Keyword Research, Natural Visibility, Crappy Internal Search

You don’t have the time, resources, knowledge or inclination to harness SEO give your business visibility in the search results – can you still drive visitors to your site and if so, how? How do you take spoken search into account when doing basic keyword research? And is your on-site search facility letting you down?
Here are some more snippets of handy marketing-led information.  

No SEO? How to drive visitors to your website?

Imagine this. Your sector is enormously competitive. You know you need to get busy with search engine optimisation if you want to win reasonable natural visibility in the search results. But how do you compete for priceless space on page 1 of Google when your competitors have bigger budgets and better online marketing skills? When they’re publishing and promoting a blog post every day and you can only manage one every couple of weeks, for example, you don’t stand a chance.
The first question is this: can you survive without Google search visibility? Oddly enough, the answer’s yes. Take a certain enormously successful Social Media Marketing agency, one of Britain’s biggest and best. They only do social. They don’t do SEO… at all. No matter how many likely-sounding keywords you punt into Google – things like best social media marketing agency – you can’t find their website in the search results. It’s obviously indexed, but it isn’t visible. And remarkably, they run a high profile, respected multi-million pound online business.
How do they do that? It’s actually quite straightforward. SEO isn’t the only way to get people to find your website. You can turn things around and look at it an entirely different way, focusing on communicating your website url direct to your target audience.
It might involve sending a postcard driving people to you site. Direct marketing is still relatively cheap and potentially highly effective. You could engage with email marketing, encouraging a list of carefully chosen, tightly targeted prospects to click through to your site. You could send out relevant, newsworthy weekly press releases to suitable on and offline consumer and trade publications. Use social media to publicise your url and promote your stuff, do offline off the page advertising, radio ads and even cheap regional TV advertising.
The end result is much the same: you get a flow of pre-qualified, interested people visiting your website, whether or not your brand name or keywords deliver visibility in the search results.
Obviously you still need to create top quality fresh content, for example blog posts, to give you something to talk about on social media. And build offer-specific landing pages to send targeted prospects to. But you can actually forget about SEO.
If you’re taking the non-SEO route, you need a direct marketing savvy writer who’s fluent in effective business writing, someone who’s capable of writing web copy that sells, plus hard hitting offline copy for direct response projects. And freelance business writing is my forte. Just get in touch.

Crap hardware store site search facility puts buyers off

Oh, the frustration. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect an on-site search facility to deliver useful, relevant, common sense results. When it doesn’t, punters buy elsewhere.
I came across a hardware store leaflet last week, a generic piece laser-personalised to our local independent hardware shop. Apparently you take a copy home, go online, click, pay and collect. What a cool idea. I found at least three things I needed. The process promised to be much more convenient than taking the bus to our nearest B&Q and there were no delivery charges. Result.
But hang on a minute… I used the on-site seach faciliy to find the things I wanted to buy, but my searches returned a load of irrelevant guff. I typed shower head into the search box, as per the description in the printed catalogue, and got a page of shower accessories but no shower heads. I typed in orange washing up bowl and got a list of products that had nothing to do with washing up bowls. At that point I gave up in disgust.
If you want people to be able to find and buy stuff on your website, make sure your on-site search facility actually finds things. The ability to search without finding is bugger-all use to anyone.

How to do keyword research in 2015

In a few weeks Google will be amending its search algorithm to favour mobile friendly websites. At the same time I imagine they’ll be favouring plain English spoken searches over comparatively clunky old-school search protocols.
If you’ve been using SEO to boost your natural search positions in Google you’ve probably been using typical keyboard searches as your keywords. In my case I’ve been focusing on phrases like ‘freelance web copy writer and ‘freelance web copywriting’ for years and years. But now, with millions of us using mobile phone spoken search software, it’s becoming imperative to cater for both ways of finding information online.
What are plain language, spoken search keywords? If I was typing a search query into Google I’d type something like ‘freelance writer Brighton’. If I was speaking the query into my mobile I’d say something like ‘find me a freelance writer in Brighton’ or ‘where’s the nearest freelance copywriter for hire?
When you use spoken search-style keywords in your website, you cater for spoken searches made by a fast-growing number of people using spoken search tech on their mobiles. Ignore spoken search and you’ll probably put yourself at an SEO disadvantage.
Can you afford to ignore old-school keywords? No, because a proportion of people, particularly those at work, will use desktops and laptops to access the internet for the foreseeable future. Mobiles, while hugely convenient on the move, are no good for long stints at a desk interacting with the web, not much use in a regular work situation.
How do you tackle keyword research in this brave new world? It actually makes things easier than ever:

  • Think about the phrases you would speak into your mobile if you wanted to find products or services like yours
  • Apply intuition and common sense, then take it from there to find similar relevant terms
  • Consider old school search terms, too
  • Use them all in your content, covering both bases

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