Hubspot’s new guide, The Essential Guide to Internet Marketing, gives lots of sound advice that unfortunately falls short of what you need to be successful on key topics. Of course it’s a rather general guide. It’s free, and it’s meant as a lead-in to their services. And that’s a fair marketing tactic. Everyone does it. But the advice in the guide is so general that many will be unable to put it to use, and very many who try will waste lots of dollars trying to implement it.
The first and biggest problem you’ll find if you follow their guide is in the area of keyword strategy. That’s a pity, because as Hubspot rightfully points out, keyword strategy is the single starting point for many small businesses and internet consulting companies.
Keywords are the short phrases that I type into Google when I’m looking for someone like you to sell me a product or offer me a service. Examples include – “creative engagement rings”, or “Seattle painters”, or “great Thai food Bellevue”.
Here’s where Hubspot’s advice gets too vague to implement effectively. When you put together your keyword strategy, they say,”The keywords you choose should be based on difficulty and relevance”. In other words, when you optimize your website and promote it, focus your promotions on keywords that are relevant to your business and that you have some hope of dominating in the market. This is good advice as far as it goes.
It doesn’t go far enough. And following it can cost you money. Here’s an example:
I’m working with an exterior painting company in Seattle. They’ve worked with two web promotions companies before, spent months and dollars, targeted keywords that are relevant, and haven’t gotten their website to page one of Google for anything. Literally two days after starting our campaign with the company, they were on page one of Google in the Seattle area for four (4) relevant keywords that bring in good traffic.
What’s the difference? Good keyword selection.
The other companies were promoting the company on keywords like “painting”, “painters” and the like. That’s far too broad. Keyword choices like this have two problems. First, they’re not relevant enough. Google painting and you’re as likely to find a wikipedia article on the art of painting as you are to find a website promoting a local painting company. Second, they’re too competive – you just can’t beat wikipedia. You’ll never out market them.
That’s what Hubspot tries to point out to you in their report. And they’re right as far as they take the argument.
Here are the critical next steps:
You need to target what Hubspot calls “longtail keywords”. In our case, we targeted – Seattle painting, seattle painter, seattle painters, and seattle painting specialists. When you choose your keywords, it’s critical that you choose “buying” or “hiring” keywords. Let me give you an example. If you are a divorce attorney, you do NOT want to choose keywords such as “divorce”, “divorce law”, or even longtail keywords like “Atlanta divorce law”. The keyword is relevant and uncompetitive but it’s likely to put your site in front of searchers who are looking for information and not ready to hire you.
To attract people who are looking to hire choose words that contain: your geographic area, your specialty, and your profession – atlanta divorce attorney, phoenix custom jeweler, san diego emergency plumber.
Second, optimize your website as Hubspot suggests.
Third, concentrate your promotions. You need to focus on keywords you think you can get to page one quickly. Even if that means starting with keywords that bring in low traffic. Here’s the crux – 98% of searchers click on some site on page one of Google. It’s better to have one keyword on page one than 25 keywords on page 5.
When you create your keyword strategy, start promoting your site on keywords you can get to page one. You’ll build links that will help you as you try to promote tougher keywords. Promote from the bottom up if you have to. Get a word to page one. Then choose the next toughest keyword and get that to page one. Keep building as you would a pyramid. By the time you get to the really tough keywords, you’ll have built up a foundation of links that will help you rank more easily.
Using that strategy, we got keywords with good traffic onto page one within two days of starting our promotion, despite the fact that two other firms had tried and failed. Of course I can’t guarantee you’ll have this experience with the keywords you need to target in your market. But it’s the most effective strategy I know of.
Set up your keyword strategy this way:
1. choose buying or hiring keywords
2. rank the keywords by the number of searches they produce each month
3. identify keywords that have little enough competition that you can get your site on page one of Google quickly
4. optimize your site for those keywords
5. promote your site on words that will bring traffic quickly
6. promote your site on tougher keywords as you build a base of links