Trying SEM on your own? My top 5 keyword rules for small biz.

Nov 5, 2015SEO

Search engine optimization and search engine marketing (PPC marketing) can be tough for the small business owner. I’m here to help you get started with your SEO and PPC keyword research.


Being a small business owner is tough. I know, I’ve been there. The small business I owned was a digital marketing agency. Sure, I did my own digital marketing, but you know what? I left other key business services, like tech support, tax preparations and payroll to the experts in their field. I knew that my expertise was in digital marketing.

For those business owners trying to attempt their own digital marketing, it can be a challenging job. I’m here to help. Before you begin any SEO or SEM (pay-per-click) campaign, you must first do your keyword research.  Here are my “top 5” keyword rules for small businesses:

#5 – Don’t forget “branded” keywords.

Terms with your company or brand name in them are valuable from an SEO and SEM perspective. You want to rank organically for a search for your company. You may also want to consider SEM campaigns using both yours and your competitors’ keywords. Be careful what you choose, as your relevancy scores are still important in either case!

#4 – Long-tail rules for small business.

It’s challenging to be competitive for high volume single word or short phrase keyword searches. Think (and research) action phrases that people would be using to find something specifically that you provide.

#3 – Think about intent (yours and your customer).

Search keywords often signal intent of the visitor. Terms with action verbs often give big clues into what the user is looking for and with more searches being done via mobile device (think SIRI), action verbs are more important than ever. Tailor your search spend and content around this intent to improve conversion rates and relevancy scores.

#2 – Think about how your customer searches.

Is the “path” to conversion long? For example, a lengthy research phase (as is the case in healthcare at times). If so, you likely want multiple keyword campaigns that target the various stages of the journey. A one-size-fits-all approach will hurt your relevancy scores and your conversion rates.

#1 – Don’t be afraid to do targeted campaigns.

Especially if conversion is your goal (and not just traffic), optimize your content and keyword targeting around getting the right type of traffic. After all, a campaign that drives 10,000 visitors, but with a low conversion rate of .1% likely costs more and provides less ROI than a “targeted” campaign of 1,000 visitors but with a 10% conversion. Volume is not always the most important factor in SEO & SEM.

Don’t forget about negative keywords!

Negative keywords can especially help in numbers 3, 2 and 1 above. The more targeted the better and removing keywords helps to focus in on the intent of the user. I wouldn’t be afraid of experimenting with negative keywords to see if they have an impact on conversion rates as well.

What do you think?

Are you a small business owner or startup founder? Are you doing your own digital marketing? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please leave a comment below or feel free to contact me with your thoughts.

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