Keyword research is the process of discovering the search terms people type into search engines and it’s an integral part of any internet marketing strategy.
People browse the internet to either look for information or buy a product or service. Business owners are obviously more interested in the second group and are trying to lure those buyers to come to their website and make the purchase with them.
Proper keyword research and selection is crucial to website’s success. Thus, marketers and website owners alike have one priority in common and that is targeting the right kind of traffic via the right key phrases.
Targeting Long-Tail Keywords
Many concentrate on popular key phrases their sites have a little chance of dominating if chosen alone. Long-tail keywords are just as important, yet are still overlooked by many website owners. You will need both long-tail and targeted keywords to rank well for SEO.
Long-tail keywords are phrases made from very specific words. For example, “how to refinance a mortgage” is a long-tail keyword.
Because there are more words, there is less search traffic for those keywords. Such keywords are cheaper to buy for PPC advertising but they can also provide a highly targeted traffic to your website. Long-tail keyword users are usually further along in the buying cycle, resulting in higher conversions.
Depending on what you sell, it is important to include geographic locations in your keyword research. For example, “NJ roofing repair” or “Boulder bookstore” all provide important qualifiers for local products and services.
Localized search has been steadily gaining traction and has become an important part of every marketing strategy these days. Google especially started paying lots of attention to local businesses and this is something that every business should utilize.
Creating Your List
A common misconceptions about keywords is the belief that you already know which terms a customer would use to find your site. While you may know what your site is about and how you would find it, it’s difficult to predict how a paying customer would go about looking for it.
Start with a handful of potential keywords you think your customers use to search for you online. Put your proposed keywords into a keyword search tool, such as Wordtracker, Google AdWords or Wordstreem to name a few, and you’ll discover lots of useful information that will help you determine the best key phrases for your campaign:
- how many users are conducting searches for that terms on a daily basis,
- how many of those searches are converting to sales,
- how many other sites are competing for the same keyword.
- are there any synonyms you may not have thought of but which could prove very valuable
Armed with that information you now can start selecting key phrases you think will be most fruitful.
Finalizing Your List
Start by analyzing the competitive nature of your keywords. You can use Yahoo Site Explorer to easily look up your competition: how many backlinks they have & how many pages they have indexed. This will tell you how strong are those websites’ rankings and gauge how hard it may be to try to outrank them.
Create a spreadsheet that will allow you to see each phrase’s conversion rate, search volume and competition rate. Then start narrowing the list down by calculating how viable each term is for your campaign.
Focus on keywords that most closely target the subject and theme of your website. Delete any words that are irrelevant or can’t be supported by your website’s content. Create a mix of long-tail and targeted keywords to better your chances of ranking well for SEO and convert with PPC.
Once you have a list of about 20 best keywords, it’s time to incorporate them into your website. Start by looking at your content and how well does it reflect your selected phrases. You will most likely need to optimize your existing content and possibly add new pages to support new keywords. Work your keywords into your pages naturally to avoid looking spammy.
Don’t forget about crucial SEO factors such as title tags, meta description tags, anchor text, headings, etc., to fully optimize your website for the selected keywords.
Each page should be optimized for 3-4 keywords – any more than that and you’ll be diluting the effect.
Your initial keyword research is completed. Unfortunately this is not a set it and forget it job. It’s important to keep monitoring your keywords and make tweaks as necessary. Doing so will allow you to stay ahead of your competition and keep moving forward.
What did you think? Do you have anything to add? What’s your most and least favorite part about keyword research? Please share your experiences in comments below.