In search marketing keywords have the potential to render a site useless, give it wings, or get it shoved somewhere in between. Keywords are the connection to potential online clients, to attract them to what you offer, while bolstering online visibility. As more searchers find the snippet of your site applicable and click your link, the more relevant you will become for those keywords in the eyes of the search engines. Win for you, as you get a potential client to your site, as well improve your ranking for those keywords, but also a win for the search engines, as they were able to deliver a relevant search result to their searcher. All good things. However, once your keywords are working well for you, the work is far from over. Keywords are not a static list, they need to adjust to market demand as any other marketing campaign should. What may be working now, might not be all that 6 months from now. A recent experience comes to mind. I was talking to the golf pro at our club and he was talking about this “spin milled” wedge (golf club) that was awesome. So I thought “I need one of those” (Note to wife: Honey, I needed it, we can go to Europe next year). When I got back to the office I searched for “spin milled” in my browser. The online golf store I usually buy from was noticeably absent from the first SERP page, so I just bought from another shop. The spin milled process is a fairly new technology in golf, and was first used on clubs starting back in 2005. My normal shop should have should have added new content with “spin milled” included to reflect this new technology years ago, but apparently still haven’t. Not good. I checked today and the shop I typically use does carry these clubs, but they missed out on my sale. Lesson… continual keyword reviews are essential when attempting to get the most bang from the current online buzz and the resulting search requests.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is just a different animal, which is hard for some more traditional marketers to grasp. Recently, Michael and I have been working on TV and Radio ads for another company we own, and it has been quite an exercise. We have talked frequently about how we need to grab the attention of our target audience with a good tag line, and we have all of 20 to 30 seconds to do it. Through our discussions we have come up with some pretty good ones (at least we hope so), but it got me thinking… I wonder if most site owners do the same kind of brainstorming for keywords? It makes sense that we should, it is essentially a message we are attempting to get out to the public, but we seem to just grab a bunch and throw them up and hope for the best. It is because we aren’t dropping thousands of dollars to broadcast these keywords to the public? That might be part of it, but it is hardly a good excuse. In the case of our TV and Radio ads, which will play on stations where we feel the listening audience is most likely to have interest in what we are pedaling, but the reach will be limited to a specific regional market. On the Internet we have the opportunity to get our message out to essentially the world if need be, and bring them to us.
How nice to have potential clients looking for us through search, instead of attempting to convince a general audience through a 20 second radio spot to visit our site if they happen to be interested in ________. Essentially, if our keywords are well researched and appropriately utilized, pre-convinced buyers will be the ones visiting, so we cannot let the low cost of keyword creation detract from the importance of using killer keywords to obtain online notoriety and attract qualified buyers.
I think we all understand that ranking well for one-word, or long-tail keyword phrases becomes more difficult as online competitors become more SEO savvy in any given industry. And for most of our sites, gone are the days when just driving random traffic to a site is good enough. I remember the days when impressions, and “eyeballs” were all we talked about, and all are online efforts were focused on driving traffic, just as many folks as possible. We didn’t care if they where old, young, bald, thin, or dead, anyone and anytime and we were happy. Of course that didn’t translate into a whole lot of sales, but it did help our valuations. 🙂 Now is a different age, and we have had to adjust our strategies and SEO has evolved accordingly. And yet there still some out there focused improperly on simply increasing overall site traffic, instead of properly focusing on using targeted keywords to obtain qualified traffic. Just yesterday I heard a radio ad for a local “SEM company” that guarantees to increase search traffic to client’s sites, or they don’t pay. Geez, if any client of this group never has to pay it would be miracle, that is easy money.
So the question is, how do we develop more/better keywords? And in honor of our good friend Lee Odden of TopRankBlog.com, let me present my ideas in the form of a list. 😉
1. Internal Brainstorming: No one knows your site and products better than you do (at least we hope so). Think about what you think clients are looking for, and how they would search to find you, this is typically a good place to start. Get with employees/partners and just talk it out.
2. External Brainstorming: Ask family and friends what thoughts come up when they think and see your site. It is amazing just how insightful this can be. I asked my wife and 8 year old son about one of our sites, and what they thought it was about, I was quite surprised with the answers and ideas that came from those discussions, and their words got me thinking.
3. Client Feedback: Ask your clients what impressions they get of your site, ask them to describe your site in their words. These will be phrases and ideas which come from those that found you and bought from you. You might get some ideas to help address the demographic and localization differences in phrases customers use to find you. The other day I purchased some stuff online, and got an email from firstname.lastname@example.org which asked me if I was satisfied with the goods and if I had any comments to help them improve in the future. Thinking about it now, my comments would really help them with the creation of new keywords.
4. Competitors: The Internet makes competition a more even playing field, which is great in my opinion. Check our your competitor’s sites, see what keywords they are using and ranking well with. You may come up with a slightly different rendition or just go at them head to head for the same keywords. If you have the unique content and links to back it up, you might just out rank them quickly.
5. Use Keyword Tools: Obviously SoloSEO (free trial)has keyword tools utilizing Google, Yahoo and WordTracker APIs to help you come up with keywords that you might not have been able to come up with through your own brainstorming. I have found just seeing these variations lets me get out of a keyword rut and opens my mind to new brainstorming avenues.
6. Frequent Reviews Check to see your existing keywords and how they are performing. Quit focusing on or perhaps adjust the ones which aren’t performing well, and try some of the new ones you feel will do better. You can’t rank for a killer keyword if you don’t implement it, and searchers not finding you are potential sales ops missed by not capitalizing on a pretty simple opportunity.
Good luck, and happy keywording.