We’ve been working on a couple of websites that sell consumer products: physical objects, in other words, that people buy and use. They are not the manufacturers, but are retailers selling stuff. When you have a site selling an object, it seems reasonable to use the name of that object as your main keyword.
People who are searching for a Roku, a Weber Genesis grill, or a 27″ TV with DVD player are planning to buy it, the thinking goes. These are the shoppers you want to attract, so those are the terms you should be ranking for.
Here’s an essential question to ask yourself first: Does Amazon sell it?
If Amazon sells that product, you will probably not show up at the top of the screen when consumers type in the name of the product. You-know-who will. What’s more, they’ll offer a lower price, free shipping, and way more reviews than you do. Their shopping cart is probably snazzier than yours. There is, if we can be frank for a moment, no reason for the average shopper who wants to buy a common product to buy it from you instead of from Amazon.
The person who has vaguely heard that there are devices that can stream computer content over a TV is another kettle of fish entirely. That shopper will be searching for information. He’ll be interested in various options and ready to read an article that compares them.
The person who is thinking about stepping up, when it comes to grills, and getting something to replace that old hibachi is likely to be interested in things about grills and grilling in general. Someone who is dissatisfied with her current TV and DVR but isn’t sure just what she wants would be better off with in-depth discussions of TVs than with a bunch of different product descriptions to read through.
If you catch people while they’re at the point of developing awareness of a problem or desire and exploring the options, you are much more likely to show up when they search. If you offer them the information they need, and then provide an easy way for them to shop for the product immediately instead of going to Amazon, you are more likely to sell your product to them.
You probably can’t compete with Amazon effectively. (Can Walmart? Check it out.) Fortunately, you don’t have to. Catch buyers at an earlier point in the decision cycle instead.