Search engines are quite simple when you get down to the basics. They find, capture and store information. Then, they send that data back from a search query. Input – Output, I/O.
Humans, however – not as simple. In fact, extremely complex, from the neurons that make up the oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus (that is the mass of the human body).
But when it comes to our mind, I request a minute of silence – in awe. There is no doubt about the colossal power of the ‘mind over matter’ expression. What I’m trying to get to, is that your brain with both left and right side of it, will be part of the reason Google sees 50% of new searches (that they hadn’t seen before) – every day.
That’s amazing. Think about it. If I ask you: “how would you search for a plumber in Arizona”, the answers will be different, and many – very surprising. (and unfairly so, just a small example).
My main point is this: “Don’t assume that just because you have powerful keyword research tools (and know how to use them), that you will be able to pinpoint your ‘best’ traffic for your business”.
So, how do you determine the best keywords to focus on?
The first step in your fact finding mission, is to understand your audience.
As you do that, consider asking some questions.
Here are important things to know (not all will be immediately available):
- Financial Worth
- Ethnic Group
- Geographic location
- Type of business
- Marital status
- Political views
- Associations, belonging to
- Type of car / auto
- Magazine / newspaper subscriptions
- Buying preferences (online, magazines, phone, retail, etc)
- Vacation preferences
If you have access to knowing these and other factors, you are well ahead on your journey to matching keywords (and therefore, strong copy) to intent / origin.
Since we focus mostly on either information / research, or buying online (the first is the bigger of the two), we need to understand the use patterns for them.
In this post, I focus on the “buying online” model.
Here are the five stages of the purchasing/buying funnel:
- Research / Learning
- Comparison Shopping
- Buying (from you, hopefully)
Within the Business-to-business (B2B), or Business-to-consumer (B2C) models, you’ll find the patterns to be about the same. The sales cycles (from initiation to close) will vary. Buying a pair of shoes from Zappos, for example, is different than buying a legal matter management software. The approach for the user is the same.
So, before you start your keyword research, make sure you understand your marketplace (and watch what your competitors are doing too). Sure, use your keyword research to guide you, but don’t believe it all. You can get more information by research – and testing. Ask customers, vendors, family members, friends – how would they find you? What keywords to use, even jargon, slang, etc.
A top internet marketer was once asked: “how much of your budget should you spend on testing”? The audience guessed about 10, maybe 20-25%. Answer: 100%!
You can use tools like:
- Google Adwords (regional targeting)
- Bing Advertising (even better demographics targeting & research)
- Facebook Ads
- Google Ad Planner
- Google Trends
- Google Keywords
- Research / industry papers from resources like MarketingSherpa.com
Of course, make sure you look at Amazon.com, shopping.com and review books while you’re at it. Look at their TOC’s. Are you targeting the right areas for your products or services? Make sure to include landing page tests and track all activities within your funnel.
Your launch mechanisms or channels will vary – but your research and understanding of the user buying funnel is critical. You’ll know that if you deploy on a mobile device, it will be a ‘best match’. If you launched on a search network, it will be a ‘best match’, etc, etc.
What can you test today, to meet the need of your (keyword based) searcher tomorrow?
- R.I.P Google Keyword Tool. Long Live SEO! (aimclearblog.com)
- Advanced Keyword Research – SES Chicago (toprankblog.com)
- Query Paths in Search Funnels (adwords.blogspot.com)
- Using YouTube as a Keyword Research Tool for SEO (seomoz.org)