A successful search engine optimization campaign runs like a well-oiled engine, bringing you targeted visitors from Google and turning them into high-powered sales opportunities. And, the more time and energy you put into it, the more conversions you get for every “gallon” of content, links, and on-page optimization.
All of this rests on a simple assumption, though: that you are targeting the right search engine phrases and keywords to begin with. If you aren’t, all the SEO in the world won’t save you. You either won’t be able to climb to the top of the search rankings, or you’ll bring the wrong visitors to your website. Either way is a losing proposition.
Choosing the wrong search phrases to focus attention on is a surprisingly common mistake. So, how do you know whether you have the right SEO targets? Here are three characteristics you should always look for when conducting keyword research:
Unless you have an almost endless Internet marketing budget (and who does?), you’ll want to narrow your list of search phrases to those that include some degree of specificity. That could mean some kind of geographic identifier, a particular brand name, or something else that tells you what’s on a searcher’s mind.
Without that, it’s difficult to separate yourself from the competition, and to be sure that a searcher is likely to be a good fit for what you have. Although more specific search phrases don’t get as much traffic, they do tell you more about the searcher who is entering them.
#2 The Right Level of Competition
Competition has strange meanings in the world of search engine optimization. On the one hand, some terms have so many companies trying to rank for them that it’s hard to make a dent and show up on the first couple of pages. But on the other hand, a complete lack of competition could indicate that there isn’t enough search traffic (or revenue) to be found.
So, unless you have a well-established SEO campaign that’s already in place and producing big results, it’s good to aim in the middle. Look for search phrases that have some competition, but not many websites that are firmly-entrenched in the top few spots.
#3 Buying Intent
The best search phrases to target are the ones that indicate the searcher plans on making a purchase, or taking some sort of action, in the near future. For example, “Kansas City web designer for small business SEO” is better than “how to make a website.” The first is much more likely to result in a sales opportunity in the second. It’s specific and shows the searcher wants professional help with SEO.
Obviously, each of these three factors works in concert with one another. And, there might be times when you bend the rules because you think a particular search term is a good fit for your marketing plan. In general, though, you want to focus your time and attention on the areas where your likely to have the most success. And that means looking for these three qualities of a good search phrase to target.
You can’t succeed in search engine optimization less you begin by targeting phrases your most likely buyers are searching. Skip that step in the process, and everything else that comes afterwards – including all of your content creation, link building, and on-page optimization – won’t count for anything.