When it comes to optimising a website for the best search engine rankings possible, the first assumption we all make (us marketers included) is that it should be maximised for key words aligned to your industry or product. So, because you’re in the industry you assume you know what people are searching for, like ‘Marketing Agency’, or ‘Website Design’. But, key words are not as easy as they seem. For example, instead of searching for ‘Marketing Agency’, people could very well be typing in ‘Marketing Firm’ or ‘Marketing Company’. Whatever it may be, the point I’m making here is that you can’t assume your key words – you need to find out what people are really searching for. And the results are often surprising!

Let me give you another example. You may think that as an online clothing retailer people might search things like ‘women’s clothing’ or ‘online clothing store‘ but in reality they might be searching for ‘skinny-leg jeans’ or ‘cocktail dresses’ (i.e. specific products or brands). You could invest tons of time and resources in working your ‘assumed’ key words, and miss out on much more qualified or ‘sales ready’ traffic.

We had a client who experienced this same problem. We were utilising ‘Timber’ as a prominent key word throughout their website, when in reality the website statistics told us that ‘Wood’ was a much more popular search term.

But how can you work out exactly what people are searching for? Well unfortunately there is no free or easy way to do this, and you need to put your trust in people who know what they are talking about.

My advice would be to take the time to talk to a Search Engine Marketing company – and ask them to conduct an analysis of your site and your industry and really investigate, in depth, what people are searching for.

This is an area that is fast becoming the only way to stand out in a increasingly congested market place. Invest in your key words and you will learn more about your customers than ever before – sometimes this is the only competitive edge left.