The Right Keywords

by Dan Walsh

The difference between how you describe your product, and how they describe your product.

We talked about the importance of keywords the other day in class and reminded me of an important distinction. There are two ways to think about keywords. The first is from your perspective and the second is from their perspective. The right keywords lie somewhere between those two points of view.

Let’s say you’re trying to market a new product like Battle Ropes. These are thick, heavy ropes that a user whips up and down to build endurance. They are a type of workout gear. They can be different weights, different materials, etc.

Your Perspective

If you sold Battle Ropes, you’re first inclination would probably be to use “battle ropes” as a keyword. Maybe you get specific and include weights, lengths, colors, etc. You might end up with a list like this:

  • battle ropes
  • battle rope prices
  • buy battle ropes
  • heavy battle ropes
  • light battle ropes
  • single-person battle ropes
  • partner battle ropes
  • 10 foot battle rope
  • 18 foot battle rope
These are all relevant, and will work, but they’re limited in scope. They’re all from your perspective. These keywords represent what is important to you as a seller of Battle Ropes. This entire keyword list rests on the assumption that the potential customer knows what a Battle Rope is – that they care about Battle Ropes in the slightest. It doesn’t address the customer’s problem, it doesn’t take into account their potentially limited knowledge on the subject. These keywords will sell Battle Ropes, but only to people who already want to buy Battle Ropes.
Their Perspective
New customers don’t know all the terminology, they probably don’t know your brand name, they often don’t have enough domain knowledge to do specific searches. They are usually searching for solutions to problems, or trying to learn more about a topic. Maybe they heard about “battle ropes” but can’t remember what they’re called. A keyword list from a customer perspective would look something like this:
  • workout ropes
  • exercise ropes
  • training rope
  • workout gear
  • exercise gear
  • hardcore workouts
  • endurance workouts
  • endurance exercises
  • crossfit ropes
  • crossfit gear
  • training
  • kettlebells
  • kettlebell alternatives
A potential customer won’t have the same level of articulation regarding your product as you will. They know less about it than you do. Their searches will be more general, they will focus on their problems. As a seller, you need to get in front of the people who your product can help, and you can’t get in front of them if you don’t use their language. However, you’d want to avoid words that are too general like “rope” or “crossfit” because those will pull in people who aren’t actually potential customers.
It looks something like this:
The bottom line is that you’ll probably have a lot of really great ways to describe your product that none of your customers will ever use. There will also be a lot of words your customers use that you don’t want associated with your product. The right keywords are in between these extremes.