The ultimate goal of keyword research is to increase traffic to your site. The reason we research to identify keywords and keyword phrases is because search engines match search strings against keywords to determine your site’s relevancy to the user’s search. In order to be a good match, we must pick the right words, include the right amount (keyword density), and put them in the right places on our site.
Your goal in keyword research is to come up with perhaps three strong keyword phrases that a normal reader would type into Google (think: long-tail search) and optimize your blog for those keywords and phrases. Soon, you will OWN those phrases.
There are five things to consider when selecting keywords and phrases:
- Relevancy to Your Site’s Content — This is THE most important thing to remember when researching keywords and phrases.
- Business Value — How does the term convert for your business? If you’re not selling anything, then a keyword’s business value for your site would be traffic generation.
- Search Trends — Buzz words and niche terms change constantly, so to increase traffic and (if you’re selling something) conversions, staying on top of trends is vital. An excellent (free!) way to do that is by using Google Insights for Search. Simply type in your search term and select the type of search (images, news, etc.), the location (global, local, etc.), the time-frame (what was popular in your niche last year might be irrelevant today), and the category (the broad topic of your blog).
- Traffic Volume — Use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to find the search volume of a term.
- Competition — You can also find this information using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. If the term is too broad, the competition will be too tough to rank for it. If it’s too narrow, almost no one will have heard of it.
Don’t optimize your site for keywords and phrases NO ONE is searching for.
We discussed this in the recent posts “Keyword Research: Thinking Like a Detective,” and “Reading Your Reader’s Mind.” The most helpful strategy in determining the right keywords is to strike a balance between broad (common) and narrow (unique) keyword phrases.
I recently had a conversation with one of my readers about this topic. She noted that when her unique term was searched for, it landed on page one of Google. Yes, if the reader knows about the term and searches for it, it will come up because it is so unique. It is possible, however to be so unique that no one except you and your close friends know what term to search for. In this case, the word was actually coined by the blogger, so it falls into the “too unique” category.
For instance, even if you’re not yet famous, you can still rank well for your “brand name.” But, since it’s not a well-known term, few people will be searching for it. They will search for your niche topic, or what your site’s content provides information about, though.
For example, Nike is a brand name, but they are best known for quality sports attire, most notably shoes. When Nike first hit the market, their brand name wasn’t known until after they aligned it with their product (or, for bloggers — content topic). Before you can be known for your brand name, you must first become known as an expert in your niche. As you become an authority blogger in your niche, your brand name will become more and more known. Then you can begin optimizing for your narrower search terms.
Don’t optimize your site for keywords and phrases EVERYONE is searching for.
You can also have the problem of selecting keywords that are so broad you can’t rank well, which means you won’t get any “organic” search engine traffic. Use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to find relevant terms associated with your blog’s niche topic that are neither too narrow nor too broad. For step by step instructions on using Google’s keyword research tool, see “Getting Started with Keyword Research.”
If your site is about home organization, you might start your research with a broad phrase, such as “organization” or “organization tips” or “home organization” and then add a word or two to your keyword phrase that is closely aligned to your blog’s purpose. In fact, if you narrow those three phrases by adding one or two words to them and include your long-tail keyword phrases several times in each post (focus on one phrase within each post, but rotate them so your blog’s focus become apparent to the search engines), then you will start getting traffic from people who are looking for information about getting organized.
For one of my former blogs, I often used the term “underorganized,” but few people searched for it. If I decided to revive that blog, I could easily rank for that term (because it’s not a “real” word!), but a better strategy would be to optimize the site for terms people are actually searching for.
Where to optimize your blog using your newfound keywords and phrases.
- Domain Name — The best place to put your keyword phrase is in your site’s URL. If you are using a domain name that doesn’t relate to your niche topic, consider registering a new domain name that does. You can then transfer the content to the new site and map the old URL over to the new domain name so those readers who are familiar with your old URL can still find you. Having a keyword or phrase in your actual URL greatly increases search engine results.
- Page Title — Having your keywords and keyword phrases is important to the optimization of your site. You can easily enter your page’s title using the All-in-One SEO Pack plugin for WordPress.
- Post Titles — First, make sure you’re using “smart permalinks,” and include keywords in your post titles.
- Heading Tags — This topic was discussed in the recent post, “Tag, You’re It!“
- Anchor Text — Keyword phrases in anchor text is a smart way to optimize your site.
- Image Alternative Description Text — We recently had a post on the effective use of image alt tag.
Hopefully this post has helped demystify the goals and usages of keyword research.
Until next time,