Finding the best keywords for your business

The #1 common mistake that costs money through lost opportunities — every day!

We all know that Google constantly implements algorithm updates. We’ve had Panda…  Penguin…  Hummingbird…  Red Back Spider…   Death Adder…   Wrist Slasher…  

Well OK, maybe not Red Back Spider, Death Adder and Wrist Slasher. But for some folks who don’t follow Google’s guidelines, some of those updates ARE painful.

No matter what animals come out of the Google Jungle, one fundamental challenge has stayed consistent: how do you find the best keywords for your business?

Keyword research is about people and their questions

You’ll hear a few different opinions on what keyword research is.

If you ask me however, the most important aspect of keyword research is figuring out the actual search terms that real people use when looking for solutions to their problems and answers to their questions.

Notice something in that sentence that should set you thinking on the right path?

It was the words “looking for solutions to their problems and answers to their questions”.

I didn’t say “looking for your business and information about you”.

Mostly, people don’t give a fat rat’s clacker about your business or about you.

Leastways, not until they are well progressed through the buying cycle, and are about to decide who to buy from. THEN they will want to know about you, to see if you can be trusted with their hard-earned money.

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Until that point however, they are early in the buying cycle. They are still trying to learn the basics. Their searches are focused on their problems, their questions and their dreams.

Take a moment to ponder on that. It is important.

So many business owners and marketing managers lose opportunity with their websites because they are thinking about:

  • Themselves and what they want to be “found on Google for” 

When they SHOULD be thinking about:

  • Their potential customers and what they want to find.

And that, right there, is the #1 mistake with keyword research. People doing the researching forget to go back to basics, and walk a mile in their potential customers’ shoes.

So how DO you find the best keywords for your business?

The first step is to develop a very clear picture of who you want to do business with.

Sales hard-heads call them ‘prospects’. Or they might call them ‘your market’.

Hmmm….

We prefer to think of them in simpler terms: as ‘people’.

They are real, living, breathing people just like you ‘n me.  They have challenges, questions, problems and dreams. So….   to connect with them, you need to get a clear picture of who they are, how they think, what they need and why they think they need it.

This will shape the keywords you use. It will, in turn, shape the content of your website — and make it more profitable for you.

Now let me share a secret about most of your competitors. 

They don’t understand this. They don’t get it. They are so busy thinking about themselves, what they sell and what they want to be “found on Google for”, they RARELY give a moment’s thought to the REAL fundamentals of keyword research. 

They never take the time to take their eyes off themselves and look at their potential customers. Result? Their website content misses the mark. And they miss out on opportunities. (Or, to put it another way, they leave opportunities wide open for you!) 

I want you to be different.

I want you to develop the habit of walking in the shoes of REAL people.

Look at life through different eyes. Think about your potential customers, and what problems and challenges they have. Trust me, it will help you to target the RIGHT keywords and increase the appeal of your website content.

You will find our free e-Book, Turning Prospects Into People, very helpful when doing this. It explains the process of developing a persona, and gives you new insights into how to ‘walk in their shoes’ to understand how they tick.

Here’s how to do “back to basics” keyword research

For the purposes of keyword research, you need to go to a place you’ll read about in Turning Prospects Into People that I call “Way Back When”.

That’s the time when you didn’t know that much about your products and services.

It was way back when:

  • You didn’t know the jargon.
  • You didn’t know the features.
  • You didn’t know the benefits.
  • You didn’t know all the ins and outs.
  • You didn’t know the mountains of ‘stuff’ that you know now.

Why is this important?

Because that’s where your potential customers are at!

They don’t know a poofteenth of what you know. And that is reflected in the keywords they are using on Google search.

So I’m going to give you a three step process for your keyword research that will point your head in the right direction.

Step 1: Develop a list of topics that you feel are important for your business

This first step is easy. Your competitors will be doing this. Why wouldn’t they? It means thinking about their favourite subject: themselves, and what they do.

Here’s how to do step #1…

If you were a company like Crockford Carlisle, for example – offering digital marketing expertise (which we happen to be really good at ... but I digress ;-) – you might have general topics like “keyword research”, "lead generation”, "inbound marketing",  "email marketing”, "blogging", "SEO," "social media," "marketing analytics," and "marketing automation."

They are all important, right?

HOWEVER, they are NOT the things that our potential clients are searching for.

So let’s move on to…

Step 2: Fill in those topics with subject ideas

Now that you have a few broad topics you want to focus on, it's time to identify some broad subjects that fall under those headings.

The point of this step isn't to come up with your final list of keyword phrases. You just want to end up with a brain dump of subjects related to that topic, that you think potential customers might be interested in.

For instance, if I took that last topic list for a digital marketing company – "marketing automation" – I'd brainstorm some phrases that I think people might be interested in related to that topic.

Those might include:

  • lead nurturing
  • marketing automation tools
  • marketing automation software
  • email marketing automation
  • top marketing automation tools
  • And so on and so on.

But we are not there yet. 

Yes, some of those subject ideas will be useful when connecting with people who have done some research and have some knowledge.

But for the wider market, these are still too broad.

So now, let’s move on to step #3…

Step 3: Research (and think about!) related search terms

This is a creative step. This is where you drill down to the way your potential customers are thinking. 

It is more challenging, because you are now moving away from:

  • Yourself — and what you want to be “found on Google for”.

And heading towards where the money is:

  • Your potential customers — and what they want to find.

You now want to look at your subject lists, and think about the ACTUAL questions that REAL people will be trying to solve.

And remember, these people don’t know much about the subject. They don’t spend all day in your business. They don’t go to seminars. They are not involved in what you do.

They are just people. People who are trying to get problems solved. They just want to get it sorted.

Looking at our example, let’s take “lead nurturing”, which was the first subject in our list. Looking at it through your “Way Back When” eyes and thinking like a potential customer, you might come up with things like:

  • What are lead nurturing emails
  • What is a lead nurturing process
  • What are lead nurturing emails
  • What is a lead nurturing strategy
  • How do I use lead nurturing for more sales
  • Will lead nurturing grow my business
  • How to improve lead nurturing
  • How to implement lead nurturing
  • How to do lead nurturing
  • How to write lead nurturing emails
  • How does lead nurturing work.

NOW we are getting somewhere.

NOW we are walking in the shoes of the people we can help.

Putting your new keywords to work on your website

As you build out your list of search terms, you are creating a terrific resource for your blog content.

By writing articles that answer these questions and ensuring that they are properly optimised for Google, you’ll start to draw traffic to your site. Most importantly, it is likely to be the type of traffic that you want — potential customers who have questions about problems that your products and services can solve.

This blogging strategy, coupled with an automated nurturing strategy (yep, there’s my topic keyword again), will help you start to generate more enquiries that you can turn into qualified leads — and that HAS to be good for business!

Additional keyword research tools and tips

ANSWER THE PUBLIC

One great place to look is a free tool called www.answerthepublic.com

You can ask the old goomer on there to stop picking his teeth, and come back with real-time data about the questions people are asking about your topics.

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GOOGLE SUGGEST (DROP DOWN)

Struggling to think of more keywords people might be searching about a specific topic?

Go to google.com.au and take a look at the related search terms that appear in the drop down menu when you plug in a keyword.

This is called Google Suggest, and that list you see is based on REAL data that people are searching for. I just typed in “lead nurturing”, and it told me that people are actually searching for:

  • Lead nurturing best practices
  • Lead nurturing email examples

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GOOGLE SUGGEST (BOTTOM OF PAGE)

Or, when you type in your phrase, scroll to the bottom of Google's results, you'll notice some suggestions for searches related to your original input. These keywords can spark ideas for other keywords you may want to take into consideration.

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FOLLOW THE TRAIL

A further tip with Google suggest…

If you key in some of those related search terms and look at THEIR related search terms, you’ll be taken to places you might not have thought of — but which could be VERY relevant for your website content strategy.

It is amazing what keyword ideas you can find for your business, several generations away from your original idea. 

TALK TO YOUR SALES TEAM

Another place to get ideas is from any customer-facing people in your business. 

Have them keep an ear out for the questions that people ask, ESPECIALLY for questions that use the wrong terminology for one of your products or services.

Don’t correct people. Listen to what they are asking, and see if their language is commonly used by other customers.

For example, if one person is asking me “How do I fix my web page (Instead of “web site”) to bring in more business?”, then there may will be a bazillion others who ALSO say “web page” instead of “web site”.

If they are searching using that language, I’d better have that phrase in my keyword strategy. I want them to find Crockford Carlisle because our amazing team can help!

Need help with your keyword strategy? Give Crockford Carlisle a call on 07 3891 3800 or get in touch with the contact form here.