In a search engine centric digital marketing world, many businesses become hung up on ranking top for certain key words. As Google continually tells us to be consumer facing first, I pose the question are we putting the cart before the horse by being so focused on key words?

I am often asked What keywords should I be ranking for? or Why are we not ranking for these key words? More and more I am thinking Shouldn’t you be telling me?
Let me explain.
Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing are a function of a businesses wider marketing strategy. This strategy should be concisely documented as a marketing plan. The marketing plan is a function of the business plan. Which should also be documented. (Note: we can help with both).

So the keyword generation process starts from the business plan. The core question, why are you in business? What is the core offering that you are bring to the table? What sets you apart from your competition and makes you special?

This then feeds into the marketing plan. Why would a customer buy from you? What does that customer group look like? Are there enough of them to warrant starting a business in the first place?

Then it’s down to communication. How are you going to talk to that customer group? How are you currently doing so and is it effective?

SEO and SEM fall under the communication tactics. Along with other advertising, PR, social media, etc. The business and marketing strategies should drive a unified and consistent approach to communication.


However, you would be surprised how many business have neither a business nor marketing plan. Don’t feel bad if you don’t either, but see this as a way that you could leap above your competition.

Conversions. It’s simple mathematics. Ranking for a keyword that has 10,000 searches per month, but only delivers 0.1% sales is equal to ranking for a different keyword/phrase that has 10 searches per month and delivers every time. You get 10 sales per month. And how much time and effort would you spend ranking for the 10,000 vs the 10? In this scenario, the probability is that the 10,000 search keyword is a general term in your industry. Eg. Butchers. The 10 is more likely to be something that sets you apart from everyone else. Eg Butchers game meat Noosa. The 10,000 keyword would likely have very high competition making it time consuming and or expensive to rank. The 10, you may own that space.

Technically, this is known as Long tail keyword research. I don’t see it that way. I see it as a deliberate business and marketing strategy to find out what makes your business special.

Talking to your customers and talking to Google should be the same thing for business. Long gone are the days of keywords being the sole driver of SEO success.