This is part 9 of a 12 part series on keyword research. This series will guide you through four distinct phase of the keyword research process, providing you step by step guidelines to help you gather, sort and organize your keywords into an effective marketing campaign.

Yesterday we began Phase III of the keyword research process discussing several elements of key phrase analyzation. We'll continue today looking at a few more considerations when determining how valuable any particular search phrase is.

Phrases that convert

Phrases that convertAs you sort through your lists of keywords, you want to be sure to eliminate phrases that won't deliver converting traffic. Whatever keywords that you keep for optimization, you want each to be able to drive the most qualified traffic, giving you visitors that are most likely to buy your product or services. Many search terms, if ranked high, can generate tons of traffic, however any term does not directly apply to your site or what you offer, should be scrapped.

Your job here is to make sure that the searcher finds precisely what they are looking for on your site. If your site cannot satisfy the searcher's intent, they will quickly leave in favor of another more 'relevant' site in the search results. Targeting keywords that delivers traffic that can't find what they intended are a waste of resources and should be deleted or benched until you can satisfy that particular query.

While high-converting terms are usually not searched as often as the general one-word search phrases, they are more likely to achieve top listings and therefore more likely to produce sales. Why? Because when a searcher types in exactly what they are looking for, they are more likely to find exactly what they want, provided you have what they want. If the visitor lands on a page most relevant your site is relevant and clicked, you just likely made a sale.

It's often tempting to try and optimize for keyword phrases that are not necessarily represented on the site but you feel will bring traffic that is looking for something similar to what you offer. An example of this would be if Adidas tried to optimize their site for 'Air Jordan' under the belief that anyone searching for Nike Air Jordans might be able to be sold a pair of Adidas instead. This is a mistake and borders on deception if you target these "incorrect" keywords . At the very least the searcher will come to your site see that you don't offer what they were led to believe. At worst, you push a negative branding experience on the visitor.

There are some situations when you can get away with doing this type of keyword targeting but you have to proceed carefully. The most legitimate way to take this approach is to provide information on the alternative products, comparing them with your own. You could then try to sell your product as the superior one. While doing this still won't bring in the most qualified traffic to your site you would at least have a chance at converting visitors this way than by not providing any such information. In any case, always check with a lawyer before optimizing for some else's trademarked terms.

Another example of targeting improper phrases is when the descriptive words don't fit what you sell. Let's say you sell high-end ski clothing. The terms "wholesale" or "cheap" and "discount" don't apply. For this reason you don't want to target keyword phrases with these words. Again, doing so would be misrepresenting yourself and leaving a sour taste in the mouth of the searcher as they leave your site for another.

Eliminating keywords that don't drive targeted traffic to your site is essential to ensure that you're focusing your efforts on the terms that will provide visitors that are more likely to become customers. The more targeted the phrase, the more likely you are to get a sale. And with that you are building a positive experience with your customers while also ensuring that you get the best ROI possible out of your marketing efforts.

Volume keywords

Keywords with search volumeWhen finalizing your keyword list you want to make sure your search terms are all actively being searched (with some exceptions allowed as noted earlier). Achieving a top ranking for a term that nobody types in the search engine will ultimately be useless in driving traffic to your site.

Time after time I've seen people be adamant about going after certain search terms because they felt that the terms were very specific what their site offers. The problem was that the terms were too specific and virtually nobody was performing a search for them. The top listings were easily achieved but the end result was disappointing. You need to balance out choosing specific keywords with actively searched terms. They are both equally important.

You have probably heard the phrase "the long tail" when referencing keywords. This simply means going after the lower volume, but highly targeted phrases. Depending on your industry long-tail keywords can produce 50% or more of your total traffic. While each long-tail keyword produces less traffic than the primary keywords, combined they can add up to a significant portion of your traffic.

The long tail strategy is a good one but just be sure that any long tail keywords you specifically target will be searched enough drive traffic in the first place. There is nothing wrong with covering your bases on sporadically searched phrases such as "kids winter boots" but stay away from never-searched phrases such as "kids sheepskin winter and snow boots".

Informational queries

Phrases that are informationalOne type of non-converting phrase that you actually may want to consider taking the time to optimize for are informational queries. An example of an informational query would be a "how to" phrase, such as "how to create a gift basket". If you sell gift baskets these searches can be good at driving traffic, but won't necessarily produce immediate sales. However, over the long term, you can create visitor loyalty (assuming you continue to post such helpful content) that will continue to bring these visitors back to your site and eventually lead to new sales.

While this kind of traffic isn't the best at creating immediate revenue, building the audience can be crucial for long-term success. Some of these informational searches provide ways to capture traffic from those who are very early in the buying process.

Anyone searching for "best digital camera" is generally a comparison shopper, or is gathering product information for a later purchase. Bringing in this kind of traffic will produce an extremely low conversion rate but you can often get some visitor loyalty out of it. A fraction of those searchers may bookmark your site (or even give you a link. Yay!) and come back to you when they are ready to finally make their purchase.

When it comes time to go after these phrases you want to be sure to have a library of helpful information on your website. You could have a section of your site dedicated to product reviews, comparisons, how-to articles, etc. You could smartly use these pages as a means of up-selling your visitors to your own products or services.

Again, these are not ideal first pass keywords to optimize because of the low conversion rate but they do make great blog fodder, which builds up your community, trust, and links, which all assist with exposure and rankings, which is what drives targeted traffic.

Missed one of the steps in this series? Click here to go back to the introduction and follow the links at the bottom.

October 29, 2008

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


Thank you for these invaluable lessons and as a start up these are atreasure trove of info in seo for us

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Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > Comprehensive Guide to Keyword Research, Selection & Organization, Part IX