research

Fun with Keywords

If you’ve ever done a Google or any type of online search before, you may have encountered something similar to the above post. How does Google generate these suggestions? According to Search Engine Land, there are a few components. These include overall searches (things people around the world have typed in), your own search history, and regional suggestions.

So, Google and other search engines have methods for anticipating what people are looking for and delivering relevant results.

How do you get your website to show up in searches? That’s where SEO and keyword research comes in. According to Techopedia, a keyword “is a particular word or phrase that describes the contents of a Web page.” Having the right keywords on your website helps get your material to the right people when they search for certain words/phrases. How do you know if your words/phrases are “right”? There are a few pieces to that puzzle.

One part, which may seem like common sense, is that you want keywords that match the content on your website. For instance, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to use “Barnum & Bailey Circus” on our Breaking Even Contact page. It’s not accurate and probably won’t get us any traffic. (Spammers tend to use popular words to get traffic to their spammy sites so search engines will penalize you for what they consider a mismatch between what you say is on your website and what is actually there.)

Once you determine what’s relevant, another piece of a “right” keyword is what your target audience/people who are interested in what you’re offering. Just because you think people are using certain search words doesn’t necessarily mean they are actually using those words. A lot of times, business owners have more industry knowledge and might assume others are using more jargon-y terms to reach their website. To reconcile these potential discrepancies, keyword research comes in, and that’s where things can get a bit…silly.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of doing keyword research using a website called SEO Profiler. This is a paid service that has several tools, including keyword research. The keyword suggestion tool lets you type in a word or phrase, and then suggests other search terms based on number of local searches (based on an area you pick out, ‘local’ for us is United States) and  competition (how many other websites are using the keyword). One of the more interesting words that I discovered was ‘whales.’

The results for ‘whales’ was very similar to some of the aforementioned Google autofill fails. Since SEO Profiler (and other keyword research tools) are basing their information on what people are searching for, this yields some pretty interesting results. My top 10 (there were HUNDREDS of hilarious results):

  1. Prince of Whales
  2. Whales the country
  3. Why do whales beach themselves
  4. Whales with legs
  5. Blackfish
  6. Why is a humpback whale called a humpback whale
  7. Do whales fart
  8. Do killer whales kill
  9. Can whales drown
  10. whales tale (<–apparently this is a water park in New England)

So, when you’re thinking about keywords, remember: relevance (is it on your website and a phrase people are actually searching), accuracy (is it what your people are searching for), and value (are people looking to ‘buy’ what you are selling when looking up that word).

The fun factor was one of the pleasant surprises to be found in keyword research, but entirely optional.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

LinkedIn: The Sleeper Social Network

linkedinMost of the time, when people talk about social media, what they are really talking about is Facebook.

No one has ever asked me to give a LinkedIn seminar and when I talk about building my network using it, I usually get a couple eye rolls.

Here’s the thing though. To me, LinkedIn is that quiet but really nice nerd in your high school class that goes on to found the Fortune 500 company. You kind of wish you would have invested a little effort getting to know him while you sat at the same cafeteria table. And quite honestly, all the nerd wanted is just a little bit of effort (which is a lot more than you can say of your high maintenance friend Facebook, which requires you to post multiple times a day since only 2-3% of people see your posts ever.)

Here’s why I think LinkedIn could be doing more for you if you spent maybe 15 minutes a week updating your profile, sharing links/ideas, and recommending other people you’ve worked with:

1) It got me my biggest contract ever.

On my skills, I listed a familiarity with Joomla among other softwares. I thought no more about it.

A year later, one of my contacts, someone I don’t even know that well, sent me a private message about his organization’s Joomla site. What that short message exchange turned into was a 1.5 year contract that is the biggest I’ve gotten to date. Turns out that, while they were most interested in my marketing background, the fact I could use Joomla is what sealed the deal.

LinkedIn allows you to display your skills to a group of people you already know. Because let’s face it, people like to hire people that they know… but your Facebook friends might not know you can use InDesign or have a job history with medical non-profits. LinkedIn allows you to display these things in a completely non-selly way.

2) Your information is visible and lots of people in the market for someone like you are looking at it.

Here’s a screenshot of a slower week on LinkedIn for me:

linkedin-lurkers

While I’m sure lots more people look at my profile on Twitter in a given week, I bet most of them aren’t looking to actually hire me like the 11 prospects on LinkedIn searching for someone like me this past week.

People spend so much time on their own websites that they don’t understand that people in decision making positions are using LinkedIn to do their research.

Why is this still true of a very old social network. In my opinion, LinkedIn has partly survived as long as it has because it’s never been a trendy place to be. If you want a broken down demographic of LinkedIn compared to other social networks, this giant but useful infographic is for you. (Summary: LinkedIn skews older, higher educated, and higher income than the most popular social networks.)

3) Make it look like you are on top of your game with weekly digests.

While Facebook is cluttered with vacation photos and links to Buzzfeed quizzes, LinkedIn is all work. You get notified if 1) Someone changes job or 2) shares some likely work-related link (most people don’t so if you actually do, you’ll stand out) or 3) wants to connect with you.

My LinkedIn weekly email digest gives me my network at a glance in a way looking at other networks doesn’t do.

Also by actually posting articles, I show up in other peoples’ weekly digests. Several people have emailed me after seeing a blog post or link I shared on LinkedIn. No one does that about what I share on Pinterest, no matter how cool it is.

So if you are at all in the market to be hired for something, whether you are underemployed, self-employed, or the kind of person/firm that gets hired by other businesses, I recommend you spending a bit of time on LinkedIn. It might not be the coolest thing you’ve done this week but when you are sitting on your nerd friend’s private jet six months from now, that won’t matter so much.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

A Few Reasons That Didn’t Work

You know that thing you did… the one that didn’t work?

No, I don’t know about it exactly. I just know I have a few things I’ve done that didn’t work and assumed you had at least one too.

So why didn’t your last commercial/coupon/event/blog post/insert-thing-here work?

You took the ‘doing homework’ shortcut by surveying your friends and not your customers.

Whatever you do, don’t ask your friends what they think of your idea. Because they will say your new haircut is awesome, right?

Your website, much like my asymmetrical haircut may have been cool... back in the 90s.

Me in the 1990s. You’re welcome.

Your friends will lie to your face because they love you. Before you pour a lot of time and money into something, you need some unbiased, ideally stranger, opinions. It’ll probably be more involved (re: expensive) than asking your friends over pizza but it’s better than the money you lose chasing a bad idea, right?

(A great way to get some feedback if you are shy is to use paid ads like Facebook or Google to test messages. This is part of what paid ads are for!)

You already tried it before and it didn’t work that time either.

Sometimes we really really want something to work. But it doesn’t.

So think “Is this like that time I…?” And if it is, and if that time things didn’t go so well, there better be a lot more about it that is different than what it has in common with your last mediocre (or terrible) initiative.

You can tell people to pivot over and over... but that couch still won't get up the stairs.

You can tell people to pivot over and over… but that couch still won’t get up the stairs.

You didn’t tell enough people about it.

Let’s say you think email is amazing. Well, your customers are tweeting, Facebooking, pinning, tumbling, blogging, and doing all kinds of other technological and non-technological ‘ings’ to get their information. So the more ways you get the word out and the bigger your audience, the better this is going to go.

noonecametoyourparty-grumpycat

You picked a bad time.

Let’s say you’re OKCupid and part of your coverage area is experiencing devastating floods with thousands of people stranded. Not a good time to say…

okcupidcoloradofloods

 

Sometimes your idea is good but it’s badly timed. If you did all your homework, tried something new, and told a lot of people, this is probably at play.

So truthfully, was your last bad idea one of these things? And do you have a tendency of repeating any of these patterns?

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.