Search Engine Marketing Tips

Effective Keyword Research

By Jerry West

Your first priority in an effective search engine marketing campaign is to generate an effective keyword list. All of your search engine marketing hinges on your ability to come up with the right keywords for your site.

While there isn't a proven formula for choosing the right keywords, due to differing industries, by following my suggestions, you will be on your way to success.

Targeting the right keywords can attract buyers to your site through the search engines, not just traffic, buyers. The reason? If someone types in "dvd player review " into a search engine, in all likelihood, they are looking to purchase a DVD Player. However, while your reasoning may be sound, it is only a theory until you test. Because your goal is NOT to attract "the masses" to your site, but qualified buyers. And to find those qualified buyers quickly, running a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign first can really save you a lot of time and aggrevation later.

Let's first talk about why targeting qualified buyers is important. Let's say you own a car dealership and I send you 500 people. Are you are happy? You are until you realize these 500 people had a recent DUI conviction. They won't be buying a car, even though they want to.

Next, I send you another 500 people to your BMW dealership. But everyone I sent you has a max budget of $10k for a car. No one buys, even though they want to. Even with 1,000 people to your dealership, you aren't happy. Why? Non-qualified buyers.

In those two examples, you have people interested in cars, who want to buy, but can't due to various circumstances. These are called "NON-QUALIFIED BUYERS" and should be avoided.

Understanding the "buying cycle" is vital and knowing why it is important to get the person at the end of the buying cycle is equally as vital as conversions are high at that point. Get them too early and you will spend a lot of time and money convincing them that your product or service is the one they need. Often, all that time and money eats up your margins and you are lucky to break even. That's not why you started your business.

Fact: Concentrate on *qualified traffic* to reach the maximum of profitability.

Some website owners feel overwhelmed when it comes to creating their keyword list. Don't. Look at it as a constant "work in progress" and know that your keywords will evolve over time. Search habits change, so will your keywords. What is important is to get a solid list started, and then check its effectiveness each quarter.

How To Start
First of all, you want to start with the one product or service you want to sell the most. You can only pick one. What is the "anchor" of your business? Even if you have a mini-warehouse of product, there is always one product you can separate from the masses. If you are having difficulty doing this, choose the first product featured on your "Specials" page.

To get the foundation of your keyword list, we are going to use your competition. I like to scrape keywords from my competition. There are plenty of programs out there that can do it. I use IBP because it also gives me the most powerful SEO tool on the market. This will allow you to get a good solid keyword list quickly to work with. All you do is type in the keyword phrase you want to target, tell it how deep (up to 50) and it builds a keyword list from the meta tag keyword tag from your competitor sites.

If you don't want to buy IBP, you will do all of this manually. Now, if you don't know who your competition is, don't worry. Simply type in that product or service into Google and the results are your competition!

Next, I use SpyFu to look at the keyword lists of my main competitors. I can even save them to an Excel file. To me, it doesn't make a lot of sense to spend hours and hours on keyword research when your competitors have basically done it for you.

Remember, you must test the keywords via PPC to see which ones will convert. Once you have that then you want to start your second phase of keyword research.

The Next Step
Take your list, and run it through the program the experts use, WordTracker. If you don't already have an account, you need one. You can save hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars doing your own keyword research.

Narrowing Down Your List
WordTracker has a built in thesaurus that is very intelligent. By typing in the keyword phrases you obtained from your competitors, it will give you dozens, sometimes hundreds more options that you were not aware of. It will list the "count". This is how many times the keyword phrase appeared in the "database capture" that WordTracker does. It actually captures live searches so you have a very accurate reading of what keyword phrases are being searched on most.

I do not recommend that you target misspelled words. Search engines are now offering the correct spelling options for their customers. According to my testing, I targeted an often misspelled word according to WordTracker and achieved a Top 3 ranking in Google. According to WordTracker, the keyword was getting 42 queries per day. Over a period of 90 days, that misspelling brought 7 visitors to the site. What that tells me is that even though the phrase was used, most people chose the correct spelling instead. It could also mean that the data from WordTracker was skewed, which is another possibility.

Hot Tip: Shoppers vs. Buyers. Testing has been done which has shown that “shoppers” most often use one or two keywords when searching. However, “buyers” will use four or more keywords when searching for the product they want.

© 2000 - 2008,
Jerry West is the Director of Internet Marketing for WebMarketingNow. He has been consulting on the web since 1996 and has assisted hundreds of companies gain an upper-hand over their competition. Visit Web Marketing Now for the latest in marketing tips that are tested and proven.

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