(This is a guest post by Heather Lloyd-Martin of SEOCopywriting.com. Even if you focus on gaining organic search results with your Web content, you need to understand the basics of which keywords and key phrases are important for getting your business found online.)
Your customers are out there. Are you making it easy for them to find you in the search engines?
As Patsi wrote in a previous post, Relevant Content: Search Engine Bread Crumbs, "If you’re running a business and
you want to get found online, you need to know which keywords are
relevant to your business, i.e. what words do your
readers/users/clients use to find you or to find similar businesses
Keyword research is the foundation of any SEO and PPC campaign. Think
about it this way: If you optimize your site or PPC campaign for
keywords your customers don’t type into a search engine, you won’t see
search engine traffic. Additionally, if you mistakenly choose a highly
competitive key phrase (like “travel,”) your site will be pushed to
number 1,982,653 in the organic search results…guaranteeing that you’ll
never be found.
So, understanding keyword research is pretty darn important.
The good news is, you don’t have to guess what keywords and key phrases
are best for your online business. A little bit of brainstorming plus
access to specialized tools is all you need to start your key phrase
research campaign. If you’re new to the keyword research scene, here’s
a three-step process for success.
- Brainstorm search terms that are relevant to your business. Do you sell children’s educational toys? “Educational toys” could be a possible key phrase, as well as brand names, toy names, and phrases like “language arts toys” and “science toys.” Don’t worry if a brainstormed phrase doesn’t seem quite right – you’ll be researching them later.
- See what keywords and phrases your competitors are using. Simply visit a competitor’s Web page, right-click your mouse and choose “view source.” You’ll find a piece of code that has the word “keywords” in it – and that will list what your competitors think are the most important keywords for that page. Take the data with a grain of salt, though – just because your competitors use a keyword doesn’t guarantee that it’s the best one for you.
- Research your key phrases using trusted research tools. There are a number of free and subscription-based tools where you can type in a key phrase like “science toys” and discover how many people search upon that phrase (plus discover alternative phrases that you’ve never considered.) Some popular tools are:
Keyword Discovery – The SEO pros use this keyword research tool, and you can too. Yes, it does cost money (around $49.95 a month,) but the cost is well worth it if you have a large site with hundreds (or thousands) of keywords and phrases. There is a free trial, so you can try before you buy.
WordTracker – Wordtracker is the oldest keyphrase research tool on the market and offers slightly different information than Keyword Discovery (many SEO firms use both tools for key phrase research.) The cost is $329 per year – but like Keyword Discovery, you can check out their free trial before you subscribe.
Google’s Keyword Tool – No, it’s not as robust as the subscription-based services. But hey, Google’s keyphrase research tool is free – and that’s a great price.
Depending on your site’s size, you could have a list of hundreds (or even thousands) of possible keywords. The next step is to choose the most relevant ones and learn how to seamlessly work them into your site copy. We’ll talk about that in a future post.