Search Engine Optimized copywriting and keyword research are once more in the news. Just when you thought the blogosphere had stopped buzzing about these SEO stalwarts, they’re front and center again.
And not just on geeky SEO sites. Loads of PR, digital marketing and copywriting blogs are revisiting SEO copywriting. A number of posts provide helpful how-tos and solid updated SEO copywriting strategies. And some give an overview of keyword research.
But here, business owners, proceed with caution. Because keyword research, a complex SEO subspecialty, can easily suck you—and your copywriter—in over your heads.
Fact is, you may not be the best person to choose your company’s keywords.
3 reasons why you should NOT choose your own SEO keywords.
Sounds like heresy, right? It’s your business, after all. Maybe you created your product or service lines yourself. Certainly you’re passionate about them. Who better to interpret search phrases and choose keywords? No one knows your product or your company better than you.
And that’s part of the problem. As a business owner…
- You are too close to your product. When you create your own products—or are obsessed with them—you live and breath these goods and services. Certainly your single-mindedness enhances marketing. But your expertise also carries the “curse of too much knowledge,” a phrase coined by marketers Chip and Dan Heath. You tend to take conceptual leaps when discussing your product. You focus on product features—and assume your customers understand implied benefits. Without knowing it, you use jargon, corporate-speak or language familiar to a handful of insiders. A medical specialist I know, for example, wanted to use the keyword phrase “otolaryngological services.” But patients search for terms like “ear nose and throat,” “ENT,” “tonsil pain” and “throat cancer.” Who knew? Not a busy executive—in this case, a doc.
- You live inside your business—not inside your customer’s head. This is one of the touchiest—and toughest—issues to discuss with business owners. Because most CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners—including physicians, lawyers and other professionals—feel certain they know their customers. But once again, “the curse of too much knowledge” confounds communications: Business owners often write with a voice more suitable for B2B marketing or internal corporate communications. They’re obsessed with their work, their product, their services and their business culture. While their work ethic is admirable, business owners’ insider perspective makes it hard for them to put themselves in a customer’s shoes. Business owners may not readily adopt a customer’s point of view, feel her pain or experience her core desires. Without customer-focused insight, it’s impossible to choose search keywords.
- You’re too busy to master keyword research. As much an art as a science, good keyword research requires formidable analytical skills, solid instincts, imagination and lots of time. A keyword researcher must not only uncover customers’ search phrases but also pin down the words’ relevance and the searchers’ intent: Using keyword tools—and considerable acumen—the experienced SEO gauges whether searchers are comparison shopping, buying or selling. And an expert keyword researcher must also weigh pros and cons of keyword popularity—and make tough budgetary decisions about pursuing the most popular keywords or moving down the long tail. While you have access to a wealth of free and paid keyword search tools, do you have the time and inclination to master them?
Get help with keyword research.
Thankfully, you don’t have to struggle alone with keyword research. If you can carve out time—and feel genuine interest—you’ll find a wealth of SEO blogs, ebooks, courses and membership communities online. An online search yields thousands of SEO companies. Some of the best offer training. Or you can hand-off this time-consuming research task to an SEO professional.
Let your copywriter do what she does best: Write persuasive copy.
While a handful of copywriters possess dual expertise in keyword research and persuasive writing, most don’t. Your copywriter may be able to point you to keyword resources, but please don’t presume she’ll manage this specialized research.
Most honest copywriters will explain they better serve you with:
- SEO copywriting that places keywords where hungry search spiders look most frequently—both in copy and meta areas.
- Persuasive marketing copy that speaks engagingly to your customers and helps them buy your products.
- Content strategy that builds relationships and makes your website and offline business a destination point.
How do you handle keyword research?