“Keyword research is hard” is something I heard recently.
It’s also something I said myself for the first time about four years ago, and have had it repeated back to me a lot of times since during the first steps of both SEO and Paid Search campaigns.
It appears hard for the marketer first learning about the detail of a business, and hard for the small business owner who might not quite understand what keyword research is initially.
Many small businesses want the rewards of a well-applied SEO strategy but are limited by one or more of these universal business barriers:
Often those limitations open a chasm between what’s achievable in the short term and what the longer-term objective is.
A Short History
Years of Yellow Pages-type advertising have meant many sole traders and small companies have only ever had to write 200 words of copy (list of services, call-to-action, contact details). Now that they’re told that having “good content” on a website is necessary for ranking in search results, some are sent into panic or almost-instant writer’s block.
There are hundreds of thousands of businesses in the UK that face this problem and end up with a “small web presence”, a website with a single-digit number of pages that doesn’t inform their customers about their business any more than their company name alone does.
A Quick Solution
Discovering keywords that are suitable for use on the pages of your website really can help with the lack of time and creativity the small business owner has to put into their website content. Not everyone was born a writer, but having web content isn’t about practicing your literary skills — it’s about telling people how you can help them, which business owners do every day. Finding new “keywords” to use can prompt fuller disclosure of services, more detailed description of products and portray a more engaging side to a business.
Hold on a minute, what are “keywords”?
There are various uses of keywords depending on which part of the conversion funnel you are targeting. For example, many of the more-affordable SEO strategies focus on short-tail, conversion-likely keywords — the kind used by people searching for “Product X” in “Location One”. This is the kind of search that happens when a prospective customer desires to use that service or product. These keywords are relatively easy to discover using tools like the AdWords Keyword Tool or Google Suggest.
However these keywords are likely to make only a small percentage of searches that people will eventually visit a website via.
Other, longer terms and phrases, variations, synonyms, abbreviations and bastardisations of target phrases at both ends of the conversion funnel are going to lead people to your website, and may “perform” better than the more obvious keywords.
Bridging The Gap
Keyword Research exists to solve two problems:
- Which words should we include on our website?
- Where should we include them?
Let’s answer those questions.
1. Which words should we include on our website?
Answer: Any words that relate to your business.
Really — that’s the truth. If a word does genuinely relate to your business, find a useful, relevant place to include it within your website content, page titles and linking text.
“Any words that relate to your business” isn’t useful enough, however. If you’re writing the text, it’s imperative that you are able to actually come up with those words and use them appropriately.
Well developed answers to interview-style questions can go a long way to fulfilling the criteria.
If Jeremy Paxman interviewed you about
- What you did
- How you did it
- Where you do it
- When you do it
- What is it really?
- What is it similar to?
- Who gets the most benefit from it?
- Who could benefit from it but doesn’t?
— there’d definitely be sufficient content for your small business website.
- If you recorded every conversation you’ve ever had with a customer or colleague and had it transcribed, it would probably cater for a lot of the Customer Service, Product detail or FAQ page content
- If you took the bullet points of your business plan and fleshed it out into web pages it would contain enough information about the customers you’re targeting that your website would appropriately target them
2. Where should we include these words?
Answer: In the most appropriate places
In order to place keywords appropriately, first categorise them and then designate either individual pages or “types” of pages suitable for their use.
Here are a few examples of types of Pages:
—FAQs/Frequently Asked Questions.
Some websites do this very well, many do it very badly (“No job too small” is neither a question nor an answer).
— Review/Testimonial pages.
These are an excellent way of “out-sourcing” your content writing to your own customers!
— Product/Service Page
This is where a lot of the descriptive detail about products should be published, in addition to much of the “sales” language you would use when pitching your services to a prospective customer.
— Case Studies
Case Studies pages are really useful places to feature detailed information about projects you have worked on other business you have worked with and locations where work took place. You can cover many of the synonymous terms for your products and services within case studies.
The Blog Panacea Myth
There’s a school of thought that promotes the idea that a blog alone can overcome all ranking challenges by earning lots of links and housing a range of long-tail keywords. This can be true, but a blog is not always the best fit for a business pressed for Time, Money and Creativity. There are other types of pages that may suit your company better.
Hopefully that’s some food for thought when you have to research keywords for website content.