Which Comes First: The Products or the Keywords?

A lot of people look at keyword research backwards. They find the keywords first, and then try to figure out what to do with them. Yeah, OK, that might work sometimes. If you’re trying to make money from AdSense ads, for instance.

But you’re running a business, right?

In a real business with real products, you can’t just target any old keywords; you need the keywords that are most likely to result in sales. In other words, you need to take a look at the products you’re already selling first—then choose the best keywords for those products.

Or do you?

You don’t have to start with the products, but if you start by finding keywords that are easy to rank for, you need to be open to the possibility of changing your product line to align with the keywords you’re targeting. For example, maybe you sell Brand A fishing poles, but your keyword research suggests that Brand B fishing poles might be easier to rank for.

What do you do now? Do you switch to selling Brand B fishing poles? What are the costs associated with doing that? Would you need to invest in a whole new line of inventory? What about the Brand A fishing poles you already have in stock—what are you going to do with those?

What to Do if You Know What You’re Selling

If you already know which products you’re going to be selling online, you can limit your initial keyword research to search terms that are related to those products. This will make your keyword research go much faster because you aren’t analyzing hundreds or even thousands of keywords for products that you aren’t really interested in selling.

If you want to add more products later, that’s always an option, but you should start with the products you’re already selling. Find the best keywords for those products and write your product titles and descriptions with the keywords in mind. You might think that you can skip the keyword research and use the exact product name, but it doesn’t always work that way. The words and phrases that people use when searching may not be the same as the product name.

Let’s say you’re selling the Black & Decker LDX112C 12-Volt Max Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver. That’s the product title on Amazon.com, but how likely do you think it is that people use that whole phrase to search for it? Not likely at all. You might find that the best phrase to target is “lithium ion drills” or “black and decker lithium ion.”

Do the keyword research for a few of your most popular and profitable products first, then let the rest of your analysis run while you get the product pages for those products online and start promoting them. By the time you’re ready to add more products, you’ll have more keywords ready to work on.

So Which Comes First?

For most small businesses, it makes sense to start by looking at your most popular and most profitable products and find keywords for those first, then move on to other products. Once you have all of your current product line listed on your website, you can do more general keyword research in your niche to determine which products to add next.

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