For those intrepid, brave souls who just started a business or recently moved to the web you might be wondering where you should start? How do you get customers to your website and make money? The internet is a vast imbroglio; a complicated maze of digital wonderment. How can someone find little ol’ me in the endless maze of the web? In essence you are the smallest needle in the world’s largest haystack. Welcome to the wild, wonderful world of starting and promoting a business on the internet.
It doesn’t have to be horrifying or complicated actually. With a little bit of a plan you can turn what most beginners consider a daunting task into something fairly painless and highly effective for your new venture.
So what is the magic plan? What is this big secret that I speak of? The answer can be summed up in two golden words. Keyword Research.
What is keyword research?
When you type words into Google to search for something, those words are referred to as keywords, search strings or key phrases. Keyword research is essentially finding the exact keywords that users have actually searched for in recent months. Your goal is to uncover keywords and phrases that fit your target business or industry. Ideally you want to identify the keywords that have the most searches with the least amount of competition. In a nutshell, if your website subject matter revolves around these specific words of wonder – and better yet – your website content matches the subject of these keywords exactly, you’ll be considered “more relevant” to the searcher’s inquiry. The result being that you’ll show up higher in the search results. Mission accomplished. By knowing what people are searching for specifically you can place your most important keywords inside your website sales content or blog and eventually find your way into the search results for the products and services that you sell. Without proper research and supporting data it’s almost impossible to get it right regardless if you’re an expert in your field or not.
Keyword research involves spending time trying to learn what people are specifically searching for. For example, let’s examine the holistic health industry. You might be surprised that people tend to search for “spiritual health advice” instead of “holistic health advice”. The results of your research can affect everything from the name your choose for your business to the words you use in the content on your website to the words that you target in your advertising. By performing proper research you might find (I’m just guessing here) that the first example key phrase returns an average of 100 searches a month but the latter might return 1000 searches. You’d obviously target the keywords “holistic health advice” more often in your content if your business revolves around holistic and spiritual wellness and you might even consider using the word holistic in your business name.
Taking the time to research what people are searching for is a necessary first step when starting a business online. When I say “first step” I mean it really needs to be the absolute first step you make when starting a business. Even before you settle on the type of business you’re going to start and what you’re going to name your business you should take the time to consider the following:
- Is there a demand for my business already based on keyword search volume?
- If there is a demand, is there room for me?
- Is there a niche that I can exploit that I am not aware of?
- Are there products or services that people tend to buy or research more often within my business niche that I should focus on first?
- What words are people using to find what I want to sell online and can I use this data to help me name my business, build a more effective tagline or determine the first steps for my business?
- Based on the keywords I find, are there specific phrases, insider jargon that I am not aware of?
- Based on the amount of people searching for something can I find an even better business idea?
Once you’ve chosen your business and made the commitment you need to research how you’re going to promote your new business online. As I’ve already suggested – to be successful you need to know what people are specifically searching for. You need to complete a thorough keyword analysis that includes current search volumes for recent months, competitor data, search phrases from organic search queries and search phrases from pay-per-click engines. Specifically you need to know the exact words that your potential customers are using to find your products or services. Learn about the popular phrases, jargon and terms that users search for most often. Research the keywords that your competition is currently targeting and try to figure out why your competitor websites rank at the top of the search results. Once you have this information in hand you’ll have highly valuable data. You’ll be armed to the teeth with ammunition compared to most small business websites on the web and you can feel confident that you’re using the keywords that your customers use most often. Use them everywhere that you do business online and off.
So how do you start and get the data that you need? One of the first places you can set out to explore is the free Google keyword tool. Simply type in some keywords or a key phrase that relates to your business and they’ll return the estimated times that keyword was searched for in the last month. As an added bonus – and without even asking – they’ll provide you with all the other related key phrases that relate to your business.
But that’s not all. Google actually goes beyond what others provide. The Google keyword tool will return information on current advertiser competition in that category, last months search volume, average search volume, trends and the month that the highest search volume occurred in the last 12 months. You can easily add keywords to a list and export them for safe storage and review later. A valuable service indeed and it’s also free to use as much as your heart desires.
There are many other sources for keyword data but the tools mentioned here are a good place to start. (Did I mention they’re free?) You’ll be amazed at the data that you can uncover and how that data can bring your idea or your current business into focus.
Getting to know what your target audience is looking for is very important. If you spend the time up front to utilize the many tools and free resources available to you online you’ll justify your decision to start your business, you’ll make better decisions and when you write the content for your website you won’t be stabbing in the dark guessing. You’ll be running a precision campaign that’s specifically based on real world numbers and words and phrases that real people have used to find what you’re providing or selling.
Chris Auman is the President of Sanctuary Marketing Group in North Canton Ohio. He’s an internet veteran and entrepreneur. Sanctuary Marketing Group provides services for over 100 clients around the world with everything from website development and online marketing to custom programming and consultation.
Sanctuary Marketing Group does provide keyword research for businesses and online marketing campaigns. We recommend this research before we start a website design and before any new SEO or PPC campaign. We utilize the free tools mentioned in this article plus powerful subscription based tools to find and analyze all the keywords that are important to your business. For more information about our services please contact us. We’ll arm you with everything you need to grow your business online.