How to Choose Keywords for Your Website
Have you ever tried to rank higher in Google for a specific search term or phrase? Those specific search terms or phrases are called keywords. Keyword research and selection is at the core of any good SEO (search engine optimization) strategy.
How do you go about choosing keywords to pursue for your website? Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to do your own keyword research.
Think About Goals
To start, pick one web page whose traffic you’d like to increase. Consider pages that ask visitors to take an action that is good for your business. Is this a newsletter sign up page? A long form sales letter page? Your best blog post that you know converts visitors into buyers or subscribers? (How would you know this? Because you’ve set up goals in Google Analytics and you know what pages your visitors hit before they hit ‘buy’ or ‘sign me up’)
Note: ‘Pick one web page? But why not just my homepage?’ You may be asking. You certainly CAN choose your homepage for this exercise – especially if it contains a ‘business ask’ like signing up for your newsletter. It’s up to you to decide where it is more profitable (relationship or money-wise) to grow traffic.
The Beginning Brainstorm
With this webpage in mind, take out a pen and paper and write down as many different phrases or questions you can imagine a visitor typing into Google where your webpage would be the best answer to be returned. Best practices indicate long form (3-5 words) keyword phrases return better results since the webpage is a more exact match to the intended question.
Also check out the keywords people are ALREADY using to find your page by checking out the Search Traffic in your Google Analytics report. (Don’t have Google Analytics set up? Follow this guide) Add those to your list.
With that list, head over to the Google Keyword Tool and enter it in to find out how many people are actually searching and to get some suggestions. Make sure to select the appropriate location for your business and check ‘phrase’ and ‘exact’ as your keyword match types.
Beware The Competition
Take note of the ‘competition’ column in your results from the keyword tool. This competition column is used for the competition you come up against in purchasing Adwords ads, but we can still use it as a general indicator for this exercise.
Depending on the strength of your current online presence, you may want to pursue only Low or Medium competition phrases (need an idea of the current strength of your site online? check out http://www.opensiteexplorer.org and compare up to 5 of your known competitors).
Note: Another indicator for the difficulty of ranking for a term can be how many sites are actually indexed by Google for that particular term. Type your search phrase in quotes into Google and take a look at the number in light gray beneath the search bar to get an idea for how many pages Google has indexed for that phrase. If 20 million results are returned, you might have a long hill to climb.
But Are They Worth It?
Once you’ve compiled a list of keyword phrases that are all 3-5 keywords in length and the right match between competition level and amount of monthly searches, you’re ready to find out if they’re worth it. How do you find this out? Make sure you have goals set up in Google Analytics. If you already do, check to see which (if any) search terms people are currently using that’s leading them to a purchase or sign up on your website.
If you don’t have any converting search history in Google Analytics, you can set up an Adwords campaign to quickly find out what keywords might give you more sales and what keywords might just be duds. You can set up your first Adwords campaign by following this guide. Adwords is a great keyword research shortcut tool because it serves your ads right at the top of those search results and allows you to find out if all the time investing in organically ranking for a particular keyword phrase is worth it.
Once you have your list of converting keywords that are a good balance between competition and monthly search levels, you can start implementing!
From adding these keywords to your landing page (but not overstuffing), to adding them to your headlines and title tags, to writing meta descriptions (the descriptions of links that appear under each search result on Google) that include them (not directly SEO-related but keywords in these meta descriptions can be bolded in search results), to using these keywords in your link anchor text (the text in blue) of the links you build around the web, you have a lot of work on your hands! So get to it!
Have you done any keyword research before? Did you find this article useful? Let me know in the comments!