Posted by enetwal on Dec 27, 2009
The Google Key Word Tool is perhaps the most valuable of the free tools we are going to be discussing. In the past and in many dated online eBooks you will find references to the Overture Keyword Tool which is defunct, one of Yahoo’s biggest mistakes in my opinion. Today the world uses Google Free Keyword tool to explore and select keywords for a wide variety of purposes.
To access the tool, open your existing Google Adwords account or if you don’t have one go to Google and search for “Google Keyword Tool.”
Google has recently changed to layout of their site. The Keyword Tool is not immediately evident. You need to click on the “Opportunities” tab. When you do, any existing campaigns you are running will appear at the top of the left column. You may need to scroll down to see the second box in the left column which is titled, “Tools.”
Once there, just click on the Keyword Tool and you will be taken to the tool we will discuss today.
The tool permits two related but completely different functions. You can search for keywords on a particular web site, or you can do research on keywords related to a specific keyword phrase. We are going to focus on the later, but will discuss the former first.
In our last post we discussed how to drill down in the Google Directory to find a niche. In the final stages of that process we came to the end of the line, where we ran into articles related to our niche. I advised that we examine those sites to learn about out new niche, and to see if there were advertisers or not to determine if it were commercially viable.
Once we identified the most interesting sites already in the niche, we can take their url’s and plug them into the keyword tool.
In our search we drilled down ultimately to Sleep Apnea, and the top page ranked entry under it was the following: http://www.sleepapnea.org/
When we put this URL into the Google Keyword Tool we can see the keywords that led people to this site. This is valuable information, and can provide us with insights into the niche. Specifically it will help us identify the keyword phrases we will want to consider focusing our niche marketing on.
When Google Returns the results, it ranks them in accordance to Google’s sense of the most relevant Keyword Phrases. In this case, sleep apnea, sleep apnea treatment, sleep apnea machine, sleep apnea masks, cpap mask, cpap masks. etc.
Now I don’t know much about sleep apnea, but I now know that something called CPAP is up there in relevance. Depending on whatever niche you are exploring you may find similar surprises, that you will want to explore.
And while sleep apnea appeared as if it might be a small niche, we are beginning to see the possibility of even smaller niche in the form of masks and machines and possibly other treatment methodologies. These may be options that could be monetized.
Now is we go back and put in the phrase “Sleep Apnea” in the word or phrase box, we get a similar but different list.
It’s headed by the phrase, sleep apnea treatment, sleep apnea diagnosis, obstructive sleep apnea, severe sleep apnea, sleep apnea symptoms, etc.
Once again these are initially ranked by what Google sees as the most relevant term we entered into the box. If we want, we can click on the headers above any of the columns and get the results ranked in ascending or descending order by that column.
Its lead by the term Insomnia, followed by apnea, sleep apnea, apnea sleep, snoring, narcolepsy, sleep aid and so on. These are the terms that are related to sleep apnea that get the most traffic. We found a new term, narcolepsy that merits some examination and as we scroll down the list there are a few more interesting terms that we may not have thought of when we first started to explore sleep apnea.
This access to related terms is valuable. By taking them and using them in the keyword tool as new phrases we may find even more terms that we might otherwise miss altogether.
We won’t do that now, but you should with your niche studies.
We will discuss two additional items though.
The first is the competition graph.
If the bar graph is completely full, it is both good and bad news. The good is that the niche is actively being pursued by advertisers, which indicates a good chance that money can be made in this niche. The bad is that it is already a contested market so it will not be easy to break into the top without a major effort.
You may decide that you want to make that effort. If you are looking to use the internet to sell your existing product line, you may have no choice. However if you are looking for a new market to enter, you do have a choice and should use the following technique to identify a market that is both lucrative and that you have a chance to dominate.
I learned this approach originally through the Niche Profit Classroom. You can see a small banner ad of there’s in the upper right of the blog page. I found their entire program to be well worth the modest membership fee and can comfortably recommend them to you.
They outlined something they call the money market matrix. Since I learned it from them, I have heard similar approaches advocated by others as well. I will give you my short hand approach now.
Rather than focusing on the high end of the search results we are going to go down the list and focus on keywords that have 300 or more hits a month up to those that get about 2000 to 2500. This range is somewhat arbitrary and you can certainly go beyond it in either direction.
Your goal is not to find the most popular search term, it’s to find a frequently used search term that is relevant to your niche and/or product for which their are relatively few competitors. By relatively few my shorthand answer is 50,000 or less.
The term “Sleep Apnea” returned 800 results so we have to scroll down to the bottom of the second page of 100 results to get in range.
The top item on the screen capture above is the term, “sleep apnea help.”
The Google Keyword Tool tells us that it is getting an average of 1600 hits a month. That’s slightly over 50 a day. So while not huge, it’s likely a steady source of traffic interested in the topic. Next we are going to a new tab on our browser. There we will do a search using the regular Google search tool for “Sleep Apnea Help” being sure to include the quote marks. That way we will get the total number of results that use that precise term. It turns out that in this case the result is 8220 which is well under my threshold of 50,000 competing sites.
While I am there, I notice that there are a lot of ads, which tells me this is a solid keyword phrase I could hope to build upon. Note there are three ads on top of the organic search results and a full side panel as well.
The Google Keyword tool is an extremely valuable tool, with a number of additional features. I’ve tried to show you some of the basics as well as a strategy to put the information you can derive from the tool to work for you.
In my next post, we will explore Google Trends.
Posted by enetwal on May 12, 2009
In our last article, we discussed the hidden or invisible “on-page” factors that can help or hinder your ability to rank high on the Search Engines. Today we will look at some on-page factors that matter as well. By on page I am talking about the text that people can read on your home page.
From a search engine optimization standpoint, the key factor for any web site is your selection of keywords. These are important in both the visible and hidden portions of the page. They should be in your meta tag title tags, keyword list and description. They must also be on your page.
If the search engines see keywords in the hidden code that aren’t on your page, they will discount them and possibly even penalize your site.
Specifically you want to have your primary keywords appear in the first 50 words of your page text at least once. In the past some internet marketers tried to game the system. They would stuff their keyword on the page over and over to get a high ranking. Such tactics worked for a short while but Google and the other search engines changed their algorithms to punish keyword stuffing. The rule of thumb now is that you want your main keyword to appear between 1-4% of the time. If you have a thousand words on your page that would mean you would use your primary keyword from ten to forty times. For five hundred words of text that would be five to twenty times. This is called keyword density in the trade.
This is usually not a problem for most sites, but it does require keeping in mind which keyword you want your web page to rank for, and them being sure to use it when you are writing your page. When working with a home staging client, I noticed one occasion where they used the term “home stager” repeatedly, while the focus may have been better put on the term “home staging.”
By the way, if you have a top three or four keyword variations that people search for, you may want to have one page of your site optimized for one term, and another for the second, etc.
So, my home stager above might have stressed the term Home Staging on her home page, but talked about House Staging or Home Stagers on another page talking about services provided, or a third page on her certifications, Qualifications etc. This takes a bit more time, but helps raise your sites ability to rise to the top not just on your main keyword but on other keywords as well.
The final topic we will discuss today is total word count. It appears that the magical number of words on a page that the search engines like to see is 425. In my experience most business web sites don’t have that many on their home pages, while most information sites do. The search engine bias is toward sites that provide more information, so it’s not hard to understand that they would tend to reward sites that appear to be “meatier.”
For many of the sites I have reviewed in my WART Analysis program I have had to suggest they add a paragraph or two of text to their front page. And since I am an advocate of using geographical keywords in the meta tags I encourage them to consider adding their geography to their home pages as well.
Many of them have followed this suggestion and added a final paragraph on each of their pages. A butcher for example might include on the bottom of each page a phrase like the following: “South Minneapolis’ premier source of quality meats serving Minneapolis, Richfield and Bloomington as well as the Highland neighborhood and the rest of St Paul.” This adds some words to the page, and also the geographical keywords to complement those in the meta tags.
One final comment on words on the page. Words that are placed on images or graphical elements such as on your header are usually invisible to the search engines and don’t count as keywords on the page, or in the total page or first 50 word counts. If you put your cursor on your header and right click and do not see View Source or View Page source in the box that appears, you are probably on an image that cannot be read. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you need to keep it in mind when designing your page so it can compete in the search engines.
That’s it for today. We will continue with on page visible factors in the next article. After that we will explore off page factors.
Posted by enetwal on Mar 28, 2009
Squidoo – Rank on Top Twice! PodcastSquidoo – Rank on Top Twice!
Getting your web site to be top ranked on Google and the other search engines is a complicated task. Particularly, if you are one of many within a given market area.
A little known tool for many main street businesses is an internet portal called Squidoo.
It’s similar in many ways to sites like Facebook, and Myspace in that it allows people to create a web presence easily, but unlike the aforementioned, it unabashedly permits commercialization. That means you can put up sites that advertise your business.
The easiest way to do so is to reuse much of the content you have on your web page now. Just rephrase and reorient it to fit the new medium.
Squidoo calls it’s pages, lens. There are a group of modules that you can create and edit in minutes once you get the hang of their system. There are a lot of interesting things you can do with the various modules. The main thing you want to do is use your Squidoo lens as additional advertising tool for your services and as a funnel to send traffic to your main web site.
The most critical point when setting up your first lens is what you call it.
If you are a butcher in Minneapolis, you want to do some keyword research as to the best term to use for your market. It may be “butcher”, it may be “quality meats”, it may be any number of things. What ever it is, you want your first lens to use the best of the picks and then add the words, “in Minneapolis” or what ever the top geographical term is in your market. Then after you set up a lens, “Quality Meats in Minneapolis” set up another for “Best Brats in Minneapolis.” Since Squidoo is free, there is no reason for you to not set up multiple Lens on your best keyword phrases.
If you do, you will often find that your Squidoo len(s) will get higher ranking than your own web page, even if you have optimized your web sites meta tags geographically, as I do for my clients.
That’s because Squidoo itself has a high PR or page rank in the eyes of Google.
Now what you want to do is include links in your Squidoo Lens to your web site’s home page. This helps raise your web sites ranking in Google’s eyes as well.
It sees Squidoo as an “authority” site and gives more credence to links coming from it.
There is a lot more to internet marketing than just having a web site. That’s what keeps internet marketing consultants like me in business.
While Squidoo is easy to use, like everything, there is a learning curve. Once you master the basic mechanics you also need to learn the strategies to make it work for your particular needs. There are a number of eBooks about Squidoo out there. I publish one called Squidoo Basics. It is a general introduction to Squidoo.
There are other formats beyond Squidoo, like Hub Pages, but Squidoo is probably the best place to start building a broader internet presence. To get started all you need do is open an account at www.Squidoo.com
In due course, you will not only get your web site on the top of the Google Rankings in your home town, you will also have a Squidoo page there as well. When prospects see you listed not once, but twice, in the top of the local listings, they will begin to understand that you are the person to go to locally for home staging services.
And that’s where I intend my clients to be. On top of their local markets.
Posted by enetwal on Feb 27, 2009
Normally, I focus this blog on internet marketing tools that can be adapted by offline businesses. Last Friday, I came across a new approach to finding relevant keywords that amazed me in terms of its simplicity and power. The technique is called the Money words matrix. Two very successful young marketers discovered and refined the technique. It has ton’s of applicability to many offline businesses.
They gave the idea away for free as part of a series of promotional videos for a new membership site they have opened. The site is designed for folk who are looking to build an internet business, and in today’s economy that’s a lot of people.
On the strength of their free promotional videos, they had their new membership site explode. They initially hoped to attract 250 people, within a 2 weeks they had 1500. I am one.
They just plain have a solid approach to internet marketing that will work for a lot of people. But whether you are interested in finding a new way to make money online or not, you have to check out their Money Word Matrix. It will transform the way you think about keywords and keyword advertising. Whether you are primarily an on or offline business.
Now that is covered in the second of their promotional videos, so you will need to sit through the first as well. But I think you will find that interesting too. (Even if you’ve never met a Beta Fish before.)
Click on the banner below and relax, listen and learn. Be sure to sign up for the second video, and be blown away. I was. You may even decide to join the Niche Marketing Classroom. Like I said, I did.
Posted by enetwal on Feb 10, 2009
This afternoon I am giving my short version of my “trade show as web pages” talk to the board of a local business group. My goal is to find additional speaking opportunities where I can present to larger audiences of business people. Because as my report says, I think most small business web pages stink!
In preparation for the meeting, I checked the web site of the host location as well as the associations meta tags. I offer businesses a free worthwhile tip just for listening to my pitches and felt I should offer the same to these good people as well.
It turns out the association had no keywords or site description in their meta tags at all.
But perhaps even worse was the host locations web site. It is a private housing facility offering student housing. Its meta tag keywords were totally irrelevant to its web site and mission. It included keywords of voting, survey, course evaluations, census, segmentation, and others that clearly were intended for a totally different site.
Presumably someone copied a desirable format as a template and plunked the residence halls content on someone else’s framework.
I’m not sure which is worse to have no keywords or bad ones. What do you think. I’d appreciate any comments you might have as I will probably use it as a bad example in future presentations. I will of course keep the people involved secret so as not to embarrass anyone.
As I spend more and more time looking at local business web sites, I find such omissions and or errors are not uncommon. Usually, people just plain have ineffective keywords.
Some will argue that meta tags don’t matter, but they would be wrong. While Google may spend less attention to them than in the past, a good 40% of all computer searches still use other search engines that do.
Outside the internet marketing niche’s internal wars, most main street businesses are too busy getting product out the door and struggling to meet payroll to worry about meta tags. Their web pages are built by their son’s or nephews of techies who may know how to put a page together but are clueless about how to market.
No wonder most small businesses are disappointed with their web pages. They don’t get the traffic they should, and then when they do get traffic, most people don’t seem to do anything.
In the resources section of this blog, I offer a report for sale called HTML in Simple Terms. It’s only $9.97 and well worth the price if only to get the information on pages 16-18 on Using Meta Tags.
My guess is that over 80% of all small business web sites need work in this area alone.
Posted by enetwal on Feb 7, 2009
Have you ever passed by a blank billboard on a backwater highway with a 1-800 number on it? Or perhaps one saying, “Your message here?” I have, but it’s been a while since the last time. Mostly I suspect, because I seldom venture off the main freeways in my normal travels these days.
In past years, I did a bit more traveling to smaller towns in out-state Minnesota and Wisconsin and I would see a fair number of them. Mostly on roads that used to be the main thoroughfare in the pre-freeway era. I suspect a good many of them still exist.
In those traveling days I used to consult with towns and counties on how to attract businesses to their communities. Today, I consult with businesses on how to attract customers. Same business, different focus.
A billboard is a marketing device some businesses use to attract customers. It’s like a display ad in a newspaper or magazine. It provides a graphic image and perhaps some keywords to people who happen to be passing by. On the highway, in their cars. In the newspaper or magazine as one’s eyes pass from one article or story to the next, one page to the next.
They have a hard job to do. They need to make an impression on your conscious or sub conscious mind quickly. It must be the sub conscious the advertiser is aiming for because there are very few such images that ever really capture my conscious mind’s attention.
Now as a kid, I remember the old Burma Shave signs because they were different and funny. I remember a number of teaser campaigns over the years that had me guessing as to what was coming next, but I can’t remember what any of them were about at the moment. I admit that I do notice some of the new billboard campaigns from time to time when they change along one of my regular routes. But I don’t remember ever buying something because I saw a billboard, do you?
My uncle Urban had a billboard on the highway from the Minneapolis to St. Cloud where he had a butcher shop. The sign read, “Gaida’s Meats” with a sausage on on fork that protruded above the sign. It was a clever enough visual effect, breaking out of the box. I suspect he got at least occasional comments from customers in the store about it. Particularly when it was new. But I doubt it brought in any new customers. It may have, however, brought in a few more existing customers. Not because it made his product any more valuable, but because it created status. A sense of importance because everyone who lived in St Cloud saw it whenever they returned home from a trip to the cities.
In my uncle Urban’s eyes the sign wasn’t meant for people from Minneapolis that happened to be going to St Cloud, it was for people from St Cloud who happened to have traveled to the Twin Cities. They would be coming back on this road. And that’s where he placed his sign.
Now I’m talking about billboards today, because in many ways they are like a business website. The clever ones may catch my attention as I browse through many related sites online. But only if they are on the highway I am traveling. If I am on the freeway, and the web site is on a dusty county road, I will never see it. And no matter how cute, creative or otherwise inspired it may be, it may as well not exist at all. It may as well be blank. In my book, it’s not even worth a toll free call to find out how much someone wants to put my message on it.
When it comes to online advertising, far too many people have spent all their effort coming up with a great image and feel for their sites and not given any thought to whether to put their site on a freeway where it will be seen by thousands or on a dirt road where only the crows and gophers will see it.
On the internet, the way you get in front of the traffic from Minneapolis to St Cloud is to make sure the keywords in your meta tags put you on the right highway. In addition, you need to use those same keywords in your message – in the body of your web pages.
This is particularly easy for local businesses, and a bit more difficult for those who compete on a national scale.
If my uncle still had his butcher shop, I would encourage him to use St Cloud Butcher Shop, St. Cloud Meats, Saint Cloud Butcher Shop, Stearns County Butcher Shop, Benton County Butcher Shop, and Polish Sausage as just a handful of maybe several hundred keywords in his meta tags.
In fact, I would take every conceivable term like meat, sausage, etc., and pair it with every conceivable geographical term that people in the area might use to find what they were looking for in a computer search. I call such terms geographical long tail keywords. And they are designed to mimic the actual phrases people might type into their search engine. While they might type “sausage” the first time, when they see over 20 million responses they will quickly find a geographical term to narrow their search if they are looking for a place like my uncle’s where they can get good Polish sausage.
And yet if you look at most business web pages you will see terms like plumber, attorney, dentist, groceries, resort, bait, or what have you in their meta tags. Such keywords are worthless. But so too is having Minneapolis, or Saint Cloud, or New York.
As my frequent readers know, I have been working with the Home Staging Industry for the past 9 months or so. As I dug deeper into the keywords that people actually use, I have grown a list of 124 terms for the home staging industry. Most were fairly obvious, others less so. I have been offering a service to the industry where I concatenate the various keywords I have researched together with the relevant geographical modifiers for individual home stagers. It gets a bit tedious and time consuming. But the result has been a block of keywords that puts my client’s web pages on the internet freeway, while their competitors are advertising their business on the dusty back roads of the internet where no one goes.
Where do you want your billboard to be? If it’s appropriate for your business, follow my example and create a series of geographical long tail keywords. It will make a difference in how often your potential customers find you. It also will make it far more likely that you get top ranking for a keyword phrase when you are the only person who has taken the time and effort to include in in your keywords.
Don’t forget that you also want to incorporate as many of the major terms into the body of you text as well. So if you are a Homestager in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, make sure to say so in the text of your web page as well as in the meta tags.
Posted by enetwal on Jan 24, 2009
I just completed my newest report, called “Most Business Web Pages StinK!” subtitled, Web Sites are like Trade Shows. Readers of this blog will soon realize this is a recompilation of five previous blog posts on the Trade Show theme. The current version is number 1.2, I am working on 1.3 which will be revisions after my wife gets done proof reading it, and a resources section at the end.
I intend to use this as an eye opener for hopefully thousands of small business people. In these tough economic times it only makes sense to better utilize all of our existing resources such as our web sites.
And since upgrading them is not difficult or expensive, it makes even more sense.
Let me know if you need my help.
Posted by enetwal on Jan 22, 2009
A decade ago, small businesses flocked to the internet. It was going to transform the way business is done and they wanted to be part of it. And many are today quite disappointed and perhaps philosopical about how their web pages didn’t do didly squat.
While there is no doubt the internet has changed how business is done today, for most businesses all that changed is they now have an internet Yellow Pages add in addition to there actual listing.
The only people that go to their web site are people who already know about their business, and are jsut checking for a phone number or the times we are open.
While that’s certainly not true of all businesses, it is true for a good many, how about you?
I’ve been preaching on three major topics here about why I think most business web sites stink.
- Most aren’t using their ability to list their business in multiple categories.
- Most have just a billboard, or an electronic brochure and not an interactive site
- Why most web sites are so bad, even when you paid good money for them.
In my prior posts on this blog, I have tried to use the trade show as a metaphor as to what the role of your web pages should be. I encourage you to look back at my past postings and read them.
In the last few days, I have been focusing on how most web sites I’ve reviewed lately have poor and often no keywords.
If you were able to afford it, and were in the wall paper business, you might buy a yellow pages ad under wall paper, and maybe under decorating or a number of other yellow page headings. Most businesses don’t as its very expensive to do so, even with multiple category discounts.
With your web pages, you don’t need to pay extra to be listed in multiple categories. You just need to do a systematic listing of all relevant keywords that your possible customers might use in an effort to find you.
This may take a little time and effort, but once done, it will pay tremendous rewards in additional traffic and potential new business.
You may have thought your web designer would have done this for you. But unfortunately most web designers are not marketers. They tend to be graphic artists or techno geeks. Great at creating web pages, but not necessarily at getting your web site to generate the business you had hoped it would.
Posted by enetwal on Jan 21, 2009
So far, I haven’t found a single home staging web site with good keywords in the meta tags of their web site. In my search of web sites in South Minneapolis, I have found fewer than 1 in 20 that was even close to having effective keywords. In general, that’s true of most small businesses.
This is a big mistake, as the keyword placed in your web pages meta tags are what almost all the search engines other than Google uses to find web sites to display. And while Google may have the largest chunk of web search, they certainly don’t have it all.
That’s because most people are likely to use the search tool that comes with their computer. My wife for example has Yahoo on hers. While she may say she is going to “Google” something, she actually uses Yahoo. Yahoo uses meta tags. So does MSN, ASK and virtually everybody but Google.
I have been focusing on the Home Staging Industry for the last half year or so. As part of that effort I am trying to help these small businesses improve their web sites to first draw more traffic, and then get more of those people who do visit to do something.
I have created a base list of some ten dozen key words people often use to search for home stagers in their market. I add or subtract a few depending on the scope of service of the individual home stager, and then incorporate geographical elements to come up with a comprehensive set of what I call, “geographical long tail keywords.” These are the phrases people actually use to search for to find a business in their neighborhood. For a recent client in Virginia, I ended up with 599 keyword phrases. In time this should more than double the amount of traffic her web site receives.
Every locally based business should have a comprehensive set of geographically relevant keywords in their meta tags. This is the hidden code that the search engine “bots” see, but no one else does. Unfortunately most web site developers are techies, and not marketers, and they often don’t have a clue as to what they should put in there.
Depending on the industry sector, I can create a set of geographically tied keywords for as little as $75. I will review your web site for free, in advance to determine whether or not it’s needed in the first place. email me at email@example.com with any questions.
Posted by enetwal on Jan 15, 2009
As I have been working with small businesses in the off line world, I have discovered that most of them have poor to non existant keywords in the hidden meta tag code of their web sites. Since Google apparently doesn’t give these much weight these days, it appears some web designers skip over them. That’s a mistake. While Google is the big daddy out there in search land, it has at best 60% of the search market, and the other 40% of the guys do use meta tag keywords to find your site.
I don’t know about you, buy I can’t afford to miss out on 4 of 10 customers.
This is particularly important for small businesses in the current slow economy. I’ve made a special offer to my friends in the Home Staging industry, where I have done some fairly extensive research in the past and offered them a special deal. My advantage is that I have already researched the keywords appropriate to the industry, and it’s easy to massage them to meet each individual’s circumstance.
I am open to doing additional work along these same lines for other industries as well. A solid set of meta tag keywords can also serve as a good start on pay per click advertising as well.
Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Posted by enetwal on Dec 31, 2008
One of my secret weapons is a paid keyword tool that works wonders for me.
What makes it so valuable is that it is a shorthand way to access the power of WordTracker, without having to pay the high cost. Jonas has been running a special offer for an annual subscription, it may still be in effect. I highly recommend it, I skipped it and have been paying about $20 a month for several years now. It’s been well worth it. If the special is gone, he has been talking about pulling it, don’t fret too much. If key words are valuable to you, you really do need find the words that are about your topic without having the word or two you are searching on in them.
For example I did a keyword search for the term teeth whitening and got back among the results cosmetic dentistry. Try that with the free key word tools.