Archive for the ‘keywords’ Category
Phew! You’ve been gathering, measuring and testing keywords like crazy. At last the end is in sight. It’s time to start choosing some targets. But like all things keywords, you need to have your wits about you.
Remember, the keywords and key phrases you choose will become search engine traffic magnets. It’s important to visitors that they get what’s expected when arriving at your website or blog. And that makes context very important indeed.
Let me give you an example. Here in Australia, there’s a brand of beer brewed by Castlemaine Perkins in Queensland. It’s called XXXX (Four Ex). Now apparently a visiting American was surprised to hear a radio ad with the usual XXXX jingle (at the time) “I can feel a four ex coming on”. Because in the USA XXXX is a brand of condom. That’s context and it can make or break your keyword selection.
Finding true meaning (keyword Zen)
Naturally, you want to take advantage of strong keywords with higher traffic and weaker competition. But before you put them in the ‘must have’ basket, take the time to do a few online searches yourself. The results might surprise you.
In the case of one SEO web content job I completed, the service included securing compensation for property compulsorily acquired for government and infrastructure projects like roads. Compensation looked like a really strong keyword contender. Until some check searching revealed most sites discussing the subject were about traffic accident injuries. So it was possible that targeting that keyword alone would cause visitors confusion.
Now, all of this doesn’t necessarily rub out using the compensation keyword. What I did need to achieve though was some context. To do that, it’s critical to be certain about core business offering(s). That way you can build an SEO keyword story.
Quality over quantity
I usually recommend choosing at least one or two keywords for every website page. So 20 if your site is 10 pages, 10 if your site is 5 pages. Not all those SEO targets will get a big outing so you need to nominate:
- Primary keyword targets
- Secondary keyword targets
Primary targets should always be your core business offering. And it’s helpful to have a site-wide winner as well. For example, an accountant may choose tax accountant or business accountant as their global target. Core business offering keywords could include tax return, accounting firm etc.
Secondary targets are for adding context. In the case of our accountant, terms like small business or tax planning add context the primary keyword targets don’t project. From these secondary targets, we get the idea our accountant works a lot with small businesses and helps them plan for tax.
Once you’ve taken your pick of SEO keywords and key phrases, it’s time to get strategic.
Oh, a final note on that keyword list. Keep it. It’s a fabulous search and strength indicator you can still use to weave high performance keywords and key phrases into your web content.
3 take away tips
- The keywords you choose create a website traffic magnet.
- Take care to avoid confusion with other products and services.
- Pick core business main keywords and extra phrases for context.
So, you’ve gathered a list of potential keywords and tested them for traffic. By now you’ll have culled and culled again so you’re ready to write. Right? Wong! Before you get all gung-ho, check your competition strength. After all, there’s no point hitting a bunch of SEO keywords hard if there’s zero chance of getting a leg up.
Basically you need to try and judge how much action there is around your keyword or key phrase list. In truth, there’s much more to the competition SEO firepower than just keywords. Off page factors like inbound links and domain age come into the picture too. But those are for another day.
Since I’m only talking about keywords here, let’s take a sec to think about why you’d go through this process. Simple. Reviewing search traffic volumes and checking the competition strength, you’ll identify something really important …
where online search is robust but the competition isn’t.
Going it alone
Now, with so much help out there, you might not choose to go down this path. It’s pretty arduous for every keyword on your list. But it pays to remember that a lot of online tools use this basic data as an indication of competitor strength.
- Keyword page occurrences
hit your fave search engine, search each keyword and take note how many pages are returned
same as above except you’ll need advanced search. Choose ‘page title’ from ‘where keywords appear’ and take note again
- Domain age
you can check this at WebConfs
- Inbound links
Yahoo have a handy tool for this
Now take your search results. There are lots of proprietary equations and formulas for making this calculation. But the fact remains that, in any SEO campaign, one of first ports of call is writing or rewriting page titles and descriptions. So by cross checking the number of page occurrences against the number of title occurrences, you will get an idea of how active your keyword is in the SEO space.
The easy way
Alternatively, you can head over to one of the search marketing companies like WebCEO or Market Samurai and download a free software trial. If you aren’t doing this for a crust, the abridged version may be enough to help out with the SEO campaign you’ve got on the go.
The advantage of using software is it’s much faster and checks your competition strength for multiple keywords at a time.
Pay per click action
One final factor you might consider before honing down that keyword list again is PPC advertising. It’s not a definitive science, but checking the competition and cost for some of your main keywords will provide a bit of insight into how actively other SEO campaigns may be targeting your term.
Now you’ve completed this step, what’s left is to map out your campaign around strong, relevant SEO keyword targets. And to do that, you’ll need to choose wisely.
3 take away tips
- Checking competition strengths helps identify SEO opportunities.
- Competition can gain strength from off page SEO factors.
- PPC advertising is an indicator of keyword activity.
Welcome to possibly the only time in life that heavy traffic is a good thing. Now you’ve gathered this huge list of ‘maybe’ keywords, it’s time for a road test. That’s not to say that search volumes are the be all and end all. In fact, it’s only part of the wider keyword selection process. Next time, I’ll look at competition but for now, traffic is the most logical place to start.
As I mentioned last time, there are some free online tools you can use to help. But don’t forget that Google supplies the overwhelming majority of global search (around 80% according to most pundits). And Google is cagey about sharing their data. So if you need your basic helping hand, go visit AdWords.
Getting into the jam
Unless you’re on a whirlwind journey to global domination, it pays to look at local search. What you’re really after at this point is an indication of the monthly search volume for the keywords and key phrases you’ve harvested. You may need to do this in batches, especially if you’re testing search for different products or services.
For example, I recently completed an SEO project for a property company offering:
- Property Investment
- Buyer Advocacy
So it was important to test and measure potential keywords in these different business categories. Otherwise, I might have ended up with SEO keyword targets that weren’t a good fit with the various business activities.
Obviously, in the case of search volume, greed is good. But don’t forget those high traffic keywords will be heavily targeted by competitors. You may be better off keeping more niche keywords and phrases up your sleeve. Often these make better targets because they tend to qualify traffic more closely, so you don’t end up with misdirected site visitors.
Up, down … flying around
Trending is a big issue, especially if your business is seasonal or highly responsive to shifting demand (like fashion or music). If you’re creating an SEO strategy in the winter time, don’t expect the search for air-conditioning to be right up there. But a quick check of the bar graph will give you an indication of what summer might be like.
Similarly, if you’ve stocked up on the latest designer sneakers that are just hitting every teens’ gotta have list, you should expect an upwardly trending search volume. If not, you may not have exactly the right keyword selected. Or perhaps you’re in the happy situation of getting in early!
None of this is rocket science. It’s simple, logical thinking.
3 take away tips
- Search volume is only part of the keyword selection equation.
- Test for local traffic in all your product & service categories.
- Search trends affect most seasonal and demand responsive business.
OK, so you’ve read Word up and you know keywords are critical to SEO. But where do you get ideas from? It’s more or less a three step process, at the end of which you want to end up with a long (and I mean long) list of potentials. You need plenty because some of the keyword ideas you generate now will (for various reasons) be knocked out later on.
Right under your nose
This is really step one in gathering some keyword and key phrase ideas. But it’s funny. When I speak with businesses about writing their SEO web content, they’re often lost for inspiration. More experienced website owners, sometimes have site or PPC (like AdWords) analytics. But most haven’t even thought of the obvious.
Here’s how I approach keywords 101. If your customers ask about products or services using certain expressions, one this is for sure. That’s what they’ll be typing into the Google search box. So ask your:
- Sales staff
- Customer support
about the language your customers and prospects actually use. What I’m saying here is the terminology in their vernacular is what they’ll try and find. And sometimes, that isn’t how you understand your product.
I once wrote some SEO web content for a fabulous, designer filter tap. When this project first kicked off, the client was pretty keen to define their product as an ‘under bench water system’. Nice. And that’s probably accurate. What it isn’t though is a key phrase their prospects understood.
Generating new ideas
When you’ve filled the virtual suggestion box, try some online tools to pad out what you’ve already got. Many of these are quick, easy and free.
A lot of people use Google’s AdWords suggestion tool, but for full data you’ll need to sign up (no cost for that by the way). But there are other effective keyword generators out there too.
Reaping & harvesting
Now this is kind of exciting. Once you’ve got some keyword ideas, try searching online. Amongst the top results for each keyword or key phrase, you’ll find your strongest competitors. These sites, along with industry groups and discussion forums are a great keyword resource.
Identify some sites, articles and forum threads that warrant further investigation. Then try an online keyword density checker like the one at SEO book. Or, if you’re more visual, try a keyword density cloud like the one at WebConfs. These tools analyse the keywords and key phrases pages or sites are targeting. All fodder for your own keyword gathering goodness.
3 take away tips
- Keywords aren’t hard to find, in fact they’re right under your nose.
- How you and your customers your product or service may be different.
- Free tools can help you harvest keyword ideas from online resources.