The Keyword Cloud (or How to Read Minds)

Last week we talked about how your content is like a net. You cast it out into the internet muck and search engines help you nab the right meaty prospects. This week I want to introduce a concept I call the keyword cloud and how to use it to come up with post titles, product names and other bits of netting that can reel in prospects and customers. Veterans of my Keywords Essentials class will experience some deja vu. Veterans of my Keywords Essentials class will experience some deja vu.

Take a five second consideration of all of the internet searches you have done in the last week. If you are a Google user go to so see a complete history of all of your searches (and to seriously freak yourself out). Click on Trends and you’ll see other stats. I’ve searched for 15,553 things in the past year:

Each one of these searches says a little bit about me. A little bit about who I am, what I’m looking for, what I might purchase, what worries me, what excites me, what captivates me… You can read my mind to find out exactly what I’m thinking about at any given time. Search histories have even been used in courts for murder trials (i.e. ‘undetectable poinsons’, or ‘neck snap break’).

Now what if we could direct this process to our future customers?

Nobody Knows Who You Are

To best understand this approach to keywords and search engine strategy, it is important to keep in mind that most people have no idea who you are. They may have problems that you can solve or a burning need for your services, but they have no idea that you are an expert in such things. So when faced with that big search box what do they type in?

People Search for What They Know Already

We muddle through this life, don’t we? Often we don’t know exactly how to articulate what we are looking for so we’ll get as close to what we want as possible using language and concepts we already know.

Since your prospects don’t know who you are, they are doing the same thing. They don’t know that you are an expert in dog grooming but they are looking for the best dog shampoo. They don’t know that you are a relationships expert but they are looking for how to sharing child custody with a jerk (shout out to Heidi!). They search using words and terms and concepts that they already know.

What Orbits Your Niche?

Out of all of the possible things I could type into a search engine to find you – assuming I don’t know your name or business – which ones would be orbiting you and your niche? I might type in a book title or a famous celebrity that has talked about the issues I’m facing – issues that you can help solve. I search for what I already know that is close to what I’m looking for, what I’m trying to solve or what I’m trying to do. I call this the keyword cloud:

Sunburst diagram with the word topic in the middle, radiating outward: mistakes, recipes, reviews, warnings, processes, skeptics, leaders, pioneers, celebrities, associations, events, summaries, journalists, concepts, guides, troubleshooting, methodologies, products, books, tv/movies, magazines, artists, outcasts and locations.

At the center is your topic or niche or focus, around it are all the peripheral things orbiting your topic – the books, people, places, events, etc. that are connected to the topic – and to you.

Here’s some sample tactics:

  1. Blog the top books in your niche. Write reviews. Interview the author. Interview experts. Interview skeptics. Create a study guide.
  2. Blog the top associations in your niche. Write up their upcoming events. Their most visible experts (or outcasts). Blog from the events. Post pictures of the events. Write up the events you’ll be attending – interview the presenters after, before or during the event. Write up a guide to the city where the conference is held. Write about the challenge the association or industry is facing.

The elements in the keyword cloud above are just a small list of the taxonomy you can use.

Go to your local bookstore and go to the section that matches your niche. Stare at the bookcase and notice what words, ideas and authors pop out at you. Grab a magazine your niche subscribes to – what words pop out on that?






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