When it comes to internet marketing and particularly SEO, targeting the right keywords can make or break your campaign. Keywords are basically the phrases you want your business to be found under. Most of the time single keywords are hard to obtain and they tend not to convert very well. Longer and sometimes descriptive keywords are less competitive and what is more important is the fact that they have better conversion rates in most cases.

In some niches finding the right keywords is pretty straight forward; in others it can be slightly tricky and at times misleading. The most counterproductive thing you could do in terms of your internet marketing would be to assume you know all the right keywords before doing any research. And even if you knew all the ‘right’ keywords, would your potential customers look for the same thing?

In some cases you would know all the right keywords for your service/product but those keywords might be industry terms, jargons or technical words which an average customer might not know. So when you are starting to create a new internet marketing campaign your keyword research process is the most vital part of your formula for success. Your selection of keywords are essentially the end point or what drives and determines what type of traffic you get, how much traffic you get and how well that traffic converts.

Depending on your niche there are many ways you can find keywords, below is a list of things you can do yourself to find some keywords:

  • What would people search for to find your service or product? Figuring this might be simple in some cases; in others this requires in-depth analysis and that is where a professional internet marketing agency could help you.
  • What questions would your prospective customers be trying to find answers to. Depending on your niche, sometimes a good FAQ section can help you on the search engine optimisation front.
  • What keywords are your competitors chasing? (keyword tags, titles, prominent keywords in description tag)
  • What keywords does your competitor’s copy focus on? How have they semantically structured their copy?
  • What keywords or phrases does the Google search box suggest when you are typing your primary keyword?
  • What variations of those keywords does the Google search box suggest? Don’t stop at Google suggestions, dig deep into different platforms and collect all the relevant suggestion and put them in an Excel spread sheet and filter the duplicates out. Use Soovle to gather suggestions from a wide variety of sources.
  • Use Keyword Tool to find phrase variations along with global/local metrics.
  • Target misspellings if a key phrase is hard to spell.
  • Carry out a search for your primary keyword and find out whether there are ‘sponsored’ ads for it on major search engines. Does your search render both side column and top ‘sponsored’ ads? If so, focus on the top section Google’s sponsored ads and extract prominent phrases. The fact that the keyword generated top section paid adverts should tell you something about the keyword!

A lot of times I have come across businesses who hire an SEO company without paying attention to the keywords they want to target first. They simply hand over a set of keywords thinking that ranking on top of organic listing for those keywords would give them financial rewards or help them meet their business goals. The harsh reality is that ranking on the first page of a search engine for such keywords does not always guarantee conversion.

A couple of years ago I was contacted by a certain pharmaceutical company who ranked really well for a keyword, lets assume the keyword was ‘XYZ’. They had spent thousands of pounds to position their website on the first page of Google. Data from their Google analytics account showed their website was clearly getting a lot of traffic but there was a problem, none of that traffic converted!

Within 30 minutes of analysing their Google Analytics data. I realized their primary keyword ‘XYZ’ attracted researchers, academics, students and NOT potential customers who wanted more than just information and whitepapers. The ‘XYZ’ keyword was basically a pharmaceutical term that only academics, researchers and other pharmaceutical firms were familiar with. Now without giving too much away, customers looking for an anti-aging agent most probably didn’t know what ‘XYZ’ was hence they would never search for that term and the pharmaceutical company didn’t get the anticipated ROI.

The company had to revisit their internet marketing campaign. They had to move away from industry related keywords and had to  focus on descriptive phrases instead. Now one of the ways the company could have saved thousands of pounds would have been to carry out in-depth keyword research or by trial running the campaign using Pay Per Click first, instead of chasing what they thought was the right keyword.

Using PPC advertising as a trial run is always beneficial particularly if the SEO campaign is going to cost you a lot of money. Lets be clear, a PPC trial run is not the holy grail of finding out the right keywords however it is an observational method of figuring out whether your selected keywords have the potential to convert or not. Once you have some empirical evidence that the keywords you have chosen have the potential to convert then half of the job is done (strictly speaking the most vital aspect of your campaign is sorted). The last thing you want to do is to pay an SEO company to get you on the first page for a highly competitive keyword and then find out the conversion is zilch.

Next in this series is “What to look for in a SEO company?”