Get the keyword research right and you can build a solid foundation for your website. Keywords can help to expand your business into new opportunities and give you great marketing ideas. Selecting the right keywords will ensure your customers can find your website. But, the real challenge to keyword research is not about compiling a list of words which generally sum up your business; you want to focus on finding the right keywords: the ones that will bring the quality traffic which converts into sales.
#1 Keyword research is important because:
- Exposure in search engines, ranking well will generate more sales.
- Understanding what your customers are searching for will help you to provide a better service to meet these needs
- Having a clear picture of your competition and knowing which keywords you can realistically compete for, knowing what is achievable on your budget
Keyword research can improve your business:
- Article title suggestions
- Relevant site content
- Add on services to offer
- Cross products you can sell
- Free download or ebook suggestion
- A viral marketing campaign
#2 Brainstorm a raw list of keywords
Sit down and rattle out as many words and phrases you can think of that describe your business/product/service. Think about what you offer and who your demographic is and why customer come to you: do they come to buy, for advice, to fix a problem?
- Use a thesaurus
- Put yourself in your customers shoes and think about the language they use
- Also consider any colloquial spellings
Think of common search prefixes and suffixes such as:
- Best of [keyword/phrase]
- How to [keyword/phrase]
- [keyword/phrase] reviewed
- Buy [keyword/phrase]
#3 Google Suggestion in the search box
Try the google suggestion tool which appears when you type a keyword into the search box. This is a very powerful tool from google and really changed things when it was introduced. The suggestions are the top search matches to your keyword and will give you more ideas to add to your raw list.
#4 Free Google Keyword tool
The Google Keyword Tool is an awesome research assistant and has kicked the backside of many paid for keyword tools. This tool is enough for most people, unless you are an internet affiliate marketer and doing extensive research you just don’t need to spend money.
Enter each search term/word into the box on a new line (you can import excel data for long lists)
The [exact] box on the left needs to be checked to ensure you get back results that are exact to what people are searching for
Location is important to consider: depending on your business; for worldwide online sales (look at global sales) or a local bricks and mortar (look at your local sales). It is always good to keep an eye on the global searches so you can see what trends are out there.
#5 Conducting competitor analysis
An essential part of any marketing plan is keeping an eye on what your competitor is doing, always keep them close! This is a constant process you must go through on a regular basis to stay one step ahead. Start out by typing your keyword you want to analyse into google and see who the top competitors are, depending on how in depth you want to go top three, five or ten should be dissected.
Go to Alexa and type in their url to get a breakdown; the vital information needed:
- Number of backlinks to site
- Domain age
- Number of pages indexed
The reason for this stage is to get an idea of how difficult the keyword will be to rank for based on how tough the competition is. Some keywords will be a huge commitment of time and money to compete against so you need to question if you have the resources to do this.
#6 Start to select your keyword list
The next step is one of the most time consuming stages; it can’t really be rationalised so you need intuition and creativity to start to select your keywords to go for. What you need to start focusing on are the buying keywords. A lot of companies make the mistake of chasing any keyword that seems relevant to their business. They don’t consider the traffic it brings and if it converts or not. Then when they have achieved high ranking scores for a bunch of useless keywords they wonder why sales still don’t seem to be improving. It’s not just inexperienced businesses that make this mistake, there are plenty of so called SEO experts out there promising to get you first slot google rankings without really considering what they are ranking for. Good SEO’s are hard to find as it has become an industry full of people who don’t have enough experience to really know what they are doing.
To be a great keyword researcher you have to find the phrases that bring in the quality traffic ready to buy. Window shoppers or tire kickers are just traffic fluff, they might make your stats look good but what is the point of inflated traffic if you don’t make money? Always look for the keywords that bring in the relevant traffic with money.
High traffic is just vanity; relevant traffic is king
Look at the google list below and consider:
- Which of these phrases would somebody who wants to buy be using
- The search volume: between 2 and 20,000 are levels where it is easy but worthwhile to rank for
- CPC: use this to asses what money is being spent on a keyword. Guaranteed your competitors will only be bidding highly for words that convert
- Yellow highlight: this looks like a decent keyword at first call
- Pink highlight: but this is a better keyword if you consider the reasonable level of traffic yet higher CPC
#7 Using Google trends
Google Trends is a fantastic tool for checking out the market for a particular keyword. Take a look at the visual below:
- You should be looking for a steady or upward incline in the trend (declining trend lines are a declining market). as you can see in the example coffee makers has a steady line with a slight incline
- As highlighted you can change the year and month for specific data
- If you study the line you can see it has spikes at the end of each year: this signifies the peak in sales around Christmas showing that coffee makers are seasonal selling products
- Use information to stay one step ahead: you can be preparing to focus on buy coffee makers for Christmas 2012
#8 Top up your ideas from the free Keyword Tracker Tool
Run your keywords through the free keyword tracker tool to check for any niche phrases you may have missed. Ignore the figures as these are unreliable. Picking out coffee makers 10 best would make a good article title or content page on the site.
#9 How to apply your keywords on your website
Once you have your list only focus on one/two phrases per page. On every page keywords should be consistently applied to:
- Meta Titles
- Meta Tags
- Meta Description
- Anchor Text
- Alt Tags
Every page needs a H1 tag at the top: use your keywords in this and in subheadings through the page. Aim to repeat the keyword three times, tests show that more has no impact.
Keyword density is not relevant today: think reader quality not keyword stuffed.
#10 Keyword tools worth spending money on
If you do want to take your keyword research to the next level the tools I would recommend:
Google has upped its game the last few years and the Google Keyword Tool in combination with Google Trends is the the best keyword tool for the job. With the exception of affiliate marketer who are constantly on the look out for hot niche keywords and want to reduce the hours spent on competitor analysis I wouldn’t recommend spending money on tools.
Keyword research is partly a creative process and it starts with really knowing your own industry; with good research and time spent analysing your keyword list you will get the best results.