Search Engine Gold: 2

Morgan Carey AKA “SEO Guy”

Proper keyword research is the cornerstone of building a successful online business. This step is possibly the most important lesson in this tutorial, and the most important step to get right if you want to succeed. Follow along and learn how to do it right!

Know Your Market
Before building a website that showcases your products or services, you must first identify who it is that will be purchasing said products and services. Not all traffic is good traffic; many webmasters target the "high traffic terms" that have little relevance to their market instead of the "targeted terms" that have the highest conversion. Target all of your relevant terms ("highest traffic first"), and don't go for the so-called "hot terms" that will eat up all of your bandwidth while producing no sales.

Here’s a scenario: Green widgets are the hottest item on the market. You create a great looking website perfectly optimized for green widgets to take advantage of this traffic flux. You own the market and you are #1 for every possible term targeting the green widget field, but the problem is that you sell ‘blue’ widgets – and no one who wants green widgets will buy blue widgets. Now you are stuck with a bandwidth bill, hosting fees, development costs and NO SALES!

You are not the only one to make this mistake. Many other blue widget dealers saw that "green widgets" had 1,000,000 searches and "blue widgets" had 10,000, and they also chose to target the green widget terms. There was however that one "blue widget" dealer who saw the light – he targeted "blue widgets" while you were all confused, and now owns the top results for all "blue widget" terms, and so is enjoying a hefty 5% conversion rate and has made 500 sales from his 10,000 hits – all with a low bandwidth bill and little effort! Since no one was competing for this term, our smart little "blue widgets king" is laughing.

You however have a 0% conversion rate and can brag about your 1,000,000 hits all day long, but at the end of the day you are broke because you did not do your research. If you had, you would have known that "green widget" buyers hate "blue widgets." It seems that the prevailing thought is that the more traffic one receives, the more money that one makes, and this is simply not true – the more sales one makes, the more money one makes!

Remember, there are a finite number of people on the Net that will buy your products and services. This of course includes those not looking for your exact products or services, but that you are still able to convert into customers anyway. Target these people and you can't go wrong!

The Life Blood of SEO
Keyword research truly is the life blood of Internet marketing. If you know who is searching online, and what they are searching for, then it makes your choices as to what to offer and where to offer it much easier. For the purposes of this tutorial, however, we will concentrate on evaluating the best keywords to use in order to increase conversions from those visitors that come to your site by way of the major search engines.

What Terms Are Being Searched?
This is the basic question that needs answering before you can start constructing your site. The first and most natural thing that comes to mind is to ask yourself "What is it that I offer, and what would I type in if I was looking for my product or service?"

This is a great place to start. Type in the search terms you use, and see what comes up. If the sites you see at the top of the search results are offering similar products and services to your own, then you are right on the money. Sadly this is where most people stop.

Try to reverse engineer those at the top (if they have already done the research, then you won't have to). Pay particular attention to what they place in their <title> </title> tags, Meta descriptions, H1, H2...H6 tags, <b><i><strong> tags, and in their ‘anchor’ (link) text.

In order to accurately gauge who is searching for your products and services, you must use statistical data which will provide the required historical search volume, as well as suggest permutations of your keyword phrases that you have not yet thought of. A few tools that can aid in this process include my good friend Webby's complete collection, Google Ad Words suggestion tool, and WordTracker. I have no affiliations with any of the aforementioned sites, but they are all great places to do keyword research.

As a secondary research project, try putting together a quick questionnaire containing 5-10 answers based on 2 simple questions: First, describe the top 5 products and / or services on your site, then list the terms and phrases you would type in a search engine to find these products and / or services.

Finally to test emphasis (where you should concentrate the most), you must determine keyword conversion value. To me this is easy; once I have created my keyword list (at least 50 keywords should be present), I go to all of the major PPC engines that offer "bid for placement," and I check the cost per click of each term. Those with the highest costs usually have the highest conversions, assuming that those paying for these terms are also in your market. My logic for this is as follows: (cost per click * conversion rate) must equal at least a break even point in order to justify paying said amount for each unique visitor. The math for any ROI (return on investment) calculation is very simple and only requires any 2 of the 3 variables considered.

Variables: Cost Per Click, Average Sale, Conversion Rate
A question people often ask me is how can "Phentermine" dealers afford to pay $12.00 per unique to remain at the top of the PPC for that term? My answer is this: Go to their Web sites and find out what the average "Phentermine" sale is (it's around $160.00). Now determine the cost per click (in this instance its $12.00). Therefore, the breakeven point (assuming they earn 100% of the gross sale which is unlikely), is at least 7.5% – or mathematically, $12.00/$160.00=.075. However, in the real world, most "Phentermine" affiliates earn no more than 50%, so either the conversion is 15% – or that person is losing money on that keyword.

This concludes my section on keyword research. be sure to tune in next week for my next rant, followed by the next lesson in SEO – Search engine friendly design, or SEO from the ground up! Cheers! Morgan Carey AKA “SEO Guy”

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