Search Term Strategy: Search Terms, Competition & Keyword Metrics

Marketing your website to search engines is a complex task.  You can over simplify it or make it very complex.  Regardless of how you handle it, you have to start with a search term strategy.  Relevancy, business relevance, popularity and competition all are important aspects of your search term strategy.  We will take a closer look at each of these elements of your search term strategy below.

Relevance in regards to search terms should refer to the percentage of people that use one particular search term and how interested they really are in what your website has to offer.  Relevance can be seasonal.  For example, people may search for Valentine’s gift ideas in July, but they likely won’t be ready to buy until closer to February.  You can improve the relevance of your website by adding content and changing the landing page that the searchers arrive upon.  Ideally, you want searchers that are ready to take action or buy to arrive at your site, and optimizing for that result is very important.

Business relevance is an important consideration.  To make it easy to understand, its best to look at it in terms of dollars.  How much would you be willing to pay to get an interested visitor to your website?  This amount will be vastly different from what we would pay to get any visitor to our site, for obvious reasons.  The interested searcher is ready to buy, while any visitor is likely to just be a window shopper.  It is possible to increase business relevance.  Increasing the site’s conversion rate is the easiest way to accomplish business relevance.  If lifetime value of a customer is a priority, then you’d be willing to pay more to get that first sale, assuming that once the first sale is made your new customer is likely to continue to return for future purchases.

Popularity is defined as the number of times the search term is used in a search.  It’s best to look at this in terms of a specific month across all search engines.  While there is no concrete way to get this kind of data, there are several tools available on the web that will give you good estimates of search term popularity so that you can target the broadest audience to your website.

Competition for a searcher’s attention is also very hard to gauge.  But understanding who your competition is, as in any aspect of business, helps to calculate the amount of effort you have to put in to get in front of interested searchers.  Generally speaking, the more competition the more costly it becomes to compete successfully.

Weighted popularity is a formula you can use.  The weighted popularity of a search term is the relevance multiplied by the popularity.  So let’s say that 10% of searchers are interested in what we have to offer (relevance) and there are 10,000 searches per month (popularity), the weighted popularity would show you that there are 1,000 targeted searches per month.

The potential value of a search term takes the weighted popularity and multiplies it by the business relevance.  So if we take our 1,000 targeted searches per month and we were willing to spend $1.00 to get an interested visitor to our website the potential value is $1,000 per month.  That of course is assuming we can get all of those people to our website!

How much of that $1,000 potential value we can actually bring to our business is something that is not easy to figure out.  Therefore it’s really difficult to determine what the cost to do so will be.  Much like pay-per-click advertising, there is no easy solution.