Understanding Keywords and Using Them Right

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Keywords… They make the world go round. The internet world at least. Keywords are one of the most vital elements on the web these days when it comes to marketing your company and your web site. These terms and phrases separated by spaces or commas link your site with the public; they breathe fresh air into your revenue in the form of unique visits via search engines. But with the millions of keywords floating around these days how do you get them to work for you? And can they work against you?


While keywords are meant to be a simple thing for people to wrap their heads around the truth of the matter is that behind the scenes there are layers of depth behind the whole process, something that takes a higher understanding of the internet and its users.

Really this is a topic I have wanted to cover for a while now. It was all sparked by a very informative presentation I had the honor of attending in Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing by Compendium Blogware‘s CEO Chris Baggot. Chris spent a good portion of his time discussing the logic behind Long Tail Keywords, which I ran back into briefly while looking at posts on Hongkiat. This topic is one worth expanding upon more and putting a bit of a spotlight on it because a lot of people are in the dark on this one.

In a sentence, the principle behind using long tail keywords is that it is easier and smarter to gather 1,000 visitors from 50 unique key words and phrases than it is to gather 1,000 visitors from 5 popular and vague key words. This image illustrates the point:

Long Tail Keywords

The surface of this idea is pretty simple. If you have a web site that is selling power tools and you focus on keywords like “tools” or “power tools” you are going to be a small fish swimming in a big pond. There are hundreds of thousands of web sites that sell tools, power tools even! So in order to achieve a top raking in these categories you need to pour in an extensive and expensive marketing and SEO campaign, none of which may lead to guaranteed results.

So instead lets focus on something more particular about this web site, something that makes it different. Determine your target audience and fire your keywords directly at them, picking up on their particular wants and needs. So instead of throwing out worthless keywords like “tools” you give them something like “High Powered Cordless Drills” then all of the sudden your in a smaller pond and while less people are searching for this term your site is on more result pages.

Expand that idea to a multitude of keywords that are aimed directly at your market niche and you find yourself going from a few shotgun marketing techniques to an army full of rifles. But using long tail keywords to pull in your visitors also has an additional benefit.

This additional benefit is that your new visitors actually care about your site. Not to say that the searchers in the “tools” crowd are bad people, but who is to say they want to buy some tools? Maybe they want to learn more about tools, maybe they are trying to sell some of theirs, the possibilities continue. So even if you get the hits from the vague keywords they may not do much to help your case in terms of revenue.

The deeper layer behind marketing with long tail keywords is that you are more likely to reel in visitors who are actually interested in the product, service, or information that your site provides because they searched for something that you particularly advertise. Your bounce rate goes down and the relevance of your site increases.

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