When people are looking for something on the internet… a product or service… they will normally use a search engine such as Google or Yahoo.
They type the name or a brief description of what they want into the search box and press enter. A list of possible sites comes up on their screen… these are known as search engine results.
Keywords and phrases
Keywords are ideas and topics that define what some content is about. For example, the name of the product or service that searchers are looking for is a keyword.
For example, if you had a website selling products to diabetics, keywords would include terms such as diabetes, type 2 diabetes, insulin and so on. These are the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines when they are looking for diabetes-related products or services. These are also called search queries.
If you can boil everything on a webpage -all the copy, images, videos etc- down to a few simple words and phrases, these are your primary keywords.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
As a website owner and content creator, you want the keywords on your page to be relevant to what people are searching for. In this way you improve the chances that searchers will find you website or product page among the search engine results.
Most search queries will return thousands of results in hundreds of pages. No searcher will bother to read through the whole list or even more than a few pages. To have any sort of a chance that a searcher for a particular product will click through to your webpage from the search engine results, you need to be on the first page or so of those results… preferably towards the top of the first page.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of organising the copy and other elements on your webpages so that they rank high up in search engine results. The higher your webpage is ranked in the results, the more visitors it will receive from searchers… giving you a chance to convert them into paying customers.
So, if you can manage to incorporate relevant keywords and phrases into your webpage copy, the chances are you will get plenty of searchers looking for your products and services. The trick is to find the relevant keywords and phrase… this is done using keyword research.
The first step in search engine optimisation is keyword research, researching and finding alternative search terms that people enter into search engines while looking for products or services that are similar to yours.
Millions of keywords and phrases are entered into Google every day. Up to 25% of these are very specific long-tail keywords, ie they are detailed phrases. Thus if you can find additional keywords to add to your primary keywords, you will rank higher in search engine results. Keyword research can generate high returns on the time invested if you know how to go about it.
The purpose of keyword research is to determine what users are actually typing into their search boxes. But nowadays you don’t have to worry about finding keywords and phrases that exactly match what your prospects are looking for. You just need to think in terms of keyword themes.
Keyword research tools
Once they have a primary keyword, you expand on it to find similar keywords. There are plenty of keyword suggestion tools you can use to help you.
Most search engines provide their own keyword suggestion tools. There are also some stand-alone research tools.
The suggested keywords usually include the search volume (number of searches made per month) for each of those keywords. This is really handy as you can use this information to select additional appropriate keywords.
Research tools such as WordTracker, Keyword Discovery, and Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner not only give you search volume data and trends but also give you helpful recommendations on similar keywords and phrases worth exploring. The Google AdWords Keyword Planner, for example, offers a thesaurus and alternative keyword suggestions.
Google Suggest can be a useful research tool. Google Suggest is Google’s auto-complete function. If you enter a letter or a word in a search field, you will be automatically shown associated terms in a dropdown menu. These suggestions are based on the most frequently searched terms.
Another great way to quickly get ideas is to type a keyword into Google and then scroll down to the bottom of the search engine results page. There you will see a little section labelled Searches related to keyword.
Check these out for their relevance to your product or service and for their search volume.
Using the results of researched keyword themes
Your goal in all this is to improve your online presence so customers can find your products and services when they search using relevant keywords.
For example, if you are selling bicycles and you discover through keyword research that the phrase ‘mountain bikes’ is generating more than 10,000 monthly searches, there are two main things you can do:
Write a blog post that offers information on mountain bikes.
Edit some existing pages on your site so that variations of the phrase ‘mountain bikes’ are included in the copy.
These actions will (hopefully) help search engines understand that these pages really are all about mountain bikes.
Researching keywords and phrases is vital if you are to get your pages ranked higher in the in search engine results, thereby gaining prospects and customers.
However getting it right is relatively easy… but it does take a bit of time.