Keywords Aren't Just For SEO

If you spend time with a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, they’ll tell you to come up with 10 – 15 marketing keywords that you want to be found for online. FYI, I know very little about SEO and I value my clients enough to refer them to a real expert if they need these services. I say this to be sure you don’t think this is an SEO article.
The keyword step is a basic one for those who want to get started with online marketing. You need keywords to inform everything you do, not just SEO. They are the building blocks of your online strategy.
If you think about what the SEO folks are saying, they’re telling you to think about how you want to be found online. What words will regular folk use to search for — and, we hope — find you?
Whatever those words are, you should be using them everywhere. They should be all over your website, your social media, your blog. Where you are online, so should your keywords be.
That’s why I think it’s smart to consider keywords first. 
Yeah, I’m serious about that. Know your keywords before you think about your avatar (more about avatars here), your website, your social media and blogging strategy and your email marketing. Which is pretty much everything you do online, right?
As a non-SEO professional, I’ve learned a few things about keywords from people who are smarter about this than me. Here they are:

  1. Use words that regular people use, not professional jargon. Several years ago, a friend and colleague who is an SEO expert asked me to barter services. She offered to teach me about SEO and I would help her with WordPress. She first noted the title I used for myself on my website: digital communications consultant. I thought it perfectly summed up my work — I helped people communicate online. She asked, “How many regular people who need your help are going to search for a digital communications consultant?” Yikes. I’d been using a term that made sense to me, but not to the people I wanted to reach. I had ignored my audience.
  2. Phrases can be better than single words. Here’s something I learned when I went through sales training very long ago. You have to qualify your prospects. What that means is, consider how likely these people are to buy from you. If my husband and I go to an open house and the price is >$1 million, we are not qualified buyers. That is, we aren’t going to spend a million dollars on a house. Even if we had a million to spend on a house, I’m not sure we would. So be sure you’re dealing with people who are interested in your product, have the buying power, and are open to the idea of purchasing.A long-tail keyword can help you with this. Yes, you’ll get fewer leads, but they’ll be better qualified. Here’s an example: let’s say you sell speed boats. Yes, you could use the keyword boats. But you’d get folks who are interested in fishing boats, sailboats, pontoon boats, and all other sorts of boats. But what if you used the keyword phrase speed boats. You’d get fewer leads, but you’d get leads who are really focused on speed boats. But what if you only sold red speed boats? (I know, but bear with me, it’s an example.) If your keyword phrase were red speed boats how much more qualified would you leads be? You see where I’m going. The more specific your keywords, the more qualified your leads. 
  3. Do your due diligence. Instead of guessing what terms people might use to search for you, ask them. I once did a survey of a group to determine how they searched for my client. Boy, was I surprised. Spend some time talking to people who aren’t in your industry and don’t understand what you do.

Once you have generated your keywords, you’ll have a basis for your online posts and you’ll never run out of ideas for blog posts. Use your keywords and related terms to generate post ideas.

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There are numerous free online services that help you generate keywords. Try these:

These are only a few of the myriad keyword research sources. All of these sites allow you to download the lists they generate, so you can plug your keywords into a spreadsheet.
Refer to them often, especially when you’re stuck for something to write about. Keep your posts on your blog and social media focused on these keywords and you’ll stay on topic and become an excellent resource.

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