Keywords vs Keyphrases and Quantity vs Quality
There are keywords and keyphrases. Keyphrases are 3 words or more such as “Condos in Toronto” or “Condos For Sale”. The methodology to search engine optimization is to target “long-tail keyphrases” which are actionable, i.e. a call to action. Optimizing for words such as “Toronto Condos” may yield more traffic but the quality of said traffic may not convert into a qualified lead but rather attract buyers who are not yet ready to buy.
We must consider the psychology of the phrase… much like a good designer considers the psychology of colours. A classic example of long-tail keyphrase targeting comes from a book called “Search Engine Optimization – An Hour a Day” and it shows the picture of a snake curved into an S with the head at the top of the S and the tail at the bottom of S
– at the head of the snake we have the keyword “snake”
– further down we have the keywords “poison snake”
– then about half way down we have “poison snake bite”
– and at the end of the tail we have “Poison Snake bite Arizona emergency room”
Now consider the thoughts of the person who Googles “Snake”… could very well be a kid doing research for school…. that doesn’t really change with “Poison Snake” because it could very well still be a kid doing research for school. Then you have “Snake Bite Arizona”… now we’re getting a little more focused and this could be someone who was bit by a snake while traveling through Arizona and is now worried, wondering if they should see a doctor. Now at the very end we have “Snake bite Arizona emergency room” – this is clearly someone who is suffering of a snake bite and looking for a doctor… they are ready to act.
One of my favourite internet entrepreneurs is Russell Brunson who said this at one of his conferences “There are only 2 kinds of buyers. Buyers who shop for pleasure (vacations, luxury items, investments, etc.) and buyers who shop out of necessity or for relief of pain (diet pills, education, food, etc.)” You need to define your product and your customer before you start marketing. The user experience is completely different from one side of the fence to the other. Some people might see it as “Selling to the Rich” or “Selling to the Poor” – Russell Brunson positions himself as an educator selling information or as he likes to call it “selling secrets” to those who are “in pain”.
One popular example of this business model is the slew of fitness experts that say they can reveal the truth about getting a 6 pack of abs for just $9.99 and all of their marketing targets the fat people who are unhappy with their physique. They are “in pain” and want instant relief… a magic pill or secret exercise/diet. Brunson’s pitch is “the secret to making money online” where he sells the lifestyle of being a wealthy internet entrepreneur. He says we are all experts in our own field and that anyone of use can make a profit by selling our expertise as a digital training course. Sounds pretty easy… play on their emotions, promise a solution, ask for their money.
On the other side of the fence however you have industries like the real estate market where it can takes months or even years to find yourself 1 buyer let alone thousands. These buyers are in no rush and will shop around for different reasons, i.e. lowest price, best location, flexible terms, etc. These buyers are a very hard sell and therefore require a smarter/longer keyphrase which will yield a buyer who is closer to making a purchasing decision such as “Liberty Village, Toronto Condo Broker” is clearly someone very interested in a specific location and wanting to speak with someone about making a purchase rather than just browse listings out of curiousity after searching for “Toronto Condos”.
My most recent success story comes from a client who owns a landscaping/construction company. He had asked me to make him #1 for “Landscaping Toronto” but I gently told him that was a bad idea. Why? Well for one it’s going to cost a lot given the competition. Two it is too general and could get him a handful of people who are simply looking to have someone mow their lawn. My recommendation was to focus on “long-tail keyphrases” like “web basement repairs toronto” or “excavation and demolition toronto” and sure enough… those two keyphrases alone got him 3 juicy leads that converted into $150,000 +
At first he was rather frustrated because it took 6 months before he got any action…. but then when he got phone calls for these phrases, they were the easiest sales he made all year long and thus the most profitable. It wasn’t a lot of traffic but it was quality traffic… so at the end of the day, less is more. On a generic term like “Landscaping Toronto” you may get 100 phone calls (quantity) from people with small budgets that want simple work done… whereas on a long-tail actionable keyphrase like “wet basement repairs toronto” you have people who are in a panic with no time to waste whom are ready to pay anything you ask for (quality). This is how I applied Mr Brunson’s theory regarding those who buy for pleasure versus those who buy for relief from pain. In conclusion, if your goal is to work less for more, go for long-tail keyphrases.