What do I do when my keywords are not working?

The site that I manage for my client has analytics data that shows that people are not using the keywords we are expecting them to use to reach content deeper within the website.

For example we are competing for ‘cloud computing services’ but there are very few searches that are reaching us.

Is this an SEO problem? Should I be looking to bring more visibility to certain terms in the site architecture?

I am the web developer for this website and want to ensure that visitors to the site are able to reach their destinations. The destinations are marked by the keywords on the inner pages.

If you search for “cloud computing”, does your site appear near the top? If not, that will be why you’re not getting referrals for that search term. If you’re competing for that phrase with other sites that are doing better at it than you are, you’re not likely to get much custom from it. In which case, you need to decide whether to go head-to-head with the big boys and try to beat them in the search results page, or to home in on a particular niche within the industry, the fabled “long-tail keywords” that won’t get as many searches, but where you can compete more effectively.

On the other hand, it might be that you’re at the top of the tree for “cloud computing”, but not many people are searching for that phrase. In which case, you need to figure out what people are searching for when they’re after cloud computing, and start to target that.

In which case, you need to decide whether to go head-to-head with the big boys and try to beat them in the search results page, or to home in on a particular niche within the industry, the fabled “long-tail keywords” that won’t get as many searches, but where you can compete more effectively.

You’re right about the competition, stevie. Should I then go all out with an adword campaign and compete that way? I can also develop niche long tail keyword content and drive traffic and conversions that way. Any thoughts?

First, based on my own experience if your site is not in the top three position it may be very hard for you to get decent amount of traffic. According to some studies the top three position generate a total of 80% of traffic. I have a site that was in the 4th position for a highly competitive which has a monthly global search volume of 22,200. It’s quite unfortunate that the number of visitors that I get is less than 10, despite my meta tags is very descriptive.

Should I then go all out with an adword campaign and compete that way?

I think you can do that, but you would have to bid a substantial amount of money for a single click if you want to out rank your competitors. If your ad-word campaign can convert well, that would be a good idea for you to compete with your competitors.

Good insights there, greatar4. Thanks for sharing your experience. I guess I have to find both short and long tail keywords to get traffic to this website.

The first question, there’s no way I can answer, it’s too dependent on a range of factors.

First, are your competitors also advertising? If so, you’re going to need to outbid them, and that can start to get expensive.

Second, is your website good enough that you can get a high conversion rate from targeted traffic? There’s no point in paying good money to draw people in if they bounce around your site confused for a few minutes then head for the door – you need to be sure that a good proportion of people you’ve hooked in will go on to buy something, otherwise you’ve wasted your money.

Third, bearing in mind that not everyone who clicks through will buy something, are your profit margins high enough that, for the sales you make, you’re covering the cost of the successful adverts and the unsuccessful ones?

I’m not trying to talk you out of advertising – it’s undoubtedly a successful strategy for a lot of people (not least the clever folks at Google who win every which way out!) – but you need to be clear about how much you need to get out of it for every dollar you put in.

It may be worth running a one-off campaign – give yourself a budget of $100, say, then just run the ads until that money dries up. You’ll need to find a way to track how many of your customers have come through the adverts. One easy way is to put a query string on the end of the URL that you include in the ads, so if your website is amit-e.com, you could put the URL into Adwords as amit-e.com?track=adwords – it shouldn’t make any difference to the user, and you can then track where those visitors go.

With regards to niche marketing, that’s often a successful strategy for smaller businesses, particularly with the large audience the internet gives you access to. It can be much more profitable to get 50% of a small industry sector that has very little competition than 0.1% of a bigger sector where you’re up against bigger and more established competitors.

I completely agree with you on this. I’ve already used a total of $475.00 coupon that I’ve received and to be honest with the result is very disappointed. I am working as an affiliate with some art galleries, I use ad-word to get people to my site and 80% of them just leave the site without even spending a minute. And those who follow my links don’t even make a purchase.

I would say using Google ad-word to get traffic has lots of risk that are involved. Your money may end up being wasted without even making a single sale. I would advise amit.e to make more research about how to effectively use Google ad-word to get great result. There are $75.00, $100.00 Google ad-words that you can use, if you find one give it a try and see how things work out.

are your competitors also advertising?

Yes they are I am afraid and the bids are pretty high.

is your website good enough that you can get a high conversion rate from targeted traffic?

The website is good and is about to get better when I start actually measuring conversions. Conversions for me in this scenario are brochure, whitepaper and case-study download. The website is easy to navigate and the content is free of jargon.

bearing in mind that not everyone who clicks through will buy something, are your profit margins high enough that, for the sales you make, you’re covering the cost of the successful adverts and the unsuccessful ones

That’s what I am going to find out now I guess. The value of each customer is pretty high so a moderately high price for acquisition makes sense in this context.

One easy way is to put a query string on the end of the URL that you include in the ads, so if your website is amit-e.com, you could put the URL into Adwords as amit-e.com?track=adwords

Do I have to do this, Stevie? Doesn’t adwords already show me reports. Also I plan to integrate with analytics, so won’t I get an idea about how my campaigns are performing anyway?

I would say using Google ad-word to get traffic has lots of risk that are involved. Your money may end up being wasted without even making a single sale. I would advise amit.e to make more research about how to effectively use Google ad-word to get great result.

@greatar This is my biggest worry - I hate wasting money on marketing. But don’t adword clicks capture buyer’s intent and therefore are more valuable? They say its only people who are serious about a buying decision that click on ads. Is this true in your experience?

I don’t think so. It that was true the conversion rate for ad-word users would have been much higher. People clicking on your ads does not mean once they access your site that they are going to make a purchase that’s the real problem.

Since you admit that your competitors are using Google-adword. That simply means you are going to face a big challenge as far as bidding is concerned. In order for your ads to appear on the top you are going to have to outbid all of them which is going to cost some money for a single click.

In order for your ads to appear on the top you are going to have to outbid all of them which is going to cost some money for a single click.

Now that sounds like a very expensive answer to my problems :slight_smile:
Its good to know that adwords doesn’t always deliver a high conversion rate. I always thought someone would click an ad because it made immediate commercial sense to them and addressed an existing buying need.

There’s a correlation but depending on the term there can also be a negative correlation.

Think about a term like “cloud computing” which is a buzz word these days. For every searcher looking to buy services in the space, many more are just general consumers curious about the topic who click around. Thus your traffic quality is lower, which should be reflected in the bids, but will certainly also impact the conversion rate significantly.

Also keep in mind that your sales cycle has a huge impact on conversion rates. The average time to order a general consumer good online is just over a day now [versus a few hours years ago] but in b2b it can be much, much longer. Either way, there are likely to be many sources used in an expensive purchase decision and if you are only giving attribution to the “last click” you’re missing the full picture.

For example…

  1. Monday morning I go out and search for “cloud computing providers” and click on 15 listings. 10 fit my needs and I become aware of their names.
  2. Tuesday a retargeting ad takes me back to a provider I had discounted, so I search around on them a little more.
  3. Wednesday afternoon I search again for the specific service I need in cloud. This returns 6 of the same providers.
  4. Tuesday I search specifically for those providers with the added term review to read up.
  5. Friday after reviewing options I return and search for the one provider I wanted, the one I got via retargetting.

What made the sale?

@ Ted"
What you’re mentioning here is the buying lifecycle. My point is that I have to get my client’s website high on that consideration list. So I guess I’ll have to do a combination of organic and adword research for this to work.

What makes the sale in my client’s industry is the technical sales guy. I just have to generate the lead to be passed to him.

Thanks for your inputs, Ted