As I have mentioned in a previous post, the major search engines currently rely on keywords to index and rank websites in their search results. Therefore, keyword research is the first step in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaigns. How much search volume is there for this keyword/ keyphrase? How much competition is there for this phrase? Can I beat this competition? There is a lot of work in the stage of keyword research alone, never mind the implementation of the optimisation of the chosen keywords. As a result, when a website gains one of those coveted top ten positions in Google, it is commonly assumed that the sales will come rolling in and it’s a case of job done. However, this is not always the case. Traffic will no doubt increase with a top ten ranking, but this does not automatically mean conversions will increase to the same extent. More traffic can never do any harm, but if you are looking to maximise your conversions then taking another look back at your keyword research may be of benefit to you.
Keyword research isn’t just the process of identifying a keywords or keyphrases with high search volume with a low or acceptable level of competition. It is about getting inside the head of the searcher. A good starting point is to think about your own online searching habits. Sometimes you will search for information about a topic or product you may have heard about recently. Other times you will be searching in order to compare products or services you already have information about and occasionally you will be searching in order to purchase a product or service.
In optimising your website you should not just aim to secure a cut of a certain amount of traffic but you should aim to target a specific type of searcher, namely a searcher with intent to buy the product/ service you provide. Therefore, it is important whilst conducting your keyword research to split your initial keyword shortlist into three separate groups of information, comparison and intent to buy. Different keywords will not be restricted to one group but surfers will often search them with a particular purpose in mind over an other, for example, targeting garden furniture over garden furniture suppliers will provide higher volumes of searches, however, those searching the latter will no doubt be more likely to buy garden furniture, whilst the former, is more likely to be only looking for information or to compare different types of garden furniture.
Whilst you should not become obsessed about trying to get into the searcher’s head, some consideration should be given, at the keyword research stage to the likely purchase intent a specific keyword will produce. A small amount of extra time spent in the initial stages of a Search Engine Marketing campaign may produce significantly increased conversion rates further down the line when you have secured those high search engine rankings.