Do you know what keywords people use when they are searching for your product or service?
Let’s start with the basics and talk about what a keyword is and why it’s important.
Keyword(s) = the words or terms that a person enters into the search box when they are looking for something on the internet or on a website.
For the purpose of this article,we’re going to focus on keyword research as it relates to optimizing the content of a website or blog for search engines.
Wait a minute – strike that, that made it sound like content is written for search engines and not people. Let me re-phrase. For the purpose of this article we’re going to focus on how to optimize the content that has been written for your target audience by finding and using the right keywords.
We all want more traffic to our website and with billions of pages of content on-line we’re all also trying to figure out how to rise above the competition and stand out on the search engine results pages (SERPs). And every time you turn around, there’s another post, tweet, or article about the importance of content when it comes to search engine optimization.
Before you dive into writing content, take a few minutes to validate your basic assumptions about the keywords you believe your potential customers are using in their searches.
Start the process at www.google.com and enter one of the keywords you think someone searching for your business or organization would use.
Google personalizes results base on individual search behavior, so it’s a good idea to turn off personalization settings in your search profile to get a better idea of what the landscape looks like.
What are the related organic results for your product or service?
Let’s say you sell paper tablets and since that’s the term everyone in the industry uses, everyone is certain that customers do as well.
If you do a search on the word tablet; the search results are dominated by Nooks, Kindles, iPads, and other electronic devices.
You quickly know that “tablet” would not be a good keyword for you to include in your content and you won’t waste any time on something that will not generate good results.
So, now what? Where do you go from here?
First let’s explore a couple of free keyword tools that you can use to do your research.
Google Trends – this is a great place to start. A few of the features are:
- The keyword data comes directly from Google
- Google Trends explores keywords that are on a rising trend
- The tool allows you to spot seasonal demand
- You can compare multiple keywords and get instant charts comparing many different keywords
Continuing on with the paper tablet example, I started with the keyword “paper tablet” and added “paper notebook”
It looks like paper notebook has a higher level of interest over time as compared to paper notebook.
Google Trends also gives you insight into related terms. You’ll want to jot these down before you move on with your research. These related terms could prove to be valuable keyword phrases for your business.
In addition to interest level and trends, you can:
- Explore regional interest for each of the words you entered
- Examine seasonal trends
- Review future trends based on past behavior
Now that you’ve identified some phrases that look promising, let’s move on to the second keyword research tool that you’ll want to consider using, which is Google AdWords. Google AdWords has a keyword research tool that you can use for finding the right terms for both paid and natural search campaigns.
First you’ll want to set up an AdWords account. You can use the tool without having a Google Account, but you’ll get more functionality if you sign in.
Google Adwords Keyword Research Tool includes the following features:
- Shows related terms for the keywords you entered
- Displays search volume in a variety of ways
- Provides an export function so you can work with the information in a spreadsheet
- Shows how popular a keyword is with your competitors
Google displays a list of the top keywords that include the keywords you entered.
They’re sorted by relevance and include useful information about trends for each term. For now let’s focus on creating a list of keywords.
Go through the list with one question in mind, “Would a person searching on this term be a potential customer?” and make a “yes” or potential keyword list and a “no” or negative keyword list.
How to use “negative keywords” will be discussed in a later post.
You’ve just created a list of keywords that you can incorporate into your content and help prospective customers find your website.
In addition to the keyword research tool within your AdWords account, don’t forget about Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as resources for keyword research.
Once you’ve finished your list, narrow it down to 5 or 6 phrases that you want to focus on to begin with.
Tips for incorporating the keywords in your content:
- Focus on one primary keyword phrase per page
- Write for people first and fit the keywords into the copy naturally – if it doesn’t fit, don’t force it
- Include the keyword phrase in the title, meta description, and body of the copy (including the headlines)
- Position the keyword phrase as close to the beginning of the title, meta description and opening paragraph
- Incorporate the keyword at least once in the beginning, middle, and end of the content
- Use the keyword as the link text – (do this prudently, not every link on your site should be a keyword
We’ve just barely skimmed the surface when it comes to keyword research and writing content.
Learn more about how to find and use the right keywords in our upcoming Essentials SEO Workshop.