Keyword Research

Learn why Keyword Research is the Basis of Your Overall Search Engine Optimization Process

Keyword research is a process of finding and selecting the most appropriate keywords and keyphrases that people type in search engines to find web sites similar to yours. You may have spent lots of time on developing your website. You may have even gained top rankings, but all your hard work will result in a big waste if you target the wrong keywords.

In order to find and select the most relevant keywords for your business, you have to define your target market first. Knowing who your potential clients and customers are can determine the success of your overall search engine optimization campaign. Therefore, the first step in your keyword research process is identifying your target market and researching what keywords and keyphrases people are using to find your competitors’ sites.

The whole keyword research process consists of several stages:

  • Discovering Keywords
    Focuses on identifying various keywords and keyphrases that are related to your target market.
  • Keyword Research Tools
    Help you in a process of discovering what keywords people use to find your competitors' sites.
  • Less Competitive Keywords
    Involves selection of more specific keywords that people are searching for.
  • Competition Analysis
    Includes a little research on search engines for your selected keywords.
  • Keyword Usage
    Concentrates on using the most appropriate keywords in your web site, HTML, visual text.

If you follow each stage carefully, you'll soon have targeted and ready-to-buy prospects scanning your web site 24 hours a day.

Discovering Keywords

Discovering keywords should focus on identifying as many keywords that are related to your web site and target market as possible. You should create about 20 primary keywords that are tightly targeted on your business.

A good idea would be making a list of initial keywords. Think of the keywords that people would type in search engines to find your web site. Write them all down. You should make a list of about 20 initial keywords that perfectly represent the theme of your site. If you're lack of ideas go to your competitors' sites and look at the keywords they're targeting.

Another option is to use free Google's service - Google Adwords Keyword Tool. This free tool can help you get ideas for your new keywords. It was designed to improve your ad relevance when running an Adwords campaign, but it can certainly help you in this keyword research process by giving some variations of the keywords you enter.

Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research tools help you discover the most relevant keywords that are focused on the theme of your web site. They give you a list of various terms that include your searched term. These tools will help you to find out how many times people were searching for particular keyword (if it was searched at all) and choose the most appropriate keywords for your website.

Two most widely used keyword research tools are Wordtracker and Yahoo. These tools not only give you the ability to find out what people are actually searching for on the major search engines, but also show you how popular your term is by giving you the number of searches done in the past 1 or 2 months.

Free Yahoo's Search Term Suggestion Tool (no longer available)

Using Yahoo search term suggestion tool is very easy. Enter a keyword or keyphrase from your initial keyword list and press a button. The results will show your entered keyword (if it was searched that month) and other related keywords that include your keyword. It will also show you the number of times your term and its variation were searched on recent month in order of their popularity.

Yahoo search term suggestion tool was basically designed for PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns and should give information to advertisers about keyword popularity, but it provides fairly good results for keyword researchers as well.

Wordtracker

Wordtracker is similar to Yahoo's tool, but it offers much more features. It is one of the best keyword research tools available on the internet. Wordtracker has a database of hundreds of millions of queries compiled from top metacrawlers, so you can see what people are actually searching on major search engines.

Contrary to Yahoo's tool, it shows misspellings of the words and also returns singular, plural, lowercase, uppercase and capitalized search queries.

Competition search allows you to find out how many web pages exist on different search engines for the search terms you enter. This is extremely useful feature. It not only gives you keywords that have less competition, but also helps you discover profitable niches in the search engines.

Wordtracker is a fee-based service, but it offers a free trial, which will not give all the features you could get with full version, but it'll give you some benefits. If you're serious internet marketer and want to stay ahead of your competitors, Wordtracker is an invaluable tool that you simply must have.

Less Competitive Keywords

When you are choosing your keywords, using Yahoo or Wordtracker, try to select more specific ones. Try to start with basic keywords and then narrow your terms to those, which contain more words. Studies have shown that people are becoming smarter and they search for one or two word phrases more seldom. Savvy surfers use more complex (3, 4 or 5) word phrases in their searches.

Therefore, you should select more targeted keywords and keyphrases. Let's say you have a SEO company. So you should start with the keywords like these:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Search Engine Optimization Company
  • Web Site Search Engine Optimization Company

The first keyphrase is very basic. It will probably have a lot of competition on search engines, so you should select latter ones, which not only have less competition on search engines, but also will produce better conversion rates. The more specific phrases you choose the more targeted visitors you'll get. That means that visitors will be more likely to buy your products or services.

Your location also matters when you are doing keyword research. Assuming that you have a SEO company as in the example above, you should use the name of your location in your main keywords (country, state, city or region). For example:

  • Search Engine Optimization Canada
  • California Search Engine Optimization Company

This can be very important, especially if you sell products or services locally. You should check if people are searching for your keywords in the area where your company is located and use those keywords in your website.

Competition Analysis

After you've done your keyword research and selected the most appropriate keywords for your business, it's time for a competition analysis. Analyzing competition is relatively easy. All you have to do is go to search engines and type your selected keywords in a search field. The results will show you what competition is waiting for you in major search engines.

For example, you may have chosen a keyword "web site design", but you'll see that there are millions of results on Google by that keyword. The competition is too big. Therefore, you should choose less competitive keywords, like "small business web site design" or "web site design and marketing" in order to gain better rankings and more targeted visitors.

Keyword Usage

If you have done your competition analysis and have selected your final keywords, it's time to use them on your web pages. A good idea would be using no more than 3 or 4 keywords per web page. This way ensures that you're targeting more specific theme and it will be easier to rank higher for those keywords.

You should include your selected keywords in these areas of your web pages:

  • Title Tag
    Your title should contain no more than 60 characters and keyword density should be about 30%.

  • Meta Description Tag
    Should contain less than 30 words. You should use your main keyword once or twice in description tag.

  • Meta Keyword Tag
    Should contain less than 140 characters. Repeat your keywords here 2 or 3 times maximum.

  • Headlines
    Use your main keywords in the headlines of your web pages. It will help people determine what your page is about and help you rank better.

  • Title Attributes
    These are part of the hyperlink and tell people what the landing web page is about. Be sure to include your keywords there too.

  • Anchor Text
    Anchor text are the words that you see in the hyperlink. Search engines give some weight on anchor text. You should include the keywords of a landing page in anchor text.

  • File Names
    Include your important keywords in file names as well. For example "your-keyword.html" or "three-main-keywords.php".

You should use your main keywords more often at the top and bottom, of your web page. But be careful and do not over-optimize your pages, because search engines may consider this as spam and ban your site for a long time. Make sure that the text is still readable.

In Conclusion

Keyword research is integral and extremely important part of your overall search engine optimization process. It determines the success and failure of your internet business.

  • Target the wrong keywords and you're doomed. You won't receive relevant traffic or you will receive no traffic at all.
  • Target the right keywords and you'll get tons of quality prospects who will buy your products, services or anything else you have to offer.

Remember that a thorough keyword research will not only help you to bring targeted traffic to your web site and increase your sales tremendously. It will also help your visitors and search engines. Your prospects will appreciate you for providing the information they were looking for. Search engines, in turn, will reward you with high rankings for providing quality and useful information to the surfers.