Any comprehensive SEO program is going to include keyword research. Researching keywords helps you determine which search terms to focus your efforts on, and forms the basis that much of your SEO strategy will be built upon.Because of this, you want to ensure that your keyword research is effective, identifying the "right" keywords that will drive the most traffic--or the right kind of traffic--to your website. Below are some steps you can take to make your keyword research more effective and more efficient.
Identify your audience.
SEO keywords are really about people, not search engines. You are trying to determine what people will search for, and their reasons for using those search terms.
That is why it is important to understand your target audience. In all likelihood, you don't need or want all people to come to your site; you just want those who are going to be interested in what you have to offer. So, consider what your target audience would be looking for at different stages of the decision-making process, and determine when or where you might be able to grab their attention.
Focus on landing pages.
Landing pages are the doorways into your site. Almost any page could become a landing page, if you direct traffic there.
A single page can only be optimized for a small number of keywords. Having multiple landing pages allows you to extend your search engine reach by focusing on different keywords for each page.
Look for search strings that match the purpose of each landing page. For example, some pages may provide information that is helpful to people doing initial research, while others may be designed for people who are looking to buy right now. The different types of searchers will be looking for different sets of keywords.
Look for long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are usually more effective because they are more specific. The longer the search string, the less competition there will be for search engine rankings. Long-tail keywords also tend to have higher conversion rates; searches become more specific as people decide exactly what they are looking for, and the search result for a long-tail keyword is more likely to contain exactly what they need.
Mine your competitors.
If a competitor or a similar company is particularly successful in their online efforts, look to see what keywords they are using and which might be giving them the advantage.
Use the right tools.
Google Adwords is the most common online tool used for keyword research, but it is not the only place to look. Other helpful keyword tools include:
- Google Trends, which shows how a keyword's popularity is trending.
- Link profile tools, such as Majestic SEO or Open Site Explorer, can help you determine what keywords are effective or are being used by competitors.
- Your own website's analytics will show you which search strings drive the most traffic to your site.
- The "related searches" offered up by search engines can be utilized as keyword suggestions.
With the right tools and the right strategy, your keyword research will deliver the results you want and provide a solid foundation for optimizing your site.
* Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net