Many business owners come to us knowing they need to “do” search engine optimization or pay-per-click advertising, but aren’t really sure how to get started. They’ve usually read a lot about on-page optimization, inbound links, and lots of SEO “tricks” they are eager to try.
Before we even begin discussing that work and those strategies, though, we have to ensure they are targeting the right audiences in the first place. That starts with keyword research, an area lots of businesspeople struggle with.
Finding the right search phrases to target is the first step toward bringing actual customers to your website. With that in mind, here are four qualities that make a keyword string valuable…
#1 It Speaks to Your Audience
Think about the type of customer you really want to attract from Google and the other search engines. How would they speak? What are their biggest concerns? What kind of terminology do they use? Putting these notions together, you should be able to brainstorm a set of search terms that really speaks to your target audience in a specific and direct way.
Different segments of the market search differently, so you should make a concerted effort to appeal to the men and women who are most likely to become long-term customers.
#2 It Identifies a Niche or Location
The days of targeting huge swathes of the search market are over. Search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising have both gotten to be so competitive that it’s best (at least while your campaigns are still growing) to concentrate on a particular niche or location. So, even if you aren’t targeting long-tail search strings, make them specific enough to weed out some of your competitors and buyers who don’t make a good fit for your products or services.
The more specific your search phrases are, the more likely your customers are to actually buy from you.
#3 It Has Reasonable Competition
The reasons for avoiding search terms with lots and lots of competitors are obvious: you might put a lot of time and money into your campaigns and still not catch up to another business or website that is more established. However, a lack of competition can be almost as bad, as it may mean that no profitable niche exists.
Don’t give yourself the impossible task of upending entrenched competitors with huge websites, but recognize that a little bit of competition in your search market can be a positive signal.
#4 It Signals Buying Intent
Many of the most popular keywords (from a searcher’s perspective) are very broad. They indicate a desire to find basic information. Those search terms get lots of traffic, but tell you very little about what the searcher has in mind. Specifically, they don’t really indicate any intent to take action or make a purchase.
More specific search phrases, with brand names, prices, or other qualifying details, tell you more and convert into leads or sales at a higher rate. Focus your attention on those.
Without these four properties, any search phrase you want to target could end up being a dead end. It might not bring you any traffic at all, or the visitors you do attract may not be qualified buyers. Keep that in mind, and don’t settle for anything less than top-notch keyword research. It might not be the most exciting part of the search engine optimization and marketing process, but it does set you up for future success and profitability.