Selecting the right keywords to signpost your site

Selecting the right keywords to signpost your site

Search engines are the vehicles that drive potentialcustomers to your websites. But in order for visitors toreach their destination – your website – you need toprovide them with specific and effective signs that willdirect them right to your site. You do this by creatingcarefully chosen keywords.

Think of the right keywords as the Open Sesame! of theInternet. Find the exactly right words or phrases, andpresto! hoards of traffic will be pulling up to your frontdoor. But if your keywords are too general or tooover-used, the possibility of visitors actually making itall the way to your site – or of seeing any real profitsfrom the visitors that do arrive – decreases dramatically.

Your keywords serve as the foundation of your marketingstrategy. If they are not chosen with great precision, nomatter how aggressive your marketing campaign may be, theright people may never get the chance to find out about it.So your first step in plotting your strategy is to gatherand evaluate keywords and phrases.

You probably think you already know EXACTLY the right wordsfor your search phrases. Unfortunately, if you haven’tfollowed certain specific steps, you are probably WRONG.It’s hard to be objective when you are right in the centerof your business network, which is the reason that you maynot be able to choose the most efficient keywords from theinside. You need to be able to think like your customers.And since you are a business owner and not the consumer,your best bet is to go directly to the source.

Instead of plunging in and scribbling down a list ofpotential search words and phrases yourself, ask for wordsfrom as many potential customers as you can. You will mostlikely find out that your understanding of your businessand your customers’ understanding is significantlydifferent.

The consumer is an invaluable resource. You will find thewords you accumulate from them are words and phrases youprobably never would have considered from deep inside thetrenches of your business.

Only after you have gathered as many words and phrases fromoutside resources should you add your own keyword to thelist. Once you have this list in hand, you are ready forthe next step: evaluation.

The aim of evaluation is to narrow down your list to asmall number of words and phrases that will direct thehighest number of quality visitors to your website. By“quality visitors” I mean those consumers who are mostlikely to make a purchase rather than just cruise aroundyour site and take off for greener pastures. In evaluatingthe effectiveness of keywords, bear in mind three elements:popularity, specificity, and motivation.

Popularity is the easiest to evaluate because it is anobjective quality. The more popular your keyword is, themore likely the chances are that it will be typed into asearch engine which will then bring up your URL.

You can now purchase software that will rate the popularityof keywords and phrases by giving words a number ratingbased on real search engine activity. Software such asWordTracker will even suggest variations of your words andphrases. The higher the number this software assigns to agiven keyword, the more traffic you can logically expect tobe directed to your site. The only fallacy with thisconcept is the more popular the keyword is, the greater thesearch engine position you will need to obtain. If you aredown at the bottom of the search results, the consumer willprobably never scroll down to find you.

Popularity isn’t enough to declare a keyword a good choice.You must move on to the next criteria, which isspecificity. The more specific your keyword is, the greaterthe likelihood that the consumer who is ready to purchaseyour goods or services will find you.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example. Imagine that you haveobtained popularity rankings for the keyword “automobilecompanies.” However, you company specializes in bodyworkonly. The keyword “automobile body shops” would rank loweron the popularity scale than “automobile companies,” but itwould nevertheless serve you much better. Instead ofgetting a slew of people interested in everything frombuying a car to changing their oil filters, you will getonly those consumers with trashed front ends or crumpledfenders being directed to your site. In other words,consumers ready to buy your services are the ones who willimmediately find you. Not only that, but the greater thespecificity of your keyword is, the less competition youwill face.

The third factor is consumer motivation. Once again, thisrequires putting yourself inside the mind of the customerrather than the seller to figure out what motivationprompts a person looking for a service or product to typein a particular word or phrase. Let’s look at anotherexample, such as a consumer who is searching for a job asan IT manager in a new city. If you have to choose between“Seattle job listings” and “Seattle IT recruiters” which doyou think will benefit the consumer more? If you werelooking for this type of specific job, which keyword wouldyou type in? The second one, of course! Using the secondkeyword targets people who have decided on their career,have the necessary experience, and are ready to enlist youas their recruiter, rather than someone just out of schoolwho is casually trying to figure out what to do with his orher life in between beer parties. You want to find peoplewho are ready to act or make a purchase, and this requiressubtle tinkering of your keywords until your find the mostspecific and directly targeted phrases to bring the mostmotivated traffic to you site.

Once you have chosen your keywords, your work is not done.You must continually evaluate performance across a varietyof search engines, bearing in mind that times and trendschange, as does popular lingo. You cannot rely on your logtraffic analysis alone because it will not tell you howmany of your visitors actually made a purchase.

Luckily, some new tools have been invented to help youjudge the effectiveness of your keywords in individualsearch engines. There is now software available thatanalyzes consumer behavior in relation to consumer traffic.This allows you to discern which keywords are bringing youthe most valuable customers.

This is an essential concept: numbers alone do not make agood keyword; profits per visitor do. You need to findkeywords that direct consumers to your site who actuallybuy your product, fill out your forms, or download yourproduct. This is the most important factor in evaluatingthe efficacy of a keyword or phrase, and should be thesword you wield when discarding and replacing ineffectiveor inefficient keywords with keywords that bring in betterprofits.

Ongoing analysis of tested keywords is the formula forsearch engine success. This may sound like a lot of work -and it is! But the amount of informed effort you put intoyour keyword campaign is what will ultimately generate yourbusiness’ rewards.