very particular reason why. But let’s follow through with this. So the moment you put your domain up here
Chitra Iyer 43:55
It’s still on the slide Erika.
Erika Varangouli 43:57
Sorry, sorry, yeah. So you put you go here on the side organic research, you put your domain, you choose your database, like US or UK, wherever you may want. And then up here, you have the tab positions. All right.
So this is where you go. And what it shows you is all the keywords that you are ranking for with the URL that is ranking for that keyword. All right, but what I need to do here because we’re talking about low hanging opportunities, is I will filter you have the Top 20 Top 50 Top 100 ready made, but what I want to do usually is I put two to 20 because if I ranked number one I don’t want to touch it like i I’m sure I have many opportunities to optimise to rank better.
So I want to see which keywords I’m ranking position to so I can improve to one maybe, or maybe three sometimes I put 220 So in the first two pages of Google And then I ended up with all these keywords.
This is the reasons I’m saying it’s a nightmare to do this for, for SEMrush. And the URL that is ranking plus like everything else, like monthly search volume, current position, you get all of that. So you also export this report.
Chitra Iyer 45:16
Erika sorry, quick question here is, is SEMrush putting these in some order? Like, is it
Erika Varangouli 45:24
The default order, I think is the search volume of the keyword let me check? Yes, it’s the volume of the keyword. But you can also change in the platform like toggle, if you want to order by position, or I don’t know the intent, you can do all of that. Right?
I think the default ordering of the table is based on the volume of each keyword. But what I do next is I also copy and paste this here. Okay, so I have this from low hanging, I name every tab, so I know where it came from. I put it here.
And here. I can also like, do, I already limited my expert because it’s like hundreds of 1000s of keywords and and it’s a nightmare to clean through SEMrush. Because there’s a lot of pages we rank for, for other things.
But in less a normal expert, right, your client more normal than this, what you can do is you can use filters, either here or on semrush, you can do it on SEMrush before exporting, and you can say okay, I want to exclude all the terms I rank for that are my brand terms, right? So I might go here, actually, I’ll show you on on semrush, because it makes more sense if you’re exporting.
So position two to 20. And then in advanced filters, I want to exclude keywords containing I put rush because sometimes people write it as two words. So I want to exclude anything that contains rush, right? I don’t want to export that because it is going to be a brand term. And I don’t want to do anything about brand search right now. Or I may want to just see where I’m ranking in those positions.
And the intent is informational only, right? Because I want to look at my informational content. So So you have all these filters up here by volume, if you want to look at a certain volume and up or down.
I tend to keep it very clean here like okay, what are the positions I want to look for if I’m looking for low hanging, and then I want to exclude let say brand from here, right, and then I export, and I put it here.
And what I do, I may order by like the search volume. So I see the most important ones at the top and the position I mean, and then I can go from there. Okay. Then the third one is to find additional keywords on topics.
And this is your textbook keyword research, right? This is where you come up with more keywords that don’t come from your competitors or from your own low hanging opportunities. So you go to keyword magic tool. Remember from the start, you’ve identified even like 3,4,5, probably more by this stage.
Now, seed keywords write what your client is relevant to and it might be I don’t know, let’s say SEMrush SEO tools, content marketing tools, Site Audit, right. So I have, let’s say three seed keywords.
And I want to see what other relevant keywords are out there maybe like I’m in a space where my competitors are not doing much better. So I’m not ending up with many keywords here. And my client is not doing great. So you also don’t have many here.
So the typical approach to keyword research, can you see my tab here? Yes, I think you can, okay, is to go to keyword magic tool or if you’re using another tool, go to their keyword research tool, right. And I will put like, SEO tools if this is one of my seed keywords, right.
And what you end up with is a list of of relevant keywords that keyword magic tool sees right alongside again, monthly search volumes intent, keyword difficulties, all of that. And what you can do is also select the ones you want and export them and put them to the keyword list.
I’ll tell you why in a bit, but you can review them you see here they’re also grouped based on the keywords that are in there like okay here if you click you will see that you get all the keywords that have like the term Free in here free keyword research tool, free SEO tools, free SEO audit.
So there are some groupings already here. But if you go up here with all you can filter by questions, there are tonnes of filters to start looking at what your what you are facing right. And then I also export them and put them here Okay, this is the just the expert.
I think I put SEO tools as well, I’m not sure I think so and then I put them here. Now, the final bid of this whole exercise is creating your topic clusters.
Where based on these keywords like, first of all, once you have done this steps, you have already buckets of keywords that, that you should review to identify like, important ones, right?
It’s like the the moment you look at all these keywords, you need to start filtering up, you need to start being like, Okay, well, it’s important. How do you define that importance?
Again, the gaps, if you go for missing and weak, you probably end up with a good list of keywords that you should be considering for your client, always caveats that your client may have slightly different offering from your competitors, and all of that.
But still, you should end up with good list here. And the low hanging fruit is the same as like things that your client is probably already relevant for. Because to rank in the top 20 positions in Google, it means that Google sees you’re relevant to those, right?
So it’s a matter of, okay, if I’m ranking already, Google sees me as relevant and as authoritative. And they’re relevant to me and my offering, I should probably prioritise them as well. And then with the additional keywords and keyword research, you should come up with more topics.
If you want to split by informational for example, you can look through the informational keywords. And you can select simply the ones that have the highest search volume, or are the most relevant as topics for your client. But you have another pool of keywords and topics to choose from.
And once you have all those keywords selected, you can create your list, right, you should create your clusters like okay, what are the top level topics that these keywords cover? Okay. years ago, it used to be very manual work for any of us doing content marketing and trying to create groups of pages like a pillar page with a cluster.
Nowadays, there are tools that do that, right. I know of a few that do a really good job. I think out of all of them, as far as I understand SEMrush that you have access to is the only one that can help you do it. Right. Because I asked Jade if, you have access to other tools, and she mentioned the ones you do.
And out of the ones she mentioned, I think only SEMrush does it maybe I’m wrong. If I’m wrong, feel free to correct me. But what you can essentially do here is go to your keyword manager, right and did it previously.
You go to your keyword manager Thank you. go to keyword manager, okay, you have created your list, it can be on a spreadsheet, or it can be directly from the previous tab on keyword magic tool, you can select the keywords you want and create a list on SEMrush which you can then send to keyword manager.
And then by opening it up, like the SEO Tools one I created previously, right? You send it to keyword manager and you ask it to cluster them for you.
And by that you can see it in a mindmap. So SEO tools is the overarching kind of seed topic. And then you get clusters about SEO tool, a specific set of tools, which is website SEO checkers, Google Keyword Planner on its own Google SEO, I don’t know I need to review, small SEO Tools Yoast and so on.
So so you can automate a big part of this right. And you can see here if you click under each, cluster, you will see which keywords are there, then can the Keyword Difficulty the volume and then the page is ranking well for this cluster.
And that is the same for all of them. You can export. So once you export you sort of bring here and it looks like this, right? This is the cluster name. So website SEO checker and it has these keywords underneath SEO tool by whatever else is here, oh, sorry. Share this tab. It looks like this.
So so you get the cluster name and the relevant keywords that the tool has clustered for you with a search volumes. My suggestion here and I know this to be true regardless of which tool you use for clustering, is that you need to manually review like tools are only so smart. But you need to exercise your content expertise to say okay, this should be a separate cluster.
Like I’ve found myself many times thinking, I will separate it as a cluster and have a different pillar page, or these are not a cluster that is relevant to me now I shouldn’t prioritise. Okay. I sense an information overload. So let me quickly show you something, and then we can discuss something else.
So these are top level, the four steps that you do, and you end up not just with your keywords, but also with your keywords grouped in clusters. And why clusters like typically clusters are like this is an example of like, if I have SEO, probably underneath I have subtopics, what are clusters that are sub topics that are relevant to the main topic, but they help you create more targeted content and relevance, right.
So under SEO, you have technical local, and probably want to talk about bad claims, SEO best practices, and then you break it down even further. And these here is like all those pages interconnect. That’s how you create like a cluster under technical SEO, you have a lots of pages that are interconnected, interlinked.
But they all linked to this pillar page. What you end up with is this, you have everything you need, because then you go to let me share this tab. Instead, you’re here, I only put three because like I wanted to make an example. So so what I’m doing then is I go through these tabs, okay.
And I’m saying, Okay, I’ll prioritise this keyword because the search volume is good. I am already ranking. Not really, but it’s super relevant. All my competitors are ranking for a keyword, I should rank for a keyword.
And I found it through the keyword gap process, because I want to know how I came up with this, like, I know now by looking that, Okay, this one is here, because all my competitors rank and I don’t, and it is very relevant to me. So I should rank better.
Then I put this from low hanging fruit because I’m already position 15, it has a huge search volume, and I already have a page. So that tells me that if I optimise and create better content for this page, I have really good chances of ranking really high for a huge keyword.
And this one came from my keyword research, because it makes a lot of sense to rank for this, this is exactly my offering SEO tools. position five, this is the page that I’m ranking with. But the opportunity there is to understand if I need to improve this page, or if I need to create more content, and more clusters to rank better for this term.
So these are only three very in mind from from hundreds and hundreds, right and, and this is what I do. In the end, I go through my tabs, and I select the keywords that I want to prioritise. The difficult part of the exercise is to the difficult part is to prioritise. And for this exercise we’re doing here, like I don’t want anyone to spend days and days prioritizing 1000s of keywords.
But the main point I’m making is that you have three different avenues to approach the target topics and the target keywords and these are your competitors or low-hanging fruit and traditional keyword research. By doing that, you should already come up with a lot of keywords.
So with clients, then it’s not about giving them a list of here’s 1000 keywords, here’s an export from SEMrush with all the keywords, right. It’s about saying okay, I’ve looked into all of them.
My you know, the budget from the client as well. So if they’re going to create, like 10 pages, and that’s your budget, and then you say, Okay, I propose we prioritise this 10 topics or 10 keywords to work on first and create content for or optimise what we already have. And that’s how you get to that stage of saying okay, these are the topics we should prioritise now.
Okay, yes. Okay. So here’s what I want to do. I’ll put in the folder. Okay, by G Drive, you’ll see the the end of this. So the end of this call. So I’ll put this in the folder plus the temp the template or the export site have. And what I want you to start working on is to come up with a list of prioritised keywords.
Okay. Okay, we’re back. So, I want you to to go away. Right Claude now wants to see a list of top 50 however, it’s like the content audit. I don’t care if you’re gonna show me 50 or 20 provided, what is important is the is the method you use to get them. And what you’re using to prioritise, where are you proposing this keyword versus another?
These are questions that you should expect your clients to ask why right about this topic? And not that topic? Why about this keyword and not the other one, which has a higher search volume? These are all legitimate questions.
So what I’m really interested in is seeing your, your method of coming up with more keywords, your research capabilities, and then go into these are the ones we’re proposing. Any questions?
Mae Josémaria O. 1:00:46
Yes, I have a question Erika. For the topic clusters that you’re talking about, can you suggest another tool that can help us cluster it supports in a more visual way? I know I know of was Local studio to do something, I saw some points.
But I wanted to hear your own suggestions. Because, well, I know, for someone like me, I don’t do well with sheets. And I don’t do a lot of numbers and everything, just to help me to understand and see it’s visually with the whole colour coding, can you suggest a too?
Erika Varangouli 1:01:28
let me show you this before I answer. So on the keyword manager clustering tool, right, you get the clusters in this way, you can expand, you get the Mind Map, which shows you the information of like, and you can add more or less anyway, right, and then you can sort of go into this tab by clicking on it. And you get them in tables.
So you have key word plus, like then here you have the cluster that it’s under. So you can group them all like you can order by cluster and everything. So in terms of other clustering tools that I am aware of. However, these are also paid, and I asked Jadesola,
I don’t think anyone has access. I don’t have access to that, too. I know. Keyword Insights is another tool that does it. I know was it keyword Cupid I’m not sure the basis though, I think for all in spreadsheets, let me get back to you on this various rate or me sorry, who was it?
Because I know that hand has gone and I think it was me. Let me get back to you or send me a message of like, what is it that you’re you need more to see to work more on in terms of clusters.
But let me tell you this, remember that this was a process that was highly manual, up until a point right or even like a couple of years ago, even a year ago, pretty much. And it still requires a lot of manual input, like no tool I’ve seen gets it right. 100%, right.
So for me, the idea is that at this stage, you want to create a pool of keywords to select the priority ones. And how you cluster them is kind of like the next level. The clusters do not come before finding the keywords you want to prioritise. Okay.
Mae Josémaria O. 1:03:36
Erika Varangouli 1:03:39
So, let’s do this. I’ll change the slide. I don’t, I don’t want like 50 If that’s too hard. I want you just to do the exercise of looking for topics and keywords. Okay. And let’s, let’s get a keyword list of a few 10s. I don’t know if you want to propose 10,20 or 30.
I don’t care as long as you can explain why. And let’s do it by Monday, the 13th of November. Okay, so that’s almost two weeks is like 10 days or 12 days from now. And I’ll share all the materials in the folder. Sound good?
No, anyone? sorry, I was I was looking at the sharing let me stop sharing. Okay, so I will upload everything on our shared folder. I have started planning some one to ones so bear with me. We’re travelling is coming up now. Where we will be discussing like what you’ve done so far questions, challenges and everything, please text me on Slack.
Anytime you struggle anytime you have anything like it’s easier for me also to help you this way because I have something very specific that I can discuss with you.
All right. So please don’t be afraid to ping me on Slack. And I will see you all next week. Thank you Thanks
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