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Keyword Research - A Necessary But Worthy Evil

Oct 23, 2007
If you want to rank well in search engines, then you absolutely must understand how to do market research and build your keyword lists. Why? Because keyword research determines your market's profitability and competition.

If you skip this stage, you could wind up doing a lot of work following dead ends. There are some markets that just are not worth pursuing. You don't want to end up chasing a market that isn't profitable.

You need to decide what the market is looking for and bring yourself to the market. Many small business owners do just the opposite. They come up with a product or service they think the market needs and then try to go after and convince the market of their product value.

There are plenty of markets available that will suit your tastes. Once you find the market that you want to reach, then you will build your keyword or key phrase lists.

In this article, I assume that you already have a target market in mind. Therefore, I will give you a high level overview on how to do proper keyword research. I'll start with the benefits of keyword research.

The Benefits of Keyword Research

What are the benefits of doing proper keyword research? Listed are four benefits of the power of keyword research:

1. It drives traffic to your site; just by simply using the words your target audience uses in their searches.

2. It helps you write more effective copy (sales copy) for your website; knowing what terms to incorporate into your copy helps your target audiences identify with your side immediately.

3. It helps with content development; it helps you create content that your target audience needs and avoids wasting your time on irrelevant topics.

4. It helps you understand your target audience better: you will know how and what your target audience is searching for.

5. It helps you measure the size of your market: just by determining the number of searches, you can target huge pools of untapped potential and avoid many pits.

6. It helps you to develop and diversify revenue streams: by using keyword research that exposes and employs popular keywords, you can be inspired to innovate and create new product and service ideas.

7. The bottom line: the results of keyword research are that your website copy, business strategies, and online marketing will be successful a great majority of the time.

Keyword research is the foundation to proper linking. Why is this important? Sometimes we assume we know what our audience is searching for. This is a common mistake many professionals make. They assume that since they are an authority on a topic they should know what their audience is searching for.

The only correct way to know what your audience is searching for is to do proper keyword research. What you think your audience needs or is looking for may be completely incorrect. I can guarantee that you will be surprised by the keywords your audience searches on to find your topic.

95% of websites are caught in the trap of bad keyword selection. High correlations of the keywords you use on your website and the words your target audience uses in their searches actually moves the website toward the audience and attracts many more targeted visitors.

Keyword links + keyword content on your site + keyword searches = solid search engine traffic.

Building Your Keyword Lists

Step One: Understand Your Target Audience

To start an effective keyword list, consider your potential customers' motivations and intentions.

What kind of questions will they ask? What are they trying to accomplish? What problems do they need solutions to?

Step Two. You Must Understand the Types of Buyers and Your Target Audience

There are two types of buyers. The first type of buyer is the logical buyer. They will normally ask "how" and "what" questions when considering purchases.

However, 70% of all buyers are emotional buyers. These types of buyers are normally more spontaneous and concerned with the user experience and end results when considering a purchase. They asked the typical question, what's in it for me?

Step Three. Think Like Your Target Audience

Remember, most of your buyers are emotional buyers. So, use the emotional slant to convince this type of buyer. Use emotional keyword anchors in your text. For example, if you had a website about running shoes, an emotional buyer is interested in the "best" running shoe or the "healthiest" running regime. They wouldn't necessarily want to know the benefits of running shoes. They want to know what's in it for them.

Step Four. Think Broad and Wide for Your Target Audience

Start with a broad list of keywords around your topic. Make sure they are specific enough to fit your target audience. Include terms that match closely with your visitors' intent in relation to what you sell.

Note: traffic costs money! Think about quality not quantity. Your conversion rate is the most important factor. You don't just want traffic, you want converting traffic!

Step Five. Prioritize Your Keywords Based on Conversion

If you don't have conversion data, you'll have to make your best guess as to which search terms you think will convert the best.

Consider these points:

1. Make your product or services' intention clear. Don't hide what you're trying to sell.

2. If your keyword phrase is "blue high top basketball shoes", make sure a visitor can buy "blue high top basketball shoes" on your site. Better yet, make sure you link to a page about those shoes.

3. Consider your ability to present value. How does your product present value?

4. Consider the amount of traffic you will generate using your keywords. If you're using a cheap hosting provider, you may want to switch to something that can handle higher traffic counts. It's frustrating to have a website go down because you can't handle the traffic. This is something that you have complete control over. Make sure you don't ruin your first impression by having a website crashes more often than not.

5. Consider the probability of conversion. If you are highly niched and know precisely what keywords or keyword phrases your target audience searches for, then use your highly niched keywords.

If you don't know what the probability of your conversions will be, then you need to track this metric. There are several analytical tools that you can use to track this information. Don't skimp. Make sure you know this information.

Keyword Research is the Most Important Step

The most important step you can take in marketing your website is keyword research. You not only need to know the keywords you want to get ranked for but also which keywords are converting the best for your website.

It makes no sense to drive a large amount of traffic to your site and not be able to stay in business because the conversions just aren't there.

So, focus on quality NOT quantity. Start with your best keyword/phrase and begin your linking campaigns. Move down your keyword list, each time promoting and linking with the next keyword phrase.

In time, your site will not only move up in search rankings but move up based on the keywords that YOU chose. Don't fall for the myth that more traffic you get the better.

Take control of your traffic and get ranked well for the keywords and phrases that are most profitable your business.
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