Have you ever been stuck in a traffic jam fuming and wondering when it would clear up and how soon you could get off this maddening highway? That's a bad traffic jam, here's a good one: thousands of people clamoring to get to your website, begging to be let in. Yes, that's the kind of traffic that makes me very happy and here are some tips on how to get it.
If you're ready to take your website traffic from so-so to "wow!" you'll need to do a bit of work. Just throwing up a website won't cut it. You're going to need to pay attention to things like trends, keywords, and tags. First, let's look at keywords and how to find them.
Finding Your Keywords
First, figure out what you want your keywords to be. What sort of searches do you want to come up for? This is important because if you pin yourself to the wrong search term, it could get you poor results. For example, in this market we want to come up under the search term "book marketing." I once thought we might want to pin ourselves to "publishing," but it would not have been a wise choice. Why? Because most people searching for the term publishing are at the very beginning of their journey and not even ready to consider a marketing firm. We would rather get someone when they are further into the process because it makes for a much more qualified lead on our end. The same may be true for you. Figure out where their point of entry is. This isn't something that you can search online using Google Ad Words, Trends or Insight, it's something you learn by researching your market. I learned about this when I did my own research. I plugged in a bunch of keywords I wanted to rank for to see what came up. When I plugged in publishing I found publishers. Not a good competitive space for me to be in. When I plugged in book marketing or book market, I found other companies I was more aligned with.
So, first gather some search terms, you may not initially refer to them as keywords, they are just your starting point. They might end up being perfect or you might scrap the list and just start over. Your research will point you in that direction.
Let's say you have a series of keywords you are considering but you aren't sure what other variables folks might be searching on. Hop on over to Soovle. When you land on this site you'll see a simple box to plug in your keyword. When you do you'll get back variations of searches that come up in sites like YouTube, Google, Yahoo, and Bing. It will also show these terms as used on Amazon.com which can be helpful if you are selecting tags to go with your book. You'll want to spend some time here, clicking the various links to find different ways that consumers search on these keywords. You also might find a better search term than what you currently use, or it might validate your research. Either way it's a fantastic site and one we use often.
Once you get your keywords nailed down, Google Ad Words is always a great place to research their popularity. You want to know that the keywords you are going after are getting searches, meaning searches big enough to matter to your traffic. If you go to Google Ad Words, punch in your keywords and then turn off the broad match so you narrow down your results a bit more. You can also play around with "exact" and "phrase," but I generally stick with all three of those unchecked and see what kind of results I get. Generally I look for Global Monthly Searches that are above 650; I'd rather it be higher but if you are searching a niche term, that might be the best you can do.
How to Use Keywords
You now need to know how to use the keywords you spent so much time finding. First and foremost, you want to use them on your home page copy. That's the copy on the home page of your website. I recommend keeping the verbiage on your homepage to 250 words at most and making sure that this text is keyword rich. You want to address your visitors' concerns, not yours. Remember that the first few lines of your website copy will show up in searches so make sure it's relevant to the audience.
Next, the URL you're using could make a difference. Since we've already established that we wanted to come up for the term "Book marketing" we started using it everywhere, in our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/bookmarketingame) on your YouTube Channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/BookmarketingAME) and even in our URL. I bought www.bookmarketingAME.com. Now, we don't use this URL per se, it just points to our main domain name which is: www.amarketingexpert.com. Why did we do that? Because the use of your core search terms is really key to driving traffic and getting higher in the search rank. Want proof? Before we did all of this our website was generally at the bottom of page one on Google or on page two when you plugged in "book marketing" in the search bar. Three months after we made these changes (keywords on the home page and keywords in our Facebook branding, YouTube and URL) we came up #3 in search, sometimes #2 and on a stupendously good day, we're #1. Now that's a great traffic jam!
You can and should also use keywords in your blog posts. Not overtly so where you're creating posts that don't make sense (this is called keyword stuffing), but using them sprinkled throughout your content, sort of like we did with this article.
You should also use the keywords in your YouTube videos and in Alt tags in pictures on your website, etc. Keywords are fantastic and once you go through the work of finding them, you can use them over and over again.
Watch Your Traffic
Now you want to be sure and watch your traffic. Get Google Analytics to help you monitor traffic on your website. Talk to any expert SEO person and they will tell you that's about the best analytics software you can use. Once you insert this bit of code into your site you'll be able to determine what kind of traffic you're getting and from where. How are people finding you (i.e. what keywords are they using to get to your site), and what sites are pulling in your traffic? Very helpful information. You should plan to check your traffic monthly, if not more often.
Additional Tips for Driving Traffic
There's a fun little site you've probably already heard of called Google Trends. It will show you trending topics and you can also plug in your keywords to find trends in your area of expertise. But here's the real fun part. I try to watch Google Trends every so often, maybe once or twice a week if I'm really stumped on what to blog on and under "Hot Searches" you'll find the top things that consumers are searching on. If you can comment on these topics or make any of them relevant to your message, you can really surge traffic on your site. Keep in mind that your topic must be relevant! Everyone has become pretty careful about authenticity of content since the Google Panda Update (http://www.seomoz.org/blog/beat-google-panda).
Another great site is Google Insights for Search. This will show you areas (worldwide) that may have a potential interest in your keywords/topic and also the locations which get the highest searches. It's also great because if you're looking to dig into particular markets, you can really get a sense of where the interest lies and you might even be surprised. When I searched on book marketing I found some of the highest searches in India! You can also see how searches rank for your particular topic and how they have trended over time. I find this very interesting when I'm researching a book topic for marketing, or a particular angle for a pitch we're considering.
Keywords don't have to be these mysterious search terms that only your website or SEO person knows about. Finding and using the right keywords can really make a big difference to any website and, especially, to your sales. Also, even though we talked about thousands of hits on a site, you don't really need that many to make a difference to your bottom line. Good, quality traffic and a solid site that's converting is all it takes to reap your own online rewards!
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Follow Penny C. Sansevieri on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bookgal