November 27, 2015

Tap amazing power of keyword research

If you discovered that you could tap into your target audience’s brain and gain an instant appreciation about their needs and exactly what keeps them up at night, wouldn’t you jump at the chance?

Well, keyword research is like surreptitious mind-reading. Done right, it gives you astounding insights plus a leg up on the competition in Google rankings. Trust me: You don’t have to be a bit technical to take advantage of this “word power.”

Here’s how it works:

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  • Step One: Brainstorm your best ideas about what you think prospects will be looking up online as they relate to your product or service. Hint: Always think in “buying mode”: Will the searcher type in queries related to price, availability, how to’s? Our motto here: “What makes them tick is what will make them click!”
  • Step Two: Use a well-established keyword research tool to test your hypotheses. A free tool from Google is called Keyword Planner. Type in your own phrases and then let the tool give you back search data for those gems – and then for others like it. You may not have thought of synonyms that are even more in demand than your original “seed words.”
  • Step Three:  Select the returned phrases that are high in demand, low in supply and most relevant to your brand. The research tool will tell you search volumes per month (demand) and competitive usage of each term (supply). You will have to determine which are the most relevant in Step Three.

By now, you’ll have a long list of pivotal phrases that should win you some website visits if Google honors you with a results page ranking for the queries.

How do you narrow the list down further?

Think about your website and your social media presence – and determine which of the winning phrases you could best “silo” content around.

Siloing means: Could you devote a page on your website to a single keyword phrase? Could you have a perpetual point of view on social media about the keyword phrase?

If you determine that you could easily be a subject matter expert on a phrase, that query term deserves to be in your linguistic arsenal. Try to limit your final selection of phrases to 10 to 20. The reason to be sparing is that you will want to provide significant content for each phrase that you make your own. You’ll need to be exhaustive on the target phrases – doing deep dives on the topics regularly over time, so that Google considers you a strong contender for ranking on it. Perpetually.

I’ll add a Step Four here; think of it as extra credit. The truth is that Google’s Keyword Planner is good as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.

A better way than Google’s free tool is to be more thorough and use a paid keyword research approach. We use Market Samurai and find that it gives us a good estimation of traffic for a particular phrase as well as the specific difficulty or ease we might experience in trying to rank for it, based on the competition’s concentrated use of the phrase on their website (versus in AdWords.) Yes, you’ll pay for the subscription, but it buys you so much confidence, knowing that a phrase you select to be an expert on is worth emphasizing on your website and in social media – and will gain you, in all likelihood, Google’s good graces!

Now, just some closing thoughts about broad and niche phrases:

When clients come to us, they think they want to rank for something coveted in their industry. If it’s a massage therapist, he or she wants to rank for that very phrase. But there are hundreds of massage therapists in Northern Colorado and there are only 10 “answers” on the first page of Google, typically.

Instead of trying to “win” on the broad phrase “massage therapist,” a client would realize rankings more quickly if a longer phrase were targeted, such as “fix plantar fasciitis pain.” That longer phrase is more specific and says what the prospective patient wants – and wants now. That phrase finds the patient further along the buying path. He or she is more qualified right from the start – and there’s far less competition for the phrase, so a first-page ranking is quite possible.

When we develop websites for clients, we use a rule of thumb that gives roughly 75 percent weight to these long-tail phrases and 25 percent to broad phrases.

One more bonus here: With a subject-matter expertise demonstrated on a website for a niche (long-tail) phrase, Google may one day “give” a business rankings for the broad, coveted phrase. All the hard work on providing useful content to support a niche phrase can eventually return broad phrase rankings, to boot. A niche phrase is more qualified, has less competition and likely gets you in front of Google for the coveted “broad” phrases as well. That’s more than enough reason to delve into finding keywords that people regularly enter into Google and the competition completely overlooks.

Laurie Macomber, owner of Fort Collins-based Blue Skies Marketing, can be reached at 970-689-3000.

If you discovered that you could tap into your target audience’s brain and gain an instant appreciation about their needs and exactly what keeps them up at night, wouldn’t you jump at the chance?

Well, keyword research is like surreptitious mind-reading. Done right, it gives you astounding insights plus a leg up on the competition in Google rankings. Trust me: You don’t have to be a bit technical to take advantage of this “word power.”

Here’s how it works:

  • Step One: Brainstorm your best ideas about what you think prospects will be looking up…

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