Keywords are the foundation of your small business search engine marketing campaign. If you pick keywords that are too generic or irrelevant to your services, you’ll find yourself paying a lot of money for no results. Fortunately, you can monitor your keywords fairly easily and can quickly delete those that aren’t performing or are bringing unqualified traffic.
Step 1 – Brainstorm
The best way to pick keywords is to put yourself in the minds of your prospects and start brainstorming all the ways they might search for products and services like yours. What would someone type into Google to find you? For instance:
- Your company name, trademarks you own, branded products or services
- What words or phrases describe what you do?
- What words or phrases describe what problem you solve?
- What other products and services do prospects buy?
- What books and publications do prospects read?
- What local or geographical words can you use?
- What industry trends are popular?
You should brainstorm as many keywords/phrases as possible without worrying about creating too long a list. The goal here is to choose key phrases (2-6 words in length) that aren’t too general (ie “travel”) but not too specific that no one is searching for them. You will then expand on those keywords to uncover longer key phrases that target those words.
Your ideal keywords should have reasonable amounts of traffic but not be too generic that you’re competing with millions of other sites for the same keywords. For instance, if you’re trying to get listed for “real estate” or “travel,” you have a lot of competition and it will be extremely difficult to achieve a top ranking. And even if you were able to get a top rank for such a general keyword, only a small portion of your visitors would be interested in buying your products and services. Instead, focus on more localized, specific terms made up of 2-6 keywords like “Orlando real estate” or “Orlando travel.”
When you are finished, go back and substitute synonyms for common words in your list (a thesaurus can be extremely helpful here). Also consider misspellings, hyphenations, and other variations.
Step 2 – Analyze Your Competitors
Your competitors’ sites can also give you ideas. For instance, you can browse through their website to see if any of the words they use describe your business or you can view their website’s source code to see what keywords they use in their meta tags.
In addition, there are numerous competitive research tools that will allow you to analyze what keywords your competitors are bidding on in pay-per-click search results or ranking for in the organic listings. Some of the most popular include Compete.com, Spyfu and SemRush.
Step 3 – Use Keyword Tools
Once you’ve completed your list, you can use a free keyword research tool such as Google AdWords Keyword Suggestion to verify that people are actually looking for your keywords. I’ve compiled a list of free keyword research tools.
Keyword research is the cornerstone of a successful small business search engine optimization campaign. Choosing the right keywords will bring you high traffic from targeted buyers. Choosing the wrong keywords, on the other hand, will either send you lots of worthless traffic from people who have little interest in your products and services or very little traffic because the keywords you optimized for get very few searches.