Saturday, 24 January 2009

6 Simple Keyword Research Steps To Your Market

As Internet marketers, most of us are drawn to Search Engine Optimization, with the lure of free, on-going Internet traffic, sales and sales leads.

For any small business marketing online, the search engine ranking for our chosen keywords consumes us, causing ecstasy when we succeed and sleepless nights when we fail.

But keep this in mind about SEO: increased sales happen only IF:

** the keywords bring enough traffic; ** are obtainable in SEO competition (and) ** if the keywords will actually convert -- if they actually result in increased sales and opt-in marketing sales leads.

Otherwise, it's really wasted time.

Strategic Keyword Research to the Rescue

We can't correctly perform Search Engine Optimization for our websites without first spending time performing keyword research.

Everyone has a different idea of how to do this.

Some use WordTracker, Keyword Discovery and others use Google's Keyword Research Tool.

In my own practice, I started with WordTracker for my sites and for my clients. I have to tell you that I've changed my mind; my preference toady is for the Free Google Keyword Research Tool.

Now that Google shows an estimated number of average monthly impressions (instead of just the old green bar), the Google tool can really help with your keyword research. If you don't have an AdWords account, you can access the tool independently (just Google: Google Keyword Research Tool).

Grabbing the Best Keywords for your Website Using Google's Keyword Research Tool

Step 1 -- Put your root keyword into the tool. I suggest one phrase at a time, 1-4 words in length. Click: Get Keyword ideas and wait for the results.

Another option is to click: Website Content and let Google pull suggestions from your website content.

Step 2 -- IMPORTANT, change the Match Type to Phrase, which adds quotes to the keyword results. This makes the tool's result most closely match organic search, ignoring the "loosey-goosey" broad match phrases for AdWords.

And under the Show/Hide Columns make sure your settings display Approx Avg Search Volume. (If you're marketing a seasonal product or service you might change to a different setting.)

Step 3 -- Analyze the results. What we're all trying to find is the low hanging fruit: the best balance of traffic volume, ease of search engine optimization and traffic that will likely convert.

I suggest targeting phrases that are at least 5,000 to 10,000 monthly average impressions. Conversely, keyword phrases with very high monthly impressions may prove too competitive in organic search. Find the best balance for your organic optimization skills and for your industry.

If your small business marketing needs to deliver you 200,000 monthly organic impressions and you choose keyword search phrases with between 5,000 and 10,000 monthly impressions, then based on my formula you'll need between 20 to 40 keyword phrases from search engine ranking to deliver you that 200,000 monthly impressions.

Of course, as you discover opportune phrases that are offer greater monthly impressions and that you're comfortable optimizing for, that will lower the number of phrases needed to reach your monthly goal.

Make your keyword list from this criteria. I like to copy and paste into my email program.

Lastly on this point, you'll need good click-through rate data and conversion rate data either from your site or for your industry, to determine the number of monthly impressions you'll need to shoot for.

Step 4 -- Evaluate the competing number of pages in organic search from Google. Is this a number you're comfortable optimizing for?

While you're on the SERPs looking over the search results, look at the AdWords ads and the organic results.

Does your service or product sound like it belongs on this page, for this keyword? Or, does it sound out of place?

And for a search phrase to be good, normally you'll want to see several AdWords ads appearing for the search phrase.

Make your list from this criteria, setting aside any keyword phrases from the previous step (at least for right now) where the competition is too steep. Phrases that look good but with too much competition, save for the future.

This brings up a good point: Keep good notes! Otherwise, you'll come back for the next round of research and have to re-do things that you shouldn't have to. :-(

Step 5 -- Evaluate the phrases still on your list for their likely commercial intention using the Microsoft Online Commercial Intention Tool (Google it).

Now, this is a Microsoft tool...I use it and am glad for the data, but I don't make decisions about any keyword phrase off data from just one tool or from just one step in my process.

Having said that, I wouldn't select 15 phrases for optimization where each of them shows there's not commercial intent.

Keep your list of phrases that still meet your criteria and move onto the next step.

Step 6 -- Evaluate your remaining list in Google's Traffic Estimator. What I look for is the relationship of average monthly impressions to estimated daily click throughs in AdWords. Do they make sense and suggest commercial intention?

If one phrase has twice the monthly impressions, but only 1/2 the daily AdWords clicks, something may be wrong. You may want to look closer.

The goal isn't just traffic, it's traffic that converts -- buys, sign up to your email list, calls or emails your company and becomes a sales lead, etc.

When you complete these steps, you should have whittled your initial keyword list down to the "lowest hanging fruit", the most opportune phrases (easiest to rank well in) COMBINED with the largest amount of quality traffic, COMBINED with traffic that should convert.

The Windows into Your Website

Keywords are the windows into your website. If you target the wrong ones for your business, you won't have the traffic, sales or sales leads that you need.

If you're using an SEO Company to perform your work, make sure they do it the correct way -- not the lazy way -- and oversee their work. Your site, your responsibility!

If you're doing d-i-y Keyword Research, be really educated about what you're doing or your d-i-y effort could cost you more than hiring a qualified company.

NOTE: Another option available from some SEO companies today for those watching their budget is to function as a Marketing Coach (or in this instance Keyword Research Coach). This is sort of a hybrid between the retail price, full-service option and the go-it-alone, time consuming do-it-yourself optio

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