By Matt Roberts, Linkdex
You might already be on the top of Google if you search for your company name, but what about the customers who don't know your company's name and are searching for a specific product or service?
- What words and phrases are your customers typing into search (keywords)?
- Which keywords could and should you be found for?
- Which keywords will make you money?
Keyword research is one of the cornerstones of making money from search engine optimization (SEO).
The rest of the section will provide you with essential keyword research advice and tips that explain how to answer the above questions and begin your SEO journey.
Keywords and The Long Tail
A relatively small number of the total searches in any market come from the top 10 keywords. A vast majority is made up from longer, more specific combinations of keywords.
Did you know that in your market there will be thousands of potential keyword combinations that get less than 100 searches a month, yet convert at a very high rate because they are very specific? This means that there are likely to be thousands of keyword phrases that convert well and are relatively uncompetitive in your market!
In fact, research conducted by Hitwise suggests that a growing number of searchers are using four, five, six and even seven words in a search query in order to find results that are specific to what they are looking for. The use of shorter keyword variations is actually on the decline.
It's important to understand this concept because a lot of websites are competing to rank at the top for the head keywords. And only a few of them can win.
In fact most times, you are much better off ranking at the top for a mid or long tail keyword than at the bottom of page one for a head keyword.
Keywords, keyword intent and conversion
The more specific the search term, the higher the chance of a relevant result and the higher the chance of converting a search to a sale.
Another variable in a search term's likely conversion is the intention of the searcher.
“Identifying and ranking for purchase searches is how your business can quickly increase traffic and money, but medium to long-term, capturing general searches is going to be important too.”
Selecting keywords for your business
One of the tasks you will find in our task manager is to create a list of keywords you want to rank for. This will help you to start tracking them using our rank tracking tool.
Keyword research is not too difficult but very important. Here's what you need to do.
1. Brainstorm keywords you want to rank for
Brainstorm and write down keywords and phrases that describe your products and services. Include the keywords you think your customers search for to find you and your competitors.
Use a thesaurus to look for synonyms. You might want to ask a couple of customers or people who don't know your business what they would type into Google if they were searching for the products and services you offer.
Don't forget to also add your brand / business names and associated queries.
2. Add current keywords successes
To your list add any keywords that currently bring visitors to your website.
You would get this information from
or other website analytics software.
3. Research keywords using a free keyword tool
Now use this list to begin researching what your potential customers really do type to find businesses like yours.
To do this you can use
's integrated keyword research tool which uses data from the
Google Adwords Keyword Tool
. Using tools like this adds some much needed science to the process, and is great because you can:
- View keyword data by specific countries and territories
- View search volumes and trends
- View keyword competition levels
- View data by match type (broad, "phrase" and [exact])
You can also use specific pages of your website and have Google analyze the page and suggest relevant keywords for that page.
: Enter your keywords into both tools in brackets like this - [keyword]. The brackets represent "Exact Match". Using an exact match search ensures you get data for exactly the term you're considering targeting and you can compare terms in a meaningful way
Other keyword tools available include:
- Yahoo (Free)
- Microsoft - Bing (Free)
- Wordtracker - Free and Paid
- Wordstream - Free and Paid
- KeywordDiscovery - Free and Paid
When you're finished you should end up with a short-list of keywords with their local monthly search volume.
4. Finalize your list of keyword targets & think about how they apply to your site
You should now have a good list of keywords you want to be found for.
Make a note of whether you have a relevant page already on your site, or whether you think you'll need to build one. If you do, add yourself tasks in
If you're using
you will also be prompted to add a page that you think should rank for a keyword. Completing this is not compulsory but a great discipline.
5. Start tracking your rankings
Keeping an eye on your rankings is important as rankings help direct your strategic and tactical efforts. For example if you find that you have a selection of relatively low competition keywords ranking in positions 3 - 10, then the chances are that pushing some great content out that links to those pages will give those pages the boost they need to get to the top.
Needless to say,
has a perfect
rank tracking tool
for doing this. It not only tracks your rankings, it integrates with the task manager and link building tools so you can record what was done and when that changed your rankings.
Keyword Research Checklist
So that's my starter guide to keyword research. Get going on discovering the keywords that are going to grow your traffic and revenues ASAP. When you're done you should know:
- Which keywords you want to target.
- Your site's current rankings for those keywords.
- Which pages are relevant on your site for your keywords.
- Which keywords you want to rank for that don't have content yet.
- Keyword research is not difficult yet very important to your business, so invest the time needed to do it properly.
- More specific long tail phrases convert better than head tail terms.
- Keyword research tools help add science to the process.
- Use a tool like
to help you track your rankings and optimize your most relevant pages for your chosen keywords.
- Keyword research is not a one time task and should be frequently reviewed.
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