One of our main thrusts at Core3 is to educate clients about the value of effective search engine optimization (SEO). Doing keyword research with a client is an amazing process because of the vast array of insight we both gain into a particular group of customers, an industry, a company and even the user culture of a unique website. A lot of our initial time with a client is spent making sure everyone is on the same page about the keyword research. The process requires a lot from everyone, but all of the energy you apply will be handsomely rewarded in the end. There’s no doubt about it: using SEO works. And choosing the right keywords is the foundation of good SEO.
If you’re looking to improve the performance of your company in general, improving the performance of your company’s website on search engines is a smart place to start. Not only will you attract more customers, but the process of doing keyword research provides such a robust understanding of who your current customers are and how they interact with your business on the web. Here at Core3 we love exploring the science of keywords with our clients, so we drew up this introductory guide about how to choose the right keywords to get you started. Without further adieu, here are 5 tips to help you pick the best keyword phrases…and 3 big mistakes to avoid.
TIP: Use the Google AdWords Tool
The most important thing you’ll need to help you pick the right keywords is the Google AdWords Tool (we’ll just call it AdWords from here on). AdWords is going to be your new best friend so make sure you spend some time with it. Really get to know it. Maybe even take it out to dinner. Become intimate with all its nooks and crannies.
TIP: Understand “Broad” vs. “Exact” matching choices
By default, Adwords will perform a keyword search on its “Broad” setting. We recommend switching to an “Exact” search instead. Performing a Broad search will result in a longer keyword phrase list with more options and likely more popular search terms resulting in more traffic. However, an “Exact” search will produce more relevant traffic with higher conversion and click-through rates. It comes down to an issue of quantity vs. quality. Only one of those options makes you money.
TIP: Only show ideas closely related to your search terms
Much like doing a “Broad” keyword search in AdWords, if you don’t check the “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms” box you’ll wind up with a whole lot of keyword phrases that are too general to be worth anything to you. You want to be as specific as possible with keywords, so these are just a waste of your time.
TIP: Be specific and focused
Pick keyword phrases that are consistent with your brand. Your keyword phrases should wind up being extremely similar–if not an exact match–to the slogans and copywriting not only on your website, but from all of your advertising and marketing campaigns. And remember–don’t use keywords. Use keyword phrases. Single keywords are usually too generic whereas short phrases made of two or three words are more focused, and therefore more successful.
TIP: Know what makes a keyword successful
The most important thing you can do to pick the right keyword is to learn everything you can about the SEO process. Your understanding of SEO will have a direct relationship to the success of your website. There are plenty of resources to guide your learning process on Google. Take time to read and understand them.
MISTAKE: Using vanity keywords
Avoid applying terms that are too generic, otherwise known as “vanity keywords.” Don’t end up being tempted to incorporate keywords just because you think they will generate a lot of traffic. Not only are lots of people making the same mistake as you, but you’ll also be stuck dealing with a lot of traffic that won’t provide a return on your investment.
MISTAKE: Using your company’s name in your keyword phrases
Using your business’s name as a keyword phrase (or even part of one) is not a wise use of your resources. Your keywords are NOT about promoting your DBA. You should pick your keywords that most closely match what the target visitor is searching for. Your keywords should match your ideal customer’s search terms as much and as closely as possible.
MISTAKE: Making traffic your only consideration
Making traffic your sole consideration when valuing keywords is an extremely common mistake. As was discussed, not all traffic is worth addressing. Don’t waste your time trying to get tons of page views if you can’t guarantee that those page views will result in a return. Invest in search terms that will guide relevant traffic to your site, not just any traffic. In the case of keywords, quality means more than quantity.
Looking for more advice on keywords? Check out another great Core3 article on 5 SEO Marketing Mistakes to Avoid.