Simply stated, a keyword (or keyword phrase) is one or multiple words that someone using the internet uses to search for something. With so many websites on the World Wide Web, keywords help search engines match users with content that is relevant to what they are looking for. The more relevant that a search engine deems a particular site or page, the higher up in the search results it will be. Search ranking matters because research indicates that searchers don’t tend to look past the first page results.
What does all of this mean? If a person or company does business online in any way, this means that it’s in their best interest to understand how keywords work and how to make keywords work to bring them more traffic and, ultimately, more business. Achieving this goal starts with knowing how to conduct basic keyword research.
Five Steps To Basic Keyword Research
If a business owner remembers nothing else about keyword research, they need to remember this: researching and selecting keywords is not about attracting the most visitors, but about attracting the right visitors. The ultimate goal of keyword research is to end up with keywords that are the most relevant to what visitors and buyers want. Here are five steps to making sure that happens:
- Think from the perspective of a potential client or buyer and come up with a list of search terms that one might use to find the company website.
- Go to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and enter the list of search terms. This tool will return relevant keywords that users have actually searched for and show how many users search for the term each month.
- Select the twenty keywords with the highest monthly search volume.
- Go to the main Google search engine and enter each of the keywords into the search engine to perform a search. Perform one search per keyword. Take note of how many results come up for each keyword. This will give an indication of keyword difficulty.
- Select five to ten keywords from the list of twenty that have the highest search volume and the lowest competition. This will help business owners target keywords that lots of people search for that other business websites don’t already dominate the search results for.
How To Assess Keyword Value & Choose The Best Ones
While the above steps will get a business or website owner a few relevant keywords, it’s important to dig a little deeper to figure out which keywords will really bring in buyers or new clients into a business. In order to do that, it’s vital to assess the value of a keyword before targeting it on the website. Consider the following tips that can help website and company owners figure out which keywords are likely to bring the most return on their time investment:
- Search for the keyword and take note of whether or not there are paid search ads present on the search engine results page. If one or more companies is paying to have their ads show up when a particular term is searched for, then it is likely high-value and probably brings in customers. Otherwise, companies would probably not be spending their precious marketing dollars on it.
- Longer keyword phrases that are highly targeted to the user are formally known as “long tail keywords”. Many marketers find that these search terms have higher value than shorter, more general keywords because the potential buyer or client is looking for something specific instead of just browsing. Therefore, some believe that they are probably more ready to buy. Keyword phrases like “children’s red leather t-strap shoes” are likely to produce more paying customers than keywords like “red shoes”.
Some Things To Keep In Mind About Keyword Research
Take note of the following, as it will help business owners on their quest for the perfect SEO keywords:
- Recognize that picking SEO Keywords is both an art and a science. While research can provide a lot of information, it’s also vital to remember that web search is often a subjective process and depends highly on what the user is thinking when they enter the search term. In some cases, phrases that are deemed as “buyer keywords” by an SEO expert may very well not turn out to be so according to a business owner’s own trial and error.
- It’s also important to remember that keywords are not the only things that matter in search engine optimization. Search engines also care about how many backlinks a site has (where other sites have linked to it) as well as how relevant those liked sites are. Google and other search engines use a computer generated formula called an “algorithm” that takes a number of factors into consideration when deciding how to display search results for a certain keyword. While keywords are important, there are other aspects that come into play as well.
- Keywords and SEO are ever-changing fields. Search engines will change algorithms. Customers and industries will evolve. Business and website owners need to make sure that they are able to keep up with all of the changes. If they don’t, their website could disappear from the search engine results (literally) overnight, never to be seen by another potential customer.
- When targeting keywords in content, it’s important to beware of using tactics “keyword stuffing”. Don’t simply use keywords as much as possible just for the sake of it. This will not help a website’s ranking and, in fact, may very well hurt search engine rankings since Google has tools to help them recognize when a site is doing this.
In light of all of the advice available out there about keywords, it’s always important to remember that keyword selection is all about what matters to potential clients and customers. When business owners and marketers strive to understand them and their needs a little better, they’ll be much better at knowing which keyword phrases will help them get in front of that audience and compel them to engage.
Sample Keyword Analysis
For those that want to more, below is a sample of a search for the term “Dallas dentist”. Good tools like this will show going rate for advertising in terms of cost-per-click (CPC), the amount a dentist would pay to have a potential customer click on his advertisement. It also gives you the estimates of the monthly search volume of popular terms.
To learn more and get more ideas see this article on MOZ.