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Choosing the Best Keywords
Target Niches, Think Like Your Target Audience
Originally Published: September, 2004
You've probably heard of people claiming significant traffic to their site after achieving a top ranking on Google or Yahoo. But sometimes you hear from someone else who also achieved a similar top ranking but they were disappointed when no one arrived at their site. How can two people achieve a top ranking and have such markedly different outcomes? Simple. The person in the first example selected a keyword or phrase that many people are searching on, and the second did not.
Unfortunately, it's all too easy to brainstorm your own list of keywords, only to find out later that they are not as popular as you first thought. Keyword popularity is essential to success in search engine marketing.
The question to ask yourself is how do you really know if you're optimizing your pages for keywords that Web surfers are looking for? There are several good techniques you can apply:
Put Yourself In The Shoes Of Your Target Audience
For example, you may have a "clothing business" where you "sell clothing." While those phrases describe what you do, they are not necessarily the words that your audience would enter into a search engine to find you. How many times have you went to Google and typed in "sell clothing" in order to find a particular shirt or hat?
Therefore, you must change your point of view from the person selling the product to the person that wants to buy your product. For example, popular phrases to target in the clothing category would be "plus size clothing," "mens clothing," or "womens clothing." How do I know this? I used
When I typed in the word "clothing," it instantly pulled up a wide range of related keywords from which to choose, all ranked by popularity.
I must admit, I was rather surprised to see such unusual terms like "medieval clothing" and "gothic clothing" was ranked high. However, that's the thing with keywords. It's next to impossible to simply guess what the most popular phrases will be today.
While "mens clothing" in the previous example may be one of the most popular clothing related searches, it unfortunately has a lot of competition. If you do a search on Google, you'll find it returns over 1 million results for that phrase. While this type of phrase may gain you a lot of traffic, achieving a top ranking may prove difficult and time-consuming.
In addition, you will normally find visitors who search on very broad keyword categories purchasing less often than someone who knows exactly what they want. A good example of such a niche phrase would be "custom baseball hats." The benefit of "custom baseball hats" is that it's both a popular search phrase and it only has about 2000 pages on Google competing against it. That's much less competitive than the 1 million results returned for "mens clothing."
calls the popularity and competition ratio the "KEI" or Keyword Effectiveness Index. The higher the KEI, the more effective the keyword will be for you.
Therefore, targeting relatively popular niche keywords has the following four advantages:
Niche keywords still produce a nice flow of traffic if you're careful to pick ones that still have good popularity.
Niche keywords will significantly increase your chance of success. Achieving a top ranking will be much easier with a niche keyword phrase versus a very broad, highly popular phrase. No top ranking can be guaranteed in an organic search engine like Google. There are simply too many variables. Therefore, you'll greatly increase your chances of success by choosing less competitive keyword phrases. Work smarter, not harder as I like to say.
Niche keywords will save you time. While you could use various tools and research to achieve a top ranking for "mens clothing," the time required to do so may not be worthwhile. Let your competitor waste their efforts on the ultra-competitive phrases. In the same amount of time they spend trying to achieve a single top ranking for your industry's most popular phrase, you could achieve top rankings on twenty other phrases.
Niche keywords yield more sales per visitor. That's because these keywords are more targeted. Therefore, these prospects have a better idea of what they want. If they find it on your site at the right price, then your chances for a sale are much greater.
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This article is copyrighted and has been reprinted with permission from FirstPlace Software.
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