One of the most vital considerations for any new online business is choosing the right keywords that will hopefully drive the business forward. Most people will have heard of keywords and probably have a vague idea what they are; the term is after all in many ways self-explanatory. Yet if you asked a new starter the question what is an effective keyword, I doubt whether they could answer the question convincingly. The reason for this is that there are far too many myths surrounding keywords. They’ve been built up to be something they’re not: it’s not rocket science, nor does it take a genius to work it out. Choosing effective keywords for any business is simply down to applying a little bit of common sense, and a certain degree of research. So, let’s put the matter to rest once and for all, and explain simply what they are and how you go about choosing the most effective ones.
Keywords in a nutshell are a short and succinct way of describing your business. They communicate who you are, what you do and where you do it. As if that wasn’t enough, they also need to describe and communicate what value you provide and how that differs from what your competitor provides. Now, on the face of it, that may sound almost impossible to achieve. The thing is it doesn’t have to be. Keywords are best approached in stages. You can make the task seem far less daunting by breaking it down into manageable chunks or bite-sized pieces.
So, how do you do that then?
To identify the right keywords for your business you simply have to do the following:
- Select a desired or suitable word to describe your product,
- Select a desired/suitable word to describe the central characteristic or value component, for instance ‘low Cost’ or ‘quality’
- Select a location if appropriate.
Once you have the 3 words or so, try running them together and seeing whether they express all you’d like to express. Mix up the order and see if that reads better. Take as an example records/ vintage/ Manchester. Try instead vintage records Manchester, or add an extra word like ‘collectable’ to make it more interesting or possibly unique. What you finish up with is a succinct description of what you do, what you offer and where you’re based. That’s now the starting point.
Once you’ve identified you particular phrase or phrases, then it’s time to ask the question, do you want potential customers to associate your business with it? If the answer is yes, then that’s fine. If it’s not, then it’s back to the drawing board and carry out some further research. You also need to ask yourself whether the particular phrase you came up with is likely to be used to search on Google by users interested in products like yours. If it isn’t, then you need to think again.
Once you’re settled on your keywords or key phrases, then it’s time to use a keyword tool to refine what you’ve done. Keyword tools like Google’s AdWords will let you know if there are any of the phrases you’ve picked that have been searched on its search box. It will also give you an indication of the level of competition from paid advertisers. If you see a key phrase roughly the same as the one you’re considering choosing that has a bit of traffic, then it’s worth clicking on it as Google will search using that term or phrase. Of course you might find the perfect term that attracts a reasonable amount of traffic: on the other hand you may find that your preferred search terms are dominated by large and powerful websites. These are obviously difficult to compete against. Still, it’s good to know the competition. Find out who’s ranking at position 1 for that search term and learn from them. Should you find that your small Manchester record shop is up against HMV or Virgin, then maybe it’s time to rethink your keywords. It may sound like a bit of a pain, but you’ll just have to repeat the process above and find a different take on your keywords. This time though you’ll need to add the addendum to your keyword search – ‘and that’s not dominated by the big boys’.