How to Do Keyword Research
Finding the right keywords for your website (and website pages) is a critical first step to online marketing. You must think like your customers, and discover what they are typing into Google, Yahoo!, and Bing in order to find a business like yours. Listed below are proven strategies to help you find the best keywords to target.
Keyword Research Tools
There are plenty of keyword research tools available for you to use, but you can’t (nor want t0) use them all. Here’s two favorites that will make keyword research tasks easy:
|The SEO Toolbar for Firefox will allow you to search most of the popular ones all at once. This includes the SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool, Google Adwords Tool, Google Trends, Google Insights for Search, and more.||Wordtracker’s SEO Blogger allows you to conduct keyword research without leaving the post editing screen. The tool displays on the left side of your browser to enable you to quickly research keywords as you write your post!|
Further Tailoring Keyword Research
With these two tools, you’ll get enough good suggestions to then take into your own Google searches and make decisions about:
- What Google suggests you type, as you are typing
- How competitive the keyword is
- What other websites are currently ranking
- What your unique value proposition can be
Tip: Fine-tune your keyword selection by searching for allintitle:”keyword phrase” in Google, and target those keywords with less than 30,000 competing pages. You’ll be more likely to rank on page 1 of Google if you have less competition.
Discovering & Choosing the Best Keywords
- Target Buyers: Would you rather attract visitors in a buying mindset or in a researching mindset? If you’re looking to convert traffic into sales (like most online marketers), you’ll want to target buyers. Buyers type long-tail keywords (specific multi-word phrases such as exact product names) into search engines are mostly looking for the best price and a trustworthy website to purchase from. They already know what they want to buy, so you want to rank highly in order to sell it to them.
- Target Long-Tail Keywords: Long-tail keywords are easier to rank highly for, since there is less potential traffic from them. However, there is more sales potential from them, and they assure that your online copy-writing efforts turn into real revenue for your business (justifying optimizing more new, unique content for more keywords).
- Widen the Scope for Category & Home Pages: The only caveat to a long-tail keyword focus is that it only works for product pages. Most likely, you’ll have a number of category (and sub-category) pages in addition to your home page (which are not ideal for long-tail keywords). For these pages, you want to target people earlier in the buying cycle…people who are searching for product “types,” for example. If your website is an online guitar store, then you’ll most likely be selling electric guitars, acoustic guitars, guitar amps, guitar pedals, and more. These “category pages” will need to be optimized for more general phrases (i.e. – “custom electric guitars”).
- Use Industry Jargon & Buzz Words: When discovering keywords, use industry buzz words to find even more ideas. For example, “boutique amps” is not a phrase you would have found if you searched for “guitar amps” in the various keyword tools.
- Compare with Competitors: What keywords are competing websites (who already rank for keywords you newly discovered) focusing on already? Learn from them.
- Analyze Keywords in Google Analytics: If you’re website is already live and driving traffic from Google, then what are your current top keywords according to Google Analytics? Is there more opportunity to rank higher, or find related keywords that you’re currently not ranking for? Make the most of what you already have coming in before building new pages to target additional keywords.
- Focus on 1-3 related keywords per page. The more keywords you focus on, the less likely a search engine will know exactly what your page is about. Ideally, you’ll build a page for every major keyword (or very small group of keyword variations) in order to align a page with every keyword in the eyes of search engines.
- Avoid targeting trademark terms in your list of keywords. You’ll risk a potential legal battle if you do.
- Use variations of your keyword within your body content and meta-tags. Consider singular/plural usage, synonyms, and hyphenated versions while keeping the content easily readable. You can also be creative and find ways to employ misspellings. Be creative…there’s always a way (and you’ll gain some extra traffic from searchers who never did will in the grade school spelling bee).
- Embed descriptive copy around your primary keywords to increase the chance of gaining even more long-tail keyword traffic. For example, if you were optimizing a sub-category webpage for “boutique guitar amps,” you could consider using a phrase like “affordable boutique guitar amps” or “best boutique guitar amps” into the body content in order to gain some extra traffic from potential customers searching for exactly that.
- Use action words like “buy” or “download” to attract potential customers who are action-minded.
- If you’re a local business, look for geographical long-tail keywords such as “Denver acoustic guitar store” in order to target your exact customer. This way, you’ll be able to attract your ideal potential customer (a local Denver guitarist looking for a guitar store in the Denver area).
Additional Keyword Optimization Tips
- With a #1 ranking in Google, expect to receive 30-50% of the estimated search traffic for a particular keyword/keyword phrase. The #1 ranking can receive up to half of all user clicks (average of @ 36% according to Optify). However, we must also realize that keyword tools only deliver search volume estimations.
- Dig deeper into your chosen keywords by re-running them back into the keyword research tools you are using. Also consider vertical search websites like Wikipedia, About.com, etc.
- Google Adwords keyword tool: Use it >>
- When using the Adwords tool, don’t dismiss keywords with high competition. This competition is for competing Adwords advertisers, and may not necessarily mean that there is too much organic competition to rank for. However, it does suggest that this particular keyword is highly profitable.
- Widen the scope of your niche keyword research by using the “broad match” feature when re-running your chose keywords into the tool.
- Place the top 10 website URLs already ranking for your chosen keyword into the “website content” section of the tool to discover more keywords
- Google Trends keyword tool: Use it >>
- Dig deeper into keywords by region by using the geographic data to develop body content ideas for consumer-targeting
- Type in the domain name of a competing website in order to find additional keywords that their visitors searched for
- Additional keyword tools: