Keywords, what they mean, and what matters about them are ever changing, complicated topics. Because of this, many business websites are dearly lacking in appropriate, targeted keyword strategies.
But why is that?
Your business is probably targeting the keywords you think it should. If you’re in logistics, you’re probably targeting supply chain, logistics, and third party logistics.
If you’re in TEM, you’re probably targeting telecom expense management.
If you’re in SaaS, you’re probably targeting words directly related to the software, or service, you’re providing.
If you’re spending money on Adwords for those words, you’re probably spending a pretty penny on each click. TEM related words can be as much as $20 a click, logistics nearly as high, and SaaS can be easily $5 to $10 a click for the very specific words related to your industries.
While yes, you want to rank for those very specific, very targeted words, do you really want to be spending $15 to $20 a click for visits that may not convert, may not be actual leads, or who may even be competitors who wanted to check out your landing pages?
That’s where a more strategic keyword (and SEO) plan comes into play.
Great Keywords Come From Understanding Your Buyer
An often touted diagram for Inbound Marketing is the buyer’s journey: Awareness, Consideration, Decision.
When you pay for, and target, specifically branded keywords that are exactly what your business offers, you’re targeting your efforts toward buyers in the decision stage of their buying journey. Those are the buyers who are deciding on what solution to buy, which is why their clicks are so expensive.
However, there’s plenty of buyers (more, usually) who are earlier in their buyer’s journey. They’re just becoming aware that they have a problem, and that there may be a solution (awareness stage), or they’re looking at their options for solving that problem (consideration stage).
Because the buyers in the awareness stage aren’t sure of what they want, the words and phrases they use to search are extremely varied. Those keywords are also cheap.
That’s because all of your competitors are targeting all those decision stage buyers, thinking that those are the only people they should be trying to sway with their marketing.
But that’s wrong.
Decision stage buyers have already decided on the options they’re choosing between.
If you’ve attracted a decision stage buyer, they made most of that decision before ever talking to your sales team. They already found you, somehow, some way, and considered your business as an option already.
Decision stage buyers are important, but targeting them is expensive – and potentially futile. These people already know what they want, whether that is or isn’t you.
So why chase them?
Awareness stage buyers are further away from making a decision, which makes for a long sales cycle, but if you start influencing them at the beginning of that cycle…as they move along, considering options, your business becomes that primary consideration.
Ranking highly and answer questions in the awareness stage leads to an easier time ranking for the buyers that are in the consideration stage.
Those buyers are the ones you want to be converting on your site, the ones you want sales to be in touch with.
Determining Which Keywords You Should Target
If you’ve never thought about how your best leads might be searching for you, then now is the time to start.
Use Google’s auto-complete to figure out which phrases are the most common, typing in the words that first come to mind. Additionally, try using a Keyword Tool (Keywords Everywhere is my current favorite) to see the number of searches and the cost per click of those words.
Then, sit in with your sales team more.
Find out what questions they’re commonly answering for prospects. Are there common themes among those questions? Could you be providing easy answers on your website?
Think through the problems you solve for your customers.
What are questions they should be asking, even if you don’t always hear prospects asking them directly?
Try typing those questions into Google, experimenting with combinations until you start finding words or phrases that get a dozen to a hundred searches each month.
Don’t be afraid to get granular, either. As a practical example, let’s look at a software as a service company. They provide software that assists with accounting and invoicing, and their tool is most effective with B2B businesses.
Instead of targeting words like “accounting software” or “invoicing software”, they take time to understand their audience. They know that their audience is usually small to mid sized companies, and that the audience is usually shopping for an invoicing solution when the office manager changes, or when they first start hiring more office employees. That’s because they’re growing – or the new office manager wants to try something other than ‘the way its always been done’.
So instead of targeting just “accounting software”, they target phrases a new office manager is likely to be looking up as they get settled. Templates, errors, and overhauls are common first searches, as managers in any capacity try to figure out what’s going on and how they can fix the issues they’ve inherited.
Instead of “invoice software” at $12.46 a click for only 12,000 extremely competitive searches, they can try “invoice templates” at $5.09 a click, with over 200,000 searches that are half as competitive.
Instead of “accounting software” at $8.98 a click for over 60,000 searches, and competition even higher than “invoice software”, there’s other indicators that someone needs improvements in their accounting software. “Accounting error” has only 1300 searches, but cost per click is under $1, and there’s next to no competition. “Payroll mistake” is basically free, which is likely due to only getting about a dozen or so searches a month.
Any business looking up accounting errors or payroll mistakes probably needs a software that helps them.
See what I’m getting at?
What would your perfect customer be searching for that is a sign they have a problem?
Those are the keywords you should target, and the type of content you should be creating.