I think I stress too much about our clients' performance of their optimization campaigns. Or perhaps I just create too much work for myself. See, all these years I've been working 10-12 hour days to help my clients increase their exposure in the search engines for some pretty important phrases. But just recently I found out that I've been targeting all the wrong keywords!
You see, I've been using keyword research programs such as Wordtracker to find out what words people actually type into the search field when looking for the product or service our clients' offer. This has helped me to find various search phrases that are actively searched on a daily basis so, when ranked, they deliver traffic to our client's website.
This is where I think I've created more work for myself. I didn't know we were allowed to just make keywords up instead!
I came to this realization a few weeks ago when I saw a blog post announcing some ranking results that a particular website had achieved after just a few short weeks.
The website in question provides personal development coaching services. I know this because it says so right in their tagline. So when the blog post bragged about how they've achieved some great top rankings I was expecting to see results for keywords such as "personal development plan," "personal growth development," or "personal values development." Each of those keywords receives anywhere from 25-50 searches a day, according to Wordtracker.
I didn't really expect them to come out of the box with great rankings for the more competitive phrase "personal development," which gets about 140 searches per day. But the blog post told a story of their ranking achievements for these keywords: "lack of personal development," "personal skills development" and "mental health development". According to Wordtracker, each of these gets approximately zero searches per day, some of which have virtually no other actual competition as a phrase.
They also boasted about another phrase, "personal growth and development," which garners about 12 searches a day, and said they kept some other #1 rankings they've achieved from being made public. But I wonder why they were boasting about any of these keywords in the first place? The traffic generated from any of these keyword phrases isn't likely to be significant. At least not compared to some of the more highly competitive and frequently searched phrases applicable to their industry.
I understand that in some niche industries finding quality keywords can be tough. We've got some clients where their best keywords get only a handful of searches per day, according to Wordtracker. So we optimize and get those keywords ranked, knowing that the traffic that trickles in for them will make all the difference. But we still target the most competitive and highly trafficked, targeted terms for that particular industry.
Have I been going about this all wrong? Could I have just been going after any keywords I like so my clients feel like we were making progress... even if it resulted in no new traffic to their sites? I'll tell you, that would have made things a whole lot easier. Heck, we could charge a lot less too!
Or maybe some people just don't know any better. Maybe bragging about these keywords ranking well will help the higher ups feel good. Maybe it helps someone keep their job when they can point to rankings over real results. This isn't all that uncommon.
Every day business owners come to us looking for rankings, but we are not in the ranking business. Instead, we sell them performance, exposure and growth. We don't brag about some bottom-rung keywords, but help our clients grow their business with solid optimization strategies that increase their exposure for keyword phrases that actually drive them traffic.
Sorry if that sounds like a commercial, it's not intended as such. Consider it a game plan for a valuable optimization strategy. But perhaps Ive been going about this all wrong. Maybe I've chosen the more difficult path. But I believe I'm in the business of helping businesses achieve profitable results, not achieve insignificant search engine rankings. I mean really, if a keyword ranking falls on the first page of the search results, but there is nobody around to see it there, then it really doesn't mean anything.
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.
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