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The Importance of Keywords

The Importance of Keywords

A Marketing article written by Mick Clarke

The dotcom boom and eventual bust proved that 'build it and they will come' strategies never work and never will!

Today many websites still continue to employ this strategy to the detriment of their business goals as they do not understand the basic rules of Keyword selection.

Without doubt the Holy Grail of search engine marketing success is the selection of the best key words or phrases for your business which delivers scores of targeted qualified leads and the associated profits that come with them. But, this is still the most overlooked element of most websites today.

Many companies today use graphic designers or web developers who do not understand internet marketing, and thus receive poor advice resulting in them targeting the wrong key words or phrases or designing a website that has little or no optimisation. This means that even if they do achieve a good search engine ranking it is usually wasted as very few people are actually searching on the phrases selected. Or if they do, the relevancy of the phrase to their product or service is not apparent to the web surfer and again the ranking is of no benefit.

So, how do you choose keywords that work?  Selecting highly targeted and relevant keywords and phrases for web sites requires you to consider:
  • What search phrases are used most often?
  • How competitive is the phrase and is a first page listing achievable?
  • How many people are using these phases? And how they vary
    • across search engines
    • at different times
    • in what volumes
    • in different geographic localities
  • What is the relevancy of the keyphrase to your product or service?
Key word selection is a complex process and requires a great deal of research and planning but if done correctly your business will benefit immensely. If not, you will pick the wrong keywords and sabotage your entire search engine optimisation campaign.
Most clients target the wrong keywords and rarely prepare a thorough keyword plan. They include keywords that are too broad, or not specifically relevant to the content of their site. Never use terms such as 'small business' as no-one searches for this keyword phrase, they would more likely search for 'small business software' or 'small business advice'.
People search the Internet to solve a problem, so when you evaluate a particular keyword phrase you should ask yourself "What is the intent of this query?" If you cannot determine what problem the searcher is trying to solve in performing a query, you should not be targeting that keyword or phrase. And, if your web site does not satisfy the intent of that query, then you should not waste your time and target that phrase.
The job in optimizing a web site is to help the searcher complete his or her search mission and thereby add value to the search engine's index. If you do not add value in this way, the searcher will click one maybe two pages deep in your web site and then click the back button and find a web site that does solve their search problem.
The beauty of visitors coming from the search engines is that they are all well-qualified prospects who are far more likely to make a purchase than someone clicking on a banner ad out of curiosity. Because they are actively searching for what you have, they are much more likely to be a serious buyer. Therefore, you'll convert a much greater percentage of those visitors to actual sales.
Here are some keyword selection tips that should benefit everyone in their search engine positioning efforts:
  1. Identify the core problems and concepts that your web site addresses.
  2. List each core problem separately and then think of all of the ways that someone might compose a keyword phrase search for this concept or problem. For example, if you sell golf shoes, the words 'golf shoes' should not be your only nor most important keyword phrase. Other options could be 'buying golf shoes' and 'Nike golf shoes' and 'Shoes for golf' and 'Online golf shoe stores'. Any key word or phrase that you miss will be traffic for prospective customers that visit your competitor's site.
  3. Visit your competitors' web sites and review their keyword meta data for any that you hadn't considered - you'd be amazed at the good and bad keywords they're targeting.
  4. Review the copy on the pages of your web site for keyword phrases that you use in describing your offerings. You will be surprised at how many keywords are overlooked that are right there in front of you on your own web pages.
  5. Consider using a professional search engine company to help you select keywords as they will have software which produces statistics to maximise the success. These services provide valuable information on keyword query frequency and search phrase combinations that you might have overlooked. You can also confirm that your phrase is in fact searched on by a reasonable number of visitors.
  6. Do not use keywords because they are queried with higher frequency than others. Always use keywords with relevance to your site, not potential traffic. Less traffic that buys more products is often better than more traffic that buys far less product.
  7. Once you've selected your final key phrase list remove any word or phrase that doesn't EXACTLY describe what someone will find when they come to your web site. Again, less traffic that buys more is better than more traffic that buys far less. Always think about satisfying the intent of the query, nothing else matters."