Keywords are the search terms that target customers typically use in search engines to find the service or product being offered on the website. Hence, the first and the most crucial step for optimizing a website is to research and define the best keywords.
Let’s use an example to illustrate the importance of selecting the right keywords on your website. In this example, the website we need to optimize offers wigs for women. It makes sense to optimize this website for “women’s wigs”. Yet, a quick keyword analysis reveals that target customers rarely type “women’s wigs” in the search engine. The popular search term used by target customers in this industry is rather “wigs for women”. So, which keyword are you going to optimize your website for? Obviously, “wigs for women”.
Another point to note is: an effective keyword research campaign will soon reveal that user habits via the search engines can vary dramatically. Therefore, we can not assume that a certain keyword is the most popular strictly because it is, “What I would use”. Also, it is better practice to create a list of keywords many people use as opposed to focusing on one or two keywords people generally use. It will help to spread the keyword reach.
How to do Keyword Research?
- The first step is research and creating a list of potential keywords. Various methods and ways to build the list of search terms are:
- Discuss the likely search phrases used by your customers or ask customers directly if possible.
- List all the keywords your competitors are using on their websites.
- Discuss the likely search phrases used by your colleagues and friends.
- Study the log for current traffic to your website and list all the keywords that brought traffic to your website.
- Refer Thesaurus.
- List all your primary products and services offered on the website.
- If your website sells branded products and services then list all the brand names. For example, if you sell designer shoes all the designer names should be in the list along with the product name such as “Michael Kors Shoes”.
- The second step is using one of the available keyword selector tools to analyze each and every keyword in your list. You might want to use any of the following keyword analyzer tools:
Overture Keyword Selecter Tool (available for free)
Wordtracker (costs money)
Type all the keywords from your list one by one in the keyword suggestion tool of your choice. It will inform you about how much traffic a particular search term generates. Also, it provides similar search terms used by target customers. Using this, you may expand and condense your list of keywords.
Please note that the numbers provided with any of these tools are not 100% accurate. If you do not see results for a specific search term this does not necessarily mean nobody has searched for that term. True search numbers are not given out by the major search engines. So take these numbers you do see with a grain of salt. Use the tool as a reference only.
How to Select Keywords?
Now, the final stage is to decide which keywords to target from the list of researched search terms. My suggestion is to consider the level of competition for these phrases. It may be more worthwhile (lead to the same levels of traffic) to concentrate on scoring highly for three less popular search phrases than on one highly popular search phrase, if there is heavy competition for the most popular phrases and reaching the top for these is less likely. Ryan McCann has explained "How to Determine Keyword Competition?". Also, you need to decide how many keywords to target. Once again, I haven’t found a better answer for this question other than that provided by Ryan McCann. So, I suggest you to read "How Many Keywords Should You Target?" by Ryan McCann.