The first step in any successful search engine optimization campaign should be to consider your target market. What products and services do you sell? What sets you apart from your competitors? Why should people shop online with you?
These questions help you to build up a picture of those who are likely to buy your products or services online. They also give you an immediate insight into the keywords (search terms) that will be used in order to find your website online.
This is a great starting point when considering the keywords that you wish to target. Some would argue that keyword analysis and selection forms the most important part of an SEO project. It’s hard to disagree with that.
You may feel that keyword analysis is all about finding the search terms that Google users look to use on the most frequent basis. It could be argued that being top for these terms will produce the best results for your business. But is this necessarily true?
The reality is that you don’t have to target these terms. In many cases, it’s actually best not to. Why should this be the case?
The answer is that you’re looking for customers, rather than visitors. Any SEO campaign can lead to increased visitor numbers, but you’re aim is to find buyers. This is where the danger lies when it comes to keyword selection. There’s a risk that you may only ever attract window shoppers.
So how do you avoid these dangers? One way is to ignore keywords that are associated with research, rather than the buying phase of the process. Phrases including words like free, information, advice, help, assistance, returns and faults are not often used by buyers. They are, however, used by individuals researching products, or by those who already own products. These probably don’t represent your target market.
Find your niche
You’ll also notice that keywords attracting large volumes of searchers will often also attract numerous competitors. Some of your rivals are likely to have significant advertising budgets. Do you want to compete with them, in a financial sense, in order to gain positioning?
It’s likely that your money would be better spent by looking to target niche areas. Within your market, you might want to think about areas where you really excel. Is it possible that you are the very best within a smaller niche?
You may realise that you offer better customer service, a wider range of products, or an increased level of expertise. All of these discoveries can be turned to your advantage.
The beauty of seeking to tackle niche areas is that you’ll find that you’re competing with fewer rivals. You’ll also realise that there’s more chance of getting targeted visitors. In other words, you’ll be able to concentrate your efforts on attracting those who are most likely to buy.
If your SEO project is already under way, then take the time to stop and consider the keyword selection. Are you targeting the words that will really produce the most cost-effective results for your business?
With his SEO consulting approach, Keith Barrett provides small businesses with advice on a wide range of search engine optimization and online marketing issues.