Making Informed Keyword Choices



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Making Informed Keyword Choices
John Calder
Copyright 2004 John Calder

Marketers stake much of their livelihood on keywords, whether for proper search engine optimization or targeted pay-per-click advertising. One challenge faced by inexperienced marketers involves knowing which phrases to target out of hundreds of combinations.

Often, one will find terms which look good, but later testing reveals the terms simply don’t convert visitors to sales. If you performed your due diligence by testing and tracking all elements of the sales page (copy, graphics, price, etc), this scenario may leave you baffled and wondering “Why didn’t this phrase produce sales? It really looked like a winner!”

Every search term presents us with the challenge of reading intent. What was the visitor really looking for when they typed in the phrase? While it’s impossible to know this with certainty, you can improve your ability to read intent from keywords, and improve the accuracy of your targeting.

The First Guideline: Pay Attention to Qualifying Terms

Are multi-term (3 or more keyword) search phrases more targeted? Not always. A narrow search indicates only that searcher intends to find a specific piece of information. It does not necessarily indicate intent to purchase.

For example, the search phrase “big blue widget” points to a narrowly defined interest, but does not reveal whether the searcher intends to research prices, look at photographs of big, blue widgets, or merely discovered a passing curiosity after hearing about them someplace else. The phrase appears promising at first, but still presents us with a high likelihood of non-converting traffic. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test such a phrase, only that you are more likely to see a good deal of untargeted spill-over traffic.

What you really want to look for during your keyword research is qualification. Specificity is not enough. So, how do you spot the qualifying terms that indicate the searcher is in buying mode?

You spot them by applying a formula to your keyword list. If you have your list in front of you now, take a look at it and see if you can apply the following parameters to any of the phrases:

* Contextual/Situational
* Urgent
* Preferential

Relevant terms for contextual/situational searching might include:

* Bad credit/good credit
* Student
* Divorced
* Retired
* Self Employed

When you apply contextual/situational parameters to your keywords, you should think in terms of “filling in the blanks” of the situation: “If I have bad credit, where can I get a loan?” “While I’m a student, what deals can I get on travel?”

Searches qualified in this way indicate an active interest in finding solutions. Visitors generated from these terms may view themselves as still in “research mode”, but the fact is that they are as ripe as they’ll ever be for a convincing sales pitch.

What about urgency? The most obvious terms to look for include: fast, quick, speedy, immediate, and so on. However, you may also find terms which imply urgency, such as : easy (the easier it is, the faster it is), hassle-free, pre-approved, automatic and instant, to name a few.

Lastly, preference can reveal much about where the visitor is in the buying process. Qualifying terms pertaining to the sales process, to delivery (e.g., “instant download” or “free shipping”) and customer service all indicate a proactive search for solutions.

The Second Guideline: Know Your Industry

Inexperienced marketers often miss out on keyword goldmines because they make the mistake of focusing only on the data their keyword tools give them for broad terms. The tools and tactics one picks up in his or her marketing education are valuable, but they’re no substitute for intimate knowledge of the market. When you “dabble” in an industry you often choose only the most obvious keywords, and this leaves you in competition with all the other dabblers scrounging for top placement on those terms.

A much better option (especially if your field is affiliate marketing) is to educate yourself deeply on the vocabulary of one market at a time. Learn everything you can about this one market, its sub or spin-off markets, and anything else that helps you live and breathe the mindset of your potential customer.

When you do this, you will find a wealth of new keywords – words with which only an “insider” would be familiar. These terms are not only more targeted, but they invoke a measure of instant credibility as well. The customer knows you couldn’t reach him if you did not “speak his language’.

The Third Guideline: Choose Terms Which Hold Synergy with Your Sales Copy

In the fight to squeeze out as much traffic as possible, it is tempting to bid on as many keywords as possible and funnel them all to one or two sales pages. A better tactic is to slice down your keyword list into subsets which closely match the tone evoked by your sales copy. Next, separate out the terms which you feel are viable but “don’t quite fit”, and create new sales copy to support them.

Why do all of this extra work? Well, there’s a little secret you should know about. It comes from a surprising place: the world of personal ads. Personal ads provide the ultimate study in “short copy”. Have you ever placed an ad on a dating site and found that most of your respondents focused on only one or two words in your profile and then wrote to you despite their obvious incompatibility?

People are often lazy and they are often hurried. Your customer’s eyes zero in on only a few words – those most important to him at that very moment, and the rest of your copy gets filtered away.

This is why it’s crucial that your keywords hold synergy with your sales copy – and by synergy I mean that if you intend your prospect to zero in on, for example, “easy web site creation”, then your copy should speak only to ease, speed and instantaneous gratification of your product, and not make mention of any additional, complicated features. Save those features for your copy when you target people on terms like “advanced web site creation”. Even if your solution offers both ease of use and advanced results, split them off.

Making informed keyword choices boosts your bottom line. Remember that quality always trumps quantity. Even though you can’t read your customers mind, the guidelines presented here will get you one step closer to dissecting it!

About the author:

John Calder is the owner/editor of The Ezine Dot Net. Visit today and read more of his articles held online at: http://www.TheEzine.Net
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