Importance of Keyword Research in SEO - Rank Better in Google
At the very beginning you need to make sure all the different pages on your website are targeting the right keywords - the phrases that people are likely to type into search engines in order to find the product or service that you offer.
The keyword phrase myth
There is a myth that the best scenario is to appear at the top of Google’s search results for a really popular word that relates to your industry.
However, this is a mistake because if you’re doing this then the chances are that you are focusing on your competitors instead of your own prospective customers.
The keywords that you need to focus on are the ones that provide great conversion rates for your website in addition to a reasonable amount of website visitors (traffic).
Conversion rates are measured by calculating the number of visitors to your website divided by those that go on to undertake the action required in order to reach your ultimate goal.
If you’re a college or university you may think, ‘Oh, it would be fantastic just to appear at the top of Google for the keyword search ‘college’. Not necessarily.
For instance you might offer very specific courses. You obviously cover just a specific locality – and a specific price bracket.
Therefore, you are not likely to get very good conversion rates from just that one word.
Another example is you may think, ‘If I offer a business articles website, wouldn't it be fantastic just to get thousands of visitors for the keyword ‘business’?
However, in this instance as well your conversion rates will suffer as the keyword ‘business’ can have a very generic meaning and as a result it is more likely that these visitors will have reached your website and not found what they were looking for.
Rather than think about single term keywords you should be focusing on succeeding with longer keywords, which are easier to rank highly in search engines and lead to better conversion rates.
It is important to use what are called long-tail keyword phrases. By using longtail keyword phrases you face less competition from similar businesses, making it easier to get ranked in search engines.
Long-tail keyword phrases also give you higher conversion rates as they pull in more relevant traffic to your website, with visitors more likely to follow-through and become your customers.
By focusing on long-tail keyword phrases, relevant people who have specifically searched for what you have on offer will be visiting your website, rather than people stumbling upon your website by chance.
Not only are visitors from longtail, more relevant keyword phrases more likely to stick around and purchase from you.
They’ll be more likely to bookmark your website and come back later.
Internet search patterns
Think of the patterns that people make when search for something online. Think about how you use a search engine.
Do you just search once and then pick out a website from your first set of results ?
You are more likely to perform an initial search using just one or two words and then try and narrow down the results further after that.
This improved search is generally made by adding extra words (often determined by the initial search results) or the use of inverted commas “around a phrase” to indicate that it's a specific phrase that you’re searching for.
Most internet users are aware that the more precise your search terms are, the more likely you are to find the precise resource you're looking for.
People are looking for something specific when they type in a longer keyword phrase into a search engine.
That’s another reason why you shouldn’t necessarily worry about not coming up in the first set of search results.
The more keyword phrases that you are trying to aim for on a single page, the harder it is to achieve high search engine rankings for your chosen page.
Do not be tempted to go for lots of different keyword phrases for your home page - you should aim for one main keyword phrase on each individual webpage plus some longer-tail keyword phrases (preferably encompassing your main keyword phrase) – up to a maximum of 3 phrases per page.
Any more than 3 keyword phrases per page will dilute the impact of each of the phrases on your individual pages.
A good example would be if you had determined that your main keyword phrase for your home page should be ‘UK travel guide’ then a couple of longer tail keyword phrases that you could include on the same page without diluting their impact might be ‘free UK travel guide’ and ‘UK travel guide for tourists’.
You should also focus on different keyword phrases for different pages of your site, again up to a maximum of 3 per page.
The main content on your web pages will naturally allow search engines to find alternative longer keyword phrases.
That’s another reason why you should have just the one main keyword phrase as a main target as well as just a few specific longer-tail keyword phrases.
In the 1990’s search engines like AltaVista were the most popular means of finding information on the web.
At that time the meta-keywords tag was the primary factor in determining the relevance of individual pages, and where those pages should be ranked in search engines.
From roughly the year 2000 onwards, search engines started to realize that their results could be easily skewed if they focused on the meta-keywords tag too heavily.
Instead of relying on this piece of meta data for ranking decisions, Google counted the quantity of links to a webpage from other websites and the text used within those links (amongst other things) when deciding on the search ranking of a web page.
The meta-keywords tag has continued to drop in value as the large search engines such as Google and Yahoo! have become wise to spotting ‘keyword stuffing’.
This has happened to such an extent that may search engine professionals don’t bother with it anymore.
As Google has evolved the way it ranks pages, you should review your keyword phrase strategy accordingly.
In order to implement the optimum keyword phrase strategy, you should use different levels of keyword phrases according to the relevance of the keyword phrase, the degree of difficulty in getting that keyword phrase ranked highly by a search engine and the structure of your website.
To help you determine the appropriate keyword phrase for each page on your website I would recommend that you think of your keyword phrases as belonging to one of three categories :
1) Your home page keyword phrase
2) Your category page keyword phrases
3) Your keyword phrases on individual pages within your categories
Category keyword phrases explained
By category keyword phrases I’m assuming that your website is structured in a hierarchical order and therefore has a certain amount of links on the home page, and these pages that the home page links to have further links that point to additional pages.
I’m referring to the pages which are linked to directly fromyour pages as your category pages.
Helping search engines to determine the relevance of your siteBy structuring your keyword phrases into different levels you are helping explain to search engines the precise relevance of your site.
The means search engines are more likely to understand the meaning of your site and they will be more confident that your website is an authority on a particular topic.
You should have a separate keyword phrase for your home page, your category pages, and your individual pages within.
For your home page you can afford to choose a keyword phrase that is searched more often, and which will generate more traffic to your site; category pages less so and individual pages even less so.
As a rule of thumb I tend to focus on tow-word keyword phrases for my home page, three-word keyword phrases for my category phrases and four-word keyword phrases for my individual pages.
One of the first areas you should address with your website is to determine your main category subject areas.
A category represents subsections within your website which aid search engines and visitors to determine the contents of thatparticular subsection of your website.
I suggest having approximately 10 to 30 main categories within your site with different keyword phrases associated with each of them.
For example, if your keyword phrase on your home page is ‘golf lessons’, you may wish your category keyword phrases to include ‘london golf lessons’, ‘cheap golf lessons’ and ‘golf driving schools’.
Your category keyword phrases need not contain exactly the same words as your home page keyword phrase, but they should be topic related – and more specific.
There are different ways of researching categories for your site and there are a number of resources you can use to help determine the most appropriate categories.
First of all, you should go to competitors’ websites and have a look to see how they are structuring their websites, taking note of any categories they have on their sites.
Secondly, you can use what is called the Google External Keyword Tool. This tool offers you suggestions and ideas for other keyword phrases associated to a smaller word or phrase that you type into it. This tool can be used for both website category ideas and keyword research.
Another available tool is KwMap - this gives you ideas based on what people type into search engines. It maps words closely related to, but not the same as, the search term.
It provides a similar function to a thesaurus which is anotheroption for researching different categories.
Taking the guesswork out of determining keyword phrases
Having determined your categories you should then research the keyword phrases that people use to find the kind of product or service you offer.
There are tools available for researching your keyword phrases. These will give you an understanding of the levels of phrases that people type into search engines. The main keyword research tool I recommend is called Wordtracker.
It is going to be difficult for him to run at the top of search engines for the word ‘golf’ unless he puts a lot of effort in, as there is a great deal of competition for the keyword ‘golf’.
Even if he does get to the top of search engine rankings for the keyword ‘golf’, are people looking for what he offers? Perhaps they are looking for golf courses or golf lessons rather than buying golf equipment from a local shop.
Ideally, the keyword phrase that he should be targeting for his home page is something like ‘golf equipment’ as that is specifically what he offers.
Drilling down deeper into Wordtracker results
In order to determine the keyword phrases that Freddie should be using for his category pages, he can click on the links within the Wordtracker results for golf equipment to show results such as: ‘used golf clubs’, ‘discount golf clubs’, ‘ping golf clubs’.
As these are actual search phrases that people use on a regularbasis they are more beneficial. They are also longer phrases and therefore more specific to Freddie Faldo’s website.
He will also be able to see within these results how many times a day these phrases are searched for e.g. the phrases ‘used golf clubs’; ‘discount golf clubs’ and ‘ping golf clubs’ are typed into search engines roughly 800 times a day.
He now has an idea of how to structure his website by using the keyword phrases used ‘golf clubs’, ‘discount golf clubs’, ‘ping golf clubs’ within the category of ‘golf equipment’, back with the knowledge that there are a great deal of people that regularly search for those phrases online.
Jane Jobs runs a Sales Executive Recruitment Company. Jane is already aware that her business is about sales jobs. But what categories should she choose for her website?
Using Wordtracker Jane can see that people type in ‘sales jobs’ 150 times a day. That is a nice level in terms of number of visitors for a keyword phrase to aim for your home page.
Roughly you should aim for between 100 and 1,000 times searched for a home page keyword phrase.
Category phrases should be searched a bit less - probably something in the region of 20 to 200 times depending on the size of business or on how hard you are prepared to work at getting those pages ranked highly in search engines.
From the Wordtracker results, the different categories that shecould have within her website are : “medical sales jobs” (51 searches), “pharmaceutical sales jobs” (31 searches) and “direct sales jobs” (17 searches).
Jane can be confident that these are the phrases which people are actually searching for.
Using Wordtracker to amend your website strategy
Having initially considered structuring the site keywords on a regional basis, Jane can now see that people don't as commonly conduct regional searches e.g. ‘sales jobs Belfast’ or ‘sales jobs Newcastle’.
This research therefore gives her a much better idea of how to structure her website and how to cater her offering towards the majority of potential website visitors.
Drilling down even further, she can structure different keyword phrases for her individual pages as well.
By clicking on the phrase ‘medical sales jobs’, she can include these longer keyword phrases on individual pages within thatcategory.
Examples of longer-tail keyword phrases that Jane can use on her pages within the medical sales jobs category include ‘medical equipment sales jobs’, ‘medical device sales jobs’, and ‘sales jobs medical equipment’.
·Structure your site correctly to begin with. You know what your business is about and what your home page is about. Make sure your keywords reflect your business purpose.
· You should aim to structure your website in a logical manner for both users and for search engines.
· After you choose your home page keyword phrase, choose your site categories. What categories represent your business? Brainstorm ideas and use resources such as an online thesaurus, KWmap, Wordtracker and the Google External Keyword Tool to come up with 10-30 relevant categories for your site.
· Focus on your individual pages after your categories. In an ideal world you should devise a structure of 10 to 30 individual pages within each category. If you want, and if your website is large enough, then you can go for sub-categories within categories before drilling down to pages within that section.
· Conduct keyword research to come up with one keyword phrase per page.
· Be as specific as possible. By selecting long-tail keyword phrases, even if you have fewer visitors to your site, you will have a higher conversion rate from the traffic you do receive. In the long term bringing in a couple of visitors per day to an individual page, equals 500-600 very relevant visitors over a year.