Come Play In Traffic: Keyword Research

“Words are more treacherous and powerful than we think” – John Paul Sartre

I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a Harry Potter fan.  One of my favorite parts of story are the silly faux-Latin spells that the young wizards use to work their magic.

Blogus Postus Writus…

Is the post done?  No?  Too bad Harry Potter spells don’t work for Muggle bloggers…

Spells may not work to magically complete blog posts — but word choice is a very powerful internet marketing tool indeed.

Using the “right” keywords in your posts and on your site can help get your information in front of more of your ideal clients. The more people who see what you are up to the better chance you have of making a connection.

Today’s challenge is to do some basic keyword research for your site. If you have already done this – you don’t get a complete free pass. Revisit your keyword list and make sure they are still working and relevant for you.

When I talk to my clients about keywords, the reaction I usually get is either –”what I do is so unique – I wouldn’t even know where to begin to find keywords”  or “I know I should be paying more attention to keywords – but using them seems too complicated to me”. There is almost an aura of magic and mystery surrounding the whole keyword concept.

It really isn’t magic — and using keywords doesn’t have to be complicated.

The quickest path to keyword success is to use the words in your content that your potential client types into Google to find the solution to their problem.

The trouble is… if you’ve been “doing your thing” for quite a while it is sometimes hard to know (or remember) how someone who isn’t immersed in your topic would describe what you do.

Here are some tips for finding those magic keywords:

1.  Ask A Question  One of the most effective ways I have found to elicit keywords from clients is to include a short “ask me a question survey” as part of my opt-in process.  I put the survey either on the “you need to confirm your e-mail address” page or on the thank you page after they’ve confirmed their address.  Another way to do this is to periodically survey your clients.  Magic Marketing Machine includes unlimited client surveys as part of the monthly fee.   Here is a blog post from iaquire on how to use survey results in your keyword research.

2.  Get Social  Spend some time on social media (reading people’s blogs, twitter, facebook, etc.) – how are people talking about your subject area?  Those are the same words they will use to find you.  Magic Marketing Machine has a tool called ‘Brand Monitor’ that searches the web for conversations based on words and phrases you specify. We’ve been using this tool and have picked up many useful keywords from it. You can do something very similar using a free tool called Social Mention.

3. Use Internet Marketing Ninja Tricks  Since keywords are so important – there are tools to help you find what people are actually searching for.   A very good place to start is Google’s free keyword planner.  This tool analyzes your website (or a competitors website) and suggests keywords.  It also gives you an idea of how many people are searching for that particular keyword AND how many people are buying pay per click advertising around the term.  Note: you need a Google Adwords account to use the planner – but you can get that account for free. Larry Kim of Search Engine Land wrote a very informative post on how to use the new Google keyword planner tool. [TIP: Look for the expensive keywords - they will be the words that offer advertisers most bang for their buck - use these words in your content].

Another great tool is Market Samurai.  Market Samurai can give you a bounty of keyword ideas, tell you which words actually translate to more sales, give you a sense of who your competitors are for given keywords, find affiliate programs for you based on specific keywords and more.  I have used Market Samurai for about 6 months.  I find it to be really helpful – even though I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of all of its features.  Market Samurai offers a 2 week free trial.

You can also learn from the big fish - You can use a program called spyfu  to see what the really big fish in your niche are spending on PPC ads and also see which words are working the best for them.  Even if you don’t buy PPC ads – using these power words in your blog posts will help you to get more traffic to your site.

Another quick resource:  We recently did an interview with keyword expert Karen Dennison.  You can listen to that interview here.  She offers a keyword consultation at a very reasonable price – you can find out more here.

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  • Cathy Yerges

    Reply Reply January 3, 2014

    Great tips for finding keywords. I work with clients to optimize their LinkedIn profiles and they have the same hesitations you mention when it comes to identifying their keywords. I’ll suggest some of these options for those that need help with keywords.

    • meredith

      Reply Reply January 3, 2014

      Thanks Cathy – and keep an eye out for our post on LinkedIn currently scheduled for Jan 17!

  • Liliana Marsden

    Reply Reply January 3, 2014


    Happy New Year to you, you’ve given me a wealth of information and a reminder about my keywords.

    I have had Market Samurai since 2010 and I haven’t done much with it. What a waste of resources. Just popped in because I saw your post in Facebook another confirmation that point #2 works.

    One of my new year resolution is to learn/apply techniques forgotten and you just given me a great idea.

    You have just done for me the golden rule: give value.

    • meredith

      Reply Reply January 3, 2014

      Hi Liliana – I haven’t use Market Samurai in a while – but when I did it worked fairly well for me as a basic keyword research tool – glad you found the rest of the post helpful!

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