If you have a website or are in the process of starting a website development project you will probably of read or heard about keywords, especially when it comes to the websites SEO strategy but what are they and why are they important?
Put simply keywords refer to the search terms people enter into Google (or other search engines), but how does this affect you? By optimizing your website for a specific key word lets say – website development Harlow – you increase the likelihood of your website appearing in the search results and the better your website is optimized the higher in the search results your website will be.
It goes without saying that the higher up in the Google search results your website appears the more visitors it will get and the more money / interest it will generate, so it is vital you get your keywords in place and your website optimized for them.
The first step in the process is to come up with a list of keywords you want your website to come up in the search results for when people enter them into Google, this list is just a starting point and in the next few steps we will add and remove keywords so don’t worry if your list looks totally different at the end of the process! It is important however that you try and cover all areas of your website from the start – I find it easier to take the keywords through the processes at the same time rather then having to go back and repeat the process to include newly added keywords.
Lets use this website as an example, it covers website development and anything to do with running and maintaining a website. It also acts as a ‘portfolio’ keeping people up to date with everything i am up to as a website developer. So now lets look at possible keywords for this website:
- website development
- website developer
- Bishop’s Stortford website development
- search engine optimization
I am keeping things simple but would suggest you start with 25 – 30 main keywords that you are going to actively target, put any others on a secondary list that you can use as a filler when your main keywords dont fit the page you are working on.
With the keywords in place the next step is to look at how many people are searching for those keywords, a keyword that no one is searching for is not going to gain your website any visitors and will be a waste of time optimizing your website for – that’s why keyword research is so important it lets us know which of the keywords people are actually using when they make searches. Another benefit of this step is that people may be using search terms you might not have thought of and running your keywords through the research steps you will identify these keywords and add them to your list.
The first step of this process is to make a note of your keywords in a program such as excel, simply list them all in the first column as shown.
The next step in the process is to run the keywords through a very useful and free tool that comes part of the Google Adwords system, if you have not already done so sign up for a Google account and then visit this website: http://adwords.google.com
When the page loads select the ‘Tools and Analysis’ menu option and then the ‘Keyword Tool’ option. copy and paste your keywords into the ‘Word or Phase’ box at the top of the page and press search, Google will then give you back some information on your chosen keywords containing the estimate on competition (this is for Google Adwords) and the number of global and local monthly searches. Global is world wide searches and local refers to your country.
From the screen shot you can see that the tool is also suggesting some alternative keywords this is useful for identifying alternative search terms that you may not have thought of, its worth adding them to our list but make sure they are relevant to not only your website but also your target audience for example ‘real estate’ is an American term and not relevant for UK based websites (unless you are targeting Americans but you get the idea).
What we need to record is the information on local searches – if your targeting your website world wide its beneficial to record the global searches as well but for this exercise we will only take the local searches.
From the results we can see that there is some issues with our keywords, to start with Bishop’s Stortford website development is not showing any results – this means that no one is searching for that phrase in Google – or the search volumes are so low Google does not record them. This is normal caused by a to specific keyword you may get someone using it every now and then but there is no value in optimising the website for it.
The other keyword that’s an issue is WordPress with such high levels of searches this keyword is likely to have allot of competition for it which will make ranking well for it much more difficult, we will leave it in for now as we will be exploring the issue in more detail next. But first i am going to make my other problematic keyword less specific to do this look through the suggested kewords the tool provided for us and select another one that does have people searching for it i am going to replace it with WordPress blog because its something else I want to rank well for.
Now we have our list of refined keywords the next step is to look at the number of other people trying to rank well for the search terms, there is no sure fire way of defining this but this method gives us a good indication, what we will be doing is asking Google to search for all websites that contain the keyword within the title of any of the pages on that site. This method gives a good indication because if websites are trying to rank for a keyword one of the best methods is to have the keyword as part of the title on your site, its not perfect but it will do.
To run this type of search open google and in the search box type allintitle: followed by your key word – for example allintitle: website development Google will then return only websites that have that specific keyword in the titles of the website.
The information we are interested in is the number of search results that Google return, this is shown just under the search box and above the first results in this case it is 69 results. repeat this for all of the keywords on your list making a note of the results in another column. What we are looking for is keywords with large volumes of searches but with low numbers of websites optimised for it, these keywords will be easier to rank well for due to less competition and as a result you will get a better return on your investment.
Looking at our results the keyword Website Developer is a good one because it has a decent number of monthly searches but the amount of competition is relatively low, on the other hand the keyword WordPress may have a large number of searches but due to the high level of competition ranking for that keyword is going to be harder and require more time / investment.
With larger lists it is a good idea to order them by highest to lowest and identify the valuable keywords by highlighting them in different colours – I use green for good keywords orange and hen red for bad.
Now we are at the end of the process we should have a list of keywords that identifies the valuable keywords that we want to use on our website to maximise the effect of our SEO efforts, With all things SEO this is an ongoing process and you may have to repeat it several times to filter down the list to the best possible keywords.