When deciding on which keywords to recommend for a client’s search marketing campaign there are 5 factors I consider:
Intent to Purchase
1) Potential Traffic
The most common mistake people make is immediately going after the most popular search terms; the ones people search for most often. The problem is that very often these are also the most competitive and therefore the most costly to become listed for.
What you should be looking for is not keywords with massive traffic, but keywords with a strong ratio of traffic to competition.
In the time it takes to get to page 1 for a highly competitive keyword you could have secured listings on hundreds of less-mainstream or ‘long-tail’ search queries. Over 80% of search traffic is generated by these ‘long-tail’ search terms. It’s very easy to overlook this low-hanging fruit and just go for the heavy hitting keywords, but that’s not always the best strategy.
Competition comes in two forms: Organic and Paid.
Organic search results are the ones you see in the main body of the Google & Bing search results page and paid results are the ads at the top, bottom and sides of the page. They will usually be labelled as advertisements.
Just for a moment stop thinking sales, and start thinking user experience. Think solving the searcher’s problem.
What are they searching for? Are you giving them the answer they are looking for, or are you attempting to subvert their aims to suit your own? (Hint: Don’t try to subvert them)
A very common sight is search engine marketers advertising “Free XYZ’s”. Users searching for free XYZ click on the link and are immediately disappointed to find that it’s not, in fact, free at all. Thankfully, this is why browsers have a ‘back’ button, which most of them will then hit.
Unfortunately this means that our advertiser has just wasted several dollars paying for a click and a bounce. (I say several dollars just because “free” things are highly competitive search terms in both paid and organic search results.)
This bait-and-switch tactic might work to an extent, but it’s far from efficient in terms of generating a financial return. For maximum impact target keywords that enable you to sell to people already searching for your product or service.
5) Brand Relevance
Brand Relevance is the tendency of your chosen keywords to reinforce existing brand messages. Your headline in the search engine results is the first impression you give to your prospects. Take the time to consider the branding implications of the keywords you want to rank for.
I published an article about brand relevance about 5 months ago over at The Brand Factory. Check out the link for a more detailed explanation of what it means and some fun examples.
When it comes to keyword targeting, intuition and common sense will only get you so far. The most successful SEM strategies are built on a foundation of solid keyword research.
The first step is to use any and all SEO and PPC tools you can get your hands on to gather as much data on industry-related keywords as possible. Once you’ve got that sorted, create a shortlist and then choose your targets based on a set of strict criteria. Good luck!
Also if any other SEO’s are reading this I would be chuffed to hear your thoughts on how you go about selecting your keyword targets!