Usually, when a website is finished, the first thing the business owner thinks of is getting the site as high as they can on the search engines - a very sensible tactic and one which is vital if you want to take advantage of free traffic from the likes of Google.
However, the majority of businesses think the way to do that is through optimising their website so that the search engines will naturally rank them more highly. This is a process called Search Engine Optimisation. However, in order to do any Search Engine Optimisation, you need to know what keywords your website needs to be optimised against. So, let's say you sell pet supplies. You might want your website to appear in the search engine listings when someone types in keywords like; pet supplies, pet toys, aquarium tanks, etc..
what this exercise really underlines is that you simply cannot second-guess which keywords are the ones that make you money
The average-sized website can only be optimised for only a handful of keywords (roughly 15-20 at any one time) so you can't go wild and think up every keyword that might relate to your business as you can with AdWords. And herein lies the trap many website owners fall into: they go for the keywords that they think will yield them the highest amount of traffic to their website. The confusion here is that not all traffic is great traffic. It doesn’t follow that the more traffic you have, the more sales you make. Opting for high traffic keywords inevitably means that you are also attracting traffic which has no interest in your product. Let's take the key-phrase “pet supplies”. At first glance, it would seem the obvious choice for a pet supplies company. However, this keyword would also attract traffic from people who use the key-phrase for other purposes, for example…
- pet supplies wholesalers
- free pet supplies
- pet supplies medicines
- cheap pet supplies
- local pet supplies
- exotic pet supplies
- holistic pet supplies and so on.
None of which may relate to what they sell.
However, there are certain keywords which, when people type into the search engines, will be tightly focused on the products and services that you supply on your website. In fact, there will be specific keywords that result in sales and you will see those when you analyse your conversions in AdWords.
So below is one of our real-life case studies for a company selling an anti-virus product called Sophos which reveals some fascinating information about any suppositions one may have about which keywords result in sales…
We knew that there were three ways that people could type the primary keywords into a browser:
- sophos antivirus
- sophos anti-virus
- sophos anti virus
But which of the three should they SEO for their website? The results were extraordinary:
Here's a screenshot from our customer’s campaigns:
What you can see here are two keywords which are almost identical; “sophos anti-virus” and “sophos antivirus”. If you didn't know any better you would probably SEO both of these keywords for your website. However, when you look at the AdWords campaign we can see that at first glance the “sophos anti-virus” keyword is doing incredibly well – it's only attracting less than one-third the traffic of its rival “sophos antivirus” and yet it is generating more interest (5.93% CTR vs 2.19% CTR). But let’s take a look at the last two columns. Our 'winning' keyword “sophos anti-virus” didn't convert into a single sale! Whereas our 'losing' keyword “sophos antivirus” converted nearly 8% of its traffic. So, it's pretty clear which keyword you would SEO for your website. Or is it?
Now let's compare our new winner “sophos antivirus” with another variation, “sophos anti virus”.
Firstly, both keywords are getting conversions so we know they’re both making money but you can immediately see that the keyword “sophos anti virus” is getting more than 3 times as many clicks as “sophos antivirus”. Put differently; the keyword “sophos antivirus”, when shown, resulted in 2.19% of people visiting the website, whereas the keyword “sophos anti virus” resulted in 6.11% of people visiting the website. Plus, “sophos anti virus” was converting more of its traffic into sales: 10.53% as opposed to 7.69% and as a result was costing less to make the sale!
So, the ultimate winner and the keyword we SEO for would be “sophos anti virus”.
But here’s the surprise:
We also ran a misspelling of the word Sophos, “sophus”. What we found was truly astonishing…
It generated more clicks than the three primary keywords put together! AND it had the second-highest conversion rate with nearly 10% of its traffic turning into a sale. However, the true value lay in the final column which tells you how much each conversion (in this case, sale) cost. What you see straight away is that each sale generated by the keywords “sophos antivirus” and “sophos anti virus” cost, on average, £11.08, whereas, our misspelt keyword, “sophus”, cost only £0.85! In other words, it was more than 13 times more cost-efficient than the other keywords. We now have a second, utterly unpredicted, and highly valuable keyword to add to our Search Engine Optimisation list.
What this exercise really underlines is that you simply cannot second-guess which keywords are the ones that make you money. Choosing purely on the basis of the amount of traffic each keyword generates does not guarantee financial success.
The Google AdWords system gives you the ability to make decisions based on knowledge and understanding rather than guesswork. It uncovers a wealth of information about your keywords which allow you to begin gold-digging.
In the end, it means you can precisely define exactly which keywords will generate profits and that’s the reason why you should invest in AdWords before investing in your SEO.