Keyword research is a critical part of SEO, but often the part that gets rushed, failure to conduct thorough keyword research can either make it much harder to achieve high rankings, but even worse can make the whole SEO project a complete waste of time. For more information on why keyword research is so important please refer to my blog post ‘SEO: How Important is Keyword Research. Digital Junkies, the leading company in Australia,
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This course however will focus on how to conduct keyword research, as I feel there are lots of articles from experts already stating why you should do this or that, but very few actually providing practical steps to actually do what is necessary.
Firstly I like to ask clients for a list of phrases that they would like to rank high for in search engines, I then look through their existing website of any other available company literature to gain an understanding of their product or service offerings, keeping a lookout for any niche more specialist areas. I then list all of the phrases along with any related phrases from my own research, unfortunately, this is the point at which many people think their research is complete, but this is merely a starting point.
Search Engine Based Planning
The next phase is to find out exactly which phrases people are searching for on a daily basis in Google, Yahoo, Bing, and all other major search engines, this can be vastly different from your expectations, and many a client of ours has been shocked by the findings, which is why this step is so crucial. The data we’re looking for is the number of searches per day, as well as how many websites are competing for rankings on a chosen key phrase. In order to complete this research I would recommend using the Wordtracker tool, there is a small monthly fee, however, it is widely recognized as the best keyword research tool available. There are free tools available such as the Google keyword tool (although this is more based on pay-per-click data), should cost be an issue.
Use of tools
I prefer to use the ‘keyword researcher’ tool within wordtracker, initially, I key in generic phrases, not because I intend to use the generic terms since, in my opinion, they are often not specific enough to bring qualified traffic to your site. The reason for doing this is because by being more generic initially wordtracker tends to throw up a great variety of specific phrases related to the generic phrase, often uncovering some great keywords you may never have thought of or realized people were searching for.
It can be tempting to only select phrases with a very high number of searches, however before qualifying out any phrases I would recommend waiting until the next phase which is the competition analysis, as sometimes a phrase with a low number of searches can be very valuable if there is very little competition.
Make a list
Select the keywords relevant and specific to your business offering and then select ‘Evaluate’ to go to the next phase, you will then be asked to select which search engine you would like the data to be based on, by default I select google. The returned results will add two more columns to the phrases called ‘Google UK’ which is the number of competing sites using the keyword in their page title, and ‘Google UK KEI’, which means Keyword Effectiveness Index. The KEI score is basically a system for scoring the effectiveness of a keyword by analyzing the number of searches compared with the number of competing sites. This is why it is so important to wait until this phase to eliminate keywords, as a phrase may only receive a few searches/impressions per day, but if no one else is competing on it, it should score well on the KEI system and means that it should be easy to achieve high search engine rankings for. This may mean less potential traffic to you website but could mean you have a much higher conversion rate due to less competition, traffic is great but if it doesn’t convert into sales or leads then it is pointless.
That said sometimes you may decide you need or want to optimize your site for a key phrase with a low KEI score, this is still possible but be aware it will take a lot more time and work to achieve, just try to be sensible and don’t choose totally generic terms.
The number of keywords you need will very much depend on the size of your website; I would recommend just 2-3 phrases per page though.
Whatever you do, don’t rush the keyword research phase; keep going at it and you may come across some real gems (high KEI phrases) that could have a very positive effect on your future online success. When you have your final list of key phrases, you can simply export them to an excel document, save it, and for goodness sake back it up somewhere!