Micro ISV Mistake #6

I knew there would be more mistakes to write about, maybe not so soon, but I’m glad I’ve finally labelled this one and taken a really good look at it. It’s something I’ve known was an issue for a long time, I just hadn’t let myself see how big it was.

The choice of primary keyword and part of the name of my core product wasn’t heavily researched. I just picked a word I knew meant what I wanted to convey and ran with it. It wasn’t a word I could see any major problems with, and although I was vaguely aware that at some point I’d need to identify and target more suitable keywords for an international audience, I put that thought in a little box and ignored it for most of the last 18 months.

Mistake #6 is choosing a keyword that confuses 99% of your market.

This might be a niche mistake, it might not be one that many of you would make, but with Micro ISVs springing up all around the world, it is well worth bearing in mind. Talk to your friends, mentors and target market about your keywords, but then make sure you use the internet to talk to people around the world. If you’ve picked something they don’t understand, you should probably listen to them.

In my case, the result of choosing a keyword with little international relevance was that about 80% of my download traffic reliably came from only two countries. US traffic, for example, usually made up 1-3%. It’s a statistic that has frustrated me for a long time, but although I’d considered a few options to try to get things back on track, I hadn’t done much about it besides changing some of the language on my landing page. Sooner or later I needed to deal with it, so last week I decided to ask for suggestions or opinions from the JoS Business of Software forum.

This turned out to be a real motivator, as I was surprised to find that not only would my keyword not be their first choice for search, most of the respondents had never even heard the word before. They had absolutely no idea what it meant. There were other great suggestions for improving my site, but most importantly it’s the choice of keyword that is holding me back.

Now I have a long road ahead of me as I try to get some search engine presence on new competitive keywords. I also have to figure out whether to keep the existing product name, or change it to something with more international appeal. But I’m glad that I’m finally trying to do something about it.

Actually, the choice of keyword hasn’t been all bad. The product consistently ranks highly on the search engines for the keyword, and there are people out there searching for it. In the first 18 months I’ve probably had more downloads on the “bad” keyword, with a lower Adwords spend, than I would have been able to pick up in the more competitive wider market.

Despite that, the disadvantages outweigh any potential positives. For example, I’m effectively starting from scratch on the new keywords; it’s probably going to take a while to get a visible ranking on the search engines. If my site had been correctly optimized from the start, it would probably be in a pretty solid position by now. I also need to make sure my ranking on the existing keyword doesn’t drop off, or I’ll lose most of my existing traffic. Finally, my feedback has all been coming from a relatively small segment of the market. It’s difficult to accurately predict what impact that might have, but more varied feedback would almost certainly have made the product better and opened up more opportunities.

So in summary, if you’re in a similar position, you’re not alone and I wish you the best of luck. If you’re just getting started, make sure you spend a bit of time checking that you’ve chosen the right words; that little bit of extra thought in the early stages might save you a lot of extra work further down the road.

Don't worry

Don't worry, that's a big priority. The last thing I want is to lose all my existing traffic.