How to SEO: don’t choose keywords


I regularly get contacted by companies that say ‘We’ve done some SEO and now we’re top of Google for our ideal search phrase, why aren’t we getting any enquiries?’. This seems to be a common SEO problem and one that hopefully I can shed some light on as to what is going wrong.

Don’t Choose Keywords, You Are Not Your Ideal Customer

Unfortunately as much as you can identify the most highly searched and most relevant phrases to your products and services, potential customers will have their own motivational factors and will not behave as you expect because not everyone thinks the same way that you do. In fact you are almost certainly not your ideal customer!

The most effective way to identify the really effective search terms, rather than choosing them yourself, is to find a way to measure the effectiveness of each phrase to generate engagement and conversions. Obviously it could take a long time to SEO your website for every potentially effective phrase and even then you may find that you haven’t thought of all of the ideal search terms. So what can you do to measure the effectiveness of search terms?

Search Results From Keyword Research

There’s a new use for Google Places listings that completely re-engineers the way you can identify relevant search terms for a website. By using the local business results and detailed analytics you can quickly target a range of phrases (including random combinations and alternatives) to determine which are the most relevant for your potential audience. The bonus is that whilst you conduct this research, you actually generate sales from search during the process.

Andrew Rayner is the Director and Founder of online marketing consultancy E-mphasis. Andrew’s expertise lies within the technological side of marketing, through utilising computers and the Internet to create the best office and business environments. He works closely with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), claiming that this is no ‘black art’ – it takes appropriate applied skill and knowledge. He is highly regarded as an expert in the field of natural SEO and is regularly invited to speak on the topic at conferences and events. Andrew and the team at E-mphasis have pioneered an innovative use of Google Maps and online business listings to create highly targeted Local Internet Marketing strategies. Local Internet Marketing is a hugely untapped area of marketing strategy and one which is now beginning to generate interest and excitement from major UK retail brands.

  • Paz

    So, let me get this right. If I sell laptops and I have a promotion on small laptops on my website, I shouldn’t use phrases and search terms like “small laptops” “small notebooks” “what’s the laptop for size” etc. but should in fact try “Dame Judi Dench” “Pickled beetroot” and “where can I buy two pairs of underpants for my uncle Derek?”

    • Hi Paz,

      Thanks for the amusing comment.

      Well, in principle yes, although I think you may be taking the example to extremes. In a recent test with stores of a well known casual dining chain we found that people searching for “Valentines day” generated far more clicks than those searching for the company by name.

      Regarding your example, experience suggests that ” computer repair shop” or “replacement laptop ” may be better search terms from a conversions perspective than simply “small laptops” because the intent is better.

      However, my point is, why guess, when you can actually test and measure the results? Does a business owner really care what people search for if it generates sales? If “pickled beetroot” really works then find out and use it to your advantage.