Successful sports teams have engrained in their heads the fundamentals of their sports. Business leaders and coaches alike who dwell on the fundamentals usually have the most successful outcomes. Failure is almost always rooted in a deviation from the fundamentals. So if your website is not delivering clients, perhaps you're missing the fundamentals.
Part of the answer is no one actually taught you the fundamentals of website success. Most businesses understand the need for a website, few understand the fundamentals. Getting your website to deliver clients is an exercise in fundamentals. First and foremost is a back to basics, grass roots understanding of your market, website style.
Keyword research is the first thing every website owner should have done but most didn't. With respect to your online business, keyword research equals market research. The coolest thing about being online is that you can absolutely KNOW your market, understand their interests and create an online business and marketing plan relative to your market and their needs.
There are probably hundreds of keyword research tools online that can help you do research. Our advice is to seek out an expert. Getting the data is one thing. Knowing what to do with it is quite a different thing.
Relative to keyword research, here's what we can find via search engine tools: keywords and keyword phrases, search volumes, total web pages using those keywords, web pages optimized for those keywords, keywords in hypertext (called anchor text) linking to other sites and pages. We can even look at any specific website and determine what keywords they are at least trying to rank for. And of course, type the keyword phrase into a search box will list the top ten sites ranking for that term. The result of such a search is referred to as the SERPS or the Search Engine Results Pages.
The best keywords to use are ones that will generate reasonable traffic AND have very little competition. One of the parameters we seek in our keyword research is to determine the competitiveness of the keyword phrases. Google will tell us how many web pages are indexed for the search term. Just run a search and notice in the upper right of the results that Google will tell you how many pages are indexed with your search keywords. Without getting too technical here, Google and the other major search engines will also tell you how many web pages use those keywords in the page title, an indication that those pages specifically cover the topic of your search. Having keywords in the page title is one of the key ways to optimize a webpage for the keyword. Knowing how many pages are doing this gives you a better idea of how many pages are intentionally using the keywords you're researching.
The first thing that has to go is the ego of the site and/or business owner. Unless you show up in the first page of the search engine results, you're NOBODY! Worse, you can't push your way through the crowd to get to the top of the SERPS. You can get there by Google sponsored ads - Adwords guarantee your visibility on the SERPS. But still the point is, you'll pay.
Let's consider three strategies for beating your competition relative to the search engine results.
Choose the same keywords that your competition is ranking for and go head to head. If they are doing pay-per-click, you do it too. In this scenario, you'll end up spending a lot of money to achieve and maintain top SERPS positions. If your competition is ranking on good, high traffic terms, plan on spending time, money and resources to get to the same position it may have taken them years to achieve. A direct strategy can get bloody. Ultimately, it is the most obvious choice, the least creative and the stupidest!
Choose keywords that your competitors didn't even think of! An indirect strategy is often associated with cross marketing and selling through an indirect channel. If you sell a service or product that your competitors don't have, you channel your efforts through that market knowing there's some pull-through relative to your other products and services. Very often you could be sucking business right out from under your competition' s nose and they don't even see it!
Find out what keywords your competition is NOT ranking for in the same keyword set and go after them. The divisional strategy is the primary marketing method of niche marketers. Most business owners will equate the word "niche" with the word "small". On the web, niche site owners are millionaires! Get rid of your pre-conceptions. The web is huge.
We use a two step process for choosing keywords. First, you have to take your direct competition into account. The second part is to look specifically at the search engine optimization parameters to determine which keywords make sense for you to specifically go after.
The leverage a website carries is in part determined by its page rank. Page rank is in large part determined by how many other sites on the web link to yours. Your exposure in the SERPS is in turn affected by your page rank. The reason you need to know this is if the top ten websites all out rank you in terms of page rank, you're better off choosing another keyword.
Fundamental lesson: Small Fish eat smaller fish to grow bigger.