SEO: Keywords and going fishing

Asked to explain how keywords work in a business blog to a client recently I came up with a fishing analogy. Please excuse the  poor use of any fishing puns and metaphors, I don’t actually know anything about fishing! However I do know a bit about SEO and keywords; and I think that the fishing analogy is a good way to explain how they work to clients who have limited knowledge of this area.

What do you want to catch? Your target audience

Imagine the internet as a vast ocean with online users the fish swimming around in it. There are countless varieties of fish and you could scoop them all up like a trawler if you wanted. The trawler approach works for companies with mass appeal; businesses that want the minnows as well as the sharks, and everything in between.  For small businesses this approach to SEO involves a lot of effort and money; effort to convert leads into sales when only a small percentage of your catch is actually your target market, money to fund a SEO campaign to get you that traffic. Most small businesses are only interested in a particular target audience; for the sake of my fishing metaphor let’s say you want to catch salmon and trout. Salmon are those online users who might be interested in your services or product. Trout are online users who are actively searching for your services or product.

How do you catch a fish? Your keyword bait.

Instead of trawling the internet for potential customers, you’re going fly fishing. This approach means you won’t have to throw back most of your catch just to get a few genuine leads. You know that the minnows and sharks aren’t interested in your bait, instead you can target your potential customers and clients with exactly what they are interested in. In the case of the trout you can use the keywords they are searching with. You know they are interested in your services, they just don’t necessarily know about your business. Of course fly fishing is a labour intensive process to catch just a few fish. So with a little stretch of the imagination you’re going to set up rods in numerous places to catch the most, and the best fish. Your rods take the form of pages on your website and blog posts. The more you have with the right bait, keywords, the better your chances for rising up search engine results pages (SERPs), and driving traffic to your website. This is why a business blog is an effective SEO tool for small businesses.

Keywords: what bait to use

You know that “trout” are actively searching for your services and products, Google adwords can help you work out what keywords they are using so you can target them specifically. With this information you can use these primary keywords across your website and regularly in blog posts. However you are also interested in catching salmon: these are online users who may be interested in your business but are not actively using your primary keywords. For example “osteopath” will be one of your primary keywords if you’re an osteopath, perhaps with a regional keyword to increase genuine leads from people who can access your services. However some people who may need your services are not searching using your primary keywords. In the case of an osteopath the “salmon” could be searching using secondary keywords such as “back pain”. These secondary keywords provide the bait for online users who you can convert into new customers and clients.

Cornerstone pages: the net to land your leads

Taking the fishing analogy one step further, how do you land your fish when you’ve got a bite? Another element of SEO is PageRank, Google’s method of measuring the importance of a website. Pages with a higher PageRank appear higher up SERPs. Naturally you will want to build your PageRank and one way to lay the foundations of this is to have cornerstone pages on your website. Cornerstone pages (or landing pages) are the nets that help land your fish. Not only can they help your SEO and PageRank; but they are essential for providing visitors to your site with the information they need to see how you can help them. Read this post from copyblogger on how to create cornerstone content, and specifically point #4 Content (SEO) Landing Page; just what you need to land your fish!

How does your website rank? Are you using SEO effectively? For impartial advice on your website’s SEO, user experience, blogging and social media strategy contact me to see how I can help.

Find Jane on Google+

photo credit: Merelymel13 via photopin cc

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