Monthly Archives: July 2011

How Competitive is the Keyword "Car Insurance" Really?

Car insuranceConsider a keyword like “car insurance.” For that matter, consider a keyword like “make money online” or “seo.” All of these keywords are ridiculously popular and extremely competitive. In fact, when you search for the keyword “car insurance,” no less than 150 million pages are returned in the results. According to the Google Adwords tool, there are 6.2 million keyword searches for that exact term each month.

Generic Terms Aren’t Useful

Here’s another bit of information many people don’t realize – generic search terms are nearly worthless unless you run a major conglomerate (i.e. Allstate or Geico might want to rank for Car Insurance, but your blog post on the best deals in car insurance for California drivers doesn’t want or need to rank for that keyword).

Sure, they get lots of hits, but those hits are generic. They don’t actually provide you with customers ready to make a purchase. Instead, these hits, assuming you claw your way to the top, mean you may get lots of traffic but not a lot of money, which is after all the reason you want traffic to begin with.

Why They’re Not Useful

So why exactly wouldn’t I want to rank for a keyword like car insurance if I wanted to sell car insurance. It’s simple – people searching for car insurance want something more specific. They may want comprehensive car insurance. They may want cheap car insurance. They may want car insurance in Italy. The possibilities are endless and with a generic term like that, you simply don’t do well at sales.

It’s Called Long Tail Marketing

The idea here is what is known as long tail marketing. I’ve discussed this before, but it’s been a while. In essence, long tail marketing means targeting much more specific keywords so that you get the people who are really ready to make a purchase.

The classic example is when you target the keyword laptop computers. Someone doing a search for the term laptop computers may well be looking for a laptop computer to buy. They may also be looking for the history of laptop computers. Or they may be looking for the latest technology news in laptop computers.

Drill Down to Make Sales

Drill down a bit and go to Lenovo ThinkPad. Now you’re getting closer to consumers who want to make a purchase. Drill down further and put in Lenovo ThinkPad T series and you’re much closer to getting customers who want to buy. Drill still further down and put in Lenovo ThinkPad T420s and you’re going to make more sales even though you’ll have much less traffic because people looking for that specific model are likely looking to make a purchase.

The Best Part

The best part of all this however is that not only does long tail keyword targeting work to get more sales, but it is actually cheaper and easier to do. After all, because in our hypothetical search, the term Lenovo ThinkPad T420s has fewer searches, it’s also targeted less often. This means that it’s easier to rank toward the top of the SERPs for that term.

Plus, because you’re no longer targeting generic keyword terms, you also aren’t paying for traffic to your website which isn’t actually going to buy anything. Bottom line, “car insurance” and other generic keywords are very competitive. However, they’re also not very useful for the average Internet marketer and as such should generally be avoided unless you happen to be running Geico.

Do the Latest Google Algorithmic Changes Make "Sense"?

Google It’s kind of hard to say whether the recent changes to Google’s algorithm make sense. I mean, they’re not a government agency which is open to criticism from the general public and which has to deal with the voters. On the other hand, as the dominant search engine, it does seem like we as the Internet using public have a right to demand certain standards from Google. Otherwise, we can take our business elsewhere.

Weeding Out the Spammers

Google of course is faced with an immense problem. Because they are the world’s most popular search engine, by far, they are the target of constant spam efforts. People are always trying to find ways to rank high in the Google search results and frankly they always seem to have some new secret scheme to do just that (I can’t tell you how many e-mails I’ve gotten offering “bullet proof” ways to beat your way to the top of Google if I’ll only hand over my credit card for a $47 charge).

The Google Duopoly

Google also has a kind of duopoly of purposes. On the one hand, they maintain their stature as the number one search engine by constantly making efforts to provide the most relevant search results available. On the other hand, they don’t make money from their search results. They make money from their Adwords service, which serves up advertising alongside the organic search results.

Do Big Advertisers Get Preferential Treatment?

This constant “yin and yang” of the company causes many people to question Google’s motives and to say that Google is way too beholden to advertisers. In fact, at one point, there was a bit of a scandal where senior Google engineers were recorded providing ideas to major advertisers on how to rank high in the organic search results.

Now to be fair, from what I understand, the information was the same stuff you can find in their public statements. However, just the fact that this was done, even if all they did was provide their engineers to explain things they already tell the public about does make one question things, at least a little bit.

Back to the Topic at Hand

However, I digress (though for a reason). The question here is whether Google’s new changes make sense. I’d have to say that they make sense for the company as a way to maximize profits first and on a secondary level, to continue to provide a quality user experience for web searchers.

What I Mean

Google’s changes do punish a number of websites. However, it seems to me that the websites that went down the most are also the ones that don’t spend much on Adwords advertising. Now, before anyone screams conspiracy theory, the fact is that the places that don’t do much in the way of Adwords advertising do tend to be the spammiest of places.

I really had no problem with taking crap content spewed onto the Internet by people who can’t even string a sentence together and demoting it to the bottom of the pile.

Some Junk Still Rises to the Top

On the other hand, I was a little incensed that the biggest content farm of them all, Demand Studio’s eHow (full disclosure, I have written for eHow occasionally, though I really don’t like them because I feel they don’t do a good job on editing and I feel that the quality of many of their writers is quite poor) happened to be one of the sites that still gets lots of first page hits.

Now to be fair, eHow is a mixed bag – some of their content is excellent (hey, I wrote a small fraction of a percent of it), but some of it is also garbage and still seems to rank high in the Google rankings. Bottom line, yes, I think the changes make sense. However, if they really want to make their search engine truly useful, they need to tweak things a little more.

How Frequently Should You Message Your Email List

Email symbolAnyone who reads this blog regularly knows just how important building a mailing list actually is. In fact, in my opinion it is the single most important thing you can do as an Internet marketer. However, even if you manage to do everything right, building an e-mail list is only part of the job. The other part of the job is maintaining your e-mail list and turning it into a useful asset rather than something with a high turnover rate. Here’s what you need to know:

The Cardinal Sin of Internet Marketers

One of the worst things that you can possibly do as an Internet marketer is to be constantly spamming your e-mail list with more offers for more junk for sale. Yes, you want to get people in the door and yes, you want to make a one time offer to them. However, that doesn’t mean that once someone has made a purchase from you, you send e-mails twice a day every day with every other program or make money online scheme out there.

I see way too many Internet marketers who think that because you downloaded their crappy “free” report it must mean that you are a gold mine and that you’ll be willing to keep buying whatever junk they want to sell you. The fact is, no matter what business you happen to be in, you simply cannot get away with sending repeated e-mails to your list trying to sell them stuff constantly.

On the Other Hand

On the other hand, there are also the people who you buy something from and then you never hear from them again until several years later. I literally had a place write to me FIVE YEARS after I made a purchase from them and had never heard from the place since then – I’d forgotten about the place and was shocked when I got the e-mail from them. I deleted it and set them as spammers since I figured if they didn’t care enough to be in touch for five years, there was no reason for them to be in touch now.

What You Should Do

Ideally, try to send out e-mails about once a week, maybe twice a week. That’s about often enough that you’ll be able to keep your customers interested in what you have to say while at the same time ensuring that they won’t get annoyed by too many e-mails and simply unsubscribe from your e-mail list altogether.

Very Important – Follow the 80/20 Rule

However, that policy alone is not enough. If you really want to sell things to your e-mail list, you need to provide real value. That means that your e-mails should follow the 80/20 rule.

80% of your e-mails should provide useful content which people can really use. That means telling them about the latest developments in your industry and how it will affect them, telling them about how to use the product they bought more effectively and generally providing information people will look forward to getting from you.

20% of your e-mails should be marketing e-mails where you tell your customers about a great new product you have for sale. Not only will you then get more people to make a purchase, but you’ll also get more people to open all your e-mails so they can find out what you have for sale to begin with.

by EricHammer, on       Comments are off for this post