One of the horrendously bad habits of some of your less experienced search engine marketers is to jump right to keyword research before determining the target audience of the product or service that is being sold. When performing audits of existing paid search accounts or websites for organic search issues, this mistake stands out like the one guy who decides to dress up as Jar Jar at a sci-fi convention.
For instance, it would be really easy to just slap the name of the product, its product category, and some other quick thoughts into a keyword research tool, then run off and start buying those terms simply because "people are searching for them."
The problem is, while people may in fact be searching for and even clicking on those keywords, it doesn't mean they're the kind of terms that bring in people who have a strong chance of actually purchasing the product.
Here's a great example of some additional research that we pulled together for one client:
And this leads to even deeper data like this:
From here, you can start making some smart decisions on your keywords based on the type of activities your target audience is actually interested in. This also allows you to add in some really smart negative keywords based on everything that they are not. These terms usually present themselves during that keyword research phase, but without the proper determination of the target audience, you could waste thousands of dollars of the client's limited budget on terms that never should have been considered in the first place.
Usually, when I hear a client start a conversation about search engine marketing with something like, "We're ranking well for these terms, but we're just not making any money!" the absence of a proper understanding of the target audience is usually the cause.
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Fascinating article, Jeff! A lot of articles about marketing in the digital age completely write off old-school marketing, but there are still valuable approaches from the old-school style. On our blog, we have a post about the challenge of developing a marketing strategy that will make an impact (http://blog.prosemedia.com/the-challenges-to-formulating-a-marketing-strategy-that-makes-an-impact/), and one of the things we mention is that you have to learn and react to data. This article has a well-put together argument as to why that's so important. Great job!
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