SEO Lesson 1: Keyword Research
Keyword research is about finding the right type of keywords that you want your website to rank for in the search engines.
Keyword research is the most important place to start before beginning your SEO campaign. Optimizing you website for the wrong keywords will set you on an inevitable collision path with failure.
For example, if you run a local dental practice in London then it’s likely that your target customers will be searching for keywords such as “local dentist”, “London dentist” and “dental surgery in London”.
Optimizing your site for these types of terms will help your site bring in targeted traffic, leads and new customers on a monthly basis. The more relevant and targeted your chosen keywords, the higher the conversion rate for your site.
However, certain keywords will be searched for more than others. That’s why it’s important to not only optimize yourself for relevant keywords, but also high volume keywords too.
How Do I Find the Right Keywords?
There are a number of free keyword tools that help you measure and find the most relevant, high volume keyword search terms on the Internet.
The best place to start is the Google Adwords Keyword Planner Tool (free).
How to Use the Adwords Keyword Tool
In order to use this tool, you’ll need to set up an Adwords account. This is free and should only take a few minutes to do. (Previously the Adwords tool was available without having to sign into your account, however Google made changes to this step in 2013).
1. Once you’re logged in, select the Keyword Planner from the dropdown menu found under tools. You’ll have a page that looks like this:
2. Input a few of your target keywords. In our example we’ve used “false eyelashes”. Then click “Get Ideas”.
3. Use the targeting tool on the left-hand side to narrow down your geographic target. For example, if you only sell products within the UK then you should limit your targeting to UK-only. The figures in the keyword tool will automatically reflect this.
You’ll now be presented with a table that shows the monthly search traffic volume for those exact keywords. As you can see in the picture above for example, “false eyelashes” receives exactly 6,600 searches per month in the UK.
When you scroll down, the Adwords planner also shows a list of relevant keywords with their monthly search volume.
Using the keyword tool above, you should be able to find a list of highly targeted; high traffic keywords to start your SEO campaign for.
Keyword Research and Volume of Traffic
The volume of traffic for different keywords will vary massively depending on the popularity of the industry, niche and keyword.
Don’t assume just because the keyword search “false eyelashes” gets 6,600 searches per month that it’s more valuable to optimize your site for this then “best false eyelashes”, which only receives 1,300 searches per month.
This is because bigger keywords also have more competition in the search engine rankings results (SERPs), which makes it harder to rank for this term. This means it may be more beneficial to target lower volume keywords with less competition.
For more information about choosing keywords with lower competition, read our lesson on competition analysis here.
Short-Tail vs. Long-Tail Keywords
When doing keyword research there are two types of keywords: short-tail and long-tail keywords.
Short-tail keywords are exact-match keywords such as “shoes” or “buy shoes”. This is what the Keyword Planner tool display.
Long-tail keywords are broad searches that include multiple keywords in the search. E.g. “cheapest shoes in London”, “blue shoes with white laces” or “blue puma shoes size 8”.
Although individual short-tail keywords receive lots of traffic, short-tail keywords actually only make up 30% of searches on the Internet. The rest are comprised of unique, long-tail keywords. In fact, according to Google, 15% of the keywords they see everyday have never been searched before!
Long-tail keywords also have a higher conversion rate and value then compared to short-tail keywords, as they usually involve more specific queries where the user is at the buying phase of the cycle.
For example, someone searching a short-tail keyword such as “shoes” is usually only at the research and browsing stage. However, someone that searches “red puma shoes size 8” is more likely to be at the buying stage as he/she knows exactly what they want and are looking to now buy it.
The above can all be illustrated in the Search and Demand Curve by Moz.com below:
Competition Keyword Research
Rather then starting your keyword research from scratch, there are a number of tools that also show you your competitor’s main keywords and rankings.
The best keyword tool for competitive analysis is SEMRush.com (free). All you have to do is enter your competitor’s URL in the search bar and then you can see all of your competitors most important organic/advertising keywords. For more information about how to use SEMRush we recommend reading our SEMRush review here.
We’ll now look at how to optimize our website for our chosen keywords in the next article here.