Keyword research seems innocent and common-sense enough: find words you think people will use to find your service.
But once you get going, it’s not always so simple.
Do they actually use those keywords for your service or are you just assuming? Are other, irrelevant people using those keywords for something else? Do most people searching for the keyword fit into your buyer persona?
That’s when things get a little more challenging.
Let’s dig into some questions you should ask yourself and discover how we can answer them.
1. Are the people using these keywords actually interested in what I offer?
Search intention creates many pitfalls for marketers.
You need to consider this fact carefully, otherwise you can waste tons of resources targeting keywords that don’t deliver leads.
The best way to test this is by manually searching for your keywords.
Are the results relevant to you? Are they driven by a motivation to buy or are they just looking for information?
For example, searching for “Business Intelligence” results in news, Wikipedia pages, glossaries and definitions—none of which necessarily suggest this keyword combination should target buyers of Business Intelligence Software.
You probably can’t compete with Wikipedia and even if you could, those searchers probably aren’t going to convert. Most of them are just looking to define a word or concept, not purchase software for it. Drop the keyword and aim for something more descriptive and action oriented, like "Business Intelligence Software" or even more specifically "The Best Business Intelligence Software".
If you're a huge company with tons of resources to spare, then maybe you'll want to spend the time to rank for a broad and highly competitive keyword. But most SMBs probably want to use their resources more wisely.
When you're searching for your keywords, make sure you’ve logged out of Google because sometimes they’ll cater results specifically to you. So if you’re visiting your own website a lot from Google, you’ll start seeing yourself in results that others wouldn’t see.
2. Do the people looking for these keywords fit into my Buyer Persona?
It’s easy to forget that your keywords exist outside the context of your business. Make sure you’re not targeting the entirely wrong group of people, like the B2C contingent of your B2B service.
This concern goes hand-in-hand with the first one, but the distinctions can be a little more subtle.
You might find a good keyword that provides action-oriented results, but does it drive action for the right service or product?
For example, if you’re targeting photo etching for industrial manufacturers you don’t want the audience that’s looking for photo etched necklaces.
You can resolve this question the same way as before. Check the results. If a bunch of necklaces or etched firearms show up, you’re probably off target.
3. Why does this matter? Even if I attract the wrong buyer, traffic is traffic, right?
Well, I don’t disagree that extra traffic – relevant or not – can be a good thing.
But in this context, there are a couple of reasons to care:
- First, if you’re targeting a keyword that’s off target, you’re going to struggle. It takes time and effort to rank, and it takes even more time and effort to rank for an irrelevant keyword. You’ll waste your time for little or no return.
- Secondly, if you’re doing PPC, you’ll hurt your Quality Score. This will affect your costs and how often your ad displays. Google wants to keep their users happy with useful and relevant content, not some stuff that’s almost relevant and nearly useful.
When you're creating a keyword strategy, make sure you're targeting the right audience. Otherwise, you'll spend way too much time and resources trying to rank for keywords that provide little or no return.