Editor’s Note: is a contributor to Practical eCommerce and the owner of BillHartzer.com, a Dallas-based online marketing firm. Hartzer wrote the article, below, which first appeared in that company’s blog.
Keyword research is one of the most important parts of online marketing. Sometimes we don’t realize just how much of a difference it can make in the overall success of a search engine marketing campaign or even the success of an online business. It’s my belief that the keyword phrase–the term that a searcher types into the search engine when they’re searching–can make or break an online business. Target the wrong keyword phrases and an online business is destined to fail.
Domain names by themselves are no longer the most valuable “location” on the Internet–keywords are. If you buy a domain name and put up a website, visitors won’t automatically flock to your website and buy your products. The popular phrase “if you build it they will come” is not true when it comes to online businesses. You must market your website online, and one of the best forms of ROI [return on investment] for an online business is through search engine marketing. All search engine marketing campaigns need to start with a set of keywords. It’s those keywords that are an online business’ location, just as a traditional brick-and-mortar store’s location is a physical street address.
Location, Location, Location
If you’re considering opening a gas station, one of the most important decisions related to the success of the gas station is going to be its location. Selling gas near a busy highway where there is a large traffic count would be ideal. So, it’s logical to get the traffic count data for several locations before deciding where to purchase land and build your gas station. In the online marketing world, we have the opportunity to get traffic counts as well, meaning the average number of searches per day for certain keyword phrases. By positioning your online business in the proper keyword “locations,” your online business will thrive. Target the wrong keyword phrases and your online business won’t get any search engine traffic, and no potential customers will visit your website.
If you’re a brick-and-mortar business that sells power tools, for instance, proper keyword research can be a tremendous help, even before you set up your online business. Keyword research can tell you exactly which power tools are more popular online, which may be different than the best selling power tools in your retail store. Armed with this knowledge, you can focus on the more popular products that customers are looking for online. For example, did you know that more people search for portable generators online than any other type of power tool? Perhaps this is due to the recent weather-related disasters that have hit the United States or the pending winter weather, but focusing on selling portable generators online might be good for business. Keyword research using Wordtracker gives us this valuable information; it can also give us the list of other power tools that are being searched for, which will be a good start for a list of keywords.
Keyword Research Tools
There are many online keyword research tools, and many of them work differently and provide you with different data. Oftentimes there will be differences in the data, and that’s primarily due to the actual source of the data. For example, according to Wordtracker, one of the most popular keyword research tools, “All search terms are collected from the major metacrawlers – Dogpile and MetaCrawler.” Yahoo! search marketing, formerly Overture, still has the free Overture keyword selector tool, and its data comes directly from their database, although the keyword data is usually one month old. Searches performed there in October will show data compiled from September.
Other keyword research tools exist, and you’ll need to check each of the tools’ websites to determine where they get their data. Remember that using a combination of several online keyword research tools will help, as getting a second or third opinion is always a good practice.
Following is a list of keyword research tools:
- Digital Point keyword suggestion tool
- Trellian Keyword Discovery
- Apogee Web Consulting free keyword research tool
There is a good list of more keyword research tools on the SEO Company website.
Keyword research is an important part of the overall search engine marketing process. You must have a list of keywords to target whether your goal is organic search engine rankings or advertising with a pay-per-click campaign. Target the right words and your online business will be a success; focusing on keywords that describe exactly what you’re selling will provide the best overall return on investment. Target the wrong keywords and you’ll end up with the wrong type of visitors to your website or no visitors at all.