How To: SEO Keyword Research (The Right Way)
Put simply, if you’re going to put the time and effort into SEO; you had better be ranking for the search terms that people are actually typing in. There’s some great tools available (including some free ones), that make this both easy and highly effective. Read through this page, and you’ll be well on your way to laying the foundation to a solid SEO campaign.
Step 1: Go To The Google Keyword Tool
The easiest way to get there is go to Google and search for “keyword tool.” It’s the first result. Here’s a direct link. http://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
Step 2: Log In
Logging in to your Google account allows you to see 800 results, instead of the 100; and you don’t need to worry about filling out the Captcha’s.
Step 3: Change The Settings
First and foremost, in the far left column under Match Types, uncheck “Broad” and check “[Exact].” I can’t tell you how many clients have come to me and said they’re ranked in the first position for a keyword that gets >100,000 monthly searches; yet they aren’t seeing any traffic. Broad Match means that the keyword is anywhere in the search term, while [Exact] means that term or phrase is typed in exactly that many times monthly. This is a much more accurate number that allows you to better plan your strategy.
In the center, there is the link for “Advanced Options and Filters.” If you’re targeting certain countries, languages, or computers/mobile devices; you can select that here. You can also add adult content to the results and filter out certain keywords based on various factors I’ll explain further in the page.’
Step 4: Start The Search
If you already have a website with a decent amount of content and fairly well optimized, you can enter the URL in the Website field. If not, just enter your best guess at a few keywords you think people would type in. You can do as many searches as you need, so you don’t need to get it right the first time.
Step 5: Get Rid Of That Random Adwords Stuff
You’ll see two columns below, “Keyword ideas” and “Ad group ideas (Beta)”. Choose the first one.
Keyword: Self-Explanatory, this is the keyword that’s typed in.
Competition: Somewhat misleading, this is the competition in the paid advertising in Google Adwords for that keyword. It usually correlates well with the actual SEO competition, but not always. Competition can be quite high for certain terms that people aren’t using paid advertising for.
Global Monthly Searches: Monthly searches of your keyword worldwide.
Local Monthly Searches: Monthly searches of your keyword in the country that is selected above; it’s set to default in the country you’re in. Again, this is not your exact local area, but the number of monthly searches in the country you’re in.
Approximate CPC: This is the estimated Cost Per Click for Google Adwords. Basically you should expect to pay that much per click and visitor to your site, if you’re using Adwords. CPC doesn’t apply to Organic SEO, but if there is a high CPC; expect to run into a decent amount of competition.
Others: You can add more columns. I don’t use this function often, as the main columns provide all the information I need to see. One interesting function is the “Local Search Trends.” This allows you to see if your keywords is seasonal, or receives a different amount of searches in certain months throughout the year. This is most often found in niches like Snowboarding, Swimsuits, and Holidays.
How To Analyze
Step 1: Sort By Monthly Searches
If you’re only interested in a certain country, select local; and vice-versa for global.
Step 2: Negative/ Positive Keywords
In the left column, you can choose to “Include” or “Exclude” certain words. In a local market, I’ll usually choose to include the city name. In a Global Market, I may choose to exclude words like “free” or words with multiple meanings. For example, if I’m research Pitchers (for whatever odd reason), as in the container you pour liquid from, I will choose to exclude all the keywords that involve baseball.
Step 3: Choosing The Right Keywords
The question pops up, what makes one keyword better than another.
Monthly Searches: Obviously if more people are typing in a certain keywords, it may make sense to focus on those for traffic reasons. Take the monthly search number, and divide it by 30; and you’re left with the number of daily searches. In the 1st position on Google, you can expect anywhere from 40-60% of the traffic depending on the niche. You’ll be getting less than that if you’re elsewhere on the first page, with the higher spots being the most valuable. (Interesting Side Note: Spots 9 and 10 often receive more clicks than 7 and 8). If the daily number your site could potentially receive makes sense, mark that keyword in the left column.
Commercial Value: “Skateboard” is a great term to rank for. “Buy Skateboards Online” is a much better one, at least from a conversion standpoint. That’s known as a buying keyword, as people who are typing that in are very likely to make a purchase; while the plain “Skateboard” doesn’t have that same implication. Think about what the intentions of the user would be when typing in a given term.
Competition: I’ll explain this in the next post. You want to set short and long term ranking goals based on competition and the expected time to take over a niche; as this allows to maximize ROI as quickly as possible.
Step 4: Download And Optimize
Download your keywords as a CSV. This can be opened in Excel or Google Docs. You can then start to figure out the best strategy for these keywords. Match them up to pages on your site, and then go ahead and optimize your pages.
I wasn’t really sure how to end this, as this will naturally be leading into the Competition Analysis post that I’ll be writing soon. Follow everything above though, and you can build a high quality keyword list that will allow you the insight to best approach you market.
Feel free to contact me with any questions. Thanks. ~Ryan England – Executive SEO