Neil Patel Vs Brian Dean - Keyword Case Study
This case study was conducted with an out of date of Keyword Cupid.
For the most up to date information, please view our comprehensive keyword research guide.


The SEO Battle Of The Ages


These two gentlemen need no introduction. However, if you've been living under a rock, here is what you need to know.

Neil Patel is one of the most versatile and successful influencers in the space of online marketing. He is a New York Times Bestselling author with multiple distinctions and a brilliant all-around entrepreneur.
Learn more about Neil here.

Brian Dean is an SEO powerhouse! He is trusted by Fortune 500 companies such as Apple and IBM. His extensive guides and tutorials packed with tons of information can easily form mini-books that will keep you company on a cold winter night beside the fireplace.
Learn more about Brian here.



Setting Up The Experiment

Keyword Cupid has major respect for both brands.
Nevertheless, for the sake of this experiment, we had to "play favorites", at least temporarily.

To formulate our experiment, we decided to analyze how backlinko.com (for purely alphabetical sorting reasons) can optimize their keyword strategy.
We performed a Competitor Gap Analysis between the two websites that exposes the missed keywords that Neil is ranking for and Brian is not.
After utilizing our smart filtering algorithm* to clear all the junky keywords, we ended up with 859 keywords.

If you are a seasoned SEO, I am sure that this approach is nothing radical, nothing that you haven't seen before.
So what can Keyword Cupid do better??

*Our Smart Filtering Algorithm© analyzes multiple features like low impression volume, a large number of competitive sites in the results, low-value words in the phrase, etc. to decide if the keyword is worth passing to the final dataset.



SEO Here, SEO There

For a seasoned SEO a list of 859 target keywords could be easily found. However, this large of a list proves challenging to organize.
More often than not, there are several questions one needs to answer before we are truly ready to sow the fruits of our keyword labor.

  • Should I go after 'brand audit' keywords or 'leadership lessons' first?
  • How do I properly organize them in order to avoid SERP cannibalization?
  • Should I create separate posts for 'leadership training' and 'lessons on leadership' or put them on the same page?
  • And of course the biggest question of all...
  • WHY choose silo 'Leadership Lessons' over silo 'Leadership In Marketing'?


Keyword Matchmaking From The "Google Heavens"

Keyword Cupid is here to help you answer all of your questions with only one objective;
to help you rank in the eyes of Google.
Our hypothesis is simple...
If Google shows similar results for "Leadership Lesson" and "Leadership Training",
then "Leadership Lesson" and "Leadership Training" must be related.

- Keyword Cupid

That's it!
We don't care to answer why or how they are related, nor are we trying to reverse engineer the NLP algorithm that produced that association.
Our objective is to place on the same page/silo keywords that Google associates with each other.
This way we can speak the same language as the Google NLP algorithm.

We solved half a dozen optimization problems and eventually created an ensemble of machine learning models using k-fold cross-validation to optimize the homogeneity and the completeness of the clusters we produced.
Booooring!
Let's go see the results, shall we?



Happy Keyword, Happy Site

Keyword Cupid's matchmaking process clusters together keywords that have the highest overlap in their search engine rankings. Neil Patel is well known for his influencer role in the community. It's no wonder that he is ranking for several keywords related to leadership lessons.

One of the first clusters that came to our attention revolves around "lessons of leadership".
In the image below, you can see that the subsequent keywords have a total of almost 3,000 views per month and an average weighted difficulty of 8/100. Some clusters have lower Keyword Co-occurrence, which measures the confidence of each grouping than others.
Red/orange boxes indicate lower Keyword Co-occurrence/Cluster Confidence indicating which clusters are not as trustworthy.


"leadership related keywords" cluster

Looking closer into this, it is apparent that cluster "lessons of leadership" has a perfect Keyword Co-occurrence.
This is not surprising as all of these keywords make intuitive sense to be associated.


"lessons of leadership" cluster

One exception would be the keyword "lessons learned from leadership training".
It is not obvious why the "lessons on leadership" is thematically relevant to "leadership training", as its intent has more to do with training.

If we examine the SERPs of page 1, there is some overlap in the results, which exposes that Google identifies a relationship between the two keywords.

"leadership lessons" Page 1 Results
"lessons learned from leadership training" Page 1 Results

Although this is compelling evidence, one might advocate that 2/10 SERPs is not enough of a strong signal to alter our content structure and include intent around leadership training.
Thankfully, our algorithm checks more than just the first page of Google for each keyword.
We examine more than 50 results for each query. We use an exponentially weighted function to weigh the importance of each overlap, depending on the result's distance from the first page.
If we take a closer look at the first two pages of these two keywords, we see that a total of 7/20 results are the same.
This is only by using the first two pages of Google alone.


"leadership lessons" Page 1 Results
"lessons learned from leadership training" Page 1 Results

"leadership lessons" Page 2 Results
"lessons learned from leadership training" Page 2 Results


Using keywords that Google has already associated will give us better contextual relevancy for all of our keywords.
In other words, this will check all the boxes that show Google we are speaking the same language.



Google Plus or Google+, they are all the same

As is shown in the following snapshot, the cluster "how to get google plus followers" contains all of the keywords related to obtaining Google+ followers, seeing followers on Google+ and other relevant queries.
The reason that "Google plus" and "Google+" are grouped together is because of the association in the search engine results.
We did not create any heuristic rules or use any NLP packages to denote that "+" and "plus" are equivalent.


"Google+" related cluster

The results show that the algorithm groups together keywords that qualitatively make sense together.
This proves our hypothesis that the Google rankings carry semantic relevancy in their structure.

In the following example, you can see that the "outsourcing blog" silo captures keywords with the same meaning that have no similar NLP root, such as "hire" and "outsource".
The reason this happens is that Google has done an exemplary job modeling these language subtleties.
All we need is to do follow along.


"hire a blogger" cluster


What The Fname?

When inspecting the tier-1 clusters (the root's children), we see two obscure cluster centroids, "what is the best fname" and "what can happen if you fname".
At first glance, it seems like a fluke as these keywords don't make intuitive sense as we are unfamiliar with the term.
Nonetheless, the clusters grab our attention because they have a combined volume of almost 20k impressions.

Upon closer inspection into the ranking results of the different keyword variations, we found that all these keywords are connected to email marketing and personalization.


"fname" cluster

"$Fname" is a variable commonly used in PHP templates that replaces the recipients first name when one sends an email.
There are many variations of keywords that contain fname and our algorithm does a good job organizing them based on their ranking results.
As per the images below, 5/10 ranking results of page 1 alone match for "why does fname" and "how to get more fname".
Neil Patel has a very informative post on personalized marketing that explains this very concept.
You can read more about it here: "Hey $FNAME" is Dead. Here’s How to Personalize Marketing.


"why does fname" Page 1 Results
"how to get more fname" Page 1 Results

Obviously, we are not implying that there is a good buyer's intent (or any intent for that matter) behind these queries.
However, we may need to start targetting to increase our traffic and direct the audience through our sales funnel.



Other SEO Intents

One of the clusters about the demand for copyrighting encapsulates synonyms and ways we can paraphrase our sentences.
In particular, these cluster groups together "is copywriting in demand", "is copywriting lucrative" and even "should I be a copywriter".
These three variations could quickly form the H2 tags of our blog post.

Another example is "brand audit".
We can use the keywords in this cluster to outline a potential blog post in just a few seconds.

  1. "brand audit definition" or "what is a brand audit"
  2. "how to do a brand audit"
  3. "brand audit framework"
  4. "brand audit template"

"copywriting" cluster
"brand audit" cluster


The groupings of these keywords that have the same SERPs serve as an indication that Google rewards "worthy" sites for all of these related keywords.
Creating content that will cover all of the verticals will allow us to rank our blog post for all of these keywords simultaneously!


Better Than Google Translate

A keyword approach that allows Google to drive the contextual relevancy and relationships of the keywords also works for languages other than English.
A person who doesn't speak Spanish might have trouble organizing keywords like "como criar um blog no wordpress plugin" and "criar um blog lname no wordpress".
Alas, when we piggyback off Google's results, these keywords are automatically organized for us because they have the same Spanish websites in the results.


"spanish keywords" cluster

The same approach would work with any language and any niche, which is beneficial for foreign SEO and international websites.

In Summary

The results of this study identify the missing keyword opportunities that a site, like backlinko.com should target to bridge the gap between one of their strongest competitors.

With the grouping of "lessons on leadership" and "leadership training", we observe that our clustering algorithm connected keywords based on similar results on pages beyond page 1.
By going beyond the first page, we derive insights that are not apparent to the naked eye.
Although we put the most emphasis on similarities in the first page, we don't discount information from the following pages as well.

We also were able to quickly and easily create H2 tags based on search intent for "is copywriting in demand" and "brand audit".
Although our clusters are primarily intended to guide silo structure, they also can serve as an outline for your blog posts.
This will ensure that you hit all of the points your audience is searching for and that these points are connected from Google's perspective.


Lastly, although we do not employ any translation services, our algorithm is not limited to English keywords.
This is good news not only for those who speak other languages, but those who are looking to break into a market where they do not speak the language.
It is no secret that there is huge opportunity to be found by targeting non-English keywords and Keyword Cupid is invaluable in structuring those sites.

Our clustering algorithm automatically creates the silo structure and automatically aggregates the total impression volume and average keyword difficulty for each grouping.
This way, you can select which hubs or pages to prioritize and instruct your content writers to use those keywords appropriately.



Spread The Love To YOUR Project

Are you interested in applying our methodologies to your own project?
Do you want to quickly get a recipe of how to target your competition and fill in the missing gaps in your content strategy?

We are ready to help!
Just point our cupid arrows in the right direction!

Disclaimer This case study is not afffiliated with any of the underlying properties of Mr. Dean or Mr. Patel and is purely created for demonstrational purposes.
Before You Go...
Are You Interested In...
CBD Oil?
Read Our Case Study
this slowpoke moves