Recently, I’ve talked to a number of entrepreneurs who are interested in taking their businesses online but aren’t sure how to go about it. I was asked several questions and I asked them a couple of very important questions too. These are:
- What do you want to sell online?
- Do you and your market call your products by the same name?
The questions hardly seems necessary but in reality, these questions can make or break an upstart online business when not answered correctly.
Of course, I asked those questions to get a feel of how ready the business people were in terms of the keywords they want to compete for. Knowing what you want to market is the first step to actually selling something online. For that, you need to research your keywords carefully and I’ve prepared a simple guide that even non-Internet marketers can easily follow. Here goes:
- Identify what you’re marketing – The first step in keyword research is always to determine which ones make the most business sense to you. You’ll want to target your brand names, the generic names of your merchandise and the number of keywords you want to target. The first two are rather easy to do, and if you have a lot of experience in your niche, you probably have a good idea of what search terms to target. The last one is the part where you need lots of planning. The number of keywords you target should be commensurate to the size of your website, your labor and technical resources and the amount of time and attention you can invest in competing for them.
- Use a keyword tool – Trying to nail keywords that will yield great traffic and sales without a reliable source of information is like being a pilot who’s flying without radar. You can be a veteran of your niche, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t mean you know the exact searching behavior of your audience and how it trends from time to time. A keyword research tool helps you get around this and it can even suggest keywords that you might not have thought of. The Google Adwords keyword tool is free and provides you with lots of useful information. If you want something that provides cool extras like the ability to spy on competitors, stratified report generation and value-based keyword research, you can look at paid services like Market Samurai and SEMRush.
- Write down your core keywords – Create a list of all the main keywords that you want to target. If you can rank them according to importance to your business, that would be even better. Include search terms in your list that may be strongly associated with your brands and products.
- Get suggestions from your tool – Take the core keyword list and run them through your keyword tool. You’ll find out which ones have the best search volumes, the stiffest competition levels and highest potential for profit. A good keyword tool should also present you with a long list of keywords that are strongly relevant to the list that you fed it. From there, pick and choose which ones make the most sense to your business.
- Narrow down the list – Like a soldier who’s about to go to war, you can’t take along every gun in the armory. For owners of small and medium-sized businesses, that’s very true. You need to take your long list of keywords and only go for the most important ones which you have the capability to truly compete for. Keep in mind that competing for a single keyword can cost thousands of dollars over time whether you’re campaigning in PPC or SEO, so choose your battles carefully.
- Refine the keyword list with analytics – Once you’ve started competing in the search engines, you have to keep tabs on how well you’re performing for your keywords and how much return on investment you’re getting. I’m sure that you’ll notice in time which keywords yield the most traffic and which ones lead to conversions. From there, you can address weak and strong points in your campaign to generate more revenue at lower costs.
There you have it: six simple steps towards arriving at a great keyword list. Keep in mind that your keyword profile determines the identity of your online business, giving it direct and profound impact on your bottom line. Invest time and energy in this facet of Internet marketing and you’ll be on the right direction towards success.