Who uses keywords? You use keywords throughout your day without probably even realizing it. Every time you open up Google (or any other search engine) and you type in a phrase or set of words to find more information about a certain subject, item or service … you used keywords. In fact, worldwide there are 1.6 Billion searches (via Keywords) completed per day on just Google.
What is a Keyword? A phrase or set of words used by Search Engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc) in its search for relevant Web pages. That is the user’s side of things. But on the side of the web developer, and ultimately the website owner, a keyword is the primary way to appear on your target audience’s search results. It tells the search engines the theme of your site and makes their job easier to catalog your site.
What is a long tail keyword? A long tail keyword is a phrase or set of words (or, rather, a search that has been made on the internet) which is really specific to something that the searcher is looking for. Currently, seventy percent of searches are found with long tail keywords. If your keywords are too general, the competition increases for your specific search making it much harder to rank in even the first few pages, but if you are too specific, then your competition will be decreased but you may miss out on a large percentage of your target audience.
For example, if you were a retailer for women’s shoes in a specific area how can you use long tail keywords to reach your target audience? Instead of using a keyword of “shoes“, you could use: “women shoe store Lexington KY“, or “discount women’s shoes KY“, or even “designer women’s shoes outlet in KY“, depending on the type of shoes you sell, where you sell them and what kind of retailer you are.
Why are keywords so important to your internet marketing strategy? For organic and PPC Search Engine Optimization, its imperative you analyze and research your keywords as not to just get visitors to your site, but getting the right visitors.
Using carefully selected keywords, you will make it easier to connect your business to your specific audience, and hence deliver more visits to your website, increase leads, and hopefully turn visitors into customers. Thus, ranking for the “right” keywords can make or break your website.
Where do you start in your keyword research? As with any new process, there is a learning curve to determine the best keywords for your specific industry and business model. You, or your internet marketing professional, can spend a few hours researching keyword trends, popularity, and competition.
“In the history of marketing, there has never been such a low barrier to entry in understanding the motivations of consumers in virtually every niche.” – Moz.com.
How do you determine the best keywords to use? Write a list of seed keywords, which are the basic words you’d use to describe the theme of your website. Like in the above example, “shoes”, “boots”, “women’s shoes”, “boots” or “sandals” are the basic starting point of your research project. In themselves, they’re not very useful, but the directions they take you in can produce a rich source of money-making keywords. Then you should use search engine tools to expand on those basic words to create long-tail and related keywords.
Then take some time and put yourself in your customer’s shoes (pun intended), and ask yourself “What search terms would I use to find my business?” Other valuable questions:
- Do I offer a specific niche market in my industry?
- What makes my business unique among my competitors?
- Is my business serving a specific local or regional market?
- What issues or concerns do my product/services solve for my customers?
- What are related terms, synonyms, and similar descriptions for my business?
- What is the full list of products and services I offer?
- Who is my target audience?
- What are the demographics of my current customer base?
- Do I plan to expand my target audience in the near future?
- Do I plan to add new products or services in the near future?
What tools can you use in your Keyword Research project? Some free recommended tools are Google Adwords Keyword Planner, Google Analytics, and Google Trends.* One caveat to any of the keyword tools you use is that Google only allows limited information regarding statistics on which keywords are most popular and which are already driving traffic to your website. Why?
Google’s original mission was to deliver the best search results, but since they have become a public company, their primary mission is revenue. Therefore, Google is not going to help you in your organic traffic efforts because they want you to use Pay-per-click advertising (Adwords).
How do I determine if my chosen keywords are working? Keyword research is an ongoing process, using Google Analytics, you can monitor your current keywords performance and adjust accordingly. If its working expand the keywords that you rank well for, and if not working, revise and try other options or related terms.
*(There are several monthly subscription services that also provide keyword analysis, but most of them are getting their results from Google. The tools may provide a more user friendly interface, month.y reports and saved search results.)