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Why keywords are often overlooked in website development

Wondering why keywords are often overlooked in website development? Even if the on-page SEO is a fairly reasonable slice of the budget, keyword research gets a microscopic slice of that pie. It’s lucky to be one or two percent… yet it determines who comes to that very expensive new website, and at what point in their online search behavior cycle.


Hey, my name is Carrie Morgan. I am an award-winning author and a digital marketing expert with 25 years of experience in the field, both on the agency side and the corporate side. The last 12 years I have been an independent consultant and I have to say that those 12 years have been a wild ride! We’ve seen so many changes in our industry and so many new tactics, and resources available and tools like never before.

And here’s what I love about it the most. It’s allowed us to not only reach audiences in a way that we’ve never done before and build reputation like crazy, but, but really fine-tune how we’re targeting that audience. and how we’re delivering our message to them at the right moment in time… Hopefully to convert into something useful, right?

So whether it’s website traffic or getting a new subscriber or a sale, converting that website lead into something valuable.

The shift I’ve made in my career recently exemplifies these trends. I have changed my focus to be a keyword analyst and I think I’m the only one doing this specific niche on a consultant level in the country. I haven’t really come across anyone else, just a lot of keyword research tools and a few jobs as a keyword analyst for some enterprise companies. But I’ve not seen anyone specializing in this. And here’s why I think it’s different.

I’ve worked with so many agencies and on so many projects for website refreshes, new website launches, all different types of website work. And the one consistent thing that I’ve seen is issues with targeting. And keywords have a lot to do with it.

Consider your average website development project, say you hire an agency for $15,000 to create a new website for your business. Well, that website might have a complicated scope with lots of bells and whistles that you want involved in the scope of that project. And maybe it’s a WordPress build, but SEO is just a small piece of a larger project. And the piece of that SEO project that includes the keyword research is even smaller still.

The budget might be this big [holding hands several feet apart], but the keyword research gets this much time [holding hands several inches apart] out of that budget.

Maybe it’s a 50-hour project and when they build the estimate for that bid, and the SEO agency or the web dev company might’ve allowed two or three hours for keyword research. And that is a problem because keyword research, if you spend a bunch of money ton launch this amazing new website and you’re putting even more money into it on a monthly basis for SEO or content marketing, and it’s not generating the results you want, all that money is not going to where it needs to go.

It’s not converting into something useful.

So if the wrong keywords are decided on for your project and that website is built, all that traffic that you’re bringing in the new website isn’t aligned in a way that they can convert.

It’s just so incredibly common.

And the thing that I see the most is websites that are way too generic.

So let me… let me think of giving you an example. So say I have a recent client that’s a windows and doors company, for example.

I happened to build their website, but the process of how I look at keywords is exactly the same now that I don’t build them any longer – I just do the keyword piece of website development. 

The process is exactly the same when they start building their site, the focus is all about discovering the company, but really discovering what kind of website they need, what functionality do they need, what kind of plugins are needed, you know, who’s going to write the copy? How many pages are we looking at? What kind of bells and whistles need to be wrapped into this website? All of those different things. And then building out of the actual project, of course the keyword piece of a project with a specific number of hours to work with. Maybe it’s a 50-hour website refresh project, and keyword research gets two hours.

So it’s a cursory look, you know, at keywords generated by a keyword tool – so if it’s a windows company for example, they might do a quick report from a keyword tool for keywords related to windows and doors.

And as you can probably imagine, the kinds of keywords that come up for that are pretty generic.. when the kind of keywords that would really drive a high conversion rate for that website and help generate revenue are all keyword phrases targeted to the right target audience at the right moment in time, making either a purchase decision or doing the discovery that leads to a purchase decision.

And that’s called search intent or—even better—buyer intent, which is a little piece of search intent. The kind of keywords related to search intent for windows companies are very different. They’re not going to be, you know, “windows,” they’re going to be “Anderson windows dealer near me” or “are vinyl windows good in Arizona” or  you know, keywords related to the discovery that they do before they ever contact a windows company to make a purchase.

They’re doing their online due diligence to find out what questions they need to educate themselves about what points to consider and who the best local windows installer might be. And that’s very different than someone looking to repair a broken window.

So I have a great example of that. My son, when he was small, he threw a baseball through a great big picture window and he didn’t even intend to break that window, but he was just walking past the living room and he was throwing a baseball intending to have it land on the couch. Well, he missed, he was not paying attention. It went right through that window and it’s a big window. It was a disaster. And I’m like, “okay, I don’t even know what to do about this.” I let a friend replace the glass.

He said, “I’m going to go to Home Depot and buy a new window, and we’ll pop it in and it’ll be done for a couple of hundred bucks.” I’m like, “Okay, that’s cool.”

Well, he installed that window and I think it was probably the first window he’d ever installed, but he didn’t have any experience installing that window. So it was a do-it-yourself project that ended up with all kinds of stucco damage around the outside of my house, and paint touch-ups that had to be done inside the house.

And, of course, that window didn’t match any other window in my home. It was a disaster. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

That was 10 years ago and people are much savvier today and they take their time to do their research online… They do their online due diligence before they make a purchase.

As marketers or web developers, we need to make sure that we’re investing the time to deliver what they need – when it comes to bringing in the right kind of traffic to a client’s website.  There’s a big difference between someone coming to a website because they searched “windows”—which could be Microsoft windows, or any kind of window versus someone that’s searching for something related to the purchase process. So if they’re searching for, you know, “Anderson dealer near me” and this windows and doors company happens to be an Anderson authorized dealer, then they want to show up for that search for Anderson windows. Or if someone is searching, “are vinyl windows good in Arizona”… thinking that, gee, do they melt? You know, it gets a hundred thousand degrees in the summer here! They’re shopping for budget windows and vinyl is a common alternative.

They’re doing their on the online due diligence.

The companies near them that sell vinyl windows want to show up for that search, right? And identifying those kinds of keywords that signify a hot lead that’s actively shopping for what someone sells or, or the information they can provide.

We owe it to those clients to show up for those kinds of searches. And really the only way to make that happen is to invest more time in the keyword research phase of a website project. Because if it’s a budget for $20,000 to create a website, you can bet most agencies probably have only budgeted a couple of hours for the research component of that project. They’re investing all of their money in the build, not in developing the positioning aspect of it, and the targeting.

It gets a couple of hours maybe. But what a difference it can make!

So keyword analysis isn’t just about doing keyword research, but it’s taking a deep look at the company and their individual products and services, and even matching that up to their sales funnel and the common questions their sales or customer service teams get. You know, all in an effort to define what search behavior their target audience is showing online.

And how can we leverage that in the keywords that we’re focusing on and then matching that up to the website project so that when this traffic comes into a website? It’s highly targeted. It’s someone that’s ready to buy or ready to act very specific to that company and what they offer. So the conversion is so much better than a website that that is just a generic brochure targeting keywords that are far too generic, and they’re bringing in an audience that it might be a lot of traffic but it’s mostly not relevant traffic. So they’re going to bounce. And the ones that are interested are such a small percentage of that traffic that the conversion rate is pretty low.

And I think as marketers, we in a way, we owe it to our clients to, to spend more time in this area because what a difference it makes. And what agency owner isn’t kept up at night wondering how to keep their clients longer, how to improve that retention rate, how to get better results for the budgets their clients are spending with them. And this discovery phase and the strategy and the pre-planning that go into conversion make an incredible difference.

So that’s why I do what I do. I’m a keyword analyst. I do nothing else. I don’t build websites anymore. I don’t handle client retainers. I don’t do content creation. All I do is keyword research.

I take the research and the analysis piece of it aligns with buyer intent, aligns with their sales funnel and really helps define the high priority keywords that make the biggest impact on conversion. And that’s all I do now.

I love it.

If you’re interested in working with me, I offer two different types of projects. One is related to content marketing and one is related to on-page SEO.

The content marketing project is still that deep keyword research and custom client discovery phase and the analysis piece of it. but it’s specific to the kinds of questions a target audience is searching – that discovery process before they make a purchase. It’s keyword phrases for search activity that’s relevant to the kind of content they should be creating. It matches up their target audience and what their search intent is, what they’re looking for online, with the specific topics that they need to be creating their content around, and the keywords that need to be embedded in each of those topics.

It’s an SEO-based content editorial calendar.

This is fairly different from the on page SEO project, which has more of an overall approach. It defines the specific keywords they need to be targeting for each individual product or service that they sell, and identifies the priority keyword that goes with each page of their website. It often identifies gaps where they need new pages, too.

And one thing that I’ve found especially interesting as I’ve done the on-page SEO component of this is it can inspire radical changes to a website. So really the best time to do it is as part of, or right before a website refresh or a new website development project.

If it’s an existing website and it’s a company that’s not really looking to make significant changes to their site, it’s not the right time to do this project with me, because they will want to implement all of the data that we discover and the priority keywords that we’ve defined.

So anyway, it’s fascinating to me that doing this kind of research is like looking directly into the mind of your consumer, because it tells you exactly what their search behavior is, exactly what keywords they’re looking for. And we work together to collaborate, to define the search intent behind the different searches to make sure we’re looking at the right searches at the right time.

If you’re interested in this, there is a button at the bottom right-hand corner of my website where you can schedule a call with me directly and we’ll talk about if this might be a good fit for you. There’s also a call button and an email icon at the top of every page of my website that you can reach out to me. I’m happy to chat with you. Of course. you can connect with me on any social media platform, too.

But just a reminder, all I’m doing right now is keyword analysis. If you’re looking for a consultant chief marketing officer, I don’t do that type of service anymore. I don’t handle retainer work. I’m partnering with other agencies that do provide those kinds of services, but all I’m doing now are these two types of projects: the content editorial calendar for content marketers to guide your keyword strategy and content creation, and make sure that it takes SEO into account, and that you’re doing the right topics…  and the on-page priority keyword list that your agency or web developer can integrate into the site that they’re working on.

I’m very passionate about the powerful difference keyword analysis can have. I can take five minutes to look at your website and let you know if either one of these would be beneficial for you. If you want to reach out to me, just use that schedule button on the bottom right corner of my website. I’d love to chat with you.

(This is a transcript of an unrehearsed video, so please forgive the roughness of the above copy.)


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