Monday, July 13, 2009

Which Keywords Will Make Your Business Money?

By Craig Key

If you’ve asked yourself this question – you are off to a really great start. At the core of any web based marketing should be the ability to analyze which kind of web visitor is converting (to a sale, a lead, an email signup, etc), and adjusting to try to maximize those conversions. With web analytics tools, you can literally see which keywords sent traffic to your site, and which ones convert at a higher rate than others.

Most of the time we try hard to use SEO (search engine optimization) to increase visibility on the keywords that describe our products. For instance, if I have a shoe store – I want people to find my site when they search for “dress shoes” or “mens shoes” or “kids tennis shoes.” But often there is one group of keywords that get overlooked – and they probably have a higher conversion rate than any other traffic source for your website: brand searches.

Keyword Searches for Your Brand Name: The Unsung Hero
Users who search for “Craig’s Shoes” were already looking for me – and if they are seeking me out specifically, they are likely going to convert at a much higher rate than someone who has never heard of you before. Often times we overlook this in analyzing keyword traffic – most SEOs want to brag about the non-brand keywords that they’ve produced. And they should – ranking on “shoes” would be an incredibly valuable asset to my shoe store. But all of my competitors want to rank there too – and it will no doubt be difficult to near impossible for my little old shoe store to rank on such a powerful keyword.

When we can’t rank on the obvious keywords, we reach into the “long tail” of keyword research. This means aiming for more specific, but less popular keyword searches. Instead of “shoes,” you might try “brown leather men’s dress shoes,” to find a sweet spot that is searched often enough to send some traffic, but not so competitive that you don’t have a prayer.

The Other Long Tail: It’s Not Just About Your Products
Getting specific in the long tail is great (and you should do this), but what about getting more people to search for your brand? We already know that those keywords convert well, so we don’t have to put a lot effort into trying them out and seeing if they work.

There are lots of ways to go about this; buying a super bowl ad is one way, an online marketing campaign that throws around words like “viral” and “buzz” is another way. But I’m writing about SEO – and, I’d like to share a thought on how to increase brand searches by moving away from your brand, and your products, and into content that matters to your customers.

lifestyle-keywordsThink about the process a person goes through when looking for your product (this has been called the “path to conversion”). What will they type in before they are ready to buy shoes? What are they interested in? Build content on your site that will be relevant to your target shopper, so that you can get their eyeballs on your site as early and as often in the product research process as possible.

Building out content that is optimized around these “lifestyle keywords” will bring more people to your site before they’re even thinking about buying your products or services. But (drum roll), the next time they do need that pair of shoes, you can bet that they’ll have you in mind – and will likely search for your brand – a keyword which will convert very well.

Craig Key is a Social Media Planner for space150's Modern Media division. He also co-founded the music blog, and writes for his personal blog:

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