There are advantages and disadvantages to being an in-house SEO. One I consider both is knowing the intimate details of the business you are promoting online. While this gives you knowledge that freelance SEO’s will probably never have about a business, it may also be a handicap to what you really want, more visitors to your web sites.
The Top Ranking Canis Familiaris Food Site on the Web
I am an in-house SEO. But I started working in the field for the company when the only SEO I was doing was for affiliate programs. I knew the how our business worked and knew the products well enough to name most of them. But this did not mean I knew what our customers were looking for. Let me give you an extreme example of what I am talking about:
So you are walking down the street and happen upon the pet store. The only pets listed on the sign are canis familiaris and felis domestica. It takes a while but some of high school biology comes back to you. They are selling cats and dogs. Now, you eventually figured out what the store was selling and so would others, though not all. But it left you thinking why would someone make it that hard? The business was in a good location and there were pictures of pets in the window, but it still was not a smart move to use the latin names of animals.
Okay, now let’s take that same business and put it online:
You search for dog food online, compare some prices and buy it. You never even make it to the canis familiaris food site.
Now no one would be stupid enough to build this dog food web site, but an in-house SEO can make a similar mistake if he sticks to the language he picked up in the office. With search engines, keywords are your good location and your visitors may or may not know your shop talk. They could be completely ignorant of the terms you use. They will spell things phonetically. The will misspell brand names. They string five words together because they don’t know the one word that replaces them. Every industry have specialized terms and a web site designed for the average person is not the place to show them off. So once you’ve established that you may need to go elsewhere to find the keywords and phrases your ideal visitors are using, where exactly do you go?
Where to Find Hidden Keywords
Google created a tool that is in part a search helper and in part a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I think you can add a small percentage of distraction. I know I have started typing in Google and ran into weird sets of suggested words that I just had to see the result of. But Google Suggest can help you find some of these phrases you are missing.
Your Own Stats
I don’t have to tell you to watch your stats. I know that. But be on the lookout for those wild card phrases. The sets of keywords that come out of nowhere and convert. These could be your customers speaking from the other side of the screen. I have seen misspellings that were more productive than their correctly spelled counterparts, strings of phrases that perfectly describe our products that I never could have come up with and random digits from labels that we just happened to add to one product description.
Social Networks and Forums
When a person needs a lawyer, he make talk to his best friend first about his problem. He may not even know he need a lawyer let alone use the words “personal injury attorney”. When a home owner has a problem with his air conditioner, he may ask the neighbor down the street about it. If you have a business, chances are, your customer talked to a few people about his problems before he came to your store. If your potential customers are internet savvy they may visit forums, social networks and answer sites looking for answers to their question. How many of these people do you think used a search engine to search for their answer before they gave up and asked for help on an answer site or forum? Those keywords they used in Google are gold and chances are they used them again in their question.
On The Phone and In Email
Another place to pick up new keywords from your visitors in communications with them. Collecting these and building a FAQ, wiki or help section will not only add more targeted content to your site but will save time with future questions.
Putting Them to Use
Once you find these keywords, it is time to put them to use. Some, like misspelled words and typos may work for pay per click advertising or keyword metatags. Some discoveries will be important enough for you add pages, edit pages or add to product descriptions. But you need to put them to use. A customer can ask questions in a brick and mortar store but you don’t get that second chance online. The inside knowledge of your business as an in-house SEO may make you a lean mean SEO machine ranking for any industry keyword you choose but your ideal visitor may not even know your industry. You need to know who this visitor is and what language he uses to see real results.
Stephan Miller blogs at StephanMiller.com.