In my line of work, I run into people all the time that are very confused when it comes to what a keyword is and how to use them. Though many SEOs argue that the golden age of the keyword is behind us as Google rolls out more entity-based search options, an understanding of what keywords are and why they are used is still essential.
In its most basic form, a keyword is a word or a group of words somehow relating to your business. Ideally this keyword is something that an average consumer would type into Google (or Bing, or Yahoo, but Google is the largest, most relevant search engine currently, so that is what I will be referencing). These keywords are used by Digital Marketing Agencies and SEO companies across the globe to grow their clients’ businesses.
For example, if a company sells a line of wrinkle cream on a national level, that company would want to rank very high on Google when someone types in the keyword “Wrinkle Cream.” Now, this keyword is problematic for a few reasons, but if this company was able to reach the first organic search result (organic results are the ones that appear on Google just below the paid advertisement section at the top; the section with a yellow background) it would bring a boom to their business.
Ok, so my research shows that 6,600 people use the search term (keyword) “Wrinkle Cream” every month. Going further, the number one organic search result for this keyword can expect 2,772 clicks to their site every month. So, this means that if I get this company to the top of Google’s organic search results, and their product sells for $10 a bottle, then I can feasibly increase that company’s revenue by $27,720 a month (this example is slightly hyperbolic, but you get the idea).
I don’t know many companies out there who wouldn’t like to earn an extra $27,720 a month for their product, and this is why SEO and Content Marketing are so important for businesses.
Now, I said that the keyword in this example was problematic, so let’s go into a little more depth and look at the negatives to targeting this keyword.
What I didn’t share with you (and many SEO companies will not share this with you either) is the competition factor for this particular keyword.
It is great that so many people search for this term every month, but you must always take into account how many other companies are targeting and optimizing for this same keyword.
My research shows that 2,110, 000 other companies are using or targeting this keyword. So, if you want to get to the top of Google for this keyword, you would have to battle with over two million other companies and corporations to do so.
This includes billion dollar pharmaceutical companies and businesses that have no problem spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on their SEO campaigns. You see the problem this poses for a new business trying to establish themselves. And you’re not only competitng against these corporations, you also have to deal with retail giants like Walmart, and you’re competing against articles from places like the Mayo clinic that discuss the best types of Wrinkle Cream.
When all these factors are taken together, this keyword loses its appeal, and I would definitely suggest targeting other ones with less competition.
So what can this up-and-coming company do to increase their online traffic and sales. Well, the goal is to find keywords that have a large search volume, but that also have a manageable competition level. If I was working with this company I would assess all possible keywords and I would target one like “Anti-Aging Cream.”
This keyword has a total search volume of 8,100 searches, and 418,000 sites online are targeting it. This 418,000 is still pretty high, but it is much more realistic than a keyword with a competition level over two million.
It is important to note here that the company I am discussing is a NATIONAL company. This company is targeting consumers all across the nation or world, and their product can easily be shipped anywhere.
Had this company been more service based (salon, single brick and mortar store that does not ship, plumber, electrician, lawyer, etc.) than our keyword strategy would be quite different.
Companies like this need to include their location in their keyword (i.e. plumber Seattle, WA), and typically these location-based keywords are much easier to optimize for. The competition for location-based keywords tends to be slimmer and easier to beat out.
There are two more factors that need to be looked at when discussing effective keyword selection. These two factors are the phrase-to-broad match percentage (PBR) and the conversion rate of a particular keyword.
A keywords PBR percentage is essentially the percentage of searchers who type in that EXACT keyword into Google. For example, let’s take the keyword “Wrinkle Cream Uses and Benefits.” The PBR percentage for this keyword most likely is very low.
There are probably many searchers that are using a couple of these words (like wrinkle or cream), but there is most likely very few people who are typing in this EXACT keyword. You want to target keywords with a high PBR percentage so you know that people are searching for your exact term.
The second factor I mentioned is conversion rate. For most companies it is not enough to just get people to their site. These companies want people to get to their site and then purchase something. The conversion rate for a keyword deals with how effective the keyword is at creating purchases (conversions).
There is no accurate site that provides data on conversion rates that I know of (the rest of this info can be found with Google’s keyword planner). If you happen to know of one, please let me know in the comments section.
So, if we look again at the keyword “Wrinkle Cream Uses and Benefits” we would estimate that the conversion rate for this keyword would be fairly low. People who type this into Google are searching for information, and they are not necessarily at the purchase stage yet (though if your website content is intriguing enough, you may be able to convert them).
These people are most likely looking to see if they need wrinkle cream and if it would do any good anyway. On the other hand a keyword like “anti-aging wrinkle cream with aloe vera and 100% uv protection” would suggest that the consumer has already done their research and is ready to purchase this wrinkle cream as soon as they find the product that meets their specifications. This person is very likely to convert, and if you are on the top of the Google organic results for this term, you are going to earn this person’s business.
So, companies must assess all of these factors when they are deciding which keywords to target. In a more-condensed version here they are one more time:
1. Total Searches – Total amount of people searching for this keyword in a certain time period (daily, weekly, monthly, etc).
2. Estimated traffic to number one organic Google spot – Self explanatory; this is how many people you can expect to click through to your site if you reach the top organic search spot in Google.
3. Competition – How many other companies and corporations are optimizing for that same keyword.
4. Phrase-to-broad Percentage (PBR) – The percentage of how many people type in your EXACT keyword as opposed to how many people just use certain words within your keyword.
5. Conversion Estimate – An estimate or approximation of how many people will actually purchase your product after typing in a particular keyword.
Companies that go through this process will have guaranteed that they are optimizing for the best possible keywords. While this can be done by the owners of the company, it is a lot of work and research (and this is just the keyword selection, we didn’t even get into the implementation and optimization), and many companies instead choose to hire a dedicated SEO or digital marketing agency to do this work for them.
In my experience, this is the best way for companies to go. There are so many little intricacies in the field of SEO that it is a full-time job to keep up with. On top of that, Google is constantly changing their search algorithm, and many of these changes can have dramatic effects on a company’s search ranking if they do not stay on top of it.
It is typically best to leave this work to the experts, but if you do decide to do your own keyword implementation, then you have all the information you need to get started here. Good Luck!
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