Choosing Key Phrases

“One qualified lead is worth a thousand random surfers”

When planning your website, you may have been asked which key phrases you would like to target.  The phrases you choose could have a profound effect on how many people find you in the search engines and how well suited the potential customers are for your business.

When you search using Google, you may get results similar to the following:

accommodation  92,600,000 results
accommodation brisbane  7,900,000 results
wheelchair accommodation brisbane  90,500 results
wheelchair accommodation brisbane dog friendly  18,800 results
wheelchair accommodation brisbane dog cat friendly  13,400 results

You may assume that the phrases with the largest number of results would be the best, but it ain’t necessarily so.

The first two search phrases are the “short tail” results – short phrases that are highly competitive and very popular.  If you target these terms, you will be up against stiff competition and will struggle to appear on the first few pages of results.  You may get a lot of traffic if you manage it, but it might be unqualified traffic – people who were not looking for your product at all.

The last three search phrases are the “long tail” results – targeted, longer phrases that are less competitive and less popular.  You would expect to get less traffic from these phrases, but the quality of the traffic should be better suited to your business.

Ideally, you need phrases that will deliver the right type of qualified leads to your business.

How to choose the best search terms

1. Avoid single term search phrases such as “brisbane”.  These are far too broad, and too competitive.  You will get a lot of traffic, but no good customers.

2. Don’t choose terms that are too broad.  For example, don’t aim for “cake” if you are a Brisbane cake decorator.  You will get a lot of people looking for nutritional information on cakes in general.  At best you will get a lot of hits but no leads, at worst you could increase your bandwidth costs unnecessarily.  One qualified lead is worth more than a thousand random surfers.

3. Use the same words that your customers use.  You may technically be in the business of “materials handling”, but if your customers call your products “forklifts” then you should too – at least so that google can find you under the common words.

4. Be careful of word variants and word order.  The plural form of a word will return different results from the singular form.  If you can, optimise your site for both.  If you can’t, choose the plural form as this is generally more popular.

Learn more about basic SEO here.