Keyword planning is the key to getting found online. Without it, your website and content will get buried in the chaos of the internet.


And it’s a lot of chaos. The internet already has 644 million websites. 2 million new blog posts are published every day. Every 60 seconds, 500 new hours of YouTube videos are uploaded.


Where does your music retail business fit into this busy picture? The answer lies in keyword planning, which helps you stand out from the crowd.


What Exactly is Keyword Planning?

Keyword planning is about defining a topic so Google and other search engines know how to index it. In old-fashioned library terms, it’s about putting the right words on the index card so it can be easily located in the filing cabinet.


Did you notice the phrase “the right words”? That’s critical for keyword planning. You want to attract the right traffic, not all traffic. It’s a waste of time to focus on people who will never buy from your business. You need the right kind of audience – the ones who are most interested in you – and they have an affinity for certain keywords.


When you’re using the right keywords, web users will easily run across your business. In fact, that’s the meaning behind the term “organic traffic” – traffic that comes from keywords that make people feel naturally attracted to your company. It can happen through searches, social media, and just generally exploring the web.


Your keyword plan is the result of keyword research, or finding out which words are important to your potential buyers. One of the easiest ways to do keyword research is through a tool like the Google keyword planner, which allows you to discover what people are talking about. You can identify new trends and create keywords that connect with your target audience.


Example of Keyword Planning

Does it all sound a bit too abstract so far? Let’s look at an example that might clear things up.


Clark Family Music is a small, family-owned music store that was founded in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1966. The bread-and-butter of their business is instrument rental. Their goal is to be the first choice of students and parents who need to rent instruments for school.


Clark’s basic keywords, or seed keywords, are obvious: music, instruments, rental, Grand Rapids. However, those keywords are also the favorites of thousands of other companies who have the big bucks to dominate mass-interest categories.


It’s time for Clark’s to do some keyword research to find additional terms that will work for them. Using the Google keyword tool, they can find similar terms, trending terms, and the kind of jargon their audience is using.


Start with a seed keyword. A search for top trending terms related to “music” yields additional words and phrases like:

  • YouTube music videos
  • gifts for music lovers
  • new sheet music
  • free music playlists
  • Billboard Music Awards
  • New York Times music reviews


Some of these terms seem related to Clark’s goals, and some don’t. They need to dive deeper. Maybe they’d get more meaningful results by doing some keyword searching for “music rental.” This brings results like:

  • orchestra rentals
  • violins and bows
  • educational music
  • rent instruments online
  • guitar lessons
  • cheap instrument rentals


What can we learn from this list? Well, it looks like the word “orchestra” is closely related to music rental, and people are definitely searching for that term. The word “educational” is also a standout, as is “cheap.” It’s also worth noting that “rent instruments online” indicates Clark Family Music probably has some serious competition from online-only companies.


From here, they can continue to refine their keyword searches and build a big list of keywords that are getting traction online. Then they can incorporate these keywords into their website, social media, online content, sales materials, and in-store displays, to better connect with what customers want.


Why Keywords are So Important

Keywords are crucial because they allow you to act on real data, not assumptions about what your market wants. The search in the example above didn’t yield “quality” as a top search term – it came up with “cheap.” That might be hard to swallow for music retailers, but it’s a fact.


When you know the terms that resonate with your audience, you can refine your offerings to make sure you have something to offer them. If you rent instruments, what’s the cheapest price you can offer? Would you give a discount to someone who found you through Google Adwords, using a search similar to the one we did above? You’re already fine-tuning your strategy.


Keywords are also important because they allow you to spend your marketing dollars wisely. Instead of throwing your money away on things that aren’t connecting with your customers, you can focus on their very favorite aspects of your business.


Keywords and Your Competition

Here’s something else you can do with keyword planning: See into your competitors’ minds. When you use keyword search tools to do research, the tools can tell you which terms are most important to your competitors.


How do you know who your biggest online competitors are? Just go to Google, the Google Keyword Tool, or the Hubspot Keyword Tool, put in your seed keywords, and see who pops up on the front page.


Read the short descriptions under their names. Which words did they choose to put there? Those words should be very important to you.


Your competitors’ favorite keywords can be viewed two ways:

  1. Those are the words you definitely want to use too
  2. Those are the words you should avoid, and focus on other things


In a way, it depends on who the competitors are. If you can tell Walmart already dominates the category of “cheap sheet music,” maybe it would be better to focus on “cheap violin rental” or another phrase Walmart doesn’t seem interested in competing on.


Learning About Long-Tail Keywords

Have you heard about long-tail keywords? They’re longer phrases that include your main keywords, taking you into more complex topics people are searching for. They allow you to narrow your focus into specific customer niches, so you can catch the attention of people actively seeking specific things.


Long-tail keywords yield fewer search results in pure numbers, but higher-value results that are more likely to bring revenue for your business. Only a few people might search “used Guarneri violin in Indianapolis,” but when they do, your used instrument listings will be the first thing they see.


How Voice Search is Changing Keyword Planning

Okay, you’ve just started to understand keyword planning, and we’re already going to throw you for a loop. But stick with us, because there’s another important topic to discuss: voice search.


Voice search – searching aloud with a mobile devices or voice-activated assistant – is already reshaping how keyword planning is handled. The reason? People talk differently than they type.


When people ask questions aloud, they speak more fluidly and include more words overall. They talk to a device they way they would talk to a friend. But when typing, they tend to tap in 2 or 3 main words.


As you plan your keywords, think about how people ask questions naturally, and what it means for the search results your audience will see.


Here are a few examples of typing vs. talking:

  • Someone might type “Austin music rental” but they’d ask Alexa, “Where can I rent a trumpet around here?”
  • Someone might search “new guitars 2018” but they’d ask Siri, “What was the name of that new Fender guitar?”
  • Someone might Google “local singing lessons” but they’d say to the Google Assistant, “I want to learn how to sing like Rihanna.”


See how it affects your keywords? You might need to broaden your search terms and spend more time listening to your audience talk, so you can understand how they’re voice-searching. But it will be well worth it, because your keyword strategy will be much more up-to-date.


Maintaining an Effective Keyword Strategy

We hope this look at the importance of keyword planning has been helpful and inspiring for you. But if it all seems a little overwhelming, don’t worry – Octave Media is always ready to help enhance your music retail strategy. To learn more, download our free ebook, How to Reach New Music Retail Audiences.


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