Anyone can pick out related keywords to rank their websites for. However, it’s the crafty webmaster who knows how to find multiple keyword goldmines among the thousands of possibilities available.
One popular approach is called the “long tail”. In this approach you go after three word + phrases in hopes of having less competition. The main problem with this approach is that there is a second aspect of it that most people neglect. The second and most important part of the “long tail” approach is that with longer, more targeted phrases you are more apt to directly meet the needs of the user. While that may seem obvious, many people ignore or poorly execute it. That’s because they don’t understand the importance of their client’s purchase cycle as it relates to search engines.
The Purchase Cycle:
The very first thing you need to understand before starting keyword research is the “Purchase Cycle”. Its main steps are:
Attention > Interest > Desire > and Action.
Finding tons of low competing yet high converting keywords is as simple as understanding your customer’s buying habits. When they are in the action stage you will want to be there with them.
Let me give you some examples. Let’s imagine you are a new Real Estate Agent in the crowded but profitable Los Angeles Real estate market. You have had a site up for almost 6 months, have done a little SEO but have gotten almost no traffic and not a single lead from your site. The problem is more than likely the phrases you are going after. Everyone will be competing in the SERP’s for obvious terms like “Los Angeles Real Estate”. Now there is nothing wrong with competing for the best phrases, however this guide is all about training you to look at the areas your competition has ignored, and are at the end of the buying cycle. Trust me, great opportunities are available in every single market.
Think Like Your Customer
Imagine yourself as a customer who is using Google to find or sell real estate in Los Angeles. A typical search may go something like this.
Search Term: 1 “Real estate” (hmm too broad what was I thinking?)
Search Term: 2 “Los Angeles real estate” (Lots of options maybe I need a local agent?)
Search Term: 3 “Real estate agent in Los Angeles” BINGO!!! If you are a real estate agent in Los Angeles this should be one of your many keyword goldmines.
Now let me show you how the competition for rankings in Google has diminished as the customer got more and more refined with their search. I want you to see just how ripe the opportunity is when you understand the process your customers go through.
To get a good feel for the level of competition for a phrase one simple but highly important SEO factor is the Title tag. Using Google we can easily see how many sites have the exact search phrase we are using, as the title tag to their website. This is a great initial gauge of the competition you will face.
The command I use in Google is intitle:”real estate” (returns results with the exact phrase “real estate” in the title tag).
intitle:”real estate” Over 59 Million Pages Retuned
intitle:”Los Angeles real estate” Down to 25,000 Pages Returned
intitle:”Real estate agent in Los Angeles” 57 Results and only 7 Domains listed!!!
This high conversion keyword is just sitting there waiting for you “our new real estate agent” to rank for it. If you do the proper SEO work and point a few quality links to the page then you should begin to see highly qualified traffic.
Let me give you one more example and then we will move on. Let’s say you sell high-end condos right on the beach in Hawaii, which by the way is where I call home (Its OK to feel sorry for me). The competition for the condo market in Hawaii is very stiff and any little edge you can get is extremely helpful. Again all you have to do is understand how a potential customer searches and know your own product to find those keyword gems.
Search 1: “Hawaii Condos” intitle – 11,100 pages
Search 2: “Hawaii Condo Rental” intitle – 147 pages (Great action phrase)
Search 3: “Hawaii beach front condo” intitle – 0 pages!!!
I could literally go on and on finding great marketing opportunities for these two markets. I promise you if you spend the time you will find these all-too-easy keyword treasures in your market as well. Now let’s take what we have learned to the next level with action phrases.
Make Use Of Action Words
Ok let’s say you sell the latest PC video cards at great prices. You have done your homework and realize that many consumers do extensive research on specific video cards to find the one that’s perfect for them. They then lookup the specific model of the video card they want when they are in “purchase mode”.
A popular video card series right now is Nvidia’s Geforce 6800. However, when you do an intitle: search on Google you get over 40,000 results for “Nvidia Geforce 6800”. This is where Action words come in handy. Some great action words are Buy, Lowest price, Purchase, Free shipping etc. All of these words are used when the customer is in the purchasing phase, which is exactly when you need them to find you.
intitle:”Buy nvidia geforce 6800″ 3 sites!!!
intitle:”Purchase nvidia geforce 6800″ 0 sites!!!
intitle:”Lowest price nvidia geforce 6800″ 0 sites!!!
You get the idea. Now that you understand the concept I can suggest a few keyword research tools.
Now let’s put you on a path to find 20 to 40 money keywords you are not currently using
Keyword Research Steps:
Step 1 – Logs: One great asset that you may not be utilizing is your weblogs. You should always mine your weblogs for niche keyword phrases and use them as a basis for what type of searches your users are typing into search engines. If you have not done this before it can be highly informative. You will not only understand your audience better – you will also get a great variety of keyword “goldmines” that you can then use for your organice SEO campaign. I suggest doing this once a month or every two weeks if you can find the time.
Step 2 – Competition: Your competition can be a great source of keyword research. Check the keywords in their Title, meta tags, and body text to see if you find anything you might have missed.
Step 3 – Keyword Tools: Three free tools that you should check out are SEO Books online keyword tool http://tools.seobook.com/general/keyword/ and http://www.goodkeywords.com/ which is a free desktop download that runs off of Yahoo data and http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/suggestion/ which queries both Yahoo and http://www.wordtracker.com/ (A top tool if your paying) . All three of these tools are very handy and for the price…who can complain?
A word to the wise, these tools should only be used as guides. They are heavily biased to PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising and are subject to distortion due to automated queries.
The main thing to look out for with any tool that uses Yahoo is that it does not separate plurals. It shows Condo and Condos as the same results. So when you are doing your research be sure to check out the Word Tracker tool over at digital point because the MSN version will show you how a phrase does for singular versus a plural version. While search engines are still ironing out how they handle plural searches its highly important that you select the right one. Sometimes you may choose to go after a less used plural or singular version of a keyword because it has less competition.
Bonus 1: Don’t forget about hyphenated or potentially hyphenated words.
If you are looking at a term like “increase online traffic” don’t forget hyphenated versions of the same phrase. According to Word Tracker “increase on-line traffic” is searched for 186 times a day on MSN alone. The non hyphenated version has over 1,000 pages listed for an intitle: search on Google. While the hyphenated version only has 21 sites listed.
Bonus 2: Use slang or insider terminology when and where it makes sense. One great example of that is locally here in Hawaii. Locals call the main island of Hawaii the “Big Island” A term like “big island real estate” is typed in a few thousand times per month. But according to Google only one site has the phrase in their title!!!
Bonus 3: People often type keyword phrases as one word. So instead of typing in “Hawaii Condos”, they’ll type in “hawaiicondos”. Then engines serve different results for these 2 phrases, and guess what – the kwkw version is usually a LOT less competitive!
I must mention that just because you find great keywords that others are not using in their title tags does not mean you can simply put in a new title and rank. In some cases that will actually happen but in most you will need to do a good job with your on-page SEO and acquire a few relevant links. In any case you will be putting yourself in a great position to be successful with minimal competition and maximum return on investment.
I hope that I have helped to get your mind churning about the endless possibilities in your own local market. If you follow these steps you should be able to quickly generate a wonderful new list of keywords for your site to dominate the “Action” phase of the purchase cycle. Once you place your site at the end of the purchase cycle and away from the hordes of competition it is quite easy to strike keyword Gold.