Using SEO to Get Inside Your Customer's Head

Using SEO to Get Inside Your Customer's Head
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In their book, The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, 3rd Edition, authors Perry Marshall and Bryan Todd lay out the fundamentals of Google's pay-per-click advertising system and detail how businesses can build campaigns to increase search engine visibility, capture clicks and increase sales. In this edited excerpt, Marshall and Todd discuss finding, choosing and using the right keywords to draw the customers you want.

You’ll capture the attention of your customers when you enter the conversation already taking place inside their heads. These are the keywords they type in. With Google, you do this -- and get more clicks as a result -- by using your keywords skillfully in your ad. Bid on more keywords, and you can capture the attention of more people.

Your ad will capture people’s interest when it repeats to them what they’re thinking. So the more places in your ad that you have keywords showing up, the better your chances of getting the clicks. That means the headline, the body of the ad and even the display URL.

How to go about finding out what people are searching on in the first place? Where do you go to get the good keywords, especially the keywords that are worth the most money?

The quickest place to start looking for good keywords is with Google’s free keyword tool. It gives you an immediate sense of how valuable each of your keywords will be relative to the others.

If you’ve already got a full website up and you don’t want to start completely from scratch guessing all the keywords that are represented there, use the "Website" field in Google’s tool and simply enter the web address for one or several pages on your site. Google will search the site and come up with your keyword list for you. The more keywords you have access to, the merrier.

We'd like to share some insight gained from marketing books to people who want to learn Mandarin Chinese. Among the search terms that people use to find the books were "learn Chinese," "speak Chinese," "Mandarin" and "learn Mandarin Chinese."

Just the thought process alone behind each of these search terms is different. The person who types in "learn Mandarin Chinese" is already being more clear and specific than the person who types in "learn Chinese." The former is someone who knows that he does not want to learn Cantonese. You’ve already got a more self-aware thinker on your hands, someone with a different set of questions and challenges in mind than the person who’s thinking more generically about "picking up a little Chinese."

Your market is the same way. Every keyword represents a different mind-set, a different set of needs and a different personality. So how do you know who is who?

You can poll the folks searching on the different keywords. At you can set up surveys and questionnaires in which you ask people specific questions about what they want or need, and then trace their varying answers back through the different keywords they found you on.

Keep in mind that nobody types in one keyword, finds what they’re looking for immediately and quits. They type in a series of keywords. So if you can capture the full attention of a person typing in the first in a series of searches, you’ve intercepted him and saved yourself from being pitted against other competitors on his next search.

Related: How to Optimize Your Site for Organic Search

Also key is finding your customer's motivation. Glenn Livingston became known as "the Guinea Pig Guru" for his website After doing careful surveys and ask-campaigns, he discovered that the No. 1 question bugging the folks who typed in that particular keyword was, "How do I keep my guinea pig and his cage from smelling?" Glenn incorporated a lead-in to that issue in the headline of his landing page--just for people who came to his website via that keyword--and increased his sales significantly.

You're aiming to hit people on two levels. There’s the "explicit conversation" in their minds, which is the exact keyword they typed in. It’s what you want in your ad and, if at all possible, on your landing page. Then there’s the second level -- the "implicit conversation" in their minds, which is unique to each keyword, the secrets of which you may not discover until you’ve talked to your customers and done the research.

Glenn did that with his guinea pig site, and he’s now impervious to competition. It’s when you hit that second level that your clicks turn into more sales. It’s at that second level that you become impervious to competitors who don’t understand your customer the way that you do.

Related: 5 Ways to Take Customer Loyalty to the Next Level

The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, 3rd EditionThis article is an excerpt from The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, 3rd Edition available from Entrepreneur Press.

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