For me, the backbone of any search and social media strategy needs to start with keywords, or search terms. Now, I’m not saying that keyword research is a simple thing to do, but there are ways to reduce the headache and worry that might come if you haven’t done it before. This isn’t a post for you seasoned digital marketers, this is for those of you who are just starting and are unsure where to begin.
Why do I think that keywords are the basis of any digital strategy? Simple. They are the words and phrases, real people, like you and me, put in to search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo! when we want to find specific information, services or products. They’re the first thing people start with on the web when trying to find something. So, it seems to make sense to me that we as digital marketers should be doing the same.
Here are 7 tips in chronological order that I think will make your life a little more simple when researching the keywords that are right for your business:
- Think about the products and services you offer. What kinds of words would you enter in to a search engine if you wanted to find them? Make a list. For instance, you sell shoes, you probably want people to find you when they type in things like “shoes” or “womens shoes” or “mens shoes”, and so on…
- What are the other ways that people might look for the same thing? You might like to get a little more specific here, so things like “high heel shoes”, or “mens dress shoes” or “comfortable shoes” etc.
- When you have your list, there are a number of keyword research tools, or programs that you can use to let you know which words are actually searched on (looked for), and how you can develop on your list. The Google Adwords Keyword Tool is a great place to start for this.
- Once you have a bit of a list, do a few searches in Google for some of the terms you’ve identified. You can then see who is already ranking highly for those terms. Go back in to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and enter their website address. The tool will then crawl their website and come back with another list of all the terms it thinks that website is relevant for.
- You should now have a pretty big list. Aaaaarrrgggghhhh! To start with, order the list by the search volumes around each term (high to low). Whilst you may think that you only want to rank for the terms that have the highest search volumes, these are the one’s that will take the longest, and need the most time, resource and budget to achieve. That’s because they’re the most competitive! So, what you need to do is define a mix of terms from the big keywords (the HEAD terms), and the search phrases that have smaller search volumes (the TAIL terms). The TAIL terms are your low hanging fruit and you have more chance of ranking for these more quickly. Plus, when you do, they’re very targeted so if you have the right content on the website, you have more chance of persuading someone to take the action you desire. There’s more information the “head and tail of search” here. Ideally, you want a nice mix.
- Group the keywords by category. For instance (using the shoes analogy again), you may want to group by gender, size, brand name and so on. Make these reflect the current pages that you have on your website. If you don’t have a relevant page, perhaps you need to start thinking about making one! Now you need to cull to get yourself a manageable list. I’d recommend that you choose only 10-20 to begin with, or 2-3 per page that you want to thread the terms in to.
- Once you’ve defined the keywords you want to rank for, you can use them to start planning your SEO activity, link acquisition work, defining your content strategy and getting to better grips with social media. There will be more information about this soon…
Here are some great tools that you can use for your keyword research:
Google Keyword Tool – For me, the easiest and best tool to use. The only downside is that it only tracks Google search volume (but that’s most of the searches covered!). It’s easy to use too.
WordTracker (in their own words) - Not only will Wordtracker’s Keywords tool save you hundreds of hours on research, it also allows you to dig deep into the ‘long tail’ of keywords. It has been designed specifically to help you find new moneymaking niches. You will be able to find the phrases that your customers are searching for, and your competitors aren’t targeting.
SEOBook (in their own words) – Our Free Keyword Research Tool :
- Offers rough suggested daily search volumes by market for Google, Yahoo!, and MSN.*
- Links the search volumes to the related global search results.
- Provides links to price estimate tools from Google AdWords. That Google AdWords tool shows the necessary bid to rank #1 for 85% of queries, and roughly how much traffic you could expect AdWords to send you based on that bid price and ad position.
- Links to Google Trends, Google Suggest, Google Synonyms, Yahoo! Suggest, and Keyword Discovery keyword research results.
- Links to various vertical databases like Topix.net, Google Blogsearch, and Del.icio.us to let you know if people are talking about your topic and what types of resources they are referencing.
- Is driven off the Wordtracker keyword suggestion tool. If you sign up for a Wordtracker account they offer many additional keyword research features and tools that are lacking in our basic keyword tool.
SEO Moz’s Term Extractor (in their own words) –
This tool analyzes the content of a page and extracts the terms targeted at search engines. Find out what keywords any page on the web is seeking to target/rank for.
Google Suggest – Google Suggest is a great way to see the different variations of terms around a specific keyword that may help you expand your original list.
As I said to begin, this is a much simplified explanation of something that I could write thousands of words about, but I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t help with the headache or the demystification of the subject matter! Hopefully, this will get you started. If you need any further support, information or help with your keyword or search term research, please just get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. We offer training sessions, or can just do the work for you, whatever you’d prefer!