Be UN-competitive to succeed!

I’m always speaking to business owners about how they can get found more on the major search engines, and one topic of a conversation I had last week as Google’s excellent Keyword Tool, and how you can use it to pick UNcompetitive keywords that make you stand out.  You don’t have to be technical to get this.

There are lots of ways you can use keywords to help your website(s) get found online, and they basically boil down to making sure your page is rich in keywords. But that doesn’t just mean the words on the page, it’s also some of the stuff that users don’t see.  For example, ensuring you have keyword-rich page meta titles, descriptions and keywords, alt and title attributes on images, title attributes on links, relevant descriptive text on pages, and relevant use of heading tags (H1, H2, and H3s). Of course all the attention you pay to these things makes no difference if your keywords are no good.

I’m not going to give you a crash course in how to create all those tags, attributes and content, instead I’m going to focus on picking those important keywords (one of the best things about a Brownbook business profile page is that we’ve already thought about all those technical aspects for you, so long as you pick the right keywords we do all the rest).

First off, lets understand a little of why keywords are important. You want to draw people to your website(s) or business profile pages when they’re using general search engines to look for something that’s related to what you do (and possibly where you are). Therefore, if I’m a builder that specialises in restoring old houses with traditional techniques and I’m based in Andover, UK, I have to think about what people (my prospects) might be looking for.

You might think that “Builder”, “Andover”, and “Builder in Andover” are great keywords, but are they really?  There are several problems with these:

a) they’re too highly competed (Builder in particular), which means that you’re competing to get high in search results amongst possibly thousands of other businesses (and directory sites)

b) they’re too generalist (so, although they’re not ‘wrong’) you’re not getting the chance to focus on people who are looking for your unique specialities – so even if you do get found, the chances of getting a call are low

You’ve got to put yourself in the mind of your ideal customer, not any Tom, Dick or Harry.  What searches that they perform could you be the ideal candidate for?

In my example of the traditional builder, it might be “cob walls”, “lime putty”, “lime plaster”, “lime wash”, “slate roof”, etc in relation to their business, and a few of the surrounding village or town names in relation to the area. I think you get the picture.

The key here is you shouldn’t be afraid of picking keywords that have low search volume, because what they lack in quantity you will gain in quality. One business owner I spoke with last week explained to me how she got REALLY specific on her keywords, to the extent that, for some of her keywords, Google showed only 50 or 60 searches per month.

As she explained it to me, when those 50 or 60 searches are performed they’re almost guaranteed to find her business because she’s one of only a few businesses that are targeting their keywords quite so specifically. You might hear that referred to with cool phrases like The Long Tail, but you may also know it as niche marketing, or simply ‘quality over quantity’.

Here’s the advice then, take a look at Google’s Keyword Tool and try a few keywords and key phrases. You’ll see it tells you, for the keywords you entered AND for suggested alternatives, how many searches were performed in the last month or so, AND how competitive the keywords are (i.e. how many other people are vying for the same business).

Your perfect keywords are ones that have high numbers of searches and NO competition – of course that never happens, so you have to take a judgement. Sometimes you’ll see your keywords are getting tens or hundreds of thousands of searches a month, but unless you’re really huge with massive web presence you’re likely to get lost in the field. Instead, think about how many searches you really need to be found in to succeed, you may surprise yourself and realise that, if you were appearing prominently, just 50 or 60 searches could fill your pipeline.

All this is of course relevant to you when you are writing your web copy itself, defining page meta data (like titles, description, and keywords), defining your headings (H1, H2, and H3s), title and alt attributes on images and links, and also if you want to be really smart and thorough when you’re writing blog articles and titles.

But it’s also highly relevant to your business profile listing on Brownbook. We provide you with the means to add business tags (keywords) and location tags (keywords) to your business profile, and we then use those in your profile page for all those meta content, page content, and tag attributes, helping your listing get found without you having to think about the tech. But of course, to get benefit from this you’ve got to get those keywords right first.

My recommendation then… do give yourself at least 30 minutes with Google’s Keyword Tool, here’s that link again, see what you can come up with by way of a good balance between search volume and competitiveness.