Right now people are looking for you. It doesn’t matter what you offer, the fact is that somewhere someone is searching for you. Now. The question is: Are they finding you?
You’d like to help them find you. You’d like to reach through their screen and pull them to your site, so that they can find what it is they are looking for (because you’ve got it!). But how?
Do the research. That’s how you know who’s looking for you. Actually, that’s how you know how they are looking for you. Once you know how they are looking for you, you can help them find you.
Without knowing how they are looking for you, you have no way of reaching them. It drives everything. It drives how you optimize for Search Engine Ranking, it drives how you advertise, it drives how you write your sales copy, it drives how you structure your site to convert your visitors into customers.
There are tools (free tools!) that will help you sort out how people are looking for you (and how many). And chances are, there’s lots of different ways that they are trying to find you. The only way to know is to spend the time digging into the data and finding out. You can go to Overture, visit their resource center, and take advantage of their “Keyword Selection Tool”. This tool can help you find some of the keywords people are using when they search. The key is understanding what the keyword phrases tell you, and finding those keywords that will be most productive.
Productive keywords aren’t always the obvious one. Take these two examples:
Say your site is about car parts – more specifically Honda RX-7 axles, you’ve got to pick the right words. You could work to promote your site for “auto parts” (which is searched over 825,000 times a month), but how many of those are the right fit? You’ll get tons of traffic (which is not free), but how many will be looking for what you offer? (Answer: close to zero). Or, you could promote “honda” (searched over 600,000 times a month), which is closer – but still, is it the right fit? They’re looking for information on new Hondas, Honda Motorcycles, Honda dealers, etc, so again – most of the traffic is misguided. Or, you could promote “honda axles”. Now this term only gets 133 searches a month, but they are looking for exactly what you have. (And just to be clear, promoting for “Honda” and “Honda axles” is NOT the same). Even so, is there a way to promote that will get you more targeted visitors? (Answer: Yes.)
What if your site is about, for example, electronic document security. You offer a service that allow your customers to electronically “seal” the document with 128 bit encryption, send it via e-mail (or on a disk or a USB drive or publish it on an FTP site, any means), and only persons who are authorized to read it can open it and view the contents. By the way – and the cost is low, so it’s geared more for small shops (or individuals) that don’t have in-house IT.
Now – what do you promote? Good luck guessing what people are searching for. “Document security”? Not likely. That search could mean anything (paper documents? electronic documents? What kind of “security” do you mean?) What about “document encryption”? Are people technically-savvy enough to search for that? Selecting keywords and phrases becomes challenging.
Be warned: people that are searching for you aren’t thinking about it the same way you are. We’ve seen it over and over – marketing a site for terms and phrases that are related to the site, but are not what people are looking for.
Or, you can hire experts to do the research for you. Get the marketing research done for you by a company that specializes in understanding the big picture.