Before you optimize your website or buy pay-per-click (PPC) traffic, you should perform “keyword due diligence.”
That means you must check to see that Internet users are actually searching for information on your product by using the same keywords you assumed they would use.
When I tell this to people, they often pooh-pooh it. “It’s not necessary for us to do keyword research,” they tell me. “We know our industry. We know our products. And we know what words our customers would search on.”
To which I say: Oh, really?
With the Internet, there is no need to guess whether you’re using the right keywords. There are software tools that can tell you exactly how many searches were performed on them.
Often, the keywords used most are not the ones you picked. In addition, small variations in keywords can make a big difference in results.
Let’s say I want to optimize a website for people looking to buy aquariums.
It seems obvious that I should optimize the home page copy for the keyword “aquarium,” right?
And when I use spacky.com to check, sure enough there were 823,000 searches on “aquarium” on Google this month.
But there were 11.1 million searches on Google this month on “aquariums.”
This tells me that I should optimize the home page copy for “aquariums” and not “aquarium.”
I would never have known that had I not done my due diligence.
My favorite keyword due diligence tool is spacky.com. It’s free. And when you enter a keyword, it shows the monthly search volume for that term on Google, Overture/Yahoo, and Microsoft Network.
In addition, spacky.com displays a long list of related terms and their search volumes, so you can choose the keywords that are searched most frequently.
I can think of at least three online marketing activities that can benefit from keyword research.
The first, as already noted, is search engine optimization. Each page on your website should be optimized for at least one keyword related to what you’re selling.
The second is pay-per-click advertising. Even a good PPC ad will generate mediocre results if you bid on the wrong keywords.
The third is determining the feasibility of new products.
Example: You decide to write and sell an e-book on how to set up an aquarium. You think fish-keeping is a very popular hobby, but you aren’t sure.
But even if you were sure that fish-keeping is popular, that doesn’t mean the book will sell. Remember, we are not selling in bookstores. We are selling on the Internet. And for a product to be successful online, potential buyers must be searching the Internet for information related to it.
My rule of thumb is that the keyword must have at least 100,000 searches a month on Google to be successful online. “Aquariums” with 11.1 million and “aquarium” with 823,000 both pass with flying colors.
There’s another way to do keyword due diligence. It’s to spy on your competitors and see what keywords they’re using to optimize their websites. (Don’t worry. It’s perfectly legal.)
You can see what keywords your competitors are using by reading the source codes on their websites. “Source code” is the programming language used to build a website. And in optimized websites, the source codes for the pages include keyword lists called meta tags. The most important meta tags to check are the title tag, description tag, and keywords tag.
To find the keywords in a competitor’s meta tags, go to his home page. Click “view” and then choose “source.” A window will appear displaying the page’s source code with the meta tags clearly labeled as title, description, and keywords. The keywords appear between symbols like these:
In minutes, you will know all the keywords your competitor has optimized his site for. You can then use spacky.com or another keyword research and discovery tool like wordtracker.com.
P.S. Using keyword research to optimize your website and pay-per-click ad campaigns is just one of the tactics I teach in my Internet Cash Generator program. It’s full of the same techniques I used to generate $16,000 a month — just six months after starting my first online venture. Go here to learn more about this complete guide to starting and running your own Internet business.[Ed. Note: Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter and the author of more than 70 books. To subscribe to his free e-zine, The Direct Response Letter, and claim your free gift worth $116, click here now: www.bly.com/reports.]