Know Who Your Target is Before Starting SEO
You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want. – Zig Ziglar
Would you rather try to sell a t-shirt to someone shopping for a t-shirt or someone looking for a radiator? The answer although obvious is often never answer because most business owners never ask the question: “What are my clients looking for?” or “Who are my clients?”. If you are a little love-struck with your business idea try asking some friends who will give you honest opinions. Simple questions like: “What do you think I do or sell?”, “Who is looking for what I am selling?” etc. Can give you real insight into not only how others perceive your business but also how much interest they have in it. The simpler you can make you business the easier it will be for others to buy from you.
Before moving on please answer the following questions:
What does your business sell? (If you don’t have a product you are still selling something. For instance I sell my time performing web development for clients. To me this is still a product.)
Who is buying what you have to sell? (Think in terms of if you wanted to buy what you have to offer. Be brutally honest with yourself. If you sell baby blankets your market will be Expectant Moms, New Moms and Expectant Grandmothers. Mom’s who already have babies will probably not buy from you since they already have what they need. You want excited expectant Mothers who want to spoil their new babies. This will narrow it down a little.)
Where does my target audience hang out both on and offline? (This is the most important of the three questions. If you have a customer base that spends 10% of their time on search engines and 90% on social media then you probably want to skip SEO for now.)
If after answering the questions above you feel that your customers are using search engines to find your product or service then great! Let’s prove it.
If you don’t already have a google adwords account you will want to stop reading and sign up for one now. I know what you are thinking and don’t worry you won’t be spending any money on this yet. We are just using adwords to test our theory.
Go to google.com/adwords. If you have a gmail account you can use it to create an adwords account. If you don’t have a gmail account you will need to sign up for one before creating your adwords account. You can do this through the same link.
Once signed in navigate to the home screen of adwords. This main screen should show All campaigns you have if any.
Click on the “Tools” link in the menu and a sub-menu will drop down. From there click on “Keyword Planner”.
The keyword planner allows you to search for keywords related to your business. The keyword planner will tell you how many searches there are per month for your keyword and will provide related keywords, search volume, and location specific data that can be really helpful for local businesses. This is how the screen should look at this point:
If you need to click on the “How to use Keyword Planner” link in the right menu bar before beginning. If you have a good idea of what you are doing then dive right in and click on the “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” link. You should have options drop down like so:
Like the form suggests enter in your keywords or topics under the product or service area. You can also select a landing page on your site, a product or category and location specific demographics. I’ll assume we are selling baby blankets to the united states which means your form should look something like this:
Once you have the data how you want it click on the “Get ideas” link. In the results area you will see the keywords that were found along with the average monthly searches, competition in adwords for the keyword, suggested bid per click if you advertise it in adwords and a few other options that aren’t important at this point.
60k plus searches per month is definitely nothing to sneeze at but you will notice there is only one other keyword “baby wrap blanket” that shows up in the category. Since we want to target something that has multiple keywords it is probably a good idea to remove the category which should give us more keyword ideas.
As expected we now have pages of keyword ideas related to “baby blankets”. Some have lower search than others but others such as “blanket” have over 100k searches per month.
Now its time to go back to our three questions from above. Question two “who is buying what I have to sell” should now be revisited. An expectant mother might search for blanket but a hiker, mother of 10, single guy in college might also look for that keyword too. On the flip side a keyword like “baby boy bedding” has over 8k searches per month and will probably be much closer to our demographic than just blanket.
Create a spreadsheet or just click on the download button in adwords to download all the keywords you feel are appropriate for your product or service. If you have a good amount of keywords with a good amount of search volume then you are probably good to move on with SEO. If your search produces nothing the investment in SEO is probably not a good idea. Same holds true with adwords.
To give you an example I did a search for window cleaners in Kingman Arizona. That is where I grew up and started my first business which was… you guessed it, a window cleaning company. My results are pretty dismal.
I expected this because Kingman has a high population of retirees. These retirees hired me mostly because their friends who used me said I was a good kid who worked hard. Instead of spending hours and hours a month trying to get in front of 10 people on google I had much better success knocking on 10 doors a day asking if I could clean their windows. It wasn’t a glamorous way to build a business but I grew rapidly by getting in front of my audience the best way I knew how at the time which was door to door sales.
Please un-apologetically honest and brutal with yourself. You hear that most businesses fail in the first year and that is actually true. What nobody ever says is that most businesses fail because the entrepreneur starting the business never checked to see if anyone was buying. They put their life savings into a business idea that nobody wants right now.
If you find after doing this exercise that nobody is searching for what you have take it as a good thing. You just saved yourself a lot of time and money. Find the next idea. Having one idea shot down doesn’t mean you can’t come up with another.
If after this exercise you found there are millions of potential customers looking for your product then great! Let’s move on to the next step and see what you need to do to get in front of them.