Finding the Keywords That Will Help Customers Find You

As the number of sites proliferates — currently about 300,000 home pages are added to the web each week — and more and more people go online to shop for services or goods, the importance of search engine optimization increases. “Build it and they will come” doesn’t work anymore; “launch it and promote it” is the name of the game.

Knowing what words and phrases people use to search the web is the first step in conducting a search engine optimization campaign. The benefit of a well-executed search engine optimization campaign is that it will increase the chances that members of your target audience will find your site. Choose the right keywords and phrases, and you’ll receive prequalified visitors. Choose the wrong ones, and people who want what you’re offering won’t find you.

Here’s a step-by-step plan to determine the keywords and phrases most likely to drive targeted traffic to your site.

Try to think the way your potential customer thinks. What words will pop into your potential customer’s mind when he or she is conducting a search for your offering? Here’s a tip: Take a step back from your product, service, or home page, and think like the average Jack or Jill who wants to find what you’re offering but doesn’t know about your site. Relax, concentrate, and quickly generate as many keywords as you can without worrying about whether they’re right. Approach it like a free-association exercise, and get your brand managers, marketing vice presidents, CEOs, and frontline salespeople to do the same.

Once you’ve listed everything that remotely comes to mind, prioritize and edit this list. Drop any words that don’t fit, and add those that pop up. Then shave this list down to the top 150 keywords your target audience will use to find what you do best.

Develop your keywords into a list of key phrases. If the keyword broadband is appropriate for your site, select key phrases, such as digital broadband, wireless broadband, accelerated for broadband, broadband news, broadband wireless communication, and so on.

Combine your keywords and key phrases with additional qualifiers to create more specific terms. Create two-, three-, and four-word phrases. For instance, from the key phrase software solutions, you might create traffic analysis software solutions, B2B software solutions, e-commerce software solutions, and so on. You get the picture.

Use concept key qualifiers to qualify visitors. Specify the concept in your key phrases, such as e-commerce software, but also be specific enough so that the key phrase is not too broad. You might want to use e-commerce software solutions, e-commerce security solutions, business-to-business e-commerce software, or B2B e-commerce software.

Beyond Engineering’s WordSpot is a tool for helping you discover your best key phrase possibilities. It can help you monitor and prioritize key phrases that people search for on the Internet.

The tool lets you analyze which key phrases people are looking for on the web. This research can provide you with knowledge about which words relevant to your situation are the best to promote or optimize.

Next week, we’ll talk about using branded keywords, avoiding common keywords, knowing what to do when your keywords are frequently misspelled, and more.

In closing, I’d like to remind you of Search Engine Strategies 2000, hosted by and taking place on November 9 in Dallas, Texas. I’ll be there facilitating a panel in the “Advanced Promoters Track” on Search Term Research, a discussion on selecting and developing appropriate keywords and search terms to target your search engine optimization campaigns. Hope to see you there!

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