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How to select effective keywords for website promotion

Digital Marketing
August 1, 2013
6 min

Keyword selection is a must-have step for website promotion in the search engines, because keywords are the words and words combinations for which your website will be ranked in the search results – paid or organic.

Several approaches to keyword selection

At first sight, it may seem super easy – just take the most common search queries, which users type most of all and make the list. Or select less popular search queries and add the word “buy”.

Cons of such “simple” approach are large expenses for promotion in the highly competitive niche – the most searched keywords.  Many companies have been already ranked for such keywords, and new comers are doing just the same – trying to get to the top for the same search queries. That is why if you choose “air-conditioner” or  “buy air-conditioner” – you most likely will waste your money and won’t receive a return on such investment.  In PPC rates for such keywords will be immensely high, in SEO website promotion will take a lot of months or even years and will require considerable investments.

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How to act then, you may ask? How to attract customers from search results and spend money wisely?

Make the use of “smart” approach to keyword selection. The main idea of such “smart” approach is to divide the keywords into group and divide each group’s proportion.

As the result of such approach, the website will receive both  – visitors and buyers. At the same time to obtain the maximum effect, an optimal amount of money will be spent (not more or less).

Search query types

Before we begin with proportions, let’s consider the main types of search queries:

  • General
  • Informational
  • Specific
  • “Hot”
  • “Competitors search”
  • Misprints

Now let’s look at each of them more in detail:

General – the most general name for something. For example, “windows”, “air-conditioner”, “cars”. It could mean that person is not necessarily going to buy something. Quite possible that he is just looking for some kind of information.

However, a definite share of users typing such kind of request do want to make a purchase, but when they in turn receive a large number of irrelevant search results, they narrow down the scope of search results by typing more exact queries.

Buyers percentage against people who just inquire the information vary. Rarely is it above 50%, more often – one third or less. Percentage of buyers who would like to buy exactly your product is even smaller. That is why a large portion of visitors will be filtered out. If your company is small- or medium-sized, about 70-90% of people typing general search query could be left out.

At the same time the competition for such keywords is fierce, get to the top rankings for general search queries is really challenging, though it is possible. The question is whether it is worth doing.

Informational are search queries, which give reference or any kind of information about the product, service or event. Such queries are not quite selling. They rather give information for consideration or signal the search engines that the website is relevant to the certain product, service or event – meaning that website has kind of information the users are looking for. For example, “car maintenance cost”, “mortgage legislation system”, etc.

In this group there are also users who just gather information. However, their share against prospective buyers will be less than in case with general queries. With informational search queries it is important to pick the phrases essential for the buyer to make the decision.

Usually such phrase models the user’s future after the purchase, it pictures how he will use the product, how his life will change. If some moments user can’t imagine or have some doubts, he may decide not to buy. That is why informational queries are good to prepare ground for the future sales. It is important to separate “right” informational queries from such as “how to make N by yourself (meaning for free)”.

Specific queries are often called “low-volume” or “medium-volume” (depending on monthly search volume). They have specific words – location (“hotel in Barcelona”), product or service characteristics (“cheap truck with low mileage”), mode of selling (“24/7”).  When user types concrete search query, he is usually thinking about  making a purchase, and what is important – he is quite clear on what product or service he would like to buy as his search is narrowed down to the specific product model or service type.

“Hot” queries tell us that the user is ready to make a purchase. The future buyer types “price” and specifying words – “delivery”, for example. The user is not thinking anymore – whether he needs this purchase or not. He has already decided what to buy; the only thing left is who to buy it from.

The most “hot” queries are as expensive as general queries, sometimes even more expensive.  However, in this case the concentration of ready-to-buy users is the highest. So the only thing you need to do in this case is to compare such “hot” customer acquisition cost and profit from the sale. If the later is large enough to cover your expenses, “hot” queries is a right choice. Although, if you find the acquisition cost too high due to the fierce competition, then you should focus on other queries types.

“Competitors search” – if the user types your competitor name, most likely it is interested in product or service a competitor offers. If you compete with such company, work in one niche, sell similar or supplementary products, why not tell the user about your existence?

Loyal customers will not leave the company they have got used to, so you won’t need to worry about that.  In other case, if the user is still making choice or has already tried the product and unsatisfied with it, your offer is a great alternative. Try to stay respectful towards your competitors and don’t promise impossible – you will have to fulfill this later. Also, newly acquired customers may bring problems, so don’t expect too much from them at once.

Shopping bags image from Shutterstock

Misprints – sometimes it happens that people make mistakes when typing  – they just may not know the grammar rules or be in hurry.  In any case they still expect to receive relevant result.

Search engines correct the most common misprints, but if the error is rare, then search engines may not find anything matching user’s query and inform him about that. The user will have another try and most likely that the right variant will be found and the user will come to the standard page for the standard search query.

Now imagine for a second, how high will be the chances to attract such user, if your website appear in the search results for the query with typing error! Almost 100%.

Surely, this kind of traffic is quite limited and requires a lot of efforts. On other hand it is almost free and works well.

Distribution of different types of search queries

So what is the right share for each search query type? You can follow the next structure, for example.

          Optimal search queries proportion


Such structure has proved to be effective: on one hand, you cover different types of search queries, on another hand, you receive results. At the same time, you don’t need overspend or use too little of your budget, which also affects campaign effectiveness.

This is the search queries proportion with percentage ratio:

  • General – 5%
  • Informational – 15%
  • Specific- 30%
  • “Hot” – 30%
  • “Competitors search” – 5%
  • Misprints  – 5%

By expenses volume search queries are put in the following order (starting from the most expensive):

  • General and “hot”
  • Specific
  • Informational
  • “Competitors search”
  • Misprints

So if you need to save some money, you may focus on last 3-4 types of search queries. But if your goal is sell at any cost, then the first two types might be enough. Actually, everything depends on your targets and budget.

August 1, 2013
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