We have talked about protection and services, and software for basic everyday office work, and building a web site or blog. Now you are ready to start working on building your business, which HAS to start with keyword research. Don’t even consider a product or domain name until you do the research to see what words people are actually typing into the search engines to find what they want. Later, after you get your site built, you will want to “fancy it up” with some graphics or pictures. If you start with the research, then you should know how to put it all in place to get your site on the first page of the search engine results (or close to it). Adding the pictures “properly” will also help get you there, and we’ll get into that in the next post. After that, all you have to do is test and tweak to make the site the best it can be.
Who Makes Marketing Software?
When it comes to the actual “marketing” software… the things that make our specific and unique tasks easier, there are very few “large” companies. Many of the software products designed specifically for marketers have been thought up and produced by the marketers themselves, with help from outsourced programmers. Many marketers work by themsleves… sometimes only until they grow their business to the point of hiring other help and moving into an office building, and sometimes they continue to work by themselves from home indefinitely. That doesn’t take away from their credibility or talent. Still, there needs to be a way of knowing who is credible, and what products are better than others.
Getting involved with marketing and getting “in the loop”… by way of email newsletters is one way. Know who the players are and don’t be fooled by the rip-off artists trying to make a buck by exagerrating the truth. Reading product reviews is another, but even they can be deceiving if they were only created to steer you toward a particular product. But there is also a good source for information that is monitored and voted on directly by the marketers and their customers.
That site is http://IMReportCard.com, where you can find ratings on the top 300+ marketers themselves as well as the products they produce. The marketers receive “votes” by their peers and also their customers, on themselves as well as the products they produce, whether it be software or training programs. Think of it as the “Consumer Reports” of the marketing industry. So I urge each and every one of you reading this to always check such places as this before buying any product for your marketing. Don’t waste money on useless products! And even then, make sure the product is actually going to be useful for the path you have chosen for future goals.
By now you should know the basics of spreadsheets, and have used them to create four simple lists of “parameters”… for your goals, for your business model, ones that any product that you buy must fit into, and ones that any product you sell must fit into. I only touched on that earlier and didn’t spell it all out for you because this is a business of “thinking”. If you can’t think of those things by yourself, then this business is not going to be a good fit for you. Much of what you learn in this business is basic stuff. It will be up to you to think about what it can do for you BEYOND what was explained to you, and figure out ways to expand upon it and make it fit what you want to accomplish.
It’s easy to get questions answered simply by commenting on your issue, and I promise I will be here to answer those questions for you, but I can’t be there with you every minute to hold your hand to make it move the mouse. I definitely can’t think for you. Computer work in general is a solitary business. Only one person can work at a keyboard at the same time. It is up to you to decide what to do with the information you learn. Some will understand it, work at it and have ten sites selling for them while others are still wondering how to make capital letters and use puncuation.
That’s another reason I disagree with the “buy it now so you can get my bonuses and then we’ll work with you for eight weeks” mentality of so many marketing courses. If you are broke, and need money, why would you want to give it to someone else who is probably making millions already? And even if you can spare the money, maybe it won’t be available until next week or next month. Why should you go out of YOUR way to accommodate the timing of all these “buy it now or lose” offers? If you want to become a marketer, you should be able to do it on YOUR time, not theirs! Those who are “pressured” into it usually don’t do anything with it.
I can assure you that 95% of people who are pressured into buying marketing courses on the spur of the moment become so overwhelmed when they start into it, that they never finish the course. Most of those courses end up in the bottom of a closet somewhere, never to be opened again. And you know what... the marketer who sold it doesn't really care, because he already collected his money and weeded out the ones who didn't have what it takes to be successful! He only wants to work with the "movers and shakers" so that he can use them to promote how successful his course was! You have to WANT to do this and be willing to work at it on your own, or you will never be a success at it!
Everyone is capable of learning, but at different speeds. If the information is out here where they can get to it any time they choose, they can learn at their own speed with no pressure on them. This blog is free to everyone. You can start reading from the beginning any time you choose. You can study it as long as you wish and come back to refresh your thoughts any time you want. We’re here to HELP YOU, not to take your money! The ONLY way we make money is by you using our links to buy things that you would normally buy anyway, and doing so doesn't cost you a penny more than you would pay if you went to the source yourself, without our links! We get paid by the vendors, NOT the customers!
Keep in mind, there are millions of web site owners on the web. Not all of them are marketers, but even those that are, will not all be on http://imreportcard.com. Many of them never get into selling marketing products to other marketers, which is what most of those on that site are doing. That doesn’t mean that the others don’t know what they are doing… they just aren’t “superstars”… the same way that not every musician is. They all have varying degrees of talent. But that doesn’t prevent them from giving music lessons to those who know even less! All of them have some special talent that you can learn from. When you advance beyond what they can teach you, then it’s time to move on to someone better, and by then, you should be able to afford to!
Also, check consumer reporting sites like http://ripoffreport.com to see if there have been any complaints filed with either the person or company. But read well and see where the person complaining is actually coming from, as there are a lot of “nut cases” out there, and those complaints aren’t checked out. Many times the complaint is due to the complainer’s own fault!
Most sites will allow rebuttals from the accused, so make sure you read those, too. Some complaints are so ridiculous that there is no need for a rebuttal, and you’ll see plenty of those out there, too! This is all a part of the research that is necessary in this business to protect yourself! And then there’s the research to find things to sell, research to learn new software, new techniques, etc., etc.
Make Your Purchases Fit YOU!
This is the way you have to look at things when making purchases. Ask yourself “Is it a good fit for my future plans and goals”? If it isn’t, then pass it by, no matter how good it sounds. In reality, there is probably nothing in the form of software that you absolutely “have” to buy, with the exception of security products and back-up protection (Posts #1 and #2 in this series), and there are even free versions of those if you are willing to take a chance with them. I haven’t seen anything that is not already available for free on the internet. Some software just makes putting the information together a little easier, and may save some time… but isn’t something that you absolutely can’t do without, at least until you can afford it. No one should ever have to use “high pressure” sales tactics to get you to buy anything.
Keyword Research… ALWAYS FIRST!
The very first thing you are going to have to do is keyword research. That is the very first priority, before you even consider what kind of products you want to market or what to name your web site or blog. Keywords (and multi-word phrases) are what the public uses to search for what they want, and the success of any marketing effort is in those numbers.
The keywords will decide what products to sell, what your site URL (domain name) should be, what the title of your site should be, what your sub-title should be, what your page titles should be and what words to use within the text of your site. If you have no idea what people are searching for to buy, and what words to match to theirs to reach those people, then you shouldn’t even think about trying to sell something online!
A search engine is like a robot. It responds to “exact” matches in words. If you’ve used Google at all, you know that typing in almost any phrase can bring up millions of results, but once you get beyond the first couple of pages they are less and less relevant to what you wanted. Even if you put quotation marks around your search term, you can still end up with a lot of “garbage results”. If you’re lucky, maybe the first three generic results (not the paid ads in the pink square) will be what you want… otherwise the search engines are trained to bring up anything with those words in it (whether you want them or not), and after that, it will be what it “thinks” are relevant results. Yeah, right… we all know how well that works! But it IS getting constantly better with each new update.
So this means that if you want to get in the first position on the first page of results (or at least the first page), your keywords have to match EXACTLY with what people are searching for, because the search engine always brings up the best matches first!
Buyer’s Keywords versus Shopper’s Keywords
Also, you have to learn the difference between “shopper’s words” and “buyer’s words”. You don’t want a bunch of tire-kickers wasting your time. You want people who already know what they want and have their credit cards in hand waiting to purchase it! The right words will sort all that out! Many times, those people won’t be using just one word, but rather a detailed keyword phase that contains all the parameters they are searching for!
Remember, it isn’t about the volume of traffic you get, as much of that traffic for generic words aren’t buyers. If you were trying to compete for those generic keywords you might be lucky to get on the 17th page of search results where no one will find you!
It’s the QUALITY of the traffic that you attract to your site that will be the difference between a paltry 1/10th of one percent conversion or a 2% conversion rate. (Conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who actually buy something). Think about it… that’s a difference of 20 times more buyers! If you could raise it to 4% that would be 40 times more buyers than you started with, so as you can see, even a couple of percentage points make a huge difference in sales volume!
Reaching the wrong kind of people can be expensive in time wasted, as well as wasting money on paid advertising to the wrong people. You have to target your advertising to the exact buyers you need to make money the most efficient way.
What Are People Wanting to Buy?
The first thing you need are the tools to do that keyword research. First you have to know what’s a hot topic or seller in the marketplace. One of the sources you should keep in mind is eBay. They have a page where they list the ten most searched items at http://pulse.ebay.com/. Sometimes seeing what people are searching for on the world’s largest online auction site can give you some ideas. But just because they are looking for “Xbox 360” doesn’t mean you can compete for that product. It is very hard to compete with the huge electronics buyers and sellers. But you may be able to offer the games for it, parts, or accessories.
Another good source is Google’s Hot Trends at http://www.google.com/trends/hottrends which is updated several times a day with the most searched items. After all, if you don’t know what people are looking for, how can you hope to sell to them? When you start seeing several searches for the same thing, but with different keywords, then you know that large numbers of people are interested. Maybe they just want information, but that’s where you as a marketer have to figure out a way to turn that traffic into sales. We're going to teach you that.
What if I Already Have a Product or Niche?
If you have a topic or product in mind (which is really the backward way to start), you still need to know how people are searching for that item, and what words they are using. For instance, if you are selling wrenches for mechanics, should you call them wrenches, or spanners (the term they use in the UK)? If you are selling strictly to the U.S. market, wrenches would probably be a better term, but if you are selling to a worldwide audience, the difference in terminology might warrant a second site geared specifically to those other English-speaking countries who use different words, or at least use the word spanner a few times in your content, along with wrenches, so that it will attract the international buyers to your site as well as the locals. Whether selling to kids, foreigners, or octegenarians…you have to know how to talk to them in their terms.
Just because you see “X-Box” as a highly searched term on eBay, doesn’t make it a good keyword. It’s too general a term. What are they really looking for… games, complete units, accessories, or parts? If they are looking for games, and you try to sell parts, then you may not be targeting the “best” or the “hottest” keywords, even though you might be in a good “general” market!
“Corvair” might not be a good keyword by itself, but adding the word “parts” to it as a phrase might make a huge difference! Selling parts for them might be a gold mine! And if you dig even deeper, you might find out what specific parts they want, such as “Corvair trunk lid”.
THE Most Important Free Keyword Tool is now gone!
The only way to know, is to see the statistics on actual searches. You can’t guess at such things. What better way to find out than the statistics on the world’s most popular search engine, Google? And they used to make a great tool for that. It was called the Google “Keyword Planner Tool”. If you typed that into the Google search box, it used to light up like a Christmas tree as the top search in the drop down menu, even before you got it all spelled out! And clicking on it should take you there.
Unfortunately, they decided to make it available only for the users of the Adwords paid advertising program, since that is what it was designed for in the first place. If you plan to use paid ads in the search results, you can still use that tool, but the advertising will cost you.
There are many videos on YouTube of how this tool works, but make sure they say “Planner” in the subject line, otherwise it may be an old video for the former version of this tool. Also, it does say that you have to have a Google Adwords account, but keep in mind that just because you sign up for it doesn’t mean you have to use it!
The Adwords account is useful if you want to pay for advertising, on a bid basis, for featured ads on the search engines which are the ones in the highlighted boxes, or in the sidebar of most search results. You don’t have to do that, if you want to rely on generic search engine optimization (SEO), and let the search engines bring your site up wherever it will in the generic listings.
Using Adwords paid advertising is a topic in itself, and too complex to get into here. If not done properly, you could end up spending a lot of money and get no results. It gets into knowing how to figure your advertising return on investment (ROI) and many other things, and is for more advanced marketers.
My explanations in the next few paragraphs were based on the old tool, but They are general enough, that once you see what a keyword tool does, you should be able to understand what I was doing. (Later on, I will tell you about some paid tools.)
First it shows you a list of associated terms that have your search words in them, along with how much competition there is for those words, in how much the “pro’s” are paying for advertising, as well as how many results there are for the searches using those words. It also tells you how many searches there are per month for specific keywords and phrases (multiple keywords). If you click on the column headings you can sort from most to least or vice versa. The more searches and the less competition the better the chances of of you getting on the first page, whether you pay for advertising or take your chances with good SEO for generic search.
For example, I typed “behavior of German Spitz dogs” into the search box at the top, and then I clicked on the Global search volume header to get the higher results to the top of the list. There really wasn’t any “high” competition for that term, and many of the results that got more searches were in the “medium” range, But by going down the list farther, I found more and more search terms that had “low” competition.
Using any keyword tool, you need to figure out how to work those words into your content, and also use them for post titles to your blogs, where you can talk about those specific topics. Even though the number of searches may be less, you would have very little competition, and have a much better chance of getting higher rankings in the search results when someone searches for those terms on Google. You never want to try to compete with high ranking search terms. Your goal is to "drill down" until you find that certain "niche" within your topic where there is little competition.
On the left there is a check box where you can click on the ones you want to save. Above that was a download button where you can choose your saved results and then download them to a .csv file (comma separated value) which is a form of spreadsheet. Many other keyword tools have similar functions. You should save that file to your desktop to make it easy to find, and then when you open it with your spreadsheet program you will be able to expand the columns and adjust it to suit your needs, and then save it as a normal spreadsheet. Again, this is why I say that anyone in business for themselves should learn to use spreadsheets, as they come in handy for so many things. If you need to learn how to use them, you can get free lessons by going to http://gfclearnfree.org.
The nice thing that going to a spreadsheet does is convert the generic “low, medium and high” indicators to actual numbers, so you can see which are the “lowest of the low”. If you highlight the entire spreadsheet you should be able to go to the “data” menu at the top of your screen and sort by specific columns, and in ascending or descending order within those columns.
Huge revelation that other marketers won’t tell you!
OK, so how many searches are “enough”?
The biggest problem with ANY of the keyword tools is that they only give you general numbers, and even those can be deceiving. They may get “close” to that number of searches, but for various reasons, not all of those searchers are going to come to your site. I know from my own experience of holding the first position, first page result, plus four others on that same page, that my actual visitor count was only about 25% of what Google claims as the number of searches for those same exact keywords! I attribute the difference to various things… people doing research (on Google’s posted numbers for results at the top of the pages), plus, maybe some are looking for forums, or blogs, maybe a diffferent type of product, or whatever… and I even had a great description and sales message! Think how much worse it would have been had I let the search engine grab random text to display instead of MY sales message!
So I suggest to any of you, if you are targeting a certain number of visitors per day to reach a desired sales volume, you should be looking at search result numbers that are about four times what you need! In other words if you need 300 visitors per day (knowing that less than 2% actually buy something) to get six sales per day, then you should really be looking at keywords that are getting more like 1200 per day, or 36,000 searches per month! If you target words with only 9000 searches per month and you only get 1/4th of those to visit your site, that means you will only get about 75 visitors per day, and only make one to two sales per day!
I see this as the major problem with why many marketers don’t make enough money, and it isn’t really their fault if they don’t realize what’s happening! You NEED to target keywords that get four times the search results so that you can be assured of getting roughly 25% of that number as visitors to your sites! I haven’t seen any other marketer tell anyone this in 15+ years of my being online and studying from all of these “gurus”! That’s why I don’t trust them!
It’s OK to start with a generic word when doing an inital search, but then choose more specific words from the list and then also run queries using those search terms. You may have to do this three or more times to get some really good terms with low competition. Always be thinking what words “buyers” are going to be looking for… not “shoppers”. This is called “drilling down”. Also, think about “long tail” keywords, which simply means more than just two or three words together. Try a complete sentence, such as a question, and experiment with it.
Understanding Buyer’s versus Shopper’s Keywords
Here’s an example of the difference between shopper’s keywords and buyer’s keywords. If you search for a totally generic term like camera, it will show a lot of searches, but also a lot of results, and a lot of competition, so trying to compete with a million other advertisers for that word is pointless. You need to think about “buyer’s” words… not “shoppers words”. You need to “drill down” to more specific information and words.
For example: If you typed “camera” into the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, that will bring up all kinds of associated suggestions using that word. One of those suggestions is bound to be “digital”, so in your next search, add “digital” to “camera”, that may eliminate some searchers, but it’s still too generic. If you search “digital SLR camera”, now you are getting down to a specific niche, but the people who search with those terms are still shopping for something similar to that. If you added the words “reviews” or “ratings” to that, it may show a lot of searches but they are pointless, as those are the words shoppers would use… not buyers. Those people are looking for information, but aren’t ready to buy yet. If you add a brand name, like “Canon” to the search, now you are getting closer, but there are still several models of Cannon SLR digital cameras. Which one do they want?
Let’s say you do some more research and come up with “Canon EOS 7D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3-inch LCD and 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Standard Zoom Lens”. The searches may be too low to even register, but it will bring up other keywords related to that. Getting “too” detailed with a search may be bad if you can’t see how many searches there really are, because neither will it show how much competition there is. So let’s shorten it to just “Canon EOS 7D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR”. Now the results show 480 global searches for that exact term. But also, you can see that the competition is also very high, as it is a popular camera. Anyone who uses those search terms knows exactly what they want and they have their credit card out and are ready to buy. The problem is getting your search engine listing in front of all that other competition AND them, and you need to be the first result at the top of the first results page on Google so that you can offer it to them first!
So now, you have to decide… would you rather try to sell the world’s favorite camera, never get first page rankings, and maybe not make any sales? Or could you settle for a less popular model that would allow you to get that top position on page one, and maybe make five to ten sales per week? “Some” money is better than none! And then if you still can’t compete on price, experiment with adding some accessories to it and market it as a package deal! After all, everyone can use a memory card, a carrying case, a tripod, or some other useful item!
That’s the difference between shopper’s keywords and buyer’s keywords, and as a marketer, you need to ALWAYS think in those terms! Only buyers are going to search for details, so make sure you include those details in your keyword phrases!
There is a whole list of “trigger words” on the web. I have gone one step further and actually put them in a spreadsheet, added many more to them, and ranked them according to performance! I will be glad to send them to you. Just ask for them in the comments and make sure I have an email address to send them to. They will be on an OpenOffice spreadsheet that can also be opened by Excel, and then you can continue to tweak and improve the list as you need to. I will make the list available as a download as soon as I can find time to set it up.
Using those words, you would start with any keyword tool. Let’s take a simple word like “stop”. Stop what? It sounds urgent, like people need an answer immediately! Putting that into the keyword tool shows all kinds of similar phrases with that word in it. By going down the list, you can see what it is that people want to stop! Maybe you can come up with a solution to their most urgent problem, either with an ebook or a product that will “stop” their problem, and there’s sales waiting to happen! That’s how sales are made! Solve urgent problems for people better then anyone else, and you are bound to make a full time living at it!
An Even Better Keyword Tool
Although there are many free keyword tools online, the most well-known being the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, there is one purchased tool that I would recommend, but only to people who already have a start at marketing and are making enough money to afford it… and that is MicroNicheFinder. (the banner is in the right hand margin). For just under $100 (one time fee and you own it, life-time updates free), it can be a real time saver in sorting out exactly what keywords you need to be using in your sales campaigns. Besides telling you how many searches there are per month for a given keyword or phrase (as most others do), not only on Google but also on MSN and Yahoo’s search engines, it tells you by simple green, yellow, and red indicators whether a word is worth targeting or not, based on many other factors, such as competition for that keyword on the search engines, whereas with most keyword tools, you have to analyze the data yourself. It will even tell you whether there’s a domain name in either “.com, .org, or .net” available for your keywords. That’s how you pick domain names! If you go to the MicroNicheFinder site, you will find many instructional videos on how it is used, and you can also search the name on YouTube and find many other training videos.
But please… don’t buy it if you plan on only making one site for a specific business. This is a professional grade tool for professional marketers who build a great many sites, and it saves a lot of time. If you are only going to use it once, or even once a month, it’s not cost effective. As I said, I don’t want to “push” you toward products that you may not need.
Summary and Expectations
OK, more on keyword research later. Let’s say you have your keywords picked out, your URL thought of, other good secondary keywords picked out for titles and sub-titles, pages and posts, products researched and chosen (more on that later), and you are ready to start building your site. You should know how to do that by now, from the previous post.
Now it is time to put what you learned into action. If you are using a program, or one of the free options for building a web site, you should have controls somewhere in the program where you can set it to go “live” on the web or not, or whether to make it viewable by the public. At this time, you want to keep it private, and/or set it to not be indexed by the search engines. In WordPress, there are simply a couple of checkboxes in the settings where you can make it private for now. Even though you can publish your site to the web, you aren’t quite finished yet. You still have to add the necessary graphics to it, and whatever products you want to sell. However, if the site can be viewed on the web by going to the exact URL, then I can see it and help guide you the rest of the way. I don’t need to know the details of every builder program out there to be able to help you. The main thing is what I see when I go to the web. I can explain what you need to do to make any changes, but it is important that you learn how to do it yourself!
In the next posts we will show you everything from how to manipulate graphics to make them look good and be search engine friendly as well as to add advertising banners, payment buttons and other things to your site to make it make money for you.
Lastly, we will show you how to add analytics to your site so that you can see everything from how many visitors you are getting, to what links they click on and what pages they visit, how long they stayed, how they got there and where they went when they left!
After that, we’ll discuss the many methods you can use to monetize your site, and why choosing the right method is important to the kind and size of commissions you receive. You will need to know that to determine what kind of ads or even giveaways you want to use on your site. In the process of monetizing there are certain legal disclaimers that you will have to know how to use, certain pages that will be necessary for policies, and much more.
After that, we will be getting into the social aspects of marketing… not just Facebook and Twitter, but in getting your site “pinged” so it shows up on a lot more than just a few blogs! One of the best free advertising methods you will find (which is responsible for a 47% increase in the traffic to one of my sites) is YouTube, and we will be showing you a quick and easy way to create your own custom videos, using no camera, no microphone, and no “face time”. It’s all done on your computer. But there are hundreds of video sites on the web and we can show you how to upload your video to them all at once, with one click of your mouse. We’ll also discuss the importance of inbound links and how to get them the right way.
THEN you will finally be ready to allow the public to see your site, and start making money with it. But you’re not done! There will be more posts on using and setting up an autoresponder (for those that want one), getting free images for your sites, where to put them for the best sales results, and much more. We’re just getting warmed up, so stick around. If you like what you see, come back often, use the comments at the bottom to ask lots of questions, and let’s have some fun!
Please, if you have questions on any of this, let me know in the comments! I will answer ASAP.