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Keyword Analysis – the foundation of online marketing

If you’re into fishing, you’ll know that throwing out a line and hoping for the best isn’t going to cut it. You need to know where the fish are and what bait to use.

Translate this to online marketing and it means you need to know where your potential customers are and what they are looking for.

Online, your target audience is already typing words and phrases (”keywords”) into search engines like Google to find a whole range of information and make purchases.

Fish hookKeyword Analysis is the foundation of successful online marketing because it tells you where the barra are biting: in other words, what your target customers are keying into search engines like Google when they are looking for the products, services or experiences that you offer.

It’s important to understand that guessing those keywords is like throwing a line in and hoping for the best. And a quick search on Google isn’t going to cut it either. Many businesses come unstuck in their online marketing because the words and phrases they THINK their prospects are typing in aren’t accurate.

Getting your keyword analysis right can shoot your site up the search rankings surprisingly quickly.

For example, when we first started offering a media-release-writing service, we used the term ‘media release’ as our primary keyword, because we thought that anyone wanting to find a media-release-writing service would type ‘media release’ into their search engine.

However, subsequent keyword research revealed that far more people were searching on the term ‘press release’ instead. So we changed our keyword, and hey presto – traffic increased significantly.

Knowing your keywords enables you to tap into your target market much more effectively. You do this by incorporating keywords into your content, especially headlines and tags, to help the search engines lift you to the top of the pile. And you can bring traffic to your site more quickly by producing pay-per-click ads based on each of your major keywords.

Here’s how we do it:

1. Finding your best keywords

Through detailed analysis using Wordtracker, we establish the three keywords or phrases most relevant to your business that your prospective customers are most commonly keying in.

Wordtracker is a tool that tells us how many people are searching on which words and phrases, both internationally and within Australia. Even choosing whether to use one word or two can make a big difference. This screen grab is an example of the actual and predicted number of searches on “ecotourism” and “eco tourism”, as shown by Wordtracker.

Ecotourism on Wordtracker

We know from this that searchers are five times as likely to key in “ecotourism” as a single word. And this is just the beginning.

As there’s a huge number of online searchers reading blogs, we also use Technorati in our keyword analysis research to look at the occurrence of keywords in blogs, and the relevance of those blogs to your site.

Our research includes social sites such as Flickr and Del.icio.us, and we look at how your competitors are using and ranking on specific keywords.

Wordtracker explains keywords like this:

The best keywords are those words and phrases commonly typed in by your potential customers, but which aren’t used much on your competitors’ websites.

This means finding not just commonly typed words and phrases, but niche words and phrases that apply to your business but less so to your competitors. When there’s a lot of competition for a keyword, it’s harder to get to page 1. With niche keywords and phrases it’s easier to get a high ranking more quickly.

So a fishing boat trawling for tuna will catch a whole heap, while you sit in your quiet corner of the bay hooking in the fish that are most valuable to you – those barra. There may be a few others around the same spot, but the fewer there are, the higher your chances of success.

2. What are your searchers hoping to find when they arrive?

Next it’s essential to look at the context in which your prospects are searching: How relevant is their search to your site? What is their search intention?

To take online marketing site ningalooblue.com as an example, we researched words and phrases such as ‘Ningaloo’, ‘whale sharks’, ‘adventure travel’ – all relevant to the experiences offered by Ningaloo Blue.

We also looked at the word ‘Exmouth’, since this is the hub town for the Ningaloo Reef, where most of the accommodation is located. And we found a large number of searches on that word.

However, deeper analysis told us that most of the searches were intended for Exmouth in the UK, not Exmouth in Australia – so this keyword, while important, became less relevant for the site. In other words, using the word might draw traffic, but most of those searchers aren’t likely to be interested in Exmouth, Australia. Traffic is useless to you if there’s no chance of a conversion. Better to have fewer visitors and a higher conversion rate than more visitors and a lower conversion rate.

It’s the difference between barra and cod. Which would you rather catch?

By the way, “whale shark” is a great example of a niche phrase that brings qualified traffic to the site. There aren’t that many tour operators offering whale shark tours, yet this is Ningaloo Blue’s mainstay. This is where small businesses have an edge when it comes to search marketing.

3. The influence of geography

Another variable to consider is where the searchers are based. Are they searching Google.com, or Google.com.au, or Australia pages within Google.com.au? Different rankings will occur in each of these, depending on the most common searches.

So depending on whether you want to hook an international or Australian audience – or possibly both – keyword analysis research needs to look at what those audiences are searching for, and why.

Once you establish your three keywords, you have a dynamic online marketing tool. By building them into your site and blog, and using them in your pay-per-click ads, you significantly increase your chance of catching the attention of your prospects.