S3E1 Jeremy Rivera, Keyword Forecasting

Keira Davidson (00:23):

Hi, and welcome to the Tech SEO podcast. I’m Kira Davidson, your host. And today I’ve got joining me, is Jeremy. Would you mind giving our listeners a little bit of background information about yourself?

Jeremy Rivera (00:37):

Sure. I am a longtime practitioner of SEO. I’m currently running my own freelance agency and a small startup keyword research tool. I have worked with large SEO SaaS companies like Raven Tools and Tap Clicks as their in-house SEO. I have consulted with Captain Beat, Captain D’s, Logan’s Roadhouse, and other large entities, as well as helped dozens of roofers plumbers, a toilet partition manufacturer. So I’ve seen technical SEO from like small implementation, medium size, and huge enterprise organizations. So I’ve kind of seen it all.

Keira Davidson (01:26):

Definitely sounds like. I think most people have all worked on like a roofing site or a plumber site, especially when they first start out. It’s great to see that even people over the pond did the exact same.

Jeremy Rivera (01:39):

Absolutely. My first client was actually a tailor in Riverside, California, and I’m very proud to say 12 years later, he’s still number one.

Keira Davidson (01:48):

Oh, wow. That’s really impressive. 12 years undisputed.

Jeremy Rivera (01:55):

Undisputed champion. I don’t know how many tailors there are, but he’s the top of that pile.

Keira Davidson (02:02):

That doesn’t matter. As long as he’s top.

Jeremy Rivera (02:04):

He’s number one. He might be the only one, but he’s still number one.

Keira Davidson (02:10):

I guess that falls then nicely onto your topic of keyword research forecasting, because surely he’d have to be targeting lots of top keyword if he’s still in position one.

Jeremy Rivera (02:24):

Yeah. So it’s always important at every level of agency to actually not just think about the keyword process of, oh, Hey, you do that gut check. You say, what would you say you do here? Is actually the first thing I do with prospective clients that call me, or if I’m doing a short consultation, that’s always the first thing. I take them to their homepage and ask the question out loud. Can we tell what it is that you do by actually reading the text you use on your homepage? Not the pictures, not the videos. What do you actually say about your business? And that’s the first step. And then the second step is once you realize, you know what, no, we actually didn’t say that we do roofing. I had a client and I really had to ask them what they did because they had pictures of restaurants.

They had pictures of renovation. I was like, are you a builder? And like, no, we do rebranding for large chain restaurants. And I’m like, might be a good thing to say that.

Keira Davidson (03:26):


Jeremy Rivera (03:28):

But then we took the next step and said, okay, well let’s do some research and find out when people are searching for a phrase of restaurant rebranding, franchising, are there terms and terminology around that, that people are using that isn’t an industry term that the client knows. Let’s make a sheet. Let’s do some competitive research, pull in keywords, and then let’s see how much volume is there. And once we see how many people a month are searching there, let’s connect that back to your business model. Are you lead based or eCommerce? Oh, you’re leads. Well, just because you get a conversion off of the marketing site, that’s not money in the business’ pocket. They’ve got a sale conversion rate.

You know, how many leads do they need to close? Then you take it one step further and say, okay, out of those closes, how much revenue per sale? Is it a one time sale or is it a recurring? Is there a lifetime value for this customer? So with that process, you started the fundamental of what would you do here? What is it that you do? And take it all the way through, well, if you did rank for these keyword, here’s how much you could make. And I think that’s a big piece of the puzzle that gets lost in the whole, oh, I want to rank for a keyword. No, you don’t want to rank for a keyword. You want to get more business. So let’s figure out what keywords you need to rank on how that is going to ultimately impact your business.

Keira Davidson (05:08):

Exactly. Because ultimately businesses are only interested in the profit that they make.

Jeremy Rivera (05:15):

Absolutely. And I think it’s a challenge. Having worked at an in-house position for so long as well, about five or six years with Raven Tools, getting the budget and the attention of C-suite to actually execute on a sustained SEO program. Even when you’re a dedicated employee for it, you may realize, I need more people, or I need the okay to buy this content or to spend this time on this, because you could get pulled in all kinds of different directions as an in-house position. So unless you have that main line of, oh, Hey, here’s how much additional revenue we could be bringing from the SEO channel. It’s going to be hard to talk to your boss and get approved a subordinate or an additional person in your department.

Keira Davidson (06:07):

Exactly. And I guess it also can help show the importance of where resources are going to be needed. And so for example, you’ve highlighted that by focusing on X number of keywords within a specific topic, can help generate X revenue. It can then help to justify increasing resources in certain areas of the business. For example, such as content production, because without producing that supporting content to help rank for these keywords, it’s going to make it a lot difficult to get that ultimate reward.

Jeremy Rivera (06:48):

Absolutely. Budget and resource allocation is really a large part of the game. Like having a ground game. Someone on Reddit the other day was arguing, you know what SEO is not that hard as experts make it out to be. And I kind of quibbled with that. It’s like individually, anything that you do is not particularly difficult. You can write content. You could do keyword research. You could fix technical issues and make sure that you’re crawled, but you have to have a game plan and you have to execute on it.

And that’s hard, especially as businesses change focus so quickly, you have to think forward almost an entire year in your mind and say, okay, there’s the objective. This is how much volume there is in monthly search. And here’s a reasonable idea of what’s at the end of the rainbow, because if you don’t know what’s at the end of the rainbow, you’re not going to get people to follow you. You’re not going to get your client to follow you. And you’re not going to get your boss to follow you. You’re not going to get his boss who’s in the C-suite making arguments on budget all the time. They probably see human resources not as a resource, but as an expense. And so you have to justify that expense with potential profit.

Keira Davidson (08:19):

And by looking at the keywords, it helps to show that. And I think that’s a really good point you made about planning it in advance. It’s great conducting keyword research. But for example, if you are doing it for like the likes of mother’s day, which has recently just passed for us, there’s no point looking at it the month before because it’s not enough time for content to be produced, it to be optimized, it to be indexed and ranked and actually have an impact. So yeah, like he said, things need to be looked at well in advance.

Jeremy Rivera (08:55):

Absolutely. There’s seasonality that you have to consider. For example, I have a Kayak customer.

Keira Davidson (09:04):


Jeremy Rivera (09:05):

So they run kayak tours here in Nashville. And we have done great in getting them ranking higher, but the peak of increasing our rankings coincided with the end of their season. And so if I were not thinking about the next year focus and goals, it would be really hard to report to that client that, Hey, we’re ranking number one. And our traffic is down like 80%, if I didn’t have that seasonality in mind. Same with pay per click ads. Running ads in December for a kayak tour, when it’s literally frozen, you’re not going to get as many bookings. You’re not going to get people thinking about it. You’re not going to get the volume. So when you do that keyword research, you make your sheet, you get your keywords and your volume, your cost per click, but you need to add two columns.

You need to add one for conversion. Like how likely is this keyword to convert, but you also need to add a note for each keyword you want to target because every keyword is different. Kayak there’s seasonality that might be impacting it, or it could be on a specific holiday or it could be this is impacted by a tour or a conference. So every keyword really needs its own individual notation about its ups and downs and how you might target and focus on it. And I think we get so engrossed in these tools that can produce thousands of keywords. You’re like, oh right. I’m going to sit down and add a note for a thousand keywords I want to target. It becomes a bit much, but there is a qualitative aspect that you, as an analyst must bring to the table because the ubiquity, the availability of some rush and AA traps and keywords everywhere, there’re hundreds of keyword research tools. But the point is that you need to bring your brain to the table and not just look at the volumes, but think through seasonality. Think about on and off events or things that you have to build up for.

Keira Davidson (11:36):

Yeah. I also think intent is a massive one as well. One thing that I noticed for a client is they sell luxury cuts of meat.

Jeremy Rivera (11:48):


Keira Davidson (11:48):

And the difference of intent between diced beef and stewing steak is massive. So it highlights the potential opportunity that there is, that could be missed out on if you were to target the wrong term.

Jeremy Rivera (12:07):

Yeah. And there’s a lot of those false positives that if you just set it and forget it, one of the processes I do when I pull clients on is I take their target keyword and look at the top 10 organic results and pull the top 100 keywords from each of those domains and put that into a sheet and you can kind of get a picture of what are other people ranking for through that. But that’s a mechanical process, right? So then I’ve got 700 or a thousand keywords. But if I don’t take the time to filter through that, if I’m looking at a solar panel cleaner, a guy that services solar panels, while all of those sites also rank for clean solar energy, the intent of somebody searching for clean solar energy is not the same intent as someone searching for clean solar panel, right?

They’re similar and Google can get those signals confused. But the intent of somebody searching for those terms are absolutely night and day. You have to look at what’s the intent of somebody searching for that phrase. So even though there may be volume there, you have to also think about that transaction aspect. How close is a person who’s searching this to actually buying my stuff. So I use a one to three scale. Whatever keyword research process I use. Whatever tool, Semrush or whatever I pull down, I add a column and I rank things from one to three. Three being these guys are going to convert. Somebody searching for this, wants to buy my stuff for this particular service. The twos are they’re topically engaged. This is like somebody is researching heating problem solutions. Why is my bedroom so cold versus HVAC repair.

There’s the difference in those two. And then of course, there’re the ones where are those false positives? You know what, this person, it looks like, these words seem similar, but the person searching for this is not interested. Once you have that one to three scale, you’re going trim off 50% or more of the keywords that any keyword estimate tool is going to give you. Then you have a reasonable set. That’s when you’re like, okay, this is my index of keywords that I’m going to target. And that’s when you pop it into whatever rank tracking software you like and start monitoring and kind of dividing up the work. But you have to do that qualitative effort first.

Keira Davidson (15:04):

Yeah. And once you’ve done that step, is that when you usually take that list of keywords to determine the value that it could provide for a business, if implemented correctly?

Jeremy Rivera (15:18):

Exactly. Once you’ve filtered down that quality, you start multiplying things, because you’ve got the volume. You need to multiply by an organic click through rate. So the good news is that there’s SISTRIX. There’s also Advanced Web Research. They’re doing studies. They have so much data flowing through their system that they can give you a rough estimate of if you’re in position number one, generally you get 36% of the click through rate. If you’re in position two, you get 21%. If you’re in position three, you get 17%. So those numbers are available. So if you know the volume and you know the organic click through rate, generally, you can get an estimate of, okay, well, if I ranked at the top of the page for this, here’s how much traffic I could get. And you could see if I ranked at the bottom of this page, that’s how much traffic I could get.

That’s the next step. Then you multiply by your conversion rate, which sadly the amount of clients I’ve audited that have their conversion tracking down is one out of a hundred. So you really have to make sure you have either a good stand in value of a conversion rate that you want to reach, or take some time to make sure you have double checked what it is you’re calling a conversion because half of the time when you’re setting up those Google analytic goals and you’re tracking your conversions, you’re like, yay! I got a goal. Oh, well that was just the form page load. Not them submitting the form.

Keira Davidson (17:00):


Jeremy Rivera (17:00):

I have so many clients that set up goals. They’re like, I’m doing really well, but these conversions don’t match with the leads that my sales people are getting. And I look at it, I’m like, okay, well that’s because you’re just literally tracking how many people are landing on the form page. Not how many people are submitting it. So you either need to add that Google event to that button through a WordPress widget or a WordPress plugin or a markup, or sending them to a landing page. Nine times out of 10 is the easiest way to track those conversions better. But there’re still not in the bag. You have to take it one step further and you have to ask how many leads do you get and how many sales do get in a month.

If you get that, then you can get a rough lead close rate, conversion rate to start off with. And it’s strange because sometimes businesses are really straightforward about that, but I’ve had a lot of customers. They don’t have that figured out. They don’t know how many calls or forms they’re getting compared to how many sales they’re getting. And so you have to actually play more than an SEO. You have to ask some business related questions, which is a hat that a lot of SEOs I think avoid wearing.

Keira Davidson (18:27):

Yeah. I think it’s something that takes time to learn, especially to ask the right questions, to make sure you get able to get the answers that you need.

Jeremy Rivera (18:39):

That’s very true. First you have to know that you need to ask and then you have to know how do you ask that question in a way that’s going to get the answer that you can use because you could ask them, well, how effective are your sales guys? They’ll say, oh, they’re doing really well. Well you can’t type into a sheet doing very well multiplied by X volume of conversion in conversions. That doesn’t mean anything. So you have to say, what is the percentage. What’s your rate of conversion? How many sales do you convert? Like if you’ve got a hundred leads, how many turn to sales?

Keira Davidson (19:24):


Jeremy Rivera (19:25):

That’s the best way to phrase that and then you can connect it to revenue. Say, okay, well you’re selling that service. How much is that service? But more frequently there’s more to it because then you’re actually probably doing a recurring revenue or they might buy multiple things. So you might have to do some extra calculation of if they’re signing up for a service, how long do they keep that service?

Keira Davidson (19:53):


Jeremy Rivera (19:53):

If it’s a SaaS, if it’s a piece of software you ask, okay, what’s the cost per month for the service and how long do you keep your typical customer? Then you’ve got a lifetime value for that acquisition. And you use that instead.

Keira Davidson (20:15):

And obviously the world’s changed a lot over this past year with the likes of COVID. Have you found that it’s significantly impacted the way in which you can forecast the value of keywords at all?

Jeremy Rivera (20:36):

So yeah, there are shifts in trends that are definitely not on their normal curve. If you are working with the travel industry, if you’re working with anybody in hospitality, then the volumes and revenue are definitely going to be off from any data that you’re pulling from previous years. That was a huge thing with my kayak tour client. They shifted their entire business model to, instead of in person tours and they got a tour guide instead they were doing curbside rentals and the entire business model shifted and changed. And so the expectation had to be modified. We had to change how much revenue are we expecting to get, how many of them do you actually have available? So again, that comes to more awareness of the client’s business versus more awareness of just simple digital marketing metrics. So I think to be an effective SEO in this age, you do need to get more into that business analyst side to really deliver for the organic SEO channel for a business, large or small.

Keira Davidson (22:11):

Yeah. And I think that’s really important because you want as an SEO, our aim is to help a business succeed and by channeling into that sort of analyst environment, that will help that.

Jeremy Rivera (22:29):

Absolutely. You can’t just think about rankings anymore. It’s got to be a little bit deeper.

Keira Davidson (22:36):

Yeah. No, that makes perfect sense. And I definitely think how the kayak tour company has managed to pivot is great because I wouldn’t be surprised if lots of more people were interested in that getting out in the fresh air, enjoying what they have on their doorstep almost. So I reckon you’ve probably seen a surge in that, but it would’ve been a massive headache for that company to initially pivot and to be able to capitalize upon that.

Jeremy Rivera (23:10):

Yeah. It was definitely heartache and headache inducing for them because they’ve got a fleet of kayaks and if they let someone rent it for the day, well, they can’t do three tours with that one kayak. Instead, one person has it. So they have to adjust that business model. And we had to make sure that we included enough detail. Fortunately outdoor activities were the first thing that people’s minds went to. Well, I’m in lockdown, so I can’t go to the mall, but can I be on the water by myself? Is it safe? Am I allowed to be in a kayak by myself? There was a lot of different restrictions in different regions. So we had to make sure it was okay with the business department in Nashville. Like, what pieces of our business can we open up? So I think that’s a challenge with a lot of in person businesses. That’s something that a lot of consultants are working with clients who’ve had to pivot or change models.

Keira Davidson (24:24):

And then obviously with that pivot, that then means like a whole new set of keyword research and getting all that forecasting done all over again. But it’s probably difficult to do the forecasting because of the circumstances that those sort of industries would be in.

Jeremy Rivera (24:45):


Keira Davidson (24:45):

And the timeframes of implementing.

Jeremy Rivera (24:48):

Yeah. That’s absolutely true. Six, 12 months ago, there was no search volume for COVID or mask. Mask volume for keywords was for a Halloween mask. So you can’t use historical values for some of these things. So unfortunately that leads you into the world of, it depends.

Keira Davidson (25:15):

Yeah. And typically I find companies don’t like that. They don’t like the unknown. They like to know if you do X and Y you will get this.

Jeremy Rivera (25:27):

Yeah. You can only take the forecasting for so long because even any industry that has forecasts, you have to always hedge and you always have to say because it’s an estimate and it’s estimate based off of multiple factors and variables. So you just have to be upfront about that, but it is challenging because SEO is not PPC. And I can’t take an ad group and say, okay, within two months, here’s what’s going to be your return on ad spend. You give me $2,000, we will aim to spend this much and you’ll get this many conversions worth this much money. It doesn’t quite work that way because you have to do the work. You have to publish content. You have to optimize the site and it’s not like that. That first two months, you might not get as much traction and it could be something that’s going to be up in the right, but it’s a slower curve. So you have to work that into your thinking. Okay. Just because you know what the gold is at the end of the rainbow doesn’t mean that climb up that rainbow is going to be at the same pace the entire time.

Keira Davidson (26:42):


Jeremy Rivera (26:44):

And that’s a challenge. I’ve been working on thinking through different models of like, okay, well, if I know if I’m ranked at number 10, I get this much traffic. Number nine at this much traffic. Well, okay. If we graph out how much, if we traveled up to keyword position one over the course of 10 months, it could look like this, but then you have to be more realistic. Okay. How frequently are we actually publishing content? You’ve given me a budget of $50. I can’t publish an in depth article every month off that particular budget. So you have to balance that expectation professionally. You have to show the value at the end and not be a snake oil salesman and also have a program in place that builds contents links and fixes technical SEO issues to get there.

Keira Davidson (27:47):

Exactly. It’s really important that all three pillars of SEO all work together to get that end goal.

Jeremy Rivera (27:55):

Yeah. Because you can publish as much content as you want, but if your dev dropped a no index tag, you are all going nowhere.

Keira Davidson (28:06):

It’s almost pointless doing that content because there isn’t going to be any SEO benefit.

Jeremy Rivera (28:12):

Yeah. There’s definitely, like I say, meat on the bone when it comes to technical, but you have to make sure it can be crawled. Otherwise you’re just spinning your wheels, creating a bunch of content nobody will see.

Keira Davidson (28:31):

Exactly. And ultimately we all want to rank. We all want a return on investment. So it’s important that the site is technically sound. So then the keywords that you forecasted can do their job.

Jeremy Rivera (28:46):

Yeah. I mean, I had a client and they had basically a big database of allergen recipes in of restaurants and their allergy specials, their sensitivities and they’re like, we’re not showing up. And I realize this because it’s all a single page application and it was server side. And so Google couldn’t actually index this huge bulk of content because the developer that created that JavaScript based program, wasn’t thinking about search, wasn’t thinking about customers. He was just thinking, what’s the easiest way for me to access and show this data from the database. And there’s basically very little or zero availability accessibility to search when you use that single page application website. So absolutely technical SEO is the only solution for that customer because he should be ranking next to Yext. He should be ranking next to yellow pages.com, but those pages don’t really exist to Google in the format that they’re being served up now.

Keira Davidson (30:00):

Yeah. So then Google, isn’t going to see that and index it and yeah. It’s just a massive headache that is. I think it’s been great speaking with you today. I really appreciate you joining us on the Tech SEO podcast and helping me get my foot through the door in the speaking side of things. I’ve had so much fun talking about keywords and the value that they can provide for businesses. So thanks again for joining me.

Jeremy Rivera (30:36):

Absolutely. My pleasure.

Keira Davidson (30:39):

It’s been great. I really appreciate your help.

Jeremy Rivera (30:44):

Anytime you want me, I’m ready to come back.

Join the discussion