This is a guest post by Tim Arends.
Choosing keywords have been likened to panning for gold. You will get a lot of dust, dirt and sand and, if you do it right, a few golden flakes. Searching for the right keywords is a lot like this.
One critical factor in choosing keywords is going after what is known as the “long tail.” These are keywords (really key phrases) consisting of three or more words.
Why is long tail important? Because there is too much competition to rank well for shorter keywords. Another reason is that longer phrases are more likely to be targeted to the needs of the user.
One part of choosing useful, relevant and high-converting keywords is to understand your customers’ buying habits and what is known as the client purchase cycle. The main parts of the cycle are:
Attention > Interest > Want > Action.
Let’s say you are attempting to sell iPods. You have had a site up on that subject for almost 6 months and have done some search engine optimization but have gotten little traffic and no leads.
The problem may be your keywords. The big boys like Apple, Best Buy, etc. are also targeting the search term “iPods.” How are you going to compete with them? You need to look at areas that your competition has ignored.
Think Like Your Customer
Another example: Imagine that you are a customer who is looking to find entertainment services in Northwest Illinois. Your search might go something like this:
Search Term 1: “Entertainers” — okay, that’s way too broad!
Search Term 2: “Northwest Illinois entertainers” — still a lot of options.
Search Term 3: “Comedienne in Northwest Illinois” — If this is a service you’re selling, this could be a keyword gold mine.
One way to get a good feel for the competition is to make use of the title tag. Using this type of search you can see exactly how many sites are using the same search phrase in the title. This is one way to gauge the competition you will be facing.
Now let’s examine how all the rankings in Google changed as the search becomes more and more specific.
The command in Google is intitle, so use intitle:”comedienne” (this will return results with that word in the actual title).
intitle:”entertainers” – 271,000 results retuned
intitle:”Illinois entertainers” About 1,750 results
intitle:”Northwest Illinois entertainers” – No matches
Okay, how about:
intitle:”Northern Illinois entertainers”
This calls up only one match and a couple of Google ads, indicating that it might be a profitable keyword. If you do the proper search engine optimization and get a few of the links pointing to the page you may begin to see highly targeted traffic.
Whatever your niche, if you spend some time you can likely find some keyword treasures in your market as well. Now let’s take it to the next level.
Use Action Words
Okay, let’s say you want to sell the Apple TV. You know that the latest, much more compact model is the second generation. However, when you do an intitle: search on Google for Apple TV you get over 352,000 results.
This is where action words come in handy. Some great action words or phrases are Buy, Purchase, Lowest price, Free shipping etc. All of these words are used when the customer is in a buying phase, which is exactly when you want them to find you.
intitle:”Buy 2nd Generation apple TV” 0 sites
intitle:”Purchase 2nd Generation apple TV” 0 sites
intitle:”Lowest price 2nd Generation apple TV” 0 sites
intitle:”Buy apple TV 2nd Generation” 0 sites
intitle:”Purchase apple TV 2nd Generation” 0 sites
intitle:”Lowest price apple TV 2nd Generation” 0 sites
Keyword Research Action Steps:
Step 1 – Logs: this is a great asset that you may not currently be using. For example, Google Analytics can give you great ideas of what people are searching for when they find your site. You can mine these logs for great niche keywords and use them as a basis for creating new content that matches what people are typing into the search engines.
By the same token, if you submitted articles to Ezine Articles, the monthly e-mails or the stats that you can access by logging into your account can give you more information on what people are looking for when they found your article. Remember that Ezine Articles wants you to be a success because that means more traffic for it as well.
Step 2 – Competition: This can also be a good source of keyword research, especially if your competition gets better traffic than you do. You can check the keywords your competition uses in its title, meta tags, body and so on. You may find something that you missed.
Step 3 – Keyword Tools: Now that you understand the concept, let’s explore a few free keyword research tools. You can use them to find 20-40 money-making keywords that you are not currently using. Here are three:
Google’s own KeywordToolExternal
SEO Books’ online keyword tool
Of course, any keyword tool should be used only as a guide. For example, some of those mentioned here are slanted towards pay-per-click and may not give you the most highly coveted “long-tail” phrases.
A few additional tips:
Tip # 1: Don’t overlook phrase variations. E.g. Macbook, Macbook Pro and Macbook Air.
Tip # 2: Use slang or insider terminology where appropriate. That’s why it’s a good idea to know your niche, so you know the terminology used by people involved in that niche.
Tip # 3: Remember that people type in some keyphrases as one word.
Don’t forget hyphenated and non-hyphenated variations of your keywords. For example, some people spell toolkit as one word, others as two. According to Google’s KeywordToolExternal, “toolkit” is searched for 1,220,000 number of times a day while “tool kit” receives 1,500,000 searches.
Of course, just because you find great keywords does not mean you can slap those in your title tag and get a new rank you need to do a good job with your on page SEO as well.
I hope I have succeeded in giving a you a few ideas about the endless possibilities you can exploit in your own local market. With a little effort you can generate a great list of keywords with which you can dominate the action phase of the search cycle. If your site is placed firmly at the key stage of the purchase cycle you confine yourself safely sequestered from the competition. The effort you Put into finding keyword gold is surely worth it.
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