What are keywords?

Keywords are the search terms that you type into a search engine whenever you want to do a search. They can be a single word or a number of words, depending on what you are looking for.

How to discover your keyword!

The best way to discover the best keywords for your website is to go through each page individually and write down the keywords that you would use to find that page. Try to be as creative as possible don’t just stick to the obvious try to think out of the box. Try to think of phases rather than just one or two words as the more specific you can be the easier it is to target your customers.

The next step is to ask / bribe your friends, family, collogues, neighbors kids, in fact anyone you can possibly get, to do the same.

Take all the keyword suggestions and add them into a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel, this will allow you to filter your keywords to display them in a number of ways.

How to rank your keywords competitiveness!

By now you should have a long list of keywords / phrases but unless you have a huge website you will need to cut the list down to a more manageable size. But which keywords keep and which do you discard? That is where working out how often a keyword / phrase is searched for and how competitive it is.

By competitive I mean how many web pages in the search engines databases have some level of optimization for that keyword / phrase match.

People often assume that by entering their keyword/s into a search engine and hitting enter, they will get an idea as to the competitiveness of their keyword. This is not they case what they are seeing is the number of pages the search engine holds that include the words they have entered.

If you enter the term “search engine spam” – without the quotes into Google, it returns 34,500,000 results.

What you are getting is the number of pages that have search, engine or spam appearing at some point on them.

If you place quotes round the words the results returned are 206,000, considerably less than the near 35 million initially returned, but still a considerable number of pages.

In using the quotes the search engine returns only pages that have the exact phrase “search engine spam” within them.

In order to get a better picture of how competitive a keyword / phrase is we need to see who has some level of optimization on their page.  We can do this by adding a search modifier, in this case the modifier “intitle” which instructs the search engine to return only those pages that contain the term “search engine spam” within its Title tag.

You can now see that the true competition for that term is a much more manageable 12,300.

Now you need to know who is searching for your keywords.

So now we have the first part of the equation, the number of other pages that target your keywords. Now we have to determine the number of people looking for them, as there is no point optimizing a page for a term that no-one is searching for.

Google helpfully provides a tool for this within Adwords, so you will need an Adwords account to use it, but there is no cost for setting one up.

If you enter your keywords into the search box one at a time Google will give you list of related search terms, and the number of searches done globally and in your region for each term.

This may be a good time for a warning. The search numbers that Google uses are “broad match”, which means they will include related searches. For example the search “foam party” would include searches for “beach foam party”, “UV foam party” etc. in the results. The good thing though is that it applies it to all the searches, so it is fare across the board – just be aware the figures are inflated.

If you look at the example above Google has the total number of local monthly searches for “foam party” listed as 9,900, which would equate to 325 searches a day. I know this can’t be correct, as I have access to the analytics from one of the site in the top three.

One useful feature of the Google keyword tool is that it can suggest other related keywords and phrase that you may not have thought of so make sure that you go down the list and add any promising ones to your keyword list.

Putting it all together to create a master keyword list.

You should no have a spreadsheet of keywords that looks something like this, only a whole lot longer:

I would suggest that you put any keywords that have over 1,000 pages to one side and concentrate on the ones with less competition. If any of them are essential to your business, you can of course use them but I would suggest that you have them as secondary keywords – which I will explain in detail in the copywriting part.

The term “pet supplies” may have 1,588 searches per day but the chances of ranking where someone will find you when there are over 22 million pages optimized for that phrase, – lets just say you would stand a better chance of winning the lottery.

Looking down the list “care pet shop”, “UK dog supplies” and “pet shop fish” are all good candidates with healthy search numbers and are reasonably competitive.

If you want to speed things up a bit, you may want to take out a short-term subscription to a service like Wordtracker or KeywordDiscovery. Both of these services have a free trial period and can analyze your keywords for competition and search traffic, as well as suggesting other associated words and phrases.

That pretty much sums up the keyword research process, please feel free to ask any questions. Next time I will be looking at how to choose the best key words for each page and how to write engaging copy while incorporating your keywords.

Beginners Guide to SEO (Part 1)