Your business lives on a street somewhere within the world wide web. A tiny little corner of the internet where you produce or share your products and services with prospects and customers.
But it’s not enough to just take up residency there. If you’re interested in making some money with your business, as most people are, then you need to make yourself findable. You need a way to distinguish yourself from your neighbors, so that passing strangers know you offer the wares they need. You must find a way to get them to your doorway and start knocking.
Your keywords will lead them to your keyhole.
First a quick search engine optimization lesson. The way your business gets found across the massive world wide web is through keywords. When an internet user looks up information via Google or Bing, these search engines send out spiders to crawl across the web in search for the most useful and credible answers. And for your business to rank high on the list of matches to a query, you need a good supply of relevant keywords placed in key locations throughout your website.
These keywords can be one word—called short-tail keywords—like “blueberries.” Or they can be a collection of words—known as long-tail keywords—such as “u-pick blueberry farms in Indianapolis.” The former are typically the most popular keywords, meaning many other sites proclaim those words on their website. The latter, while less popular, tend to connect your business to serious buyers.
Now that you know the whats and whys of keywords, how do you know what keywords to incorporate onto your website content? Here are five ways to build out your keywords list with relevant terms and phrases that can help get you found.
If you’ve spent time creating buyer personas for your business, then this should be your first stop. Take some time to get refreshed on the characters you’ve created. Perhaps you have some keyword terms already built into their descriptions. Or maybe you can quickly develop a list for each persona just by spending a little time imagining a day in each persona’s life.
If you haven’t yet created your buyer personas, no immediate worries. Plenty of tips still below. But make a plan to build out those personas soon. You’ll find them incredibly helpful in building out your keywords list.
Chances are that many of your current customers first found you through their own organic searches, so go back to them and find out how. Select a cross section of your customer base and get on the phone, send an email, or take them out for lunch to explore their buying experience. What were their needs? What were they searching for back then?
And if they can’t recall, then just talk with them about their current use of your products and services. Ask them to walk you through a recent experience using your solutions and listen intently to the verbiage they use. Hearing the way they talk about your business can be extremely insightful in knowing how to speak to your next customer. (Oh, and keep all the info you collect for those buyer personas you still need to create!)
For two years, my parents regularly asked me how my job search was going—even though I’d told them multiple times that I’d started Keyhole Marketing. They just didn’t get it. Then at Christmas one year, I gave them a business card, and it finally clicked! So much so, that a few months later I overheard my mom describing what I do to someone else: “He writes websites.”
Pretty close. But she went on to describe it more and within that description was keyword gold. Clear, understandable terms that I could use to tell my own business story in the simplest of ways.
Find some friends and family and ask them what they think your business offers. Even ask them to try and search for it online. See what they say and what they input into Google. While they might not be your target audience, they still can provide some key insights.
It seems like this should be the first step, right? After all, no one knows your products and services the way you and your staff do. But that’s precisely the point. You can be too close to your business that you’re blinded by how the outside world may look for or look at you. Only after you’ve taken the time to hear what external audiences have to say about you should you spend time brainstorming as a team. Here you can refine the language you use internally and begin adding any missing long- and short-tail keywords to the growing list. Just be sure to speak in real terminology and not industry jargon.
BONUS TIP: Before asking your customers, your mom, and your team, get everyone’s clearance to record the discussion. Then use a service—like Rev.com—to transcribe the entire recording. You’ll find the conversation goes much deeper when you’re not scribbling notes.
Well, not “ask” as much as “stalk” their website to see what keywords they may be ranking or targeting. Here are several online tools to monitor your competitors’ online activity.
Additionally, many great keyword tools exist to help you make sense of the list you’ve compiled. Because I’m a bit frugal when it comes to keyword tools, I can only offer two free solutions that I’ve used. But here’s a a list of The 9 Best Keyword Research Tools to Find the Right Keywords for SEO for you to consider.
While it does have its limitations, Google Keyword Planner can still be a great free tool for researching related keywords, showcasing metrics on search volume and competition, and exploring historical trends.
The free version or Keyword Tool.io offers great long-tail keyword alternatives…and that’s about it. But it still can be extremely helpful as you build out your keyword list. Also, there is a pro version that offers cost-per-click and search volume data.
And there you have it. Once you finish creating your keywords list, keep it handy and refer to it often when writing blog posts, creating new webpages, building landing pages, etc.
You’ll soon have the right buyers approaching your door and peaking through your keyhole.