Why Keywords Matter to SEO

October 13th, 2009

Here’s one of the examples I use in the Essential SEO Workshop.

Imagine a nice guy named Bob who decides to open a flower shop in Toronto’s Forest Hill neighbourhood. He calls it “Bob’s Buds.”

Bob's new website

Bob's new website

He launches a website and works hard at it. After he gets his neighbour’s nephew build it for him with all kinds of cool features like audio and swooshing graphics, Bob puts a lot of effort into the site. It looks great and it’s fun to read.

He doesn’t want to be boring, so he has sections on his website like “Bob’s Brightest Blooms,” where he sells flowers. In “Bob’s Best Bets for Beds” he sells gardening tools. He even shows off his awards, with a full page about “Best Blooms and Buds Buds in T.O.” Take my word on it, the site looks great, and is totally professional.

Bob is totally proud that when you search for “Bob’s Buds” on Google, his site comes up first!

But in spite of all that, Bob only gets 11 visits a year from Google.

What’s wrong? The problem is keyword selection.

If you were searching Google for a flower shop in Forest Hill, Toronto, what would you search for? Some obvious choices:

  • toronto flowers
  • toronto flower shop
  • toronto florist
  • toronto bouquets
  • forest hill flowers
  • new florist forest hill, etc.

Not a single one of these words appears on Bob’s pages.

What did Bob optimize his site for? Phrases like “Bob’s Buds.” But let’s see what Google’s Keyword tool tells us about the traffic he might get from those words.

The potential traffic for the keywords "Bob's Buds"

The potential traffic for the keywords "Bob's Buds"

The traffic is so low, it doesn’t even rate. In fact, Bob is more likely to get Google traffic from pot smokers looking for “bob marley bud” than he is from the well-to-do Forest Hill residents to whom he wants to sell flowers.

The lesson: don’t even start your SEO efforts until you know what keywords or keyword phrases you’re optimizing for. You might wind up ranking very well for something that gets no traffic at all.

In the Essential SEO Workshop, and coming up in this blog, we’ll get into keywords in a lot more detail.

Why does SEO matter?

October 9th, 2009

Newcomers to SEO sometimes ask why search engine optimization matters. Here’s one of the points I made at an early version of the Essential SEO Workshop.

I was speaking to a group of spa and salon owners, at a function organized by Dermalogica Canada. A quick look at Google’s free Keyword tool came up with the following:

Google spa results

The top spa-related search term, for Toronto, is “Toronto spa,” and it gets more than 60,000 queries A MONTH. If you could get just one percent of those people to your site, and convert just one tenth of those people into customers, you’d have 60 new customers. Each month. Without paying a penny in advertising. Keep doing that month over month and you might need to consider an expansion pretty soon.

That’s why I love SEO.

We Have Liftoff

October 9th, 2009

Welcome to the new online home of the Toronto SEO Workshop. We’ll be tweaking things in the coming days, fixing bugs, and –yes– optimizing the site for search engines. In the meantime, drop us a line and share any questions you may have about SEO, SEM, or the workshops and courses we offer in Toronto. Don’t forget: the next two dates for SEO and SMM courses in Toronto are October 28, and November 12.

Special thanks to John Lai of Evermight for his ongoing dedication to the site construction.