Key(word)s for Success


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It’s no secret that probably the hottest new customer acquisition tool right now is Pay-Per-Click advertising, particularly using Google’s AdWords platform. While I definitely recommend utilizing Yahoo! and Bing platforms as well, Google really is king.

But one question I often get from franchisees is “It’s so expensive, how do I make it profitable?” The biggest variable in the equation is the keywords or search terms you use. I’ll share with you a few key(words) for success.

Types of Keywords

Let’s break this down a couple ways. From a physical characteristic point of view, there are two types of keywords – short-tail and long-tail.

From a “category” point of view, there are four types – informational, questioning, review, and lead keywords. (More on those next week!)

Short-Tail vs. Long-Tail

Short-tail keywords are keywords that are generally 3 words or less. They are the more generic terms that make up quick searches that are more superficial. Examples would include “carpet cleaners”, “carpet cleaning”, “rug cleaning”, or “pizza”. (I must be hungry. Pizza is on my mind.)

Long-tail keywords are 4+ words in a chain. They make up a significant number of searches that are more specific and more likely to turn into a conversion. Examples would be “[your city] best carpet cleaners”, “getting dog smell out of carpet”, or “carpet cleaning pizza delivery service”.

Now, which type of keyword is more beneficial to your business? It may surprise you to learn that long-tail keywords are actually a more cost effective and efficient way to find good customers.

When a customer enters a long-tail keyword, it shows that they are looking for something more specific. Google recognizes this and takes that kind of inquiry more seriously. The long-tail keywords aren’t searched for nearly as often as their more generic short-tail siblings, but that’s to your advantage as well. A less common search term means it’s going to be cheaper to show up for it.

What Pays Off?  


Image Credit: Aida Blakely

If I were to have you focus on one type of keyword over another, I would have you come up with as many long-tail keywords as you can for a campaign. This is a great practice for your vendor to utilize.

Here’s why:

A term like “carpet cleaners” (short-tail) could generate THOUSANDS of views/impressions in a month’s time. While that’s great, you may only get 5-10 clicks on it in that time, which comes to a very poor Click-Through Rate. Further, every click on that popular term could cost you upwards of $15-20. That gets VERY expensive quickly.

A term like “green certified carpet cleaning near Logan” (long-tail) may only generate less than a dozen views/impressions in a month. BUT, the length of a keyword and the click-through rate of a keyword have a strongly correlated relationship. As the terms get longer, your success rate goes up. The COST, however, is inversely related to the length. The longer the term, the lower the cost.

So, while taking a lot more effort to come up with a list of them, having a breadth of long-tail keywords helps to drive down cost and increase conversion (BOTH of which are great things).

Pro Tip:

If you’re running your AdWords campaign yourself, or if you have a vendor that you communicate with regularly, there’s a super useful part of the platform that shows you what searches (that aren’t in your collection of keywords) that initiated an ad. It’s called the “search terms” report.

It’s a GREAT place for you to find new, generally long-tail, keywords to add to your campaign. You can find it under the “Keywords” tab and click on “Search Terms”.

It will show you how many times the keyword has been searched AND how much it’s been clicked on, so you can see how good the word is.

Make sure you check this report regularly for new ideas!

Big Takeaway:
Keywords are the “key” (Hahaha. Get it?) to a successful AdWords campaign. They’re one of the biggest differences between an expensive campaign and an effective campaign.
  1. If you aren’t doing PPC yet, you need to START NOW.
  2. Learn how to Understand PPC Metrics.
  3. Start writing down new long-tail keywords you think would work.
Take control of your marketing today and establish a better future for your business. Then register to receive updates about future webinars on digital marketing.

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