Thursday, July 23, 2009

7 Secrets to Successful Keyword Research

by Donna GunterAs people search for information online, they use a series of words, what are referred to as keywords, to find the information that they are seeking. Keywords are the core of any market research conducted by an online business owner. Just like the Yellow Pages Directory groups listings by category, like "auto body shops" in the "automobile repair" category, search engines like Google and Yahoo sort by keywords so that auto body shops are found under "auto body shop" in their database.

In order to be found online by your target market, you need insight about the terms that they are using to search for a business like yours. The quickest way to gain that insight is by conducting research on possible keywords they use. However, so many of my clients conduct only very basic keyword research and miss many keywords because they don't really delve into the problems and needs of their target market, which contain prime, keyword-rich topics they can use to be found online.

Here are 7 secrets to a successful keyword research campaign:

1. Define your target topic or interest. Use 1-2 words to describe your topic. In this case, let's say our interest is pest control businesses because you're seeking to target owners of this type of company.

2. Define synonyms for your topic area. Use an online thesaurus or Google Sets to help you brainstorm synonyms for your topic. In this example, similar terms for pest control business might be exterminating business, rodent control, insect control, bug business, and pest control company.

3. Use "how" to help define problems in your topic area. When people search online, many times they're seeking answers to their problems, and they seek answers to these problems by asking "how" questions. I use Google's free Keyword Tool to help me define some of the problems of a pest control business. I plug in the synonyms brainstormed in step 2 to help me come up with this list. In this case, common questions might be things like how to do one of the following in a pest control business: start, grow, train employees, find employees, market, advertise, price services, bill customers, bid for contracts, buy, insure, find supplies, and write a business plan.

4. Record your action terms. Note the action terms that were used found in this example -- starting, buying, growing, marketing, training, advertising, billing, bidding, etc. These are terms that people use to help them solve the problems they have with their pest control businesses. Create a list for each of these terms and brainstorm synonyms for these terms, as well.

5. Group and research. Now, return to your keyword tool and enter your action term combined with your target topic and see what people interested in this topic are actually searching on. For example, for the term "how to start a pest control business," you would see results like: mosquito control, electronic pest control, ant extermination, roach extermination, how to kill fleas, pest control software, pest control license, etc. Organize the keywords into groups according to the problem being solved or action being taken.

6. Count the searches. Look for the largest clusters in your groups and count the searches on the terms in the groups. A large cluster with lots of searches will contain the initial terms on which you will want to focus. However, don't overlook the groups with smaller searches, as many times these contain keywords that are less competitive and thus become easier for you to use to rise to the top of the search engines, rather than being one of millions competing for a very competitive term. These keywords with smaller searches are referred to as "long-tail keywords," and I believe that the traffic you get from high rankings on numerous long-tail keywords is equivalent to and quicker and easier to achieve than entering the contest for very competitive keywords.

7. Use the keywords. With this research you can write articles on these topics, create blog posts about these topics, upload web pages on these topics, update the meta tags on your web pages, make videos on podcasts about these topics, create information products, write pay-per-click campaigns, and design classified ads, to name just a few of the uses for this research.

Have you conducted thorough keyword research for your target market? If you haven't, you may be missing key opportunities for your target market to find you online. Set aside 2-3 hours one day and discover all the other options at your disposal to help your target market solve their problems.

About the Author

Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps baby boomers create profitable online retirement businesses by demystifying the steps needed to successfully market a baby boomer business online. Would you like to learn the specific Internet marketing strategies that get results? Discover how to increase your visibility and get found online by claiming your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, at ==> http://www.OnlineBizU.com