What is the first thing you think of when searching the internet for a company or service? It is something you might not even notice you are doing, so subliminal it has become. And yet it is something that we all do every time without fail – come up with key words or phrases to input into a search engine so that websites can find useful matches.
It’s not just search engines that require key words though. In fact, a successful and strategic marketing campaign also requires a whole host of key words and phrases. Key words can be used to get across your messages and ideals when used consistently throughout marketing. Think of soft drinks, Christmas and children, think of Coca Cola. Think of cars, windows, scratches, think of Autoglass. Think of your products, services and key audience – do people think of your business?
To be successful, keywords need to be implemented from the start of a marketing strategy and consistently spread throughout all activities. From the beginning of your strategic marketing planning, think of all the buzz words that help to describe your business. If you were searching Google for your company, what words would you enter to find yourself? What values are you trying to promote with your business? Put them into words.
What words should I be using?
Think of words that describe your business. If you are a PR and marketing firm, those need to be your keywords. If you work in engineering, engineering is one of your keywords just as dentistry is one for dentists and computing one for IT companies.
Where are you? Are you in Coventry? Then that needs to be a keyword. Offering removal services from Manchester? Then removal services and Manchester need to be in your keywords.
Who do you work for? What audience demographics are you trying to attract? If it’s specialist medical chairs for over 60s then you need to be using words like ‘elderly’ and ‘pensioner’ in your key words. If it’s younger people, use the words ‘teenagers,’ ‘twenty-somethings’ or ‘children.’
That’s the obvious but what about the not-so-obvious? Have a good think. Is there another word that describes one of the existing keywords you have thought of? A good idea is to go through a Thesaurus and find all words similar to those you are including in your keywords. People search for different things. While one person might be looking for accountants, someone else might be looking for financial advisors. It is highly likely that you fit into both titles so make sure your keywords leave no room for error.
Never miss an opportunity
It’s not just a case of sitting down and penning your keywords – you need to use them as much as possible. Consider them in everything you do that helps to market your business. Keywords can be used anywhere in marketing material to get across your products and services to the right audiences.
Begin with the most obvious place – on your website. Your website may have been live for quite some time and gathering a consistent and impressive hit rate but that doesn’t mean it can’t be made even better. Now you have your key words, go back over your website copy and insert them in wherever and whenever appropriate. Even if one of your keywords is a cliché that you don’t want included on your web copy, make sure you still tag it in your META data so it is still present should somebody run a search for it. Done properly, it really does help with your search engine optimisation or SEO, driving your website up the search rankings.
Keep these keywords at the forefront of your mind for any other marketing material you produce. A press release about a new product or service offers a great opportunity to embed some of your key words while a direct marketing letter gives you the chance to be bolder when including these terms. Blogs are written by you and read by industry experts, followers and those interested in your business. What a fantastic opportunity to stamp some of your key words into your prose! What’s more, when writing a blog, unlike a press release – you have the final say over how it is published. Be striking and get your keywords as prominent as you can. Use one in your headline, add a sub-headline and don’t forget to tag the entire post with your key words. Again, keywords in blogs help with your SEO, and don’t forget to tag any images or videos you use with your key words. Be consistent.
Evaluate and monitor
Your keywords aren’t working? Then you need to sit down and think why this is not going to plan. Perhaps your industry is changing and your keywords are not supporting these changes? Maybe your target audience aren’t searching for your key words because your keywords are old fashioned or outdated. Put yourself in the mindset of a potential customer demographic. If you are selling to businesspeople think what kind of terms businesspeople will be using. It is unlikely to be slang words or terms that have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary within the last five years. They are more likely to be searching for the more traditional words that describe your business.
By regularly evaluating your key words and implementing them within your marketing strategy you can be sure that your key messages are being picked up by the right people operating in the right circles. Just as Google regularly reviews and changes its SEO terms, you need to be updating and changing your keywords for maximum effect.
And don’t forget, you can monitor the effectiveness of key words in your industry sector by using a free tool: Google Alerts. This will bring you regular updates and information from across the Internet using the key words you set up. It’s great for keeping an eye on your customers, competitors, and key industry trends as well as what is being said about your business – all because you’ve invested some time in thinking about key words that are important to your business.
Two weeks after the introduction of Google Instant, the new tool from the Google giant is a hot topic on the blogosphere. Google Instant is a new search enhancement that, unlike the previous search engine, enables results to change as you type. Will it or will it not affect the SEOs, this is the question at the moment, and PR is directly involved, since SEO copywriting is practically the basis for digital PR.
Search Engine Optimisation means getting search engines to really like your copy and become involved in a solid relationship with your site. If this happens, search engines will prove their commitment to this relationship by placing your site high up in the rankings on the result page. On the IT part, this is done through some spider like tools that extract keywords and create links and connections to search engines (short version for dummies). But as far as PR is concerned, this relationship is created through keywords, by doing keyword research and finding accurately targeted, appropriate keywords. There is a choice of inserting long or short tail keywords, depending on what better suits your content and audience.
For this reason, SEO copywriting is a highly valued asset for PR and of course, for companies in need of good copy. And as copywriters were starting to master this practice, Google released Instant to challenge their skills. TechCrunch, (btw a very visible site due to SEOs) was quick to take up the topic and has already carried a small study on the consequences of this new tool. It might be overdramatic to say that SEOs are dying but there are definitely consequences for both organic and paid search results.
Basically, since the search result page changes a few times before completing your search, more results than before are pushed after the fold. The ones at the top are favoured and show increases in driving traffic to sites, the ones in the middle are insignificantly pushed down but it’s bad news for the ones at the end as they are mostly sent on the second page. So, getting a top position on the search engine result page is now, more important than ever. For pay per click and adwords, this also means more competition for keywords.
Since suggestions constantly change while you’re typing, the most popular keywords will appear while the less popular combinations and long tail keywords to be less visible and drive less traffic. So less variety and more short tail keywords. There are benefits for local pay per click results as these are enhanced, in the lack of a specified location.
These are the changes noticed so far by the tech community, but we’ll be able to make more sense of it after a longer period of use, so there may be more or contrasting changes.
So what can we do about it? With the information available so far, it seems that there is nothing radically changing but it’s more a case of ‘if you haven’t done it so far, now it’s the time’. Keyword research to discover the popular varieties and using analytics to check which keywords drive more traffic and which not and compress or replace the long-tail ones are important.
The creative part of SEO copywriting is very much valid. Besides digital optimisations, content is still king. Factual information and a strong content strategy are essential for linking the digital to human commitment. The spider like tool might be easily tricked by dense keywords but customers usually aren’t.
Overall, the appearance of Google Instant is a good wake up call for all and it goes to prove, if proof were necessary, that new media is no steady business. Since social media is the new prodigy, new media are not that new and shiny anymore. A lot of knowledge and experience already exists in this field, so it’s rather easy to fall in the trap of seeing new media as a controlled phenomenon, with set practices. But every now and then something even newer comes up, proving that, at the fast pace we’re going, there is little time for expertise and much more for learning, improving and constantly updating. I wonder if someone there at Google is having a good laugh about all this…
http://techcrunch.com/2010/09/21/guest-post-how-google-instant-can-help-and-hurt-seo/ (link for techcrunch)