Why Your Business Blog Should Target Keywords that Make Money, Not Traffic

by Marcus Sheridan

Have you ever taken a moment to look at the keywords people are typing in to land on your website? If so—and this is where the rubber meets the road—what percentages of those keywords being typed in are the kind of word(s) that would denote the individual is looking for a product or service your business offers?

If you haven’t done this, please stop reading and go to your Google Analytics for a second. Once there, look at the top 50 that are driving traffic to your site and ask yourself how many of these keywords would be typed in by your “ideal prospect.”

Here is the thing—We all love traffic. Me. You. Everybody. It’s the ultimate Golden Calf of the internet, an idol we often worship despite the fact that we generally know better.

“Money Keywords”

This is exactly why many have come to understand web traffic does not pay the bills. And if you’re a business, once the initial euphoria of blogging and traffic growth has subsided, you’re often left wondering how much of all that “traffic” equates to actual sales.

Truth be told, this is a very difficult question to answer. When it comes to keywords and content, there are those that help prospects into the sales funnel, and then others that push them down (or out) of the funnel.

This being said, often times businesses produce content that has very little impact on either of these two goals. To give you a real example of what I’m talking about, let’s look at the main keyword traffic for The Sales Lion this past month. If you look at the following photo, the red arrows indicate what I refer to as “money keywords”—keywords that fit my ideal paying client. You’ll also notice black arrows in the photo, which show the correlation between the less ideal keywords and the average time on site of each visitor, something I refer to as “false traffic.”

Money Keywords

By taking a hard look at your website and blog traffic, you can get a much better feel for what words are and are not helping your business grow.

As you can see from the black arrows, those persons typing in phrases that don’t fit my business model at TSL (inbound and content marketing consulting/speaking) generally don’t hang around the site very long– hence the “false” description. But for the money keywords, the average time on site for the visitor can be quite substantial. (Note** Although it varies by industry and business, any keyword that leads to an average visit time of 2 minutes or more is a very good sign. )

You may be asking yourself why I’m ranking for so many keywords that don’t quite fit my ideal client, and here are a few answers to that question:

1. Like any business, this blog has changed and developed over time. In fact, when TSL started, it wasn’t a business at all.

2. Google has a funny way of optimizing content. For example, I once wrote an article on why McDonalds kept kicking Burger King’s butt year after year after year. The article did well from an SEO standpoint (McDs vs BK) and has generated thousands of visitors, but the keywords it’s optimized for have nothing to do with the services I offer at TSL, thus bringing in zero direct revenue to the company. I’m not saying this is necessarily bad, it just is what it is.

3. I like talking about diverse subjects here at TSL. Because I write about diverse things, I end up attracting many visitors that couldn’t care less about blogging, content marketing, etc., which is fine. That being said, if I were in a financial crunch with my business and had a need for immediate leads and sales, I would spend all my focus on targeting those “money keywords” that might bring in immediate leads and sales.

Targeted Keyword Strategies

Speaking of a clearer focus, let’s take a look at my swimming pool blog for a second. Here are its top 20 keywords for 2012. The difference from this list, as you can see, is that almost every single one of these phrases would be typed in by an ideal client:

Targeted Keyword Strategy

Because of a targeted blogging and content marketing strategy from early on, almost all organic search visitors to my swimming pool site would make for an ideal client.

The key behind a targeted keyword strategy is that it doesn’t happen by accident, as the content needs to be strategic. And if you’re looking to be more strategic and targeted, here’s what I would suggest:

1. It always comes back to consumer questions: You’ve heard me beat this horse again and again, but if we’re solely focused on producing content that answers the questions we get everyday from prospects and customers, we’re going to be outrageously successful. To make this even more plain, ask yourself what are the questions you receive in the first 10 minutes of a meeting with a prospect. Because prospects tend to ask the questions on the forefront of their mind at the beginning (showing their biggest concerns, issues, problems) this group of questions is loaded with “money keywords” you should be producing content around.

2. Focus on the Big Five: I call it the “Big Five” because it represents the five subject areas that people search for aggressively online, no matter what the product or service is. Those five subjects are:

  • Cost/Price
  • Problems/Issues
  • Vs./Compare
  • Best of
  • Reviews

Just by focusing your company content around these keywords, you should come up with dozens if not hundreds of targeted content pieces that aggressively go after your best type of client and customer.

3. Use Tools: Although listening to customers will always be your best solution to consistent content that gets results, sometimes keyword tools to help generate blog article ideas are a tremendous help. I’ve studied the area of keyword tools quite a bit and am a very strong proponent of Long Tail Pro– a tool that I use weekly with my clients in helping them identify great keyword opportunities with their content.

I’m not saying with this post that every blog article you write from this day forward should be solely targeted on the “ideal customer.” Frankly, it’s your job to assess that question. Notwithstanding, if you’re a business, and you want to build your brand while increasing traffic, leads, and sales– then a clear keyword strategy is ideal. And the more focused and strategic it is, the more “real” your traffic will be.

Your Turn:

I’d love for anyone to share what percentage of your content marketing and blogging efforts are clearly directed to your ideal client/customer? Has your strategy been intentional up to this point? What other suggestions would you offer on generating content with targeted keywords that produce results?

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