It happens pretty much once a week, someone calls us to pick our brains on which seo keywords they should use in their website to get top of Google. We don't mind helping out but sometimes it feels like we're reliving groundhog day.
All our phone calls seem to start with this question and we love it that people feel they can call for some SEO help and advice but hearing us answer "yes" to their first question isn't really what they're calling about. What people are really after is, very often, validation that what they've chosen to do on their website for Google is right - mostly because there's so many conflicting opinions out there about SEO and the business of getting to the top of Google.
So, today we took a call from a father of an estate agent, an estate agent who we have written a website design proposal for:
My son said you're very helpful so I wonder if you can help me with my keywords? Our caller outlined his situation: he told us he was having some traffic for (but no business from) the search query 'Audi A1 review' and was having no joy at all for the search query 'Audi A1 for sale'; his first question was as follows:
I have been told that it's better to go for less competitive keywords rather than more competitive keywords; is that right?
It rather depends what our caller meant by 'better' doesn't it? Does better mean getting to the top of Google or does better mean attracting the right kind of Customer to your website? Our advice remains that it's always better to get the right kind of Customer on the website; whilst the competitiveness of any search query is an important factor it's the wrong SEO metric to be starting out from. Getting to the top of Google with a less competitive keyword is relatively simple and, to be perfectly honest, a bit of a cop-out; after all, if the search query isn't used much then what's the point? The only time there is, in fact, a point is when your search query is 'niche' as opposed to 'hardly ever used' and 'largely irrelevant'.
What, do you think, is the difference between a search for 'Audi A1 review' and 'Audi A1 for sale'? Our caller expressed a desire to be found for both so how should one set about understanding if these are the right keywords for Google? The answer is pretty straight forward - we asked the caller
How many Audi A1s do you have for sale on your website? The answer was one. If the website in question had dozens of Audi A1s for sale then clearly it'd be far easier to secure a Google rank for that phrase. However, advanced SEO is not as simple as this; getting to the top of Google is all very well but once you've secured the clickthrough from Google to your website what do you do with the Customer and, more importantly, how do you convert them? Here's your answer: the person searching for an 'Audi A1 review' is not a buyer - they're window shopping and browsing in the truest sense of the word.
Today's caller represented a vehicle finance company. Our caller had created a website with every make of car (from Audis to Zondas), a website that listed the lowest possible 'from' price. A website like this is never going to achieve a top rank by itself as it's too general, too vague and lacks relevant content. The problem is not with the keywords used for Google but the business content itself. Our caller doesn't and will never have dozens of Audi A1s for sale, he had one finance deal that could be applied to a wide range of cars. The Customer searching Google for 'Audi A1s for sale' will not be thinking about finance will they? Financing a car is something that we consumers do after we've found the car we want. The website in question will struggle to hold the interest of the searcher because, regardless of the keywords it uses for Google, it cannot possibly give the searcher precisely what they're after (Audi A1s for sale) so what hope is there in being able to convert searchers into buyers. Secondly and, perhaps, most importantly, it's a fair guess that someone searching 'Audi A1 for sale' is actually searching for a used Audi; our caller is setup for the sale of new Audis so there's an even bigger flaw in their SEO strategy than they ever realised before calling us.
The product this website is selling is not an Audi A1, the product this website is selling is vehicle finance and leasing. It's always going to struggle against websites of car supermarkets and Audi dealerships - not only does the website have to give the Customer lots of Audi A1s to look at but it also has to sell (I mean, *really* sell) the concept of buying a new Audi A1 instead of a used Audi A1. It's far simpler to find masses of great keyword-rich SEO content for Google if you're selling what you stock. Our caller's business will have to work hard to create relevant content but it is possible and a Google rank is achievable.
The SEO of our caller's website needs to work harder and far smarter. The product this website sells is vehicle finance so the key is for the website to show just how affordable the Customer's dream car really is; letting them explore the various models and specifications; letting them build their dream Audi A1; letting them select the amount they'd like to pay per month for the car and how much deposit they've got before emailing them a price proposal that convinces them that leasing a new Audi A1 is better than buying used and converts them from a searcher into a Customer.
When people ask us which keywords they should use for Google they're always starting off from completely the wrong angle. It's not all about keywords, it's all about your Customers, their hopes, their dreams and how you can help them achieve both. The key to SEO is to think like a Customer and give the Customer what they want - despite what the bloke down the pub or the snakeoil salesman may have told you.
We advised our caller to drop their hang-up on the keywords to use for Google and, instead, to begin obsessing about the affordability of the vehicles they're able to source. We felt their best chance to be found on Google would, therefore, be to rely upon a fusion between the concepts of the car model in question and price.
cheapest way to buy Audi A1 -
price of a new Audi A1 -
price of a used Audi A1 etc... Even though our caller's car leasing company doesn't sell used Audi A1s what they will do, as a matter of course, is be able to put a financial proposition to the buyer comparing the price of a leased Audi A1 vs a used Audi A1 - effectively 'borrowing' the notion of a used Audi A1 for their own ends.
We maintain that
a hit website articulates your business proposition - getting found at the top of Google is simply a case of putting your business case and your business sales process online, ensuring that, as you write, you write about them using the language that your Customers would use. For as long as we publish our telephone number we're sure we'll be taking calls and validating peoples' SEO actions. Despite the analogy with groundhog day, we remain happy to offer help and advise on the basics of SEO for those in need. Why not post a comment on this blog and share your thoughts with us?