Nearly everything we do online begins with a search. And that involves thinking up the best phrase that represents the problem we’re trying to solve or the question we’re trying to answer. This is why keyword research is a step in PPC strategy that you cannot skip.
Let’s say you run a website that sells the latest tablet computers. Imagine yourself in the shoes of someone who’s about to search for tablets and places to buy them. What keywords would they type in? Too many business owners try to create a conversation in the mind of their customers when what they should really be doing is figuring out the conversation that’s already there. Stepping in to help customers get where they already want to go and do what they already want to do is where true PPC magic happens.
How to find the most profitable keywords
By now, you’ve likely figured out that once you start trying to predict the keywords your customers are using, you’re going to end up with a very, very long list.
Not to worry. The longer your list of keywords, the wider the array of customers you’ll reach. Let’s start by narrowing things down a little bit. You can find the audience that’s most interested in your product or service by understanding the three major groups of online searchers:
1. Informational searchers are looking for general information on a topic. It’s usually hard to tell exactly what each person is looking for. One person might be doing research for a term paper. Another person might be killing time waiting for a bus. The vast majority of this group aren’t ready to buy and probably never will be.
2. Comparison searchers are definitely interested in your product, but they’re still at the research stage, checking out reviews and comparing prices. Some folks from this group will be ready to buy in a matter of days or even hours, but for others, it may be weeks, months or possibly never.
3. Buyers know exactly what they want, and the only barrier to making a purchase is finding the right place and the right deal.
So how do you tell which of these three groups a person is in? By studying the keywords they enter into the search bar. As a general rule of thumb, the more specific the search, the closer they are to the “Buyer” group.
Take, for instance, the three different types of people searching for televisions:
An information seeker will generally search for keywords containing just one or two words with no modifiers:
- 66-inch TV
- OLED TV
- Flat screen TV
A comparison shopper is a bit more specific, using modifiers for a greater depth of information:
- Samsung TV reviews
- 4K TVs
- Compare OLED TVs
- Alternatives to LG 66-inch TV
Finally, the buyer is very specific, often using the results of his previous research in the keywords:
- Order 42-inch LG TV
- Buy LG 4K online
- VIZIO M series 2017 buy online
- LG OLED B6P best price
If you’re just getting started with your AdWords campaigns and budget is your biggest concern, it makes sense to target only the buyer group. These folks are the easiest to convert to customers. Let’s start with a group of buyers and put together a first draft of our keyword list.
Step 1: Scour your website.
Browse your site and your entire product range, and make a list of everything you sell. You probably know your product line pretty well. Step into your customer’s shoes, and assume they don’t know your products by heart. Think of synonyms they might use. Then combine these with some of the common buyer and comparison keywords.
Sticking with our TV example, if one of your products is a LG OLED TV, then you might come up with these keyword combinations:
- LED LG OLED TV
- Buy LG OLED TV
- Best LG OLED TV
- Compare LG OLED TV
Step 2: Sniff out your competition.
Take a look at your top competitors’ websites. You’ll almost certainly find a few phrases and expressions you hadn’t thought of. Add these to your list as well.
Step 3: Ask your customers.
Do a survey. Have a casual phone chat with a few of your most recent buyers. Ask them specifically how they found your site and, if they can remember, the keywords they searched on. At this stage, you won’t hear a huge amount that surprises you, but you’ll definitely pick up a handful of new keywords or modifiers to add to your list.
Step 4: Ask your staff, family and friends.
This is an extension of Step 3. At this stage, you may feel like you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. But that’s the point — it’s all about compiling as exhaustive a list as you can.
Step 5: Dive into keyword tools.
For the most part, Google’s keyword resource is good enough. As you gain experience, however, third-party tools will allow you to dig even deeper. Most keyword tools of this type work by figuring out what your competitors are bidding on and feeding the data back to you. There are limits to how accurate this supply of information can be. But they will give you keyword ideas you would otherwise have missed.