Find the Best Keywords For SEO
You know your business, and you know your customers. Maybe picking out keywords seemed easy when you put together your online store or web page. If your store gets the traffic levels that you need, you probably did fine. If not, you should check to see if you have used the best keywords on your site.
Search for Your Keywords
Have you searched for your keywords on a search engine? If you have, you might be surprised to learn that some website owners never do. If you search for your own site, your browser likely contributes to a higher rank on your Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Your browser knows your interests and habits, and it helps the search engine find it.
Ask one of your in-laws to search for it … one of the in-laws that have no idea what you do for a living, the name of your business, or that you and your business have Facebook identities. His browser will likely have no predisposition to find your site. You want to see how a stranger would search for a product on your site.
Instead of saying, “Hey, would you search for my website, ‘Traditional Ties for Traditional Guys?’” you might say something less informed. For example, “Whoa! That camouflage colored tie of yours just doesn’t go with your blaze orange hunting cap. I bet we could find something on Google that you could use for your daughter’s graduation!” You want him to search for a stranger.
The idea is, do a search on someone else’s browser (… actually, an incognito browser tab will work), using someone else’s keyword ideas. Does your site pop up on the first SERP page?
Search engines take keyword relevance into consideration. Google defines keyword relevance by how well the content on your page matches what people search for, and for Adwords, it bases part of your pages Quality Score on keyword relevance.
Your content should relate directly to your website’s content. If your target keyword phrase says, “winch surfing,” your page should be talking about products, goods, services, videos, or other information directly related to windsurfing. Ads or product pages for winches, cables, wakeboards (that’s the kind of board that winch surfers use), would all count toward the quality score, and so would a YouTube video of windsurfers or a blog post about what kind of winch works best for windsurfing.
Likewise, you want to make sure that your SEO title and meta description both have words and phrases that describe your page very well. Look at this snippet on Google’s windsurfing Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Note that the blue SEO Title, “Surfing the Under “Tow” …” alludes to the content, and the meta tag description, in black, has, in boldface type, both the words, “surfing” and “winch.” This gives the viewer exactly what the search asked for: windsurfing. The link goes to an exciting, visually stunning video of winch surfing experts.
Picking SEO Keywords: Avoiding “Vanity” Keywords
Now let’s look at a trickier example—one where the root keyword arguably does a good job describing what we are selling. Say I own an online jewelry store that sells all types of jewelry. To find the best keywords for SEO for the keyword jewelry would probably be at the top of my search engine marketing goals. And yet this would probably not be a profitable keyword that will drive relevant traffic to my site. That is because, from an organic SEO perspective, you are unlikely to rank highly for this term unless you are a huge, highly authoritative site—or lucky enough to be Jewelry.com, knowing that Google rewards keywords that match website addresses.
Fit Your Specific Niche
- Global keywords, when you only offer services to local customers· Generic keywords that attract visitors who have no interest in what you’re offering· Keywords that only bring in visitors looking for free information, not prospective customers who are interested in buying something· Broad keywords that have lots of competition, maybe with several SEO experts working full-time to defend the first-page ranking
Buy a sample campaign for the keyword at Google AdWords and/or Bing Adcenter
If your website doesn’t rank for the keyword, you can nonetheless buy test traffic to see how well it converts. In Google Adwords, choose “exact match” and point the traffic to the relevant page on your website. Track impressions and conversion rate over the course of at least 200-300 clicks.
Analytics and Testing
Using the data you’ve collected, determine the exact value of each keyword
For example, assume your search ad generated 5,000 impressions in one day, of which 100 visitors have come to your site, and three have converted for a total profit (not revenue!) of $300. In this case, a single visitor for that keyword is worth $3 to your business. Those 5,000 impressions in 24 hours could generate a click-through rate of between 18-36% with a #1 ranking (see the Slingshot SEO study for more on potential click-through rates), which would mean 900-1800 visits per day, at $3 each, or between 1 and 2 million dollars per year. No wonder businesses love search marketing!
More accurate term keyphrase, but for now I will be forced to use what I consider to be an inaccurate term. My frustration with this term is that it quite simply implies a single word, which is rarely the strategy that we employ when trying to find the best keywords for SEO and selection in the service of PPC and SEO campaigns.
Do They Match Your Offerings?
All too often, people dramatically overthink the most basic keyword research concepts; keyword generation should start simply with answering the question of “What products or services do you sell?” If you sell dog food online, the root words dog and food alone would be very poor keywords because, on their own, neither dog nor food does a remotely good job at describing what you sell. Though this example makes it obvious, many times we have to fight through our urge to include those bigger, broader root keywords.
Finding the Best SEO Keywords: Avoiding “Vanity” Keywords
Suppose that a specialized book now let’s look at a trickier example—one where finding the best keywords for SEO arguably does a good job describing what we are selling. Say I own an online jewelry store that sells all types of jewelry. To rank highly for the keyword jewelry would probably be at the top of my search engine marketing goals. And yet this would probably not be a profitable keyword that will drive relevant traffic to my site. That is because, from an organic SEO perspective, you are unlikely to rank highly for this term unless you are a huge, highly authoritative site—or lucky enough to be Jewelry.com, knowing that Google rewards keywords that match website addresses.
In this case, you would do well to go after more specific keywords such as gold jewelry, silver necklace, or women’s Rolex watch. Not only is the competition for these terms less fierce but, from both an SEO and a PPC perspective, those more specific keywords are going to have a significantly higher conversion rate to purchases on your site.
Sometimes we refer to those root keywords as “vanity keywords,” because if you do just one search to see who seems to be winning the space, you are likely to pick the single broadest keyword and see who comes up ranked highly. In nearly every case, however, we have found it to be more successful and deliver a significantly better return on your SEM investment by focusing on the hundreds or even thousands of more specific keywords that more closely match the services, products, brands, and locations that you sell or serve.
Dig Deeper: What You Need to Know About Your Website
Picking SEO Keywords: Using Google’s Wonder Wheel
This is, in my opinion, the best little secret of everyone’s favorite search engine: the Google Wonder Wheel. Released about a year ago but virtually unknown compared with Google’s much more visible search tools, the Wonder Wheel can be accessed by doing a search and then selecting “Wonder Wheel” under the filter options on the lefthand navigation.
What you are presented with now is a visual representation of the way that Google groups together keywords. (Indirectly, you can also deduce how users themselves perceive search terms.) This alone can become the basis of your PPC and SEO keyword research.
Starting with the search term dog food, I see related more specific terms like dog food reviews, dog food comparison, and dog food brands, which can help identify other keywords to focus on. Then, clicking on dog food brands, the search engine automatically expands that keyword to be another hub, with more specific keywords related to dog food brands such as Nutro dog food, Purina dog food, and so on.
At my company, Wpromote, we use this tool to help shape overall content strategies. Continuing with the dog food example, we can see that ratings, comparison, and reviews all were all grouped as closely related to dog food in general, implying that people that are searching for dog food are very interested in the comparison and review side of things. So from a content strategy perspective, it would be a very powerful takeaway to include a heavy emphasis on customer ratings, third-party reviews, and side by side comparisons to help the consumers make their dog food selections while shopping on our site.
Picking SEO Keywords: The Value of Repetition
One concern we hear frequently is whether it is beneficial or harmful to repeat keywords. In other words, should we vary keywords (dog food, puppy food, and Purina) or repeat keywords (dog food reviews, dog food comparison, and dog food rankings.) The short answer is that the repetition is just fine, as long as the meaning of the phrase as a whole is sufficiently varied. In other words, dog food and dog food online are basically synonymous, and the content that one might expect to find associated with both keywords is the same. However, dog food reviews and dog food comparison indicate somewhat different content and therefore are appropriate to be used in tandem as keywords.
The more important concept to keep in mind is that you want to choose keywords that best relate to the content present on a web page and on a website; if you don’t have a dog food comparison matrix, then don’t bother including comparison-related keywords; you are misleading your users, and certainly not fooling Google. So in an ideal world, you do have a comparison section, a reviews section, and a rankings section, housed on different pages or sections of your site, with each one tagged with the appropriate keywords. Correspondingly, your SEO and PPC search engine marketing efforts should that content by driving review keywords to the review pages and so on.
To learn more about how to use SEO keywords properly on your website, we have the complete SEO Strategy 101 with everything you need to get started implement your own SEO strategy on your website.
Picking SEO Keywords: Guiding Your Content Strategy
Keywords should guide your overall content strategy. We have referred to this concept several times in the preceding tips, but it is important enough to leave as a final guiding paradigm.
Picking SEO Keywords: Additional Resources
1. Check out monthly search stats from the invaluable Google Keyword Tool.
2. Google’s Wonder Wheel is awesome; an engineer walks through how it can be used in this Google Wonder Wheel video.
3. Wordtracker is a paid but widely used keyword and competitive intelligence tool.
Best Tools for Keyword Research (As Voted by 61 Online Marketing Experts)
#1: SEMrush (36 votes) … [Get One Month of SEMrush PRO for free here]
#2: Google Keyword Planner (33 votes)
#3: Keyword Tool.io and Longtail PRO (10 votes) [Start $1 trial here or read review]
#4: Buzzsumo (9 votes)
#5: Google Trends (8 votes)
#6: Ubersuggest (7 votes)
#7: Google Analytics (6 votes)
#8: KWFinder (4 votes)
#9: Moz KW Difficulty Tool, Market Samurai & WordTracker
#10: SERPwoo, GrepWords, SEOcockpit, BrightEdge Data Cude & Excel (2 votes)
What’s My SEO Score?
Enter the URL of any landing page or blog article and see how optimized it is for one keyword or phrase.