The most important aspect to any online marketing campaign, be it through the organic listings using SEO and link-building or through paid PPC listings—or a combination of the two, the best of both worlds—is keyword research.
Choosing keywords for a small business online marketing campaign is easier than you might think, as soon as you get over the misconception that the most highly searched keywords are the ones you should go for. Many companies make the mistake of going into Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery, or other keyword research tools, typing in a broad phrase related to their business (say, for example “t-shirt”) and targeting their campaigns toward the most often-searched phrases.
Instead, it is important to find targeted, specific keywords that, while not searched as often, are more precisely related to your business. Don’t think “t-shirt”—think “blue Puma logo t-shirt.” So, how do you come up with the right words for your SEO or PPC campaign? Brainstorm.
Brainstorming is Keyword Research
Don’t worry about the keyword tools at first. No online tool, no matter how advanced, knows your business better than you do. Get everyone together to discuss your products and services and just start talking. Think about what you’d search for in order to find your business online and go from there. Make a long list; don’t worry about repeating yourself or weeding out keywords that are too broad just yet.
Once you’ve come up with a list of phrases—depending on how extensive your SEO or PPC campaign will be, somewhere between 50 and 100 keywords, maybe more—begin weeding out the phrases that seem too broad. You may ask yourself, “Why would I want to get rid of the phrases that everyone’s looking for?” There are several reasons for this:
People tend to use broader keyword phrases (the aforementioned “t-shirt”) when in the research phase, and more specific phrases (“blue Puma logo t-shirt”) when they know what they want and are going to buy.
Highly searched phrases have high competition. It is hard for small businesses to compete for high-traffic phrases with large, long-branded companies like Amazon, Target, or Wal-Mart.
Broad keyword phrases may bring traffic, but may not bring conversions; if you sell athletic t-shirts and optimize for “t-shirt” you will bring in searchers looking for novelty t-shirts, political t-shirts, band t-shirts, etc.
Once you have whittled down your list to include only three- and four-word phrases that are specifically related to your business, then it is time to go into the keyword research tool of your choice and begin plugging in. Find the ones with the best count-to-competition ratio—the ideal keyword is searched more often, with fewer sites competing for it—and those will form the foundation of your online marketing campaign.