Today we’d like to talk to you about keyword research. It’s an essential ingredient in the SEO stew. However, optimizing your website for the right keywords is a sensitive process. Choose the wrong terms, and you’ll waste your opportunity for more traffic and sales. We don’t want this to happen to our readers, so we thought we’d share some advice. If you’re new to search engine optimization and need some tips on getting started with SEO keyword research, start by reading the “Basic” section below.
So you run a business, and you’ve become aware of that crazy SEO stuff. They say it can get your website to the top of Google and bring a lot of traffic to your virtual door (and increase your sales!). Now you want to have your website optimized for search terms (or “keywords”) that are relevant to your field. That’s a pretty savvy decision, but how do you pick the right keywords? The possibilities seem endless! Well, there are a few criteria that you want to keep in mind.
Relevancy is highly important when choosing keywords. You could aim to target keywords that garner the most searches, but what’s the point of getting a lot of traffic if none of it is targeted? Make sure the people who visit your site actually want to be there by optimizing for terms that are relevant to your field.
• Search volume
You’re an expert in your field. You know its ins and outs, and you have a wealth of potential terms in your head that you’d like to show up in Google for. That’s great, but you have to be sure that you’re on the same page as the audience you’re targeting. Don’t assume that a particular term or phrase in your field will make for a great keyword — research it!
SEO keyword research is easy to do. Do a Google search for the Google Adwords Keyword Tool or follow our link. It happens to be free to use. You just enter in a search term that you think might be a popular and relevant term, and you’ll see the data laid out in front of you. Be sure to focus on Local searches only (unless you’re targeting internationally).
• Location, location, location…
Here’s a hypothetical: You own a shoe store in Chicago, Illinois. You have a website that promotes your business. You want to optimize your website for relevant keywords. You could choose terms like “shoe store,” an undoubtedly heavily searched term, but keep in mind that by choosing such a broad term, you’re competing with everyone in the world who’s targeting “shoe store” for their website. Would you even benefit if someone in New Hampshire or New Dehli happens to see your website appear in Google for this term? No. They would move onto a different result that’s local.
Therefore, if you run a business, and you’re operating out of a specific area, target keywords that incorporate that location! The amount of searches for a term based in a particular city or state won’t be as high as a broad, non-GEO term, but you can be sure that the traffic it attracts will be much more targeted.
Congratulations! You already know your stuff, so that means you can skip on over to this section and get started on some advanced keyword research action.
To kick things off, we want to blow your mind a bit. Here it goes: You can’t really trust the data you get from the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. How do we know? Try comparing the search volumes shown when you’re logged into your account vs. when you’re logged out. It changes completely. Yeah, we’re sorry to break it to you, but someone had to tell you sooner or later.
Okay, so the sky has fallen, and everything you knew about SEO is a lie. What now? Well, you keep using that Google Keywords tool, but you mix in various other methods and tools for the best results.
• For starters, you can also try using the SEOmoz PRO Keyword Difficulty Tool. Sure, you have to pay money to be a PRO member, but it’ll help you determine which keywords are worth pursuing and which aren’t in a way that the Google Keyword Tool can’t.
• Not satisfied with the crappy keyword suggestions you’re getting from Google? Try using instant search — just enter a term into the standard Google search bar, and you’ll get some related terms that way. You can also try ubersuggest.org for more ideas.
• Google Trends! Enter a keyword in and get a performance history pertaining to search volume. This will help you focus more on keywords that are on the rise and less on keywords that are in a slump.
• Lastly, try searching for a term in Google. How many results appear? If you’re seeing pages by the million, maybe you should consider targeting a term that shows fewer results (i.e. less competition).
So there you have it. A solid list of SEO keyword research suggestions. Have more to add? Please feel free to comment below or contact us by email to share your insights and/or questions.