The Importance of Keyword Research
The First Step is Acceptance...
...acceptance that we don't know what is going on in our customers' heads. We speak our own language very well, the language of solutions. Our customers speak in the language of problems. Often these two are quite different, and web marketing efforts that fail to take this into account will not reach their full potential.
It is tempting to think that years of experience and dealing with customers gives us a good picture of how they act. However, there are several inherent assumptions that limit the utility of experience:
- Customer interactions are self-selected. You only talk to people that have found you and are interested in your products and services, not those that either couldn't find you or think that your solutions are not applicable. The number of people that can find you is typically dwarfed by the number that can't.
- Online search behavior is very different from inter-personal communications. People use different, much more concise terminology in search engines than they do in conversation.
- There are more terms in use than we can possibly come up with and remember. Research on behalf of just about every client we've served has turned up literally unanticipated keywords.
Experience provides excellent starting material for keyword research that will uncover many new opportunities.
Keyword Research Uncovers Hidden Opportunities
Opportunities arise partly due to the sheer number of terms turned up by good keyword research. There are also usually a few unanticipated keywords that turn into real "gems." These typically occur because they receive significant traffic and there is little competition. The result is that keyword research increases the return on your web marketing investment.
Keyword Research Saves Money
Good keyword research doesn't just consist of a list of terms, it also includes traffic and competitive estimates for each keyword that allow you to most effectively allocate resources. You can focus time and money on seo for the keywords that have enough traffic and only a few competing sites rather than trying for top ranking among 200,000 other sites competing on the same phrase. Likewise competitive bid information can influence your keyword advertising spending, both how much and where. Keyword research also uncovers negative keywords that can generate huge savings for keyword advertising campaigns.
Tools of the Trade
Keyword research tools are as close as your web browser. Virtually any information source for your industry or that of your customers provides candidate keywords. Other specialized tools help you "branch out" from known keywords to related ones, suggesting that people who search on "running shoes" may also search for "knee pain".
Some common keyword research tools include:
- Industry web portals, blogs, e-zines, etc.
- Competitors' web sites
- Google AdWords' Keyword Planner
- Bing Keyword Research
- Trellian's Keyword Discovery
Do Your Research!
In closing, keyword research is a vital part of effective web marketing efforts, and there are many places to gather information.