SEO 101: Targeting Customers with Keywords

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If you use a computer, you know what keywords are whether you realize it or not. In many ways they are the key to internet marketing. In this article, we’ll discuss how to find valuable keywords, setup a test, and then analyze and adjust your results for optimal gain. Hypothesize, test, adjust and repeat – this is the code that every internet marketer lives and dies by. Master this, and you’ll be well on your way to online business success!

What are Keywords

Anytime you go to Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine, the first thing most of us do is enter some words in the search box and hit enter. Those words that we enter into the box are keywords, and every search is tracked by the search engine which makes them immensely important to online marketing. When you consider that literally millions of searches occur every day, you start to realize how important it is for your website to have a high rank for keywords that are relevant to your business. The more searches you are displayed in, the more likely people will be to visit your site when they search for that term.

But what are the BEST Keywords?

Think about the way that you search for things. If you were in the market for a new computer, you might start by searching for just ‘computers’ or ‘computers for sale’. At this stage of your search, you’re still gathering information about what you might want to buy. You’ll be looking at different manufacturers and comparing specs, etc. As you hone in on what you want, your search may become more targeted, such as ‘gaming computers around $1,000’. And then finally, when you are just about ready to buy, you might look up a specific model, such as ‘Dell Inspiron 15 7000 gaming laptop’ (which is a great computer for more than just gaming by the way, and very budget friendly given the features – buy it here).

Long Tail Keywords can be a Cash Cow

As we can see, some terms are more specific than others. With a little added insight, we can see that they also represent users that are in different parts of the buying cycle. The more specific terms are considered ‘long tail’ keywords (sometimes called keyword phrases) due to their length. These are much more valuable considering that the people searching for the are pretty well set on what they want to buy at the time of the search. If you can capture traffic at that point in the buying process, your chances of converting them into a sale or lead are much higher than earlier when they’re searching for more generic terms.

So Many Keywords, and so Little Time!

As an astute reader of our blog, you’ve probably realized at this point that there are an infinite number of keywords and keyword phrases. Any word can be a keyword and all of the different combinations of words can drive unique traffic in their own way. Sure, there are nuances to how the search engines display similar results for words like ‘book’ and ‘books’, but you get the point: there’s a lot of terms to target. Narrowing down your list will be key to your success.

One way to do this that we recommend, is to do a brief Competitive Analysis to see what your rivals or other influential websites within your niche are ranking for. Type in some of the keywords that you would use to search for your product and see which sites pop up. Try the same exercise but this time vary the terms and only use words that your customers would use to refer to your products. Make a list of competitors and visit their sites individually. Then, try the following exercises on each of their sites to get an idea for what topics and keywords they are targeting (in addition to the one you used to find their page):

  • Review their ‘Content Silos’ – a content silo is a term that we use to describe specific topics that the website writes or promotes regularly. These are sometimes known as ‘cornerstone content pieces’ as well, because they represent high value areas for the website’s audience. A good way to identify these is to visit the website’s blog and look at the main category pages, or commonly used tags.
  • Use a tool like ‘SEOquake’ – It’s free and it’s easy. Just visit their site and download the browser extension. Then, you’ll have a small icon in your browser that you can toggle on any website that you’re currently viewing. Click the ‘Density’ tab in the window that appears in order to view the prevalence of certain  keywords on a specific page. This is best done on a page that has a wide variety of content. If you can find an RSS feed or a blog category that includes full article text, that’s a great place to conduct this analysis.
  • Use advanced Search Operators – Take a look at the URL bar in your browser as your searching through your competitor websites. If you notice a specific structure that they use to organize their content, you can use the site:domain/category search operator to search for all of the different category names that they have. Try this out on a website to see how it works.

Download our free ebook to learn how to do an in depth competitive analysis.

Or, you can use the Holy Grail

The above items are all great ways to gather information on what keywords may work for you, and regardless of the next topic, we still recommend performing that analysis. Once you have an idea of the keywords you want to target, it’s time to get technical. That’s right, we’re talking about Google’s Keyword Planner. This is a tool that is most commonly associated with setting up paid advertisements on Google Adwords, but it can be used to gather valuable information about keywords in general as well.

The first step is to set up a Google account if you don’t already have one (check out our account setup guide here). Once you’re setup, visit the Keyword Planner. Then, enter some terms that you want to analyze. Currently, the tool let’s you enter up to 3.

After that, click ‘Get Started’ and you’ll be hit with a huge amount of data. The screen will show you a list of related keywords, a range of average monthly search volume, a rough gauge of the competitiveness (how many other sites are already ranking or targeting this keyword), as well as a budget range (if you did want to purchase a paid ad placement).

You’ll see some terms that get a huge amount of volume. These are generally also the more generic terms that are highly competitive and difficult to rank for. In order to maximize your potential for success, we recommend targeting mid-range volume (1k-10,000 is a great range in our opinion) and Medium or Low competitiveness. Also keep in mind the tips from earlier and look for long tail keywords. Below is an example of an ideal keyword (long tail) and one that should be avoided (generic):

As you look through the list, add a checkbox next to the terms that you think are good candidates. If you’re planning to test these keywords with a paid advertisement, you should also be conscious of the budget and look for keywords that have a low cost per click.

Now What?

After you have your list, you can export it into a CSV and save it for later. Or, you can run a quick ad and point some traffic toward a unique landing page on your website in order to test how effective the keywords are at converting into sales/leads. We suggest limiting your list of keywords to groups of 3-5 when running test ads, and setting a small budget (but not too small). You should try to get around 500 clicks at a minimum in order for a successful test, so set your budget accordingly based upon the cost of the keywords that you’re targeting.

After your test has run, you should do a quick analysis of the results. You will know how much money you spent on the advertisement, you’ll also know how many clicks you received just by looking in the Google Adwords dashboard. You should also determine how many conversions or sales you made as a result of your test. This is where the unique landing page comes into play. If the unique page has only been receiving traffic from your paid ad, then all you’ll need to do is log into your Analytics account, set the timeframe to match the duration of your ad test, and then look at the number of visitors to that specific landing page. You can then work to extract how much money each of those conversions actually earned you.

With these figures, you can analyze your costs and compare them directly with your revenue. And with that, we’ve arrived at your Return On Investment (ROI). Take the Revenue that you made from the experiment (return) and divide it by your actual ad-spend (investment). If the number that you get is over 1, then you have a successful campaign. The higher the number, the better, and you can continue to hone and experiment with different keyword groups in order to optimize further.

That’s it! It’s a lot of information to digest, and we hope you’ve found it useful. The good news is that once you’ve mastered this article, then doing this analysis and setting up a test can be done in a little over one hour. Just make sure to pay attention to the queues that the internet and your competitors are giving you, and then continue to refine them over time. The key to any successful internet marketer is to hypothesis, test, and adjust, and that is exactly what you’ll be doing.

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