Every time someone makes a search online, search engines like Google must decide which results out of hundreds of thousands are the best and most relevant to display to that person, and in what rank. Oh, and they must do so in less than half a second!
To achieve this, Google (the big daddy of the search engines) uses a series of algorithms that rank pages based on several factors. Chief among them are the keywords contained within those web pages. These help Google understand what a webpage is about. If a webpage features keywords that match or resemble the search terms used by the user, Google is more likely to list that site in its search results. And the more relevant the keywords, the higher the website will rank. And the higher the rank, the more traffic the site gets. In fact, websites that top the search engine results pages get more than 60% of search engine traffic.
Keywords can make or break the chances of your brand being found by potential customers. No matter how snazzy your website, if you don’t have relevant keywords, you won’t rank highly in Google’s search results. That’s why it’s so important to conduct good keyword research.
Keyword research is the art of better understanding the terminology your potential customers are using to find the products you’re selling, then using that terminology to help you craft content like product titles and descriptions to optimise your entire website for search.
Here are some top tips to help you conduct keyword research like a boss:
1. Brainstorm First
Without conducting research, what do you think your customers would search for to find you? So, open a Word doc and make a list of search terms you’d use to find your product. The more words you brainstorm, the more you’ll have to work with to uncover new search terms as your research progresses.
If it’s relevant to your brand, ask friends or family for their input. Get them in front of a computer and ask them to search for your brand/products. Monitor the phrases they use and the results they click on. This can provide great, real-world insight into what an average person would search for.
2. Use Amazon
Most people with buying intent begin their product research on Amazon — not Google or any other search engine. So, where better to start your keyword research?
Go to Amazon and start typing a keyword that describes your product(s). Amazon will immediately give you an overview of what people are searching for related to your keyword. At a glance, you can see the most popular categories and brands.
To take it a step further, select a category to view the results and look at the left sidebar. What you’ll find are the top categories related to your product(s).
Next, browse the Top Brands list. Open their product pages and take a closer look at the product title and description. Take note of the keywords used (e.g. ‘fit and flare’, ‘cap sleeve’ and ‘patch pockets’ in this example), you can use this information to find longtail keywords related to your particular product (more on these later).
3. Use Google’s Suggestion Feature
To see Google’s suggestions, simply do a Google search for the keywords you’ve brainstormed and those you’ve discovered on Amazon, scroll to the bottom of the page, and look at the related suggestions. These suggestions are derived from Google’s own data on the most conducted searches relative to the search terms you entered.
4. Think Quality Not Quantity
When deciding which keywords to use, consider the intent of the user’s search. Many brands make the mistake of going after the terms with the biggest search volume, believing popularity to be key to attracting more traffic. However, your goal is to make more sales, not just increase traffic. Therefore, you need visits from customers who are ready to proceed to the next step (i.e. convert).
Visitors with higher buying intent tend to use longer, more specific search terms to find what they’re looking for. Therefore, the right keywords you should be targeting are more specific in nature — known as longtail keywords. For example, instead of using ‘dresses’ as your main keyword, try ‘teal cocktail dresses’ or ‘blue bridesmaid dresses’.
5. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to Qualify Keywords
While Amazon can give you an idea of the type of search phrases potential customers are conducting, Google gives you access to information about how many searches a given phrase receives per month and what it will cost to create an AdWords campaign for that phrase.
To use the Google Keyword Planner, you first need to create a free AdWords account. Once you have created your account, you can find the Keyword Planner under the Tools tab, in the Planning section.
Start by entering your main keyword (try one you identified on Amazon), that describes your product (e.g. ‘cycle helmet’) and click Get Started. Google will then provide a list of related keywords and information like the average monthly searches each of those terms receives.
This information is particularly useful to understand how popular certain keywords are and therefore, how much competition you’re likely to have if you choose to target them. As we’ve already discussed, it’s often better to target longtail keywords with less average monthly searches so you are more likely to rank higher in search results and customers’ buying intent will be higher.
If you want to get an idea of the keywords your competitors are targeting, you can also enter their landing page URL into the Keyword Planner. Simply Google your product (e.g. ‘cycle helmet’) and take note of the top results. Enter the top-ranked URL into the Keyword Planner and let Google inform you which keywords customers are using to find that competitor.
6. Be Aware Of Seasonal Surges
Certain keywords become more expensive during seasonal shopping surges. For example, terms such as ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Back to School’ become more relevant at certain times during the year. Therefore, the cost and number of competitors using those keywords increases dramatically during those periods. Use the Search Volume Trends graph in the Google Keyword Planner to see when certain search terms are most popular, to determine the level of competition.
7. Be Strategic With Keyword Placement
Once you’ve some good keywords in hand, it’s time to start planning how you’re going to put them to best use on your eCommerce site:
Product descriptions and titles – one of the best places to feature keywords is in your product descriptions and titles. However, it’s important to avoid stuffing these with keywords. Not only does Google frown heavily upon brands who keyword-stuff, but it can also make the content seem robotic and unappealing to consumers. Strike a balance between keyword density and still being informative. As a rule of thumb, you should only use your focus keyword once in the product description title and a maximum of two times in the body copy.
Menu categories – you may wish to use some of the keywords you discovered as menu categories on your eCommerce site to improve navigation.
URLs – if a customer is visiting the ‘Evening dresses’ section of your website, it makes sense for the URL to have the keyword ‘evening dresses’ included in it. This, in combination with the product description and title, will help Google define that the page is targeting evening dresses. It’s also helpful to reassure users where they are on your site.
Blog posts – another way you can use your target keywords is in blogs. Content helps a lot with SEO and repeat purchases, and it encourages new visitors to convert. When creating your content calendar, take into consideration your target keyword and density. Create a piece of content that is related to your keyword and which mentions it throughout the piece multiple times. For example, you could create an article about “The Best Evening Dresses for Your Body Shape”. It’s a relevant topic for your audience, and it includes your target keyword in the title.
Keyword research can be a daunting task. But if you conduct good, methodical keyword research, it will go a long way towards helping search engines better understand what your site is about. When they better understand your site, they will be more likely to place it in front of the right people, which will lead to increased traffic and sales.
Remember: always keep your customers in mind — what are they searching for right now on Amazon and Google? Don’t be sucked in by keywords with large search volumes — you want to entice customers with buying intent, so focus on longtail keywords that are more likely to grab the attention of consumers further down the buying funnel. Check which keywords your competitors are targeting — have they thought of ones you haven’t? Be aware of seasonal keyword competition — some keywords will be more popular at certain times of the year. Finally, be strategic with how you use your target keywords — there are a number of uses you can put them to but be careful not to keyword-stuff.
Now you know how to optimize your eCommerce site for search, why not contact us today to learn how Buy Now technology can optimize it for sales?
Global Brand Consultant