Keyword research is the cornerstone of your business success. Effective keyword research is what enables you to generate highly qualified prospects from your website traffic.
Whether you’re promoting a business opportunity or selling tools and services from a sales page, you cannot hope to be profitable unless people visit your website.
However, you must attract not just anyone, but visitors who are interested in the product, service or opportunity you are marketing. The better the match, the more targeted your visitors and the higher quality they are as prospects for your business.
Why keyword research is important to your business success
Your best strategy will be based upon driving targeted visitors to your website. Keyword research is partly about exploring your niche ‘target’ market and partly about forcing the search engines to find your pages and rank them highly.
Getting on the first page of the search results is important to your business, since this is where the majority of people will find you. 70% of web searchers never look past the first page and the ‘hottest’ area on page one is upper left side where the top five sites are listed.
So how does keyword research help you target your visitors? Well, first, it can help you identify what words or phrases people are typing into their search engine, especially those most predisposed to your offer – in other words, highly targeted prospects equals high quality traffic.
What do people who are seriously interested in starting a home business on the Internet, for example, actually search on? What exact terms or questions are they searching on? This tells you where they are in the decision making process – are they ready to buy or apply or are they still browsing?
Second, how often (to a degree) your page uses certain words and phrases will determine how a search engine values it. All major search engines use ‘algorithms’ to decide how highly to rate any page they analyze. Such algorithms are essentially little programs, called spiders, which scan the text on your page and then index it based upon what the words and phrases tell them the page is about.
A properly constructed webpage should focus on one particular keyword or phrase you are targeting. Placing your main keywords at specific locations across your page means the search engines will ’see’ them. These are the page title, description, meta tags and body, even the alternative text ‘tags’ for your images and videos. This is partly what search engine optimization (SEO) is all about doing.
How to identify your best keywords
The first step in your keyword research process is to find keywords that best match your most targeted visitors’ searches. Get into the minds of your prospects. What are their hopes, fears, desires, dreams?
Can you recall what your search was when you were exploring starting a home business? What are you main issues, needs, concerns?
As Perry Marshall says: “What’s the conversation that’s going on in their head?” The more you can step into your prospects shoes, the more targeted and specific you can make your keywords.
You are not looking for one golden shot here. You should identify a range of keywords and key phrases, come at it from all angles, test them out and see what converts best for your particular business.
First go after one niche you can relate to personally. For example, moms looking to work from home around the kids or people who want to own a franchise business. Either may have an entrepreneurial spirit. People’s initial search may clue you in on where they are coming from.
The second stage is to identify keywords that are profitable. It’s important not to go after the obvious or most popular keywords, like home business or Internet marketing. These are far too broad and it will be either too expensive or take too much time to rank high for these in either the natural or the paid search results.
The focus of your keyword research must be on identifying longer more specific search phrases, we call “long tail keywords”, that give you a good chance of appearing in the top 5 results on the first page of Google, Yahoo or MSN.
How to use free tools to identify long tail keywords
There are many different ways of undertaking effective keyword research. Many actually make use of free or low cost tools. I’d advise starting with the free ones.
The simplest method is just to brainstorm. Write down every phrase or term you can think of that could possibly relate to your business opportunity, product or service.
Another way is to use Google itself. Type in a broad phrase like home business and you’ll see it returns millions of pages relating to that keyword.
But watch what happens as you are typing. Google will create a short list of popular searches that start with that broad keyword, so you can then type in these, and get more suggestions again. You’ll also find related keywords at the bottom of the results page for any search you do.
You can also use the free keyword research tool at Wordtracker.com to drill down in much the same way.
Although these “long tail” keywords will generate lower volume, they are usually far less competitive. For example, look first at home business, then you might drill down to “home business opportunities in Denver” or “best home businesses in UK”.
A good rule of thumb is to identify a keyword that comes up with around 5000 searches for its specific exact match search (i.e. when you add quotations round it). E.g. “how to start a home business”.
Once you have a list of potential keyword phrases you believe are a good match for your business, you can move on to more detailed research based on actual search volumes and potential CPC (cost-per-click).
Use Google’s own free keyword tool, which can be found under Tools in your AdWords account. SEOchat.com, QuantCast.com and Spyfu.com also have some free tools you can use to spy on your competition.
It’s certainly getting more competitive out there on the Internet. Check out Google Trends (Google.com/trends) or NicheBot (nichebotclassic.com) to review the competition. Be on the look out for new terms coming up that match your business then test those out using the free keyword research tools again.
Keyword research is the solid foundation for your marketing and therefore your business, so using some ingenuity and persistence to find gaps in the current competition in your niche can really pay off.
Ranking high for your keywords
Once you have your list of potential long tail keyword phrases, you should check out the competition in terms of what websites and other content is already out there. This will allow you to create unique content around your keywords that stands out in the market place.
Put each keyword into your favourite search engine and review what comes up. If one of your keywords generates search results for a lot of authority sites or sites with a high page rank, you may find it hard to get your domain website ranked high.
However, you might have good success with a blog page, an article or a video tagged with that keyword phrase, since the search engines love web 2.0 properties like these. But if there are lots of videos out there already, just make sure you create a different web 2.0 property, e.g. a Squidoo lens or hub page, or podcast maybe.
If you develop content that is both unique in type and keyword-rich for your chosen niche, you are putting yourself ahead of the game. Both the search engines and your human visitors will love your stuff and hopefully pass it on and jump start the social viral marketing process.
Testing how well your keywords convert
At the end of the day, all the keyword research in the world will only give you an indication of likely success. The real proof of how effective your keyword research has been is in the testing.
It’s important to track your keywords against conversions rather than click through rates. This is the only true test for whether you’ve hit a profitable niche for your business.
by Jay Allyson, SiteProNews