buying-cycle

If you're wondering why SEO (or PPC for that matter) isn't generating the amount of sales for your business that you'd like to generate, then I'm going to take a wild guess here and assume you've skipped a CRUCIAL part of the keyword research process:

You haven't been mapping your keyword research to the different stages of your target audience's purchase decision.

And now in plain English: not every keyword leads to a sale, dummy!

In this blog post I'll explain why making sure your keyword research and your target audience's purchase decision are aligned is important, how can you pull it off, and more.

Why Does It Matter?

It's all about search intent, which is the intention behind the words people type into a search engine. There are three main search intentions that matter for businesses and, together, they resemble your average sales funnel:

1) "I want information about …"
2) "I want to compare something"
3) "I want to buy something"

Think about it: at first people don't know what they want so they're just browsing and going over some information. Real life example: the keyword "new smartphones 2013". This information helps them discover what their options are. Then, people start to compare their options. To use the same real life situation: they start to compare iPhones and Galaxy S4's, Xperia Z's and HTC's. Once they've decided which phone is best for them, they start looking for the best shops to buy them at, the cheapest price, and after all that comparing they buy.

So, people go through these stages when making a purchase decision:

Not sure what to buy > Not sure where to buy > Let's buy it!

Not aware of problem > Aware and looking for solutions > Implementing best solution

And guess what? Most businesses fail to make the amount of sales they'd like to make with SEO and PPC because they focus on keywords with the WRONG search intention behind them.

Why? Because they focus on keywords with lots of/enough searches a month while doing keyword research instead of thinking about which keywords will sell and which won't. That's a huge mistake, because the closer you get to the actual purchase the more specific keywords tend to get.

Simply put, this…

Generic keyword (not sure what to buy) > Specific keyword (not sure where to buy) > Ultra specific keyword (let's buy it!)

Usually leads to this…

Millions of searches a month > hundreds to a couple thousand searches a month > a dozen to hundreds of searches a month

Let's Align Some Stars and Keyword Research, Shall We?

Now you're aware of the problem, the next step would be to figure out how to solve it. I've made some basic guidelines for you to use and you can find them below.

1) Take an informational keyword.

Example: "Samsung Galaxy S4"

2) Add one of the following comparison-related words in front of it or behind it: where to buy, places to buy, where can I buy, prices, pricing, store, shop, cheap, affordable, cost(s), location XYZ.

Examples: "where to buy Samsung Galaxy S4", "Samsung Galaxy S4 prices", "Samsung Galaxy S4 shop", "Samsung Galaxy S4 Houston Texas", etc.

3) Throw the keywords you come up with into the Google Keyword Tool to find more variations of them. I highly recommend you use Ubersuggest.org as well to find even more variations and perhaps even some Q&A sites like Yahoo! Answers and Quora. Put your findings in an Excel file and make sure informational keywords are separated from comparison keywords and keywords with a buying intent (use separate sheets/tabs for them). And remember: keywords with "only" a 100 searches a month aren't bad if all 100 searches lead to sales!

4) Add one of the following purchase-related words in front of or behind your informational keyword: buy, sale, purchase, for sale.

Examples: "buy a Samsung Galaxy S4", "Samsung Galaxy S4 sale", etc.

5) Repeat step 3 for the purchase-related search terms you came up with and then proceed to step 6 when you're done.

6) What you now have in front of you is keyword research which is divided into different sections based on the search intent behind the search terms you've found.

There you go: you've done some sales-based keyword research. Congratulations! Make sure you prioritize your SEO efforts accordingly from now on:

Keywords with a buying intent > comparison keywords > informational keywords

So, worry about keywords with a buying intent first, then about comparison keywords and then… and only then… about informational keywords. THAT is how you boost the number of sales generated through SEO and PPC: by spending most of your time on working with keywords that are most likely to generate sales for you.

Time to Pour Some Awesome Sauce on Your Sales-Based Keyword Research

And now we've got the basics of mapping keyword research to the different stages of the purchase decision out of the way, it's time for some advanced stuff. Here are some advanced level tips:

1) You can find more comparison keywords and keywords with a buying intent by looking at the three kinds of informational keywords I've spotted.

- The prospect is not sure about brand AND product but has an idea of what he/she wants: "new smartphone"
- The prospect is sure about brand but not about product: "new Samsung"
- The prospect is sure about both brand and product (we already discussed this one)

You can then use these informational keywords to start the process all over again, which could lead you to keywords like "where to buy a new smartphone", "new Samsung prices", "new Samsung Orange County", etc.

Keep this in mind, though: the less specific the keyword, the less likely it will lead to a sale. You're more likely to get sales thanks to informational keywords where both brand and product are known ("Samsung Galaxy S4") + comparison-related words or purchase-related words, than with informational keywords where the product is an unknown or with informational keywords where both the brand and the product are unknown.

2) You can find more comparison keywords by adding comparative and superlative modifiers to the comparison-related words: good, best, cheapest, low, lowest.

Example: "best places to buy Samsung Galaxy S4", "cheapest Samsung Galaxy S4", "lowest price Samsung Galaxy S4", etc.

3) You can find more comparison keywords and keywords with a buying intent by thinking about locations of different sizes: village, city, county, state or province, country.

Example: "flower shop Houston", "flower shop Travis County", "flower shop Texas", "flower shop US", etc.

4) Think of singular and plural versions of every word that can assist you when doing keyword research mentioned in the techniques above here.

Example: "Samsung Galaxy S4 price", "Samsung Galaxy S4 prices", "flower shops Houston", etc.

5) Mix all of the techniques mentioned in this blog post right here and see what kind of keywords you end up with.

Example: "best place to buy new smartphone Houston Texas"

Now, it's important that you don't forget to throw everything you find into the keyword tools mentioned earlier to see if you can find more variations.

You'll quickly discover btw that some keywords may not have any searches at all, but you know what?

We do keyword research to find keywords with low competition or NO competition at all. And by being extremely thorough when doing your keyword research, you have a much better chance of finding hidden gems competitors may not have thought of (yet). If that means you have to see some zeros before you can be a hero, so be it!

Time for Some Action

I highly recommend you spend at least a couple hours this week on evaluating your current keyword research and that you try to answer these questions for yourself when doing so:

- Can you confidently say your keyword research takes comparison keywords and keywords with a buying intent into account?

- Are you sure you haven't consciously or unknowingly forgotten to include certain keywords in your research just because they had a low number of searches a month?

- Are you regularly updating your keyword research with new keywords you've found that could generate some more sales for you?

- Does your research take enough keywords with the right search intentions into account when you look at your current SEO (or PPC) sales performance?

- Are you sure you're not missing anything and that you're using everything mentioned today, including the tips in the awesome sauce section?

If your answer is "NO" on any of these questions, then you've got some work to do. Start doing it as fast as humanly possible. After all, why leave money on the table you know you could be earning?

And for those of you who have been paying attention while reading this blog post: have you noticed how I first made you aware of a problem, then showed you how to solve that problem, and then urged you to take action?

That's right, I used the same thought process you should use to do keyword research to write this piece of content. It's the age old marketing concept called AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action). Good keyword research is based on AIDA. You'd be surprised how many classic marketing concepts can be extremely useful in the online marketing world btw…

Last but not least: if you'd like some examples of any of the techniques mentioned today for your specific market, then feel free to contact me (Dennis Miedema, CEO of Motriz Marketing) via Google Plus. I'm on G+ most days of the week and would be happy to give you some pointers.

Dennis Miedema

Dennis Miedema is the founder and CEO of Motriz Marketing and crazy passionate about online marketing. Whenever he's not ranting about internet marketing, Dennis loves to watch movies or The Dog Whisperer and playing games on his Xbox 360 like a total geek.

Motriz Marketing Blog

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4 Responses to “Why Most Keyword Research Doesn't Help You Sell… and What to Do About It”

  1. Monster Sam says:

    Great post Dennis!

    Searcher intent is certainly the most important aspect of any keyword research process.

    A very powerful way to attract keywords you know are going to convert is by using your existing analytics data.

    Look at what organic keywords are converting for you, the longer tail the better! Chances are you'll get a lower CPC and more conversions.

    Just my 2c!

  2. Steve says:

    I strongly agree with your points Dennis. These are very important things not to miss and often make the difference between 2 similar sites with great content but one falling short on results. Choosing the proper services or products is the next step as there are just some products or services people won't buy online and prefer going to the store to get and use the web as research.

  3. @ Sam: thanks for the compliment and the comment! And you're right: if you're already generating conversions, then your website statistics are pretty much your golden ticket because conversions don't always come from where YOU think they come from lol. I wrote my post with people in mind who have a hard time getting any sales at all or who are only generating 1's and 0's if you know what I mean. Under those circumstances, website statistics sometimes won't tell you anything at all. I've been there years ago, so I wanted to show a way out or so to speak. Nevertheless, it's a great tip.

  4. @ Steve: thanks for the compliment and the comment as well! I'm not gonna lie to you and have to agree that, yes, some products are very hard to sell online so which market you're in can definitely have an impact on whether you can sell online or not. And when I change "choosing" the proper services or products into "creating", then what we end up with a lot of people creating products to solve THEIR problems but not a problem a sufficient number of people has. Marketing, at its core, is about developing a solution for a problem a large enough group of people has. Your product meets a need, basically. What I see a lot (and I've been guilty of this mistake myself in the past btw) is people who make products and THEN find a market for them. That's backwards, almost like buying a nice set of rims and then seeing what kind of car they would fit on: a very expensive adventure lol.