Story by Ash Aryal, Co-Founder and Head of Consulting at QuantumLinx
Several companies have rushed out to spend money on search engine optimisation (SEO) campaigns to help them secure rankings on the coveted first page of Google, but many are still in the dark about how to make this strategy work effectively for them.
For some, Google is their main source of business, while others still can’t seem to generate any meaningful amount of business from the search engine despite securing top first page rankings.
So, why does SEO work for some businesses and not others?
The difference comes down to a thoughtful keyword strategy.
Surprisingly, most companies spend a majority of their time focused on optimisation techniques while thinking very little about narrowing down the keywords for their bottom line. In effect, they are ignoring a meaningful amount of keyword analysis and further ignoring the psychology of prospective clients while they are searching online, which often leads to failed campaigns and wasted money.
The truth is, the keyword choice going in will have more of an impact on the effectiveness of a search marketing campaign to the bottom line than anything else, provided you have the means to achieve and maintain first page Google rankings.
Commercial value keywords are those keywords that attract searchers looking for a solution to their problems –a solution that you, hopefully, can provide. Ignoring commercial value keywords stems from the underlying presupposition that keyword quality doesn’t count; that only traffic volume (i.e. how many times that particular keyword is searched on average every month) is important in the search. Although this is a necessary criterion, it is not sufficient.
When you select your keywords, you are really selecting the stage of the conversation you wish to engage in with your prospective customer. Each keyphrase used in the search engine is the output of a conversation going on in a person's mind.
For example, if you run a legal practice specialising in personal injury compensation with offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, your company’s name may pop up with any of these three searches:
‘compensation lawyer’ vs
‘compensation lawyer sydney’
According to Google, the most general keyword – ‘lawyer’ - has 60 times more searchers than ‘compensation lawyer sydney’, while ‘compensation lawyer’ has about five times more searches.
Therefore, most businesses will automatically focus their efforts on trying to gain rank for the word ‘lawyer’ due to the sheer volume of traffic this term attracts without knowing if the searcher is a high school student doing research on the legal profession for a project, or someone else looking to learn more about it as a line of work. The likeliness of a business prospect typing any of these keywords in is slim.
The trick is narrowing down your optimisation campaign to key phrases being searched, as this will give you the greatest probability of generating an enquiry.
Research shows that people may search up to five variations of a phrase using other descriptive keyphrases associated with their original, more general search phrase before they decide to submit an enquiry.
As further evidence, a recent Hitwise article found that 45 per cent of people that type in 1-2 general keyphrases do not even click on a website. Instead, they type in a more specific variation of their search to narrow down their search criteria.
In reference to the previous example, although the term ‘lawyer’ may drive a lot of people to search that phrase, it is highly unlikely that they will be a prospect of a legal practice. Those who type in ‘compensation lawyer’ are likely a better target to optimise, and further, the competition for this search phrase will be lower.
Not only will you attract better quality prospects, this approach will be less costly and it will take less time to gain SEO rank, helping your business attract a better quality prospect.
The geographic qualifier, such as typing in ‘sydney compensation lawyer,’ indicates the searcher is looking for a solution in that location now. Numerous studies have shown that those searching with terms with a geographical qualifier have a high commercial intent when they are searching.
They are not necessarily looking for information - they are looking for solutions and are willing to pay for it. While these types of terms bring in far lower amounts of traffic, they have a much higher conversion rate from searcher to enquiry.
Not only will you be targeting your best prospects by getting ranked for a more specific keyphrase, but you will have the added advantage of competing with less websites and will achieve faster page one rankings for more of your keywords.
In summary, start your SEO campaign by first ordering the most commercially valuable keywords from most important to least important, keeping in mind the psychology of your prospects. The more specific you get, the better quality prospects you attract and the higher the probability of conversion from a prospect to a sale.
Only then should you use freely available tools to determine the traffic volume for each of those keywords. Delete any keywords with search volumes less than 200 and you’ll have a keyword targeting strategy that trumps most of your competitors that are also optimising.
Starting an SEO campaign with this thought process in mind has a much greater chance of yielding a ROI in the shortest period of time for your business.