by Chris Horton
One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to assume that they know what keywords people are searching for to find them. 9 times out of 10, when an SEO client provides a list of keywords that they wish to rank for, they’ve missed a huge chunk of their biggest draws. For a dealership to chase the term “cars” or “automotive” is suicide. And when you ask why they’re striving to chase that word, they say, “Google says that 5 million people search for the word cars every month and I want that market.”
To start, that’s not what Google is saying . People often get confused when they see the Google Adwords tool tell them that “cars” is the highest search term. That number also includes a lot of words that include the word cars (i.e. – classic cars, used cars, new cars. etc.), so don’t let that skewed number entice you to throw money somewhere that you shouldn’t. Your best bet is to look for more specific 3 word terms such as Atlanta Chevy dealer, Chevy dealership in Atlanta, etc. that a searcher will actually use to find your business.
If you’re not locked into a location and have a site such as a movie review site or something similar, use Google’s Keyword Tool to look for 3 word terms that contain the word movie, movies, theater, etc. Make sure that you choose the “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms” checkbox and sort the results by Global Monthly Searches. You’ll find tons of ideas that thousands of people search for every month and where competition is little to none.
Make a list of your top 20 keywords and then make sure that you have good landing pages on your website that actually use those terms in the text, title tags, etc. Once you have those terms, use a program like IBP to find out what you can do next with your site to start ranking for that keyword or hire an SEO expert (with a proven track record) to tell you what you need to do next. They can even help you with the keyword search process if even that frustrates you. The trick is to not chase only the terms on the top of the list (when sorted by Global Searches), but to also make sure that you actually have a page on your site that clearly and definitively talks about the search term.
That’s the biggest mistake most people make. They say something along the lines of, “I want to rank for cookies.”, but they only have one page on their site that has one recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies. You might be able to rank for “peanut butter cookies”, but not the broad term of cookies unless you had some more pages with a proper silo to support that term. Understanding customer intent is very important and Google has made a business out of it. Someone searching for photography is not looking for the same thing as someone searching for photographer. One is most likely looking for photography tips on how to take photos and the other is looking for the person to take the photos. That’s a big difference. And it’s also the main reason why people get frustrated choosing the right keywords and get annoyed when they don’t appear on the rankings for those terms. Get real about what you’re chasing.
So spend some time going over your main site pages and see exactly what you should rank for and more importantly make sure that your site has a good content silo to support it.