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The focused approach to search engine marketing

I know when an SEO client needs help when I ask them: “so what key phrases to do want to optimise your web pages for”, and they answer: “hundreds of them, I have a list of suggestions from Google right here”.

I know they need even more help when I ask them to describe their target market and they say: “everyone in the world”.

I know it’s going to be difficult to get quality traffic for this client’s web site when their business has multiple products and services with very little relevance to each other. You know what I mean, they sell golfing, fishing and art supplies as well as concrete garden edging.

Lack of focus is the most common mistake I see in business in general and from people trying to optimise their web pages. It’s a natural mistake to want to rank on as many keyword phrases as possible.

The logic is that you want to get as many visitors as possible so that you can present your compelling offer to them and hopefully convert them into customers.

This is the “general store” or “shotgun” approach and in the 90s during the era of keyword-stuffing, hidden text and doorway pages this approach worked pretty well.

The trouble is that traffic does not equal sales and these days it’s just too hard to optimise a web page for multiple competitive keyword phrases.

The most successful SEO campaigns I have done were focused on one keyword phrase per page to a well defined geographic area for a very focused business offering.

They were successful in ranking well for search terms that motivated buyers in the target service area were searching on.

Users of search engines have become far more sophisticated with their search terms. For example, say someone living in Sydney was interested in buying a new canvas awning for their house. Five to ten years ago they may have searched on a single word: “awning” or even “canvas awning”.

These days they are more likely to search on a complex phrase like “Sydney canvas awning suppliers” or “canvas awnings Sydney” or even “Sydney awning installers”.

They have learnt through trial and error that by adding search modifiers like “canvas” and “Sydney” the most relevant results will appear.

How do you search for information on the Internet? I bet you are using more refined search terms to save time and improve the quality of your results.

The golden rule to remember is that the longer the search phrase – the more motivated the buyer. And that’s what most web site owners want, motivated buyers and shoppers rather than browsers and accidental visitors.

Through investing time in keyword research it is possible to identify search terms that do generate significant search volume and are easier to optimise for.

Google has some excellent free tools to help with that research. A search on “free keyword research tools” will also lead you to many others.

Once those phrases are identified and tested the best approach is to build a web page for each of those phrases.

Each web page should stand alone and have it’s own unique navigation menu link, title tag, heading and sub-headings.

Search engine marketing is no different to any other human endeavour, be it business, sport or the arts. Focus wins.