How to Choose Keywords

How to Choose Keywords


How to Choose Keywords, before you pay for them!

by Dave Cottrell

How to choose keywords properly is very important, especially if you want to take advantage of PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising, like Adlandpro’s PPC program, or even Google Adwords.  A careless approach to choosing what keywords you want to pay for, for your site, will always lose you money, and can be a super expensive failure!   how to choose keywords before you pay

Why would you want to know how to choose keywords that you have to pay for, anyway?  How does that work?

Answer:  First of all, in order to answer the question about how to choose keywords, we need to define what keywords are.

Many people think of keywords as single words that people type into a search box on a search engine to find something they are looking for.  Hint:  When is the last time YOU typed a single word into a search box on a search engine?  Right.  You can’t remember!

Keywords are words and PHRASES people type into search engines to find what they are looking for.   Another hint:  Don’t use single word keywords, such as “shoes.”  You can’t afford it, and it’s WAY to generic to sell almost anything.  Phrase, aka “long tail keywords,” are what everybody needs to focus on.  These are what make your clicks targeted and more likely to convert to buyers.

When you pay for keywords, you are paying whatever you have bid for that keyword, every time someone clicks on your link from that keyword.  Let’s say your keyword is “how to fish,” and you bid $0.10 for that keyword.  Someone types in “how to fish” in the search box on the site you are paying for keywords on.  Your link pops up and catches their eye, because you have paid enough to get it at or near the top of the search results.

The good news is, your traffic is only limited by how much you are willing to spend.  The more you spend, the more traffic you will get.

The bad news is, clicks to your site do not mean sales on your site.  This is where you need to know how to choose keywords, before you pay for them.  What you want to do is to choose keywords that won’t necessarily bring you tons of traffic, but that will bring you tons of buyers.  Traffic is like deer tracks, empty and tastes like dirt!

So, you need to do some research.  There are lots of tools you can use for this, and over time, you will probably be wise to pay for some of them.  However, you can do it manually, if you are willing to work.

Here are some basic, free tools, that you will find very handy for learning how to choose keywords:

  1. Microsoft’s Advertising Intelligence
  2. WordTracker
  3. KissMetrics (not a keyword tool, but an extremely valuable bank of how-to on everything to do with SEO)
  4. Google Adwords Keyword Planner
  5. Google Trends Keyword Predictor
  6. Moz Keyword Tool
  7. Keyword Spy (know what your competition is doing!)

Before you ever pay for keywords, you need to know how to choose your keywords, so that they will convert to buying customers.  Simply doing enough research to find words related to your niche that you can “afford” is not enough.

An example of this is a common scam that is perpetuated against unwary entrepeneurs by fraudulent “SEO experts.”  These are the ones who guarantee to get your keyword ranked number one on Google in only a manner of days.

Here’s how that works:

Let’s say your online business is selling honey (who knows?).   You live in Lost Springs, Wyoming, designated the smallest incorporated town in the USA, with a population in the 2010 census of 4.   You pay this self proclaimed expert his very reasonable fee, and are thrilled when a few days later, there you are at the very top of page one on Google for your keyword!  But if you look a bit closer, your keyword is “wild honey in Lost Springs, Wyoming.”    how to choose keywords

Guess what?

Almost nobody outside of Lost Springs even knows it exists, let alone that someone there sells honey.  You just wasted your money.

A better keyword choice would be “wild organic high plains honey,” or “high plains wild flower honey.”   Both of those long tail keywords would bring relevant results that could bring you sales.  These are words you could bid on for your honey business for a PPC campaign that might convert very well into profitable sales.

Remember, it is SALES that you need, not traffic.  Traffic isn’t very hard to come by.

What you need to do, first, before starting a PPC campaign, is to make sure your website is ready.  It doesn’t need to be loaded with splashy graphics, but it does need to be optimized for the search engines (SEO).  Doing this properly will mean that the heavy lifting for your PPC campaign is already done, and in fact, your PPC campaign will help you streamline your SEO even further.

Use the tools listed above, or do it manually with a big stack of paper and pen.  Be organized!  (That’s why I like tools.)

List all the things you know about your product that would help you find it if you were going to do a search for it on a search engine.  List short phrases, longer phrases, and even full length phrases like the one in our honey sales example.  Remember, the longer the  phrase, the cheaper it will be, and the more targeted and likely to convert it will be.  One paying customer that earns you a profit, an ROI or Return On Investment, is worth more than hundreds and hundreds of visitors that buy nothing.

Test your keywords.  Try them all in multiple search engines.  See how many returns a keyword brings for each search you do.  Record this information.

Find out which keyword on your list ranks the highest.  Remember that the highest ranking keyword is also going to be the most expensive.   Find out what it would cost for your keyword on the search engines you want to run your campaign on.

Here’s another hint:  Choose for your website and campaigns the longer keyword phrases that bring search results.  Here is where it’s SO important to somehow know if the exact phrase is going to bring results.  Using our honey example on Google trends, we find that “wild honey high plains” doesn’t even show up, while “wild flower honey,” “wild organic honey” and “plains honey” do.

When you create your webpage, make sure that your keywords are embedded into your site.  Use a separate page for each keyword, and make sure the content of the page is unique, not simply reworded clones.  Embed your keyword into the title tag for each page (the title on a WordPress post), the page headings (H2 on WordPress) and subheadings.

If you use metadata (the hidden code on an html page), include the keywords there for the search engines to find.

Make sure the keywords are in the content of your page!  It’s considered spamming the search engines to use keywords that are not relevant to the content.  In other words, they have to be in the content.  Higher up in the content is best, and as many times as possible without overdoing it.

Never, ever, never make it look like you’re trying to do SEO!  Your goal in SEO is to bring HUMANS who will become BUYERS!  Make your content as natural and organic looking as possible.  If you can’t make your keywords fit into your content in a natural, informative, friendly and relevant manner, discard them and try again.  Always remember, you are trying to get real, human attention, not search engine attention.  Who really cares what the search engines “think” of your content.  They are not your customers.

Once you have your webpages ready, it’s time to start your PPC campaign.  By now, you already know what your keywords are going to cost per click, and you have a budget.  You have your tracking set up, with each keyword uniquely tracked, so you will know exactly how they are performing and where your customers are coming from.

Choose where you will run your campaign.  Remember that you do not have to use Google.  Who cares if they are the biggest?  They are also the most expensive.  There are numerous other places to run campaigns that will often fit your budget much better, like Adlandpro.  The bottom line is ALWAYS ROI.  If you make sales via Google with an ROI of 1% while sales on Adlandpro give you an ROI of 10%, which one makes more sense?  The math is easy.

After you run a PPC campaign, refine your website keywords.  Keep the ones that perform well, and do fresh research to improve on or replace others.  A successful PPC campaign is not only bringing you revenue in the short term, it is helping to improve your SEO and FREE organic traffic from the search engines, by raising your rankings.

You might want to continue using PPC indefinitely, but as you do, you will also begin to see a steady gain in free, converting traffic.  As you continue to learn how to choose keywords that convert well, you will become your own best expert, and will find that success does come to those who work hard and persist.

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  • A great post Dave that helps people learn and understand keywords.
    I will highlight something you said and it’s in reference to phrases. Google (especially) is changing how they references keyword phrases giving weight to a more natural wording.

    While the single words might help you, keyword phrases or long keywords are getting to be more important.

    I would also like to add to your excellent list of keyword planners and that is Übersuggest

  • Very well said, Diane. Natural, or organic (simply means natural) phrases really make a lot of sense in our modern and technologically enabled world. When my phone can wake me up in the morning with a computer generated human voice speaking in natural sentences, or my GPS can do the same on the road, the capability for computers to “understand” is there, meaning there is no reason for people to have to type pidgin English into their search queries, any more. If I want to find black and white golf shoes in Baltimore, I can now type in “Where can I find black and white golf shoes in Baltimore,” and the search engine will understand and do the search. Since this is the way people think, it makes sense for phrases, rather than single words (grunts!) to be the direction the big companies are going.
    BTW, yes, I like Ubersearch. It’s a really good brainstorming tool. Thanks for mentioning it.
    Dave Cottrell recently posted…Colours of LifeMy Profile

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