How to Discover the Best Keywords

With an annual salary of $185,000 in 1907, (that would be over 4.5 million in today’s dollars) Claude Hopkins was among the highest paid advertisers in the country.  His work turned a number of small companies into big businesses, and in at least one case he is credited with creating an entire industry.  His enormous success was in part due to the fact that he knew just the right words to use.  He knew which words would resonate most with his prospective customers and, just as importantly, which ones would not.  Imagine knowing just the right words to attract more customers to your website.  Knowing the right words is easy when you know where to look.

How to discover the best keywords for your website

Do You Know How to Discover the Best Keywords for Your Website?

Men Are From Mars…

You don’t need to have read the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus to know that there are gender-based differences in communication.  Just as men and women sometimes think and use words very differently from one another, often business owners think and talk about their product / service differently from their new or prospective customers.  Long-time customers often are familiar with what we do or provide, but new customers aren’t.  They approach things a little differently.  In order to attract more customers, you’ve got to speak to them both in person and through your website and other marketing materials in a way that they can relate to.

Avoid the Communication Disconnect

The communication disconnect frequently occurs when the marketing materials are out of sync with the intended audience.  Think of the stereotype of the computer geek who is telling you what is wrong with your computer.  When too much information, along with technical terms are combined, the result is a disconnect in communication.  In business this can happen naturally – if you’re not careful – because you are much more familiar with your products, services, and processes than prospective customers.  We have a joke around the house that sometimes my wife asks a 10 cent question and I give a 2 dollar answer – sometimes less is better.  Knowing the difference is part science and part art.  Striking the right balance can help your business reach and attract more customers.

What Happens When You Use The Right Key Words?

Most people scan material rather than read closely.  As your target audience is scanning through the material – web page, email, newsletter, etc. – they are making a decision on whether or not to read more closely or to keep moving.  When they see the key words that they’re looking for, you’ve created the basis for engagement.  If the keywords that you’ve used are different from what they are familiar with or expecting, they won’t stick around.

When you use the same key words and key phrases that your customers use, it has the effect of establishing credibility and trust.  It all goes back to the fact that people do business with those that they know, like, and trust.  Using the same word choices that your target audience uses inspires trust because it allows people to feel like you understand them and what they want.

The Fastest Way to Discover the Best Keywords

Claude Hopkins was able to be so successful because he knew his audience.  He didn’t spend his time in an ivory tower – he spent time engaging his target market in conversation.  This wasn’t something that he did through surveys or other somewhat impersonal means – this was something that he did one person at a time.

The fastest way to gain the deepest insights into the key words and key phrases that your target audience uses is to engage them in conversation on an individual basis.  What are their issues?  What’s going on in their life?  Talking with people is the best and fastest way to gain a deep understanding of your target audience.  This understanding will enable you to create detailed website personas, which are great tools when it comes to tailoring your website to fit your audience.  The ability to tailor your site so that it meets the most important website use cases, or needs of your target audience is obviously a huge competitive advantage.

Look At Their Questions

The exact wording of the questions that people ask you is highly significant.  Don’t paraphrase their question and put it into your words – use their words.  Keep a list of the questions that you get asked by your customers and prospects.  You’ll get a lot of the same questions asked again and again, but in slightly different words.  Just keep a list of questions, exactly as they are asked, along with a count of how many times the exact same wording is used.  This list and count contains the most important keywords and phrases that you’ll want to use.

Ask How They Found You

Asking your clients and prospects where and how they found you is helpful for determining the key search phrase that they may have typed into the search engines.  Google Analytics can also give you a lot of great insights into how people find your website, as well as which key search phrase was typed into to the search engine when they found your website.

Ask Why They Chose You

When you’re the only game in town – your customers don’t have a choice.  However, in a crowded market place your customers have lots of choices.  When you are talking with a new customer, thank them for their business and ask them what made them choose you.  If your customers purchase online – you’ll do this by email instead of in conversation.  The keywords that they use are definitely the wording that you want to use in your marketing materials.

Another technique is to ask your customers how they would describe your business to a friend.  The answers can be very educational.  They contain the keywords and phrases that really resonate with your audience.

Search Engine Tools

Another technique for finding popular keyword phrases is to make use of the auto suggest feature that Google, Bing and other search engines offer.  When you begin typing a word or a phrase, the search engine shows you a list of popular search phrases that contain what you’ve typed in so far.  You can use this technique to identify some of the most searched for phrases that are important for you.

One of the coolest software tools that I’ve seen in a long time is based on pulling the keyword phrases from Google and Bing’s auto suggest results. The visualization display is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. If you’ve ever tried a keyword tool and found it to be cumbersome or tedious, then you’re gonna love Answer The Public.

Additionally, there are free and paid software tools that you can use to sort through keywords, to gain insight into the popularity of various keyword phrases and the competition that exists for those phrases.  These tools can be helpful, but the most common complaints about those tools are that low volume (which may still be very profitable for you) keyword phrases are missing, and the volume of information that these tools provide can be downright overwhelming.

Competitive Research

I saved competitive research for last because it really is the least significant of the ways to identify your best keywords.  The reason is that with this method, you’re not discovering new insights; you’re just attempting to copy what others have done.  If you want to stand out online and show up at the top of the search engines when people are looking for your products or services, you’ve got to do more than just copy the keywords that your competitors are using.  You’ve got to dig deeper for insights that your competitors don’t have about what your target audience is really looking for and why.

Keyword Discovery

Discovering the best keywords to use is more of an ongoing process than a one-time event.  The insights that you gain through this process will provide you with a huge competitive advantage.  Know that most businesses don’t put forth as much effort as they should in this area.  When you know and use the exact same wording on your website and marketing materials that your target audience uses, you create a bond with your audience.  Using the right keywords and phrases will enable you to reach and attract more ideal customers.

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  • Kathleen Mundy February 17, 2016, 10:21 am

    Charles,
    Your practical vision is just what entrepreneurs need to focus on the client expectation and relationship process.

    Asking is the only way to really understand how you are being viewed in the market. Ask, listen and respond with changes if necessary… After all our customers need us and we need to know in what ways.
    Great Newsletter!

    ~Kathleen, founder MAKING YOUR OWN MONEY.COM

    • Charles Ogwyn February 17, 2016, 12:31 pm

      Thanks Kathleen. There really is no suitable substitute for taking time to ask and then really listen.

  • Terrence A. Black February 17, 2016, 6:28 pm

    We just completed these projects within the last six months so the exact economic benefits are not yet calculated. However, if changing the words you use with your target audience results in 1 new customer or client, 1 new team to train, or 1 new client company, would it be worth it?

    • Charles Ogwyn February 18, 2016, 8:42 am

      Thanks Terrence.

  • Tom Hamilton February 18, 2016, 10:19 am

    Great points and information Charles.

    • Charles Ogwyn February 18, 2016, 11:12 am

      Thanks Tom.

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