Keyword Research – The Five Steps

The Importance of Good Keyword Research in Your Search Engine Optimisation Campaign

Keyword research is a critical aspect of your search engine optimization campaign. If your site is targeting the wrong keywords, the search engines and your customers may never find you, resulting in lost dollars and rankings which don’t assist your business. By targeting the wrong keywords, you could be wasting valuable advertising dollars and wasting time and energy trying to get your website to rank for terms that won’t help your website to be found by users or attract qualified users with serious online commercial intent.

Target keywords are the specific words or phrases that you want your site to rank for and be found when people type these words or phrases into a search engine.

Good keyword research is extremely important in any campaign to rank high within the search engine results pages (SERPs). The more focused your keywords the greater your chances of ranking higher for your site’s specific keywords.

STEPS FOR EFFECTIVE RESEARCH

1. Identify what your specific or target keywords are going to be for your site. This may mean abandoning assumptions as to what words your customers use to find your business.

You may think that you are an expert on the language your customers use to find or describe and locate your business on the internet but when it comes to doing searches on the internet you may be surprised by the words that customers use when describing your business. Create your keyword list, by brainstorming all of the keywords you think a customer would enter into a search box to try to find you on the internet.

This process may include asking your customers as to what words they use to find your business. This includes thinking of phrases which are broad and targeted, buying and research oriented, single and combined. Evaluate your website and ask yourself what your site is hoping to do and what solutions it is offering. Come up with enough words to cover all of the services, goods or information it is offering.

Avoid terms that are too generic such as shoes as these words are going to be very difficult to rank for and will not drive qualified traffic to your site. You need to focus on words which are relevant, but not too frequently used. Have a look at what words your competitors target, and imagine how you can expand on the keyword list they use to refine yours.

2. Use a good keyword research tool, such as google adwords keyword tool, wordtracker or Market Samurai and determine the activity for each of your proposed keywords.

The objective is to confine your keyword list to only include highly attainable, sought after phrases that will attract the most qualified traffic to your site. By using keyword research tools you can enter your proposed keyword list into a keyword research tool, to discover how many users are conducting search queries for that a particular keyword every day, how many of those searches actually covert into sales, and other important metrics. The process of engaging in keyword research may also make you aware of keywords you had overlooked, which never occurred to you or synonyms and related keywords that you were not aware of.

Wordtracker enables searchers to look up popular keyword phrases in order to discern how they are being used by competitors. Their top 1000 report sets out the most frequently searched for terms, and the competition search option yields valuable information to ascertain the competitiveness of each phrase. This is useful for determining how difficult it is going to be to rank for a given keyword, and uncovers hidden keyword gems which may have low competition but high relevancy.

Google Suggest and Google Wonderwheel are great ways to find synonyms and related keyword suggestions that may assist you to expand your original keyword list.

2. Identify and evaluate the competition for these keywords and decide if ranking among them is actually attainable. There will be websites such as insurance.com which have been around so long, and have such high authority, that outranking them is impractical. The process of keyword research is not just to enable you to check the search volume for a particular keyword but also to determine how competitive that phrase is in terms of rankings. The competitive analysis informs you how much effort and time you need to invest in order to rank for a particular keyword. There are two things to bear in mind when making a decision whether to go after a particular keyword; how many other sites are competing for the same word and how strong their rankings are.

3. You need to focus or narrow down your keywords to rank within the competition that is attainable. You have narrowed down your initial list of words and decided which terms will make it into your final keyword list. It is useful to create a spreadsheet so that you can track each keyword’s conversion rate, search volume and competition rate. By having these figures at hand you can then calculate how viable a particular term/s is for your website. In the process of narrowing your list highlight the terms that most closely target the subject and theme of your website, eliminating all words which don’t carry sufficient content to support. You can’t optimize your site for words that you don’t have content for.

It is a good strategy to generate a mixture of both broad and targeted keywords and try to rank well for both. Broad terms are important as they describe what your web site does bu they have a limitation in that they won’t increase the level of qualified traffic that your site attracts.

Imagine you are selling leather boots. It would be intuitive for your site to focus on the broad search term ‘boots’ and ‘leather boots’, these words being significant as they inform the search engine what you do and may attract visitors. However the traffic you acquire will remain unqualified. Customers who come to your website will still be uncertain as to what kind of leather boots you sell, namely flat leather boots, Italian leather boots, stiletto leather boots, vintage leather boots, black leather boots, mens, ladies or childrens’ leather boots. By only targeting broad terms, customers will not know what you are offering at your website until they land at your site.

Targeted terms have the added advantage that they can be relatively easy to rank for and assist bringing you qualified traffic. They will also help you to become established as a subject matter expert to the search engines and enhance your credibility. Targeted terms strengthen the theme which is created by the broader phrases employed. Targeted terms for your leather boots website may be ladies stiletto leather boots, ladies stiletto knee high leather boots, vintage knee high leather boots. Broad search terms such as boots and leather boots will bring you traffic, however what you should be seeking is not just higher levels of traffic but targeted, buying oriented terms which will maximise your online conversions.

4. After finalising your list of about 10-20 highly focused keywords you should already find that some of the words are contained within your site’s content if you have already established your website content. Start planning how many pages you will need to create to support these new words and how and where your keyword phrases and terms will be positioned.

It is probably wise to only go after three or four related keywords per page balancing their use as you want the words to naturally work into your content without undue repetition. Your page content is not the only place where you can use your keywords as they can also be used in several other elements on your website. Your keywords can be used in the Title Tag, Headings, Alt Text, Anchor Text and Navigation links.

5. Rinse your keywords and repeat the process above.

You may think that your keyword research is a thing of the past but keyword research is an ongoing process of monitoring your keywords and refining and tweaking them, according to the results you are achieving to enable you to tweak them so you can exploit the full potential of your keyword strategy.

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  2. Canadian Supreme Court Issues First Ruling on Legality of Keyword Advertising
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