All the sites you visit, the products you order, and the emails you read were originally triggered by keywords. Keywords are essentially the voice of the web. When you’re in a public setting you choose to tune into conversations based off the keywords you hear.
Someone talking about “football” may cause you to tune in, while someone talking about “vegetarian dishes” may cause you to tune out. The same concept applies online and this process typically starts in the search engines.
Depending on what results you get you keep refining your search until satisfied with the listings.
This is the basics of how search works, but there is still a lot to learn about it. The goal of this article is to demystify keyword research so that you can learn how to select the best keywords for optimizing your site.
Selecting the right keywords can be the difference between making a lot of money, and making none of it.
I prefer teaching through examples because from my experience it expedites the learning process. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and let’s think of the last time you purchased something online.
Before you started typing you already had an idea of what you were aiming for which is phase one of the search cycle referred to as general search.
The web user may not come up with the perfect pair of keywords that’ll deliver to them exactly what they’re seeking in this phase, but the general keywords will allow them to get one step closer.
So, let’s go back to the previous example about the last time you purchased something for someone. During last holiday season for example, I asked my dad what he wanted for Christmas and he gave me the generic response:
“It doesn’t matter; just get me something I like son.”
Since dad was making life more difficult for me I reflected on some phone conversations we had earlier the year.
I remembered one conversation in which he talked about how he no longer likes the coffee in the local café he frequents and how he needs to get his own coffee maker.
A light bulb moment immediately went off in my head and I pulled up Google to do a search on “coffee maker.”
Take a step back and don’t listen to me but think for yourself. You hear it so many times that it’s not a good idea to optimize your site for general keywords.
Do you often use general keywords to help find content online? If so, do you use them because you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for or do you use it because you want to check out a variety of sites? Think about this question and write down your response somewhere on a piece of paper.
Brainstorming how you engage in the search process will help prepare you for picking proper keywords.
The next step is to refine the search for clarity. If I’m looking to purchase an item that I know very little about then it’s rare that I’ll pick the right search phrase the first time.
I’ll need to analyze the general results and then refine my search query based off the content I’m shown. This is the process that many web users utilize when they’re trying to narrow down the results.
Going back to my example, after I entered “coffee maker” into Google I was naturally shown a large amount of products and had no idea what to get. Then, I remembered that my dad like electronics that not only functioned well, but also had nice design. Therefore I decided to look for a green coffee maker as that’s his favorite color and he’s also one of those go-green enthusiasts.
After refining my search to “green coffee maker” I was still overwhelmed with results so I decided to enter the third phase of the cycle which was research.
I decided to check out some of the features of the various coffee makers to see which one has more value for the price since I never liked the idea of paying more for something that didn’t warrant it.
After I conducted my research I was left in the final phase which was decision. I could purchase one of the three coffee makers I was deciding on, or I could just stop researching and decide to get my dad a different product. I decided to purchase Cuisinart DCC-1200 Coffee Maker in metallic green and called it a day.
I was happy that I did because my dad ended up liking it a lot.
The perfect search query I needed was “Cuisinart DCC-1200 Coffee Maker in metallic green”, but it took me several minutes to get that “long tail keyword” as I had to complete all four phases of the search cycle.
Time to reflect: What keywords are you using to sell your products/services? Are you optimizing your site for general keywords or are you optimizing them for keywords that will bring more targeted visitors?
Do you feel what you’re doing is helping you reach your business goals? If not, then it’s time to get in the mind frame of re-optimizing your site.