The Communication Hackers Blog
February 7, 2018
How to Perform Keyword Research the Right Way
Imagine if you could read your customers’ minds.
What would you do with this super-power? You could create the ultimate product or service. You could know exactly how to sell it. You could even anticipate your customers’ needs before they even know it.
In digital marketing, this super-power almost exists and it’s called keyword research. Every business owner who wants to have even a glimmer of a hope of succeeding in digital marketing absolutely needs to learn how to perform keyword research.
Four-part series on keyword research & SEO
We know that keyword research (and the overall concept of search engine optimization, or “SEO”) can feel intimidating for many business owners (and might even sound a bit like voodoo). However, it really isn’t as hard as it sounds, especially if you create a good system to use, and as you will see, it is hugely important. This is a four-part series on keyword research & SEO for business owners. Good keyword research will supercharge your marketing strategy and put you lightyears ahead of your competition! Here’s what we’ve got in store for you:
- In this article, we are going to show you how to perform keyword research the right way. To top it all off, we will even be sharing one of our favorite free tools to make your research as simple as can be.
- In part 2, we will be discussing the huge array of ways you can make use of keyword research even beyond SEO.
- In part 3, we will hone in on the basics for the most common application for keyword research: optimizing your web-pages.
- In part 4, we will end this series with a post on how to incorporate keyword research into your content marketing strategy – one of the most important skills to master if you want to effectively use SEO.
As a special bonus, we will be including a special report highlighting three of our secret weapons. These killer apps will make your content marketing 10x more effective in 1/10th the time and are a must-have for any small business owner’s marketing toolbox.
Let’s start with explaining just how important keyword research really is.
Learning how to perform keyword research puts you way ahead of your competition
Let’s just put it this way. Keyword research is extremely undervalued and underused. For most people, even your competition, it’s an after-thought. That’s a huge mistake.
Sure, you might hear the term “keyword research” thrown around if you speak with colleagues about who they use for SEO services or when you go to a pay-per-click seminar, but most of the time no-one really talks about how to perform keyword research. It’s almost as if everyone forgets about how important keyword research really is!
Consider how much critical data keyword research can give you:
- How many people are interested in a certain problem or solution
- How strong this interest is
- How much competition is out there
- How many prospective customers are nearby
With that in mind, isn’t it insane to ignore keyword research?
Imagine how much of a leg-up you’d have over your competition if you used keyword research as effectively as you should!
Keyword research: where it belongs in your strategy
Many people only start to think about keywords when it comes time to fork over lots of money to hire an SEO expert (who often has to fix their broken website), or when they want to place a few pay-per-click ads. This is much too late.
In reality, as we will discuss in much more detail in part 2 of this series, a well-planned keyword strategy should have you thinking about, researching, and be using keywords throughout your entire digital marketing strategy, from end to end. This means including keyword planning in:
- Planning and creating your business name
- Creating and naming your products and services
- The URL for your website
- The words you choose for your social media profiles
- The visible copy that you put on each page of your website
- The invisible, SEO-friendly words that go into each element of your website
- Every single blog post
- Your landing pages
- The scripts to your marketing videos
Good keyword strategy really should be the common thread that binds your entire digital marketing strategy together. Don’t let keyword planning be an afterthought. Thinking about it after the fact, like after your website is already built, after your business name has already been in use, after you’ve already named your products and services, after your social media profiles have already been drafted, and, worst-of-all, after you’ve already written a bunch of blog posts, is a sure way to give your SEO expert reason to charge you TONS of money to fix everything.
Learning how to perform keyword research is a must for business owners, whether or not they out-source their digital marketing!
How to perform keyword research: the basics
Step 1: Choose your tools
The first step in an effective keyword research strategy is to pick a good keyword research tool.
If you don’t mind paying a monthly fee, semrush and ahrefs are two of the best out there. Their keyword results are well respected as being highly accurate, and their interfaces are easy to use. Both are also expensive. With packages starting from $99 a month, this may not make sense for your business. Sure, you can use the handful of free searches these services offer you per day, but the functionality is limited and anyone who is taking keyword research seriously needs more than just a couple of searches a day.
Luckily there are some awesome free tools to use. Especially when you’re just starting out in learning how to perform keyword research, my favorite easy to use tool is Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest tool. This tool makes it super easy to evaluate any keywords you provide (providing you the basics: search volume, estimated cost-per-click, and competitiveness), and even adds a few hundred additional suggestions for you to consider! This tool truly is a goldmine (thanks, Neil!) and is a must for every business owner’s digital marketing toolbox.
Step 2: Think of relevant and useful keyword terms
This is where some creativity comes in. Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer (you’ve taken the time to build a customer avatar right?) and think of what search terms they would use to find your business and the services you offer. The goal in this step is to try to guess what search terms people are using. You will check to see if you’re right on your guesses in Step 3. Depending on your business, your keywords may be an individual word such as “computers” or a string of words such as “how to repair my computer.” You will often find that individual words are too general. Longer keyword terms (sometimes called long-tail keywords) are more specific and useful and are also easier to rank for.
Write down these search terms. Enlist someone who isn’t part of your business if you can. Sometimes (oftentimes actually) it is helpful to have the perspective of an outsider when trying to think like your customer. Better yet, if you’ve got some actual customers you can bribe with a cup of coffee, get their perspective and help!
When you’ve got a decent list of search terms that are relevant to your business, start to make them a bit more useful. What I mean here, is start adding terms that are indicative of a “buying intent.” One way is as simple as adding “how to” to your search terms. For example, while the search term “life coach” is pretty general and might indicate that someone is simply curious about what a life coach is. However, with a slight modification, the term “how to hire a life coach” is much more indicative of high interest and might signal that the searcher is getting close to wanting to buy or hire.
A final tactic I like to use before deciding for sure whether I want to use a search term is to do a search on it and see what the top hits are. Do these look like web pages from your competitors or articles written by your competitors? If so that’s a great sign. If the top hits are something totally off the wall and have nothing to do with your business, then you probably want to choose different keywords.
Step 3: Check for search volume
Take the list of search terms you’ve compiled in Step 2 and plug them into your keyword research tool. The purpose of doing so is twofold. First, you want to make sure that there is a sufficient amount of search volume for your chosen keywords. Obviously, ranking on page 1 for a keyword is useless if no-one is searching for it (or if there are just 10 searches a month coming from Bulgaria…). What you’re looking for here is a reasonable amount of search volume. What’s “reasonable?” Well, the answer varies according to who you ask. What I recommend is to look for at least the high hundreds and ideally over 1,000. So, using these search volume criteria, take the search terms you came up with in Step 2 and decide which ones make the cut.
The second purpose of plugging keywords into your research tool is to look for related keywords. Almost all research tools have this great feature (and, as mentioned above, Ubersuggest definitely does this well). This will greatly expand your keyword universe by making suggestions for additional keywords you may not have thought of. Look through the list and see if there is anything else that looks promising.
Step 4: Check for competition
The final step in choosing your keywords is to analyze the competition. The idea here is that keywords with too much competition will be next to impossible to rank for. In most keyword research tools, competition data is sourced from the number of search ads for the keyword, and is expressed in a Competition Score that is a fraction of 1.0 (eg 0.2 or 0.6). The higher the number, the stiffer the competition. In other words, if the competition is “0.9” competition is sky high and you’re probably wasting your time. On the other hand, if the competition is “0.1” the coast is clear and you’ve got a decent chance with the keywords you’ve chosen. I like to look for keywords with competition below 0.25.
For example, if you own a business coaching business, the keyword term “business coach” might be highly relevant and has decent search volume. However, it has a Competition Score of 0.67. This is pretty high meaning you’ll have a really hard time ranking for it. If you use a keyword with a Score of 0.20, for example, even if it has slightly lower search volume, you’ll probably rank much better.
Step 5: Compile your list of ideal keywords
The final step in learning how to perform keyword research is to compile the keywords.
Take all the keywords that passed the tests in Steps 2, 3, & 4, and put them on a list.
Remember, this is just the first in a four-part series on keyword research & SEO for business owners. In part two of this series, we will be discussing the huge number of ways your properly conducted keyword research should be used to drive your marketing efforts and even your overall business strategy (and SEO is just the start)!
Let’s sum it all up
Remember, the right keywords for your digital marketing efforts need to meet three simple, but powerful factors:
Choose and use keywords using this formula, read your customers’ minds, and get a big advantage over your competition!
That’s it for now!
What do you think? Was this useful? Will you be taking advantage of any keyword research yourself? Do you think I missed anything? If you found this blog post useful, please do me a favor and 1) share it with your friends and colleagues; and 2) let me know by commenting or hitting us up on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
Here’s to the success of your business!!
May 25, 2017
If the thought of public speaking makes you want to run the other way, don’t worry ⎯ you’re not alone. I was once terrified of public speaking myself. My first important public speaking event was a DUI trial where I was the prosecutor. I was so nervous I could barely see the judge through my tunnel vision. Ultimately, the trial was a nerve-wracking train-wreck of a disaster that I still cringe to think about. Eventually, after years as a trial attorney and attendance at some pretty intensive training conferences, I was able to hack & overcome my fear of public speaking. I want to help you do the same.
I know you don’t have years to practice in a courtroom (thankfully right?). So I’ve combined my own experiences with the latest neuroscience research to come up with 4 easy hacks that will help you overcome any fear of public speaking you may have. These hacks are so easy you can apply them immediately. At the same time, they are so powerful and effective, I’m sure they will have a surprisingly noticeable impact on your speaking confidence the very next time you make a speaking presentation.
A gash, a rash, and purple bumps
Most people (including your competitors) hate public speaking and presentations. In fact, most would try to avoid it. I’ve even heard of people who go to drastic measures such as faking illness to avoid needing to make a speaking presentation. Crazy huh? It’s even been estimated that as many as 73% of Americans have a literal fear of public speaking. Does fear, anxiety, or nervousness hold you back from making public speaking presentations? If so, you’re missing out on one of the best and most powerful ways to build your brand and reputation.
Don’t shy away from public speaking and leave money at the table. Leave your fear there instead!
If you want to be seen as a niche expert and thought leader, you need to speak well. And, establishing yourself as a niche expert and thought leader is the best way to protect your business from today’s deadliest competitor: the internet. Instead of running from this Goliath, read my earlier blog post: Your profession is going extinct: Here’s what you can do about it and be proactive about it!
If you avoid speaking opportunities, you are literally giving away business. Why? Even in a world that is driven by digital interactions, people seek out (even crave) authentic, human connection. In fact, many people agree that trust is the #1 factor that leads to future sales and human connection is, without a doubt, the best way to build trust. You can’t build this kind of loyalty and connection with impersonal emails, web-copy, or flyers no matter how well written. Nothing beats facetime. Taking the time to overcome fear of public speaking is a huge investment in yourself and your business.
Here’s the best reason though: We already saw that most people are afraid of public speaking and even try to avoid it. Learn to speak well and you will stand out!
Learn to speak well and you will stand out!
Try these non-superficial tactics to permanently ban those pre-presentation sleepless nights
1. Know thy enemy and confront it
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles…” Sun Tzu
To overcome fear of public speaking, let’s consider where it comes from.
Neuroscience tells us that fear is a physiological state that results from the activation of our “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system. This system causes the many familiar physical reactions that can be so debilitating: tunnel vision, sweating, inability to think clearly, shaky hands, desire to flee, etc.
To spare you a science lesson, two things can activate our sympathetic system: a) a particularly traumatizing past experience; or b) uncertainty about a risky future. When it comes to fear of public speaking, unless you’ve had a particularly traumatizing experience in the past, uncertainty about the future is probably the driving force behind your fear.
I recently saw Tony Robbins live at one of his seminars. It was an amazing experience in so many ways but one of the things I really remember is what he said about fear. Tony revealed that fear generally comes in three categories:
- Fear of loss;
- Fear of less;
- Fear of never.
When confronted, fear loses its power
Most people have the same basic fears with public speaking. They fear:
- Loss of reputation or of social standing (essentially social rejection)
- Less sales or business opportunities
- Never being invited to speak to the group again
When you think about it though, how likely are these fears going to materialize? With almost 3/4 of the population afraid of public speaking themselves, the bar is pretty low. Most of your audience will be pretty forgiving of you even if you stumble. Besides, even if they did materialize, would they be the end of the world? Unless it was an absolute mission critical speaking presentation that would for sure make or break your business, I’m guessing not.
Ultimately, once confronted, you will find that fear really is, in the words of John Assaraf, an acronym: False Emotions Appearing Real.
2. How semantics are a self-fulfilling prophecy
How often have you found that the label you give an event decides its outcome? Hate household chores? Funny how calling it a “stay-cation” changes your outlook. Kids hate chores? Calling them jobs might change their outlook.
Behind identifying and confronting fear, the most powerful way to overcome fear of public speaking is to change its label.
Too many people think of public speaking engagements as speeches. Speeches are inherently performances. There are many problems with this label. Performances are a one-sided affair. It is the performer performing something for the audience to consume. Performances naturally invite critique: whether it met expectations or not, whether it entertained the audience or not, whether it was a success or failure.
When we undertake to give a speech, fear and nervousness are normal since we expect that we will be judged and critiqued and we are worried about the result. Your subconscious mind does not like speeches.
I remember performing in piano recitals as a teenager ⎯ serious affairs with judges, scoring, and trophies. The performance-related nature of these recitals caused me enough performance anxiety that I could never sleep the night before. Then, when they called my name, my legs were always so rubbery I could barely walk when I descended what felt like a hundred steps to the stage.
Changing the label from speech to conversation changes everything.
Do you get fearful and nervous during conversations with people (other than maybe on a first date)? Unless you have conversations with intimidating people on a regular basis I’m guessing the answer is “no.”
All the fear-inducing aspects of speeches: its performance-related nature, the expectation of success-or-failure critique, (and maybe even negative association with childhood piano recital trauma) are absent with conversations.
Label your next presentation as a conversation instead of a speech and get an added style bonus. A conversational style will almost always come across as more authentic and trustworthy than a speech, which can easily sound “canned” or phony. Authenticity is often the difference between a good speaking presentation and one that is truly great. Listen to some politicians give their carefully scripted, canned speeches and you’ll know what I mean.
3. Here’s the only thing you should memorize. Ever.
Some people recommend that you memorize your speaking presentation. This isn’t just bad advice, it’s horrible advice. The most important reason is that it has a huge chance of intensifying your fear of speaking. Alot. It also makes you sound less genuine and more robotic.
Imagine what happens if you were to lose track of where you are in your script, partway through your presentation. Your mind would be racing to find your *exact place* and won’t be able to improvise. Your nervousness and fear level would rise and your worries about screwing up your presentation increase. As your stress level goes up, your mind will be less able to remember your script, much less remember where you left off. This vicious cycle is just about guaranteed to sabotage your presentation in a big way if you trip up at all in your presentation.
So, just lay off the memorizing your speech thing.
There is one thing you should memorize and that’s your core message. Memorize it cold. Your core message is the elevator pitch for your entire, larger, speaking presentation. It is what you want your audience to hear and act on. Like an elevator pitch, it should be short (30 seconds or less is ideal), concise, and easily remembered. It should also be highly tailored for your audience and so valuable they can’t wait to hear it.
Imagine that someone in the audience showed up and said “hey, I’d love to stay for your presentation but I have a plane to catch. Can you tell me the Cliff Notes version of what you’re going to say?” You should be able to immediately tell them your core message without hesitation.
For example: If you were speaking to a group of scientists about using storytelling techniques to help them write better and more enticing research papers, your core message might be this:
“Scientists have an inherent problem in that it is hard to get readers interested and excited about relatively dry science. Instead of trying to share your research with facts and figures, I will teach you how to generate reader interest with a storytelling approach. Not only will I demonstrate the cognitive science behind storytelling, but I will also tell you about my two favorite types of storylines, and show you examples of how they work.”
Your core message is the heart and soul of your speaking presentation. If you know it cold and know that is something so valuable to your audience that you just can’t wait to share it with them, fear will take a back seat to your boldness.
4. Remember how the turtle kicked the hare’s hiney?
It’s better to be the turtle.
Earlier we talked about the body’s sympathetic system and how it affects speaking performance. Tunnel vision, inability to think well, and poor memory can wreck anyone’s speaking presentation. Unfortunately, this usually also causes us to speak faster and faster. This is probably our bodies’ subconscious attempt to put us out of our misery and off stage ASAP!
Unfortunately, fear-induced fast speaking just makes things worse. As we speak faster and faster we make more mistakes. These mistakes increase our fear and nervousness. This increased fear and nervousness leads to even more mistakes and so-on in a vicious cycle that will quickly resemble a circus act by a bunch of one-armed, blind-folded, drunk midgets. Besides, you’ll start sounding like an auctioneer and that’s never good.
The best vaccine & medicine to combat your body’s physiological fear response is to slow down your pace.
Slow down and you will allow your body’s parasympathetic system (which counteracts the sympathetic system) to take back over. This will start getting things back under control.
How slow? I recommend you speak slow enough that you yourself start feeling like you’re talking too slow. Since you will always think you are speaking slower than the audience perceives, this should be just about right.
A bonus reason to slow down? Slowing down will let your audience have the time to absorb the great things that you are telling them. After all, the best content in the world is useless if you don’t let your audience have the time to process it and understand how good it is.
Now your turn. Take steps to overcome fear of public speaking today!
Let’s overcome fear of public speaking and start using it as your best reputation and brand-building secret weapon!
Here’s what to do next:
- Write down your fears related to public speaking – what are you afraid might happen if you do poorly? Are they reasonable or the end of the world?
- Promise yourself you won’t listen to any more bad advice.
- Start thinking of every presentation, big or small, as a conversation.
- Let us know how your next presentation goes! Leave us a comment on our Facebook page. We love hearing about how our advice works for people.
- Go rock the world with your great ideas and presentations!!
March 7, 2017
Chances are you went into the professional service business to make life easier for other people.
You help solve problems for them so they can sleep better at night.
I really admire that.
In fact, as a part-time business lawyer, I can completely relate.
But now we’ve got a problem we can’t ignore
We’re an endangered species — and no-one is really talking about it.
Our industry journals talk about “building a practice” with the use of technology as if, in 2017, it’s still business as usual and our biggest competitors are fellow service professionals.
Only it isn’t.
Computers want our jobs
We are quietly being replaced by lines of computer code. Read More
January 30, 2017
Five minutes to go and people are still streaming in…
Your palms are a bit sweaty and you’ve got butterflies in the pit of your stomach but the sweat is quick to dry and the butterflies are just little ones. You’ve done this many times and the audience that you stand in front of doesn’t intimidate you anymore. You wonder what they are thinking as you give your business presentation though. Are they bored? Are you getting through to them? Is it even worth your time?
What if you could employ one under-used, and easily applicable hack and guarantee to skyrocket the effectiveness of every single business presentation you will ever make again?
This hack is simple: make the switch from fact-dumper to storyteller. This is THE most effective and powerful thing you can do to improve your presentations.