A friend and colleague asked me that question on Twitter. A basic answer is “appearing where people are searching for your product or service”. I also added that is the hard part. Let me explain.
Sometimes the answer is easy: “I am selling pink bikes so when someone is searching for a pink bike, I want to be at the top.” Well that might not be as easy as it sounds. The screen shot below shows the search results for
“pike bikes”. The one thing you will notice is that there is a website called “pinkbike.com”. It is going to be tough to remove them from the top also there are no organic results to be found.
Below that is Target, Walmart and Amazon, so your small shop in central New Jersey may have a hard time competing at that level. What do you do?
Taking the small shop in central New Jersey as our example, you don’t need nor can you handle the weight of the internet bearing down on your small shop but you want to be able make a profit selling pink bikes on line. So what is the answer? You need to research how people are searching for pink bikes.
I did a little research using my favorite keyword research tool, Google AdWords. I like AdWords for keywords research because it can target a location and find out how many people searched for a set of keywords in that location. If you are in central New Jersey you are probably not going to get much business outside your county much less out of New Jersey. I set AdWords to New Jersey and started my research and here’s what I found.
I found that most searches are done with some sort of descriptor of the bike. For example, “BMX bikes” and “Mongoose bikes” are top search terms. A solution you may want to consider could be “pink BMX bikes”. When I searched that term there were still the product images at the top but an online store called “The House Outdoor Gear” was at the top organic listing followed by Walmart and Amazon. This means that they had a better optimized page for “pink BMX bikes”. I also found that “BMX bikes” had an average of 2,400 searches per month. When I search that term, I found that Walmart and Amazon were the last two on the page. My point is by doing a bit of research you can actually rank better than national chains.
Ultimately, where you appear on the results page is a matter of relevancy. How you achieve that relevancy can be an entire article on its own so for the purposes of this article we’ll just focus on the keywords themselves. Let’s go back to “pink bikes” to continue our example.
At the bottom of the search page is a box called “Searches related to pink bikes”.
As you can see, there are ten other ways that people search for “pink bikes”. These are also popular search terms that we can start to focus on. We can drill down even further to “pink bikes with baskets and tassels” or “pink bikes for adults”. Let’s assume that you sell pink bikes with baskets and tassels. The strategy you should use is to work from the most detailed out. For example, “pink bikes with baskets and tassels” would also be optimized for “pink bikes with baskets” and “pink bikes” but not the other way around. Depending on the competition for the keywords (the number of sites vying for the same keywords) you could rank high on all three search terms.
Good SEO is being where your customers are searching for your product. Understanding how they are searching for your product is what separates a successful SEO campaign from an unsuccessful one. The one thing to avoid is a “knee jerk” decision on what to optimize your site for because, in the end, you could be missing hundreds of potential customers. Do the research and dig into several variations on keywords, it could be worth the time and effort.