Knowing which keywords are the most relevant for your business is crucial to the success of any search engine optimisation campaign. Keyword research is therefore the first place to start when you consider SEO. In an ideal world, you would begin your keyword research even before you build your website. While this may not be practical for everyone, it certainly makes sense to start your keyword research at the earliest possible opportunity.
There are various strategies for researching and selecting your keywords - some or all of which may be useful. As a general rule it makes sense to split the process into two stages. First, draw up a large list including all the possible combinations. Then use keyword tools to focus in on the most effective keywords for your business.
Expanding your Keyword List
Start by drawing up a list of words and phrases that relate to your company, your products and services. Try to put yourself in the mind of the searcher and think about the sort of terms they might use to find you. Ask other people to help as well, for example, have a brainstorming session with your staff or team members. If you are in the position to do so, ask your existing customers.
It's important to recognise that the best and most relevant keywords are not necessarily the ones which you think are the best, but those which will bring you the most customers. The keywords you want to focus on are the ones which people type into the search engines when they are looking for the information, products or services which you have to offer.
If you have access to your server logs or a web statistics programme you may be able to find out which keywords visitors are currently using to access your site. You can capitalise on this information by optimising your pages to further promote the products and services that people are already interested in.
Another approach is to learn from your competitors. If you already know who your competitors are take a look at their websites to determine which keywords they are using. Or try searching in Google for the products and services you offer to see which websites appear at the top of the search engine results. This way you can learn from companies who are already leading the field.
Keyword Research Tools
A number of software tools are available to help in the keyword research process. Once you have an initial list of keywords you will want to analyse them in more detail. Here are a few of the most popular tools available:
Some of the above tools are free while the others offer a free trial so you can experiment with each to get a good feel for how the keyword research process works. Many people find that the free Google AdWords Keyword Tool is sufficient for all but the most detailed keyword research.
All of these tools will help you to expand your keyword list. Type in some of your main keywords and you will be shown a list of alternative, additional and related terms and phrases. You will also be able to see how many people are searching for the terms listed. Make a list of any new phrases appropriate to your business as well as the number of searches.
Selecting the Best Keywords
Having got to this stage, you should now have a long list of keywords and phrases. But which ones are the best to use? At first sight it may seem that the most popular search terms are the best terms to target. However, if there are too many competing web pages with the same terms it will be harder for your site to achieve a high ranking.
The best keywords to choose should have a high popularity (a large number of searches) without being overly competitive (appearing on fewer web pages). At least to begin with, it will be easier for you to rank higher for less competitive terms.
Another mistake is to focus on keywords that are too general. General phrases tend to be less targeted, so although you may attract visitors to your site, they may not be the right sort of visitors. Instead choose highly focused keywords that are directly relevant to your business. This way, when visitors arrive at your site, they get exactly what they are looking for, and you get a customer who is more likely to buy your products and services.
Finally, you may find that your keyword research actually generates new ideas for your business, by uncovering popular terms that you had not previously considered. In this case, you may want to expand your site content by building themed pages around your newly discovered keywords and phrases. This will enable you to tap into new markets and attract even more customers.
Find out how our keyword research service can help ensure you are focusing on the most effective keywords for your business.
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