The Best Keyword Research Tips with HubSpot and Google Web Master Tools

Back in October of 2017 I did some research on the Google queries in the United States where our home page appeared in the search results.

At that time, had appeared in 12,721 search results across 610 different keyword phrases over a period of the past 90 days. Intrigued, I went a step further…

I took a few extra steps to analyze our results:

  1. I took the top 100 queries (based on the number of impressions) and added them to our HubSpot portal. I then pulled our ranking for each of those 100 keywords, which to no surprise wasn’t stellar, but on par with what I expected.
  2. Next, I took a list of the keywords where we appear in the top 4 search results and compare that with the list of top 100 queries over the last 90 days.
  3. What I learned was that we have 1 keyword phrase that appears in the top 100 queries it’s “mobile video ssp”.
  4. We currently rank #2 for “mobile video ssp” and we only showed up 91 times in the past 90 days (just a hair over 1 per day). The search volume is pretty low for that phrase.
  5. In the end, the words ‘mobile’, ‘ad’, and ‘video’ appear the most in the top 100 queries, each of them counted individually:
    • mobile = 42 appearances
    • ad = 63 appearances
    • video = 33 appearance
  6. I broke down the top keyword phrases into two-word combinations to see if there were any hits in the top 100 queries and to my delight there were three winners.
    • mobile video = 12 appearances
    • mobile ad = 22 appearances
    • video ad = 23 appearances

Note: The data can be seen at the bottom of this page.

Optimizing Top Post Pages

Right now, AerServ sees more clicks on technical queries like “list of IAB categories” or “video autoplay on mobile”. As a first step, I’m optimizing the posts we rank highly for in the following ways:

  • Update the publish date to be a more recent date for the top traffic post (/why-does-video-autoplay-on-mobile-devices-not-work/)
  • Add new CTA’s and text links that drive back to our website

When comparing 10/16 – 10/26 to the same period prior 10/6 – 10/15, we saw a substantial increase in impressions and clicks.

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 5.20.50 PM

I’ve now updated the /mobile-device-identifiers/ and /brand-based-vs-performance-based-ads/ posts with new dates and CTAs. We’ll see if the results are similar.

To further improve our SEO, we’ll need Pillar Pages…

Pillar Page 101

A Pillar Page has 5 core elements:

  1. Broad, not exhaustive content
  2. Evergreen
  3. Optimize for Questions
  4. Update consistently when appropriate
  5. Distribute Page Rank over time

The new website should/will house our “Pillar Pages” that we want to rank for. By linking the high ranking blog posts to our pillar pages through specific phrases that are directly related to the page, we’ll help teach Google that we’re an authority on the keywords. It will see a high CTR on search queries that drive to our blog and ideally begin to crawl our pages for internal links (deep links) to our website content and other pages.

Here’s what a Pillar Page with Sub Topics might look, but we can explore improving this:

How to think about Pillar Content

According to the HubSpot team: “A pillar page is the basis on which a topic cluster is built. A pillar page covers all aspects of the topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth reporting in more detailed cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page. Pillar pages broadly cover a particular topic, and cluster content should address a specific keyword related to that topic in-depth.” src.


Here are some examples of good pillar pages:

Pillar Page – Tool:

Pillar Pages – Content:

Things to keep in mind:

Our new website and future content production need to focus on a healthy mix of what users are searching for and what we want to rank for. To optimize the content we want to be ranked for, we’ll need a web page targeted toward a keyword phrase and a core audience. For instance, building pages like “Programmatic Advertising” or “Mobile Ad Mediation” will help improve our chances of showing up for queries with those terms, but we also need to build blog posts and additional sub-topics related to each of those “Pillar Pages” that help improve our authority on each topic.

How to Create a Topic Cluster Plan

NOTE: This is a re-post of the research and amazing content on HubSpot’s blog found here.

Before you get started creating new topic clusters of your own it’s important to determine if this is the right approach for your site. You can figure this out by asking yourself three simple questions outlined in the chart below.

  1. Does the topic you want to rank for have enough search volume to be worth the time and effort?
  2. Do you already have content covering the topic? If so, you may be better off using what you have and adding internal links.
  3. Is the topic something you want to cover in detail? If you’ve made it this far and the answer is “yes”,  you can start creating your own topic cluster.

When it comes to actually mapping out topic clusters, there’s a general process that works particularly well. Follow these steps to create your own pillar page:

  1. Map out 5-10 of the core problems that your buyer persona has (use surveys, run interviews, and do some secondary research within online communities).
  2. Group each of the problems into broad topic areas.
  3. Build out each of the core topics with subtopics using keyword research.
  4. Map out content ideas that align with each of the core topics and corresponding subtopics.
  5. Validate each idea with industry and competitive research.
  6. Create, measure, and refine.

This is a simple overview but should help you to begin to prioritize content ideation and production. Following this process will help you to structure your editorial calendar for the topic cluster content model.

But how do you figure out what content to focus on? This is where keyword research comes into play. Keyword research is a helpful way to determine what content your target audience already is looking for so you can reach them in a way that is relevant and impactful to them.

To get started, create a list of broad topics that are important to your business. Then fill in each topic with potential keywords you think your audience will search for. It’s better to not self-edit during this stage and write out as many keywords as you can think of. For example, if your main topic is Instagram marketing, your subtopics might include Instagram business accounts, Instagram captions, Instagram hashtags, and Instagram analytics.

Once you have your list, search for these terms or use a tool such as Ubersuggest to find related keywords and terms you may not have initially included in your list. Make sure you have a mix of long-tail and short-tail keywords.

Now that you’ve finalized your keyword list, see how your competitors rank for each of them using a service like SEMRush. This will allow you to find gaps in their search strategy as well as single out important words and phrases to aim for in the pillar content you create. After all of those steps are complete, use Google’s Keyword Planner or HubSpot’s keywords tool to narrow down the keyword list.

Once you’ve developed your pillar topic and cluster content, create a tracking document to keep track of your existing content and cluster strategy. Tracking documents can help organize your clustering process to make sure all of your content has been linked correctly. For HubSpot customers, you can automate clustering using HubSpot’s content strategy tool.

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