Writer for Hire John Lynch

Freelance Writer – What are Keywords for?

A salesperson’s view of keywords

When I’m commissioned to create or change a website for a business customer, one of the first things I do is to ask what keywords and long tail keyword phrases the client is using. I’m sure that’s one of the first things every web page writer does. Then, once I’m sure I have understood what the client’s business really is (and that’s usually what the client says it is – but not always), I conduct my own searches for most-used keywords and long tail keyword phrases. Once again, everybody does it. But does everyone look at the keywords in the same way I do?
Keywords are often treated as some kind of black art. You find them in Google’s keyword planner; you check them out in whatever method you prefer – I like Keyword Optimizer Pro – and then you use them: in the headings, in the text and in the meta tags. Everyone knows that – you find your keywords and then you use them.
But why? What is it exactly that they going to do for you?

A techie will give you all kinds of reasons based on page rankings. The techie is not wrong. Page rankings are vital. A salesperson, though, while s/he will also stress the importance of page rankings, sees the keywords in a slightly different light.
I like to talk to my client’s technical people and to the sales people. The technical guys will give me the facts about the products: the technical features; the specifications they conform to; the development history; what changes may be in the pipeline; potential faults and failures to beware of.
The sales people come at the same subject from a different angle. The two questions I want them to answer first are:

  • what makes people buy your products?
  • what makes people not buy your products?

Techies won’t like this – techies never like it – but the salespersons’ input is the more valuable, and for a simple reason: if enough people don’t buy from you, you’ll go bust and everyone will be out of work. In the last resort, the success of salespeople keeps everyone else in work and their failure lengthens the dole queue.
So what I look for when I examine the keywords to choose which will get maximum attention is not: which ranks higher in the keyword planner? It’s: which words and phrases most closely match the questions people are entering into their search engine?
That’s the answer to the question: what are keywords for? They are to help you work out exactly what it is that potential customers are asking for when they start searching for products like yours and to establish a web presence that says, “Over here! I’ve got that!”

Oh – and one last thing. Once you’ve ranked your keywords, please don’t stuff the post with the most important ones. Customers aren’t stupid, and neither are the spiders the search engines use. You need first-class copy that reads well and simply and does not give itself away as a ruse to fool Google (which can’t, in the long term, be done).

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