Keywords are everywhere in digital marketing. You could, in fact, say that they are the foundation on which online success is built. No keywords, lack of relevant keywords, and improper use of keywords can all lead to the demise of your online efforts. Keyword relevance is so important that without understanding your target audience, then selecting the right keywords, you could actually be costing yourself unnecessary dollars through the use, or non-use, of keywords.
What Are Keywords?
Keywords are actually many things. They are terms a user enters to find what they are looking for, they are how search engines know what it is your page is all about, and they are terms that help you target in on your audience.
Keywords can be short, one word, or an entire phrase. And knowing the difference between the two can have a huge impact on your success. So let’s dive briefly into that first.
Types of Keywords
There are three types of keywords:
Short tail – Generally 1-2 words that are broad to your topic and generic. Short keywords are the highest searched keywords. So in terms of volume, they are going to produce a ton. But by being so generic, the volume might be there but it also stands to reason that a good amount of that volume is going to continue dig down even further into their search to hone in on what they are looking for. Which could then result in your product being left behind. In other words, there’s volume, but conversions tend to be low.
Middle tail – Generally 3-4 words, more specific than Short, slightly lower search volume than short, but still lower converting. Middle keywords are of the vanilla of keywords. They are average in volume and conversions.
Long tail – This is where the phrase part comes in. Generally 4+ words in a meaningful, very specific phrase. In the case of Long keywords, volume is very low because of the specificity of the phrase, but the good news is that conversions tend to be high, for the same reason.
If someone is typing in your specific phrase (if it’s the right targeted phrase) they are almost for sure looking for what you’re offering. When someone searches ‘4-inch maple hardwood flooring’ and your longtail keyword is ‘4-inch maple hardwood flooring’ you can be fairly certain that at least in their search, you’re a match. Them clicking through to your website is another thing (and it had better be relevant, clear, and concise. But that’s a whole other article!)
In an effort to maximize on keywords, it can be an easy mistake to make to jump both feet into the words that produce the highest volume. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. As any sales article will explain, 100 generic leads are a lot of work to sift through to qualify, and very few will convert. But 1 or 2 already qualified leads are already halfway to the end goal…and very likely to convert. So ‘more’ is not really more in this case.
Any well designed overall marketing strategy will have a combination of everything. Higher volume (short tail) keywords mixed in with higher converting (long tail) keywords.
Why Are Keywords Import?
Keywords are important because they are like the heart between the consumer and you, whether you’re offering services, products or information. Keywords are how people are going to find you. Very simply, you want to show up in search results when people are looking for the types of things that you have to offer, keywords are how they are going to get there.
From attracting traffic to your website, reaching people at various stages of the buying cycle, to specifically addressing your audiences’ questions and needs, keywords are the roadmap and traffic director all in one.
So how does one figure out what keywords are best? It’s definitely not a task that’s going to be accomplished quickly. Nor should it be. Keyword research is really an ongoing reality. But to start initially it will require some time, thought, and organization to formulate a plan to move forward.
Following are some simple steps in researching keywords:
This is really step one of most online marketing tasks. Identifying your niche (along with understanding and identifying your audience) is what is going to help you produce the highest quality keywords.
Sit with your team (or yourself if you’re a one-man show) and think of all the ways in which your audience might search for you. All the words associated with what you do, who you are, the core of what you provide. Then take that a few steps further and think beyond. Not just ‘4-inch maple trim’ but ‘framing a window’, ‘updating windows’, ‘DIY projects using window trim’. There are many, many ways that people can be directed to you! Think like a consumer, not a business owner.
You can also check out places like Google Analytics to see what your current traffic is already searching, or even speak to the front lines of your business to find out what questions get asked the most from ‘seeking customers’.
Keywords are as much about the words as they are about the audience. Understanding how your audience might think, and therefore search, for what you’re offering can look very different than how you yourself might explain your offerings to someone. Diving into the minds of your potential audience, how they search, what they search, the search language they use, and the type of content they are seeking will help create a very comprehensive array of keywords.
Keeping track of your findings is going to be very important. There’s going to be a lot of words flying around and having a place to house them all in an organized fashion will be imperative. Using an Excel spreadsheet will help tremendously as words cannot only be tracked, but categorized, prioritized, sorted, and rated (successful/not successful).
Keeping track also allows you to revisit often to add to the list. Over time, buyer behaviors change, so will your keywords. It’s a constant evolution and monitoring & managing, otherwise optimizing, for success.
Likewise, negative keywords will become more apparent as your campaigns run. You will start to get a very clear idea of what you should be adding for these so you can stop paying for those dud clicks.
Once you’ve done the main research and have a base list of keywords, start entering your words in places like Google. Then go to ‘Related Searches’ where there will be a whole new list of things that Google deems related to those words. This will help greatly in expanding your words beyond the normal, generic terms. And who knows more about Google searching than Google!
Auto-suggest on Google is another great resource. Just start typing in your keywords and when additional ‘suggestions’ start popping up, take a look at them and their relevance to you. These suggestions tend to be very strong, higher traffic suggestions and are definitely worth exploring.
There are many websites and applications (tools) that offer keywords research help. Some of the free ones you can check-out are Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, Keywordtool.io.
So Then What?
I have my keywords, what do I do with them? Well, you now need to actually USE them!
In addition to helping with your websites SEO, your keywords are what customers need to see most once they’ve ventured onto your site. If you can imagine searching for something, finding a result, clicking on it, and it takes you to a website that has no information or products/services that even resemble what it was you’re looking for. Discouraging. You need to ensure you’re using your keywords in all of your content. Simple.
Blog posts are a perfect spot for beautifully constructed use of keywords. Adding them creatively to places like title, photo captions, image file names, URL of post, meta description, and the no brainer, first sentence and last sentence.
Keywords should also be used (and be consistent) in all of your marketing efforts. From social posts, web content, display ads, email campaigns…everything!
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