The process of researching keywords is still a bit difficult. Although there are tools you can use to help the process, it’s still sometimes a bit more art than science. The best place to start is with those keywords and phrases that are obvious to you. Starting with a list of such words will make the rest of the process easier, so begin by listing the most obvious keywords that describe your site, your products, the type of information you
have to offer, etc.
The next important group of keywords is the set of related terms that are used to describe things similar to whatever your site is about. My own site, Inside Out Marketing, is about internet marketing, a subject that is closely related to web site development, search engine positioning, etc. In many cases these related terms will be in your main list, but if they’re not, start making a list.
These related terms will become more important to you later on, as you work to expand your site's theme and traffic. For example, a site with a strong theme of “website promotion” will often be linked to sites with the strong theme of “search engine positioning.” It would be logical, when expanding the site, to add content around these new terms.
You’ll also use these terms later as you work to strengthen your site’s “off the page”factors like link popularity and link relevance. Related sites that aren't direct competitors are great candidates for partnerships, such as content sharing and link swaps.
|Keyword Tools: Overture.com|
Fortunately, you’re not alone in your need to research keywords. As a result, there are a number of quality tools on the market to help you with this effort. The first, and in many ways best, is the “Term Suggestion Tool" at Overture. Overture is a “pay-per-click” search engine, and their customers want to know which keywords and phrases are searched most often.
Overture is happy to oblige, since higher demand for popular keywords leads to greater revenue for the search engine. You can find this free tool at http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion – although it has moved a couple times. If you are a Overture bidder already, you can always find it by logging in to your account.
To use the Overture tool, type in a primary keyword to see how many searches were conducted in the past month for that term. You’ll see how many searches were done for that particular keyword phrase, along with a list of related terms. Add as many of these related terms to your list as you feel is appropriate.
For every keyword in your list, try to get a count from Overture. This will help you set priorities later on. When you get ready to create a theme-based site, you may discover that the job is a little too big to take on all at once. It’s often easier to start with a single category or major keyword, and build a theme around that. Why not start with the keyword that gets the most targeted traffic?
|Keyword Tools: Google Adwords|
One of the most innovative new services is Google's Adwords program. This allows you to purchase a small text ad, targeted for specific keywords, and pay for it on a per-impression basis. I can't recommend it as a great way to advertise, but they do offer a very nice tool for doing keyword research.
Go to https://adwords.google.com/select/main?cmd=KeywordSandbox for Google's keyword suggestion tool.
|Keyword Tools: Wordtracker|
The next tool in the arsenal is not free, but it’s reasonably priced, particularly if you’re operating a for-profit website. The Wordtracker service (http://www.wordtracker.com) will help you build a large list of keywords, and tracks the number of searches for each keyword. Wordtracker is due for an upgrade, which should be coming in early 2004 at the latest.
|Keyword Tools: SEO Research Labs|
My own SEO Research Labs (http://www.seoresearchlabs.com) provides keyword research reports for $99.95 each, with a turnaround time of about a week. We'll use a variety of tools, including Wordtracker, to prepare your report. This service was created to help readers get a jump start on their search engine strategy. If keyword research isn't your bag, why not give us a try?
|Prioritizing and Targeting Keywords|
Now that you’ve got a good list of keywords, phrases, qualifiers, etc. it’s time to set some priorities. If you’ve done your research well, you should have little trouble. High traffic comes from a lot of searches, so your top priority should be those keywords or phrases that show the greatest number of searches per month. Cover your bases by making sure that for all of your top-priority keywords and phrases, you also list out the
various qualifiers that can add to the list.
Before you instantly jump on the most popular keywords, take a moment to consider how closely each will target your desired audience. A search term that gets 10,000 searches a month might look great at first, but is it really a good fit? If only 10% of those using it are actually looking for what you offer, the effective value is really only 1,000 searches a month.
I recommend that you decide on 5-10 top priority keywords/phrases at most, which will become the primary keywords used in your site. Your overall theme could be summarized in one keyword/phrase, and the rest will be closely related keywords.
Additional keyword phrases in your site will be variations of these top keywords (using qualifiers, etc.). If you can’t encapsulate your theme within this number of keywords, pick the most important keywords/phrases to start with.
|Assessing Your Keyword Strategy|
If you don’t have any kind of website traffic analysis software or service on your site now, see Chapter 9 for a listing of the different software packages and online services. It’s absolutely vital that you track where your visitors are coming from, and what keywords they use to find you.
Once you’ve got your site positioned, give it three months before taking stock of your keyword strategy. Of course, your primary goal is to increase traffic, and within three months you should begin to see results. Almost as important as total traffic is the number of keywords or phrases that visitors have used to find your site.
The most successful sites will show referrals from hundreds of different keyword phrases. This is the result of your primary keywords combining with different qualifiers.As you add optimized content to your website, the number of searches where your site can appear will increase. I wish you all the success you can imagine. I hope that your keyword strategy takes
you even further, to thousands of search phrases delivering traffic to your site.