Bad things are happening to good people all over the internet. Thousands, if not millions of online marketers, businesspeople and retailers are struggling for traffic, performing abysmally in search results, and have no idea where they went wrong. They might have the best web design, or some of the fanciest new site features, but they dropped the ball on one of the first and most important steps. These people are all casualties of bad keyword practices.
Keywords are the fundamental building blocks of any good online marketing campaign. If you have any hopes of making it big on the internet, you’ve got to do your research, and you need to do it right. We’re here to show you how to do it right, from start to finish.
What Are Keywords, and Are They Necessary?
Keywords are more than just the words you describe your website with. Keywords are the words and phrases you anticipate other visitors and customers will use in search engines to find you. Keywords can’t only make sense to you, they have to make sense to everyone else. 90% of internet users will look for information through search engines, and you need to make sure that they can find you by optimizing for the right keywords.
Doing the research and finding the right keywords people will use to find your services is what separates the casual web users from the serious online business people. You have to know where, when, and how to move away from your own short-list of “personal favorite” keywords, and start digging into facts, figures, data points and research on real keywords that perform well. It’s tough, but it’s manageable, and you can do it with the right help.
First Steps: Understanding What Makes A Keyword “Valuable”
Which of these keywords is more valuable? “Cheap golf lessons,” or “golf lessons?”
At first glance, it’s hard to tell. There’s only one word difference between the two, “cheap.” If you had to value one phrase over the other, surely “cheap golf lessons” would be the better keyword. It conveys intent and purpose. Plus, who doesn’t like a discount?
When you look at the actual data in software like Google’s Keyword Research Tool, you might be surprised. “Golf lessons” is such a widely used keyword, you could spend far too much money on PPC ads with it. Trying to rank for this keyword is too difficult because it sees millions of searches each month—and millions of other sites are competing for those search results. It isn’t worthless, but the alternative is more appealing.
“Cheap golf lessons” is more specific, and sees a fraction of the monthly searches that its more general alternative does. Although it could be a more cost-effective PPC keyword, you might see more conversions from this keyword by using it in your content marketing optimizations. Both of these keywords could be great for on-site blog writing and content generation. If you had to choose one or the other to spend money on in a PPC campaign, the more specific the keyword, the better.
There is a difference between a keyword and a valuable keyword: a valuable keyword sends people that are more willing to convert on your products to your website, pre-qualifies visitors with added context in phrases, and helps you convert more and faster on higher-quality search results. High-value keywords might be longer than the generic keyword you initially thought you would use, but they will produce more conversions and will result in much lower PPC advertising costs overall. A plain old keyword chosen without research or strategy might eventually do all of that. If you’re lucky.
Keyword Research Is Absolutely Vital
When you get down to it, keywords are easily the most important part of your online marketing strategies. They determine how people will find you, how visible you are online, and how relevant you are in related searches. Finding valuable keywords is part scientific exploration and part creative planning, and finding valuable keywords is crucial to SEO success. Knowing how to use keywords is another valuable skill, and overdoing it can get you in trouble.
Over the next few posts, I’ll be exploring these steps further and teaching you how to get started on in-depth keyword research like the pros. After that, we’ll look at best practices for content generation: how you can use those keywords to create effective, organic, search engine optimized content that pulls customers directly to you.