The SEO Keyword Research Series

Posted by roinah on Friday, December 2, 2011

Part One

So, what are keywords? - Keywords are the words (or phrases) that someone types into a search engine in order to find results about a particular niche. However, different keywords bring up different results. Additionally, the number of people using a keyword differs making certain keywords more valuable than others. For this reason, understanding keywords and the way in which they can alter the success of your website is vital. Choosing the right keywords is essential to ensure you gain the right targeted traffic to your site.

In this series of articles I will be exploring what you need to consider when picking the right keywords for your site to ensure your site receives the traffic it needs and you enjoy the success you deserve.
The line between success and failure online is a thin one. Success can lead to a comfortable and varied lifestyle, but failure can lead to months of wasted effort, money and ultimately disappointment. I have seen people succeed in marketing themselves, their companies or their products online. Although I have seen more people fail.

I have found that the fate of a website depends on two key areas – The market they choose and the keywords they target.
More often than not, people enter a market and fail to do the market research that is necessary to check whether the idea they have for their business is completely viable or not. I have found that the people who fail will follow a pattern. They simply rush in and pick a random market to target. Then, they pick random keywords (or sometimes no keywords at all!!) and then cross their extremities and hope that it all works out. Sadly, it largely doesn’t and the majority of these sites fail.
On the other hand, the sites that succeed will do things very differently. They will research their market very carefully and identify the areas of a market that are the most profitable. Their keywords will be specific and targeted to the market they researched. Finally, they will follow a tried and tested plan.
I want to see more people in the second group and enjoy a fruitful online career. In order for you to be a success online I have produced a selection of articles that will guide you step-by-step through the process and key elements you need to consider when picking those all important keywords. This will get you well on your way to success with your website.

Part Two:
The ‘Key’ Elements of Keyword Research

Welcome to Part Two of the SEO Keyword Research Series. We will be looking at the key elements of the Keyword Research process and the important areas for you to consider ensuring that you pick the right keywords for your website. This will give you the targeted traffic for your business to succeed.

‘What is Keyword research?’ - The easiest way to understand this is to think of the process as similar to panning for gold in the rivers during the great gold rush. When doing this you would take a pan, you would filter the larger rocks out and you would look to sift the heavier gold from the dirt, sand and rocks that remain in the pan. Hopefully they would be left with a few nuggets of gold at the bottom. This is what you need to do with Keyword Research, only your golden nuggets are the keywords to use on your website.

‘What are the Characteristics of a Keyword’ – Well, your ‘golden nuggets’ have four key elements that need to be considered whenever you are choosing a keyword that is best suited to targeting your online business. These are:

  • Relevant – The keyword you have must be highly relevant to your business, your products or market place you are promoting.
  • Competition – It must have a level of competition that is acceptable.
  • Commercial – The keyword must be commercially appealing. I.e. It must be profitable.
  • Traffic – Perhaps the most obviously of the four - The Keyword must generate traffic!!!

If you fail to look at these four key elements when considering which keywords are right for your business you run the risk of missing out on the right traffic that could produce a healthy income.

In parts three to six we will now look at these characteristics in more detail so that you understand them in their entirety.

Part Three :
Relevant Keywords

In Part two of the SEO Keyword Research Series we looked at the four ‘Key’ elements that you need to consider each and every time you pick a keyword for your business. This is to ensure that you are driving the right traffic to your site, providing you with the sales and income you want (nah, deserve!!). These four elements were Relevant, Competition, Commercial and Traffic. We will be looking at the first of these in more detail – ‘Relevant Keywords’.

More often than not, people will over look the need to ensure that their keywords are relevant. They will often choose random keywords and hope that it brings in the numbers. These may even prove successful to a degree, often providing high levels of traffic or a high ranking in the Google keyword search. This high level of traffic is useless if it does not produce sales. No sales. No income. This is all because the people coming to your site are not interested in your content.

The secret is not just ‘traffic’. It is ‘Targeted Traffic’!!!

To avoid this, the content on your website needs to be directly relevant to the keywords that you are targeting. So, you can do one of two things. Change the content. Although this seems like a laborious option. Alternatively, you could change the keywords you are using.

To ensure you are using relevant keywords you need to consider the following:
  • See what sites come up when you are entering in your keywords into a search engine. For example, Google.
  • Ask yourself – Bearing in mind your key search words would you find this site useful?
  • Remove irrelevant keywords from any phrases that you are using.
  • Think of the order of the words you are using – What order would a searcher put these into a search engine in?
  • Think of some positive phrases that you can use. Focus on different lay outs of words in these phrases that are directly relevant to your niche or market. For example, ‘dog train’ and ‘train dogs’ will come up with completely different replies from a search engine.
By using these techniques, along with the other 3 ‘key’ elements, you are able to pan through the keywords and obtain a more definitive set of words that are highly relevant to your product, business or market place. Ensuring that the traffic you get is accurate, relevant and targeted to provide you with the sales you need.#

Part Four:
‘Evaluating the Competition’

In Part three of the SEO Keyword Research Series we looked at ‘Relevant Keywords’. To ensure that you are driving the right traffic to your site, providing you with the sales and income you want. This time around we are looking at the second of the important ‘Key ‘elements. This is ‘Evaluating the competition’.

It goes without saying that one of the easiest ways to get a steady source of traffic is to get your website onto page one of the Google Keyword Search. The issue here is this is prime online real estate. There are only ten spots on the front page and far more than this competing for these positions.

There are two important things to consider when thinking about competition. These are:
• The amount of competition – Put simply, the number of websites competing for the page one ranking using a particular keyword or phrase. This varies considerably depending on the keyword or phrase used. Some have high competition i.e. lots of websites targeting a keyword. Others have low competition i.e. few websites targeting a keyword.
• The strength of the competition – Some websites are highly optimised. They have been around for a long time and therefore have a large number of back links into their site. Others are relatively new and only have a few back links to them. Both of these websites may still obtain a page one ranking on a Google keyword search depending on the keyword or phrase they target. I.e. they both target different keywords.

Clearly, you would want your keyword or phrase to put your business up against others in an area with very few weak, competitors. This is obviously better than using a keyword or phrase that puts you up against many, strong competitors.

Remember, in part one I said that one of the key areas for people failing in online businesses is because they fail to do their market research. This is especially relevant to their ‘Competition’. The company will start to produce content for their site. They will fail to evaluate the competition. The competition is too strong. They never reach a good ranking with the search engines and fail to get the traffic they require.

This is sad as some of these businesses have worked extremely hard to build an often very good website.

For this reason, it is imperative that a business picks it battles wisely and only chooses keywords or phrases that give it a good chance of obtaining a front page ranking. This will lead to a healthy flow of traffic, hopefully a good return on sales and healthy bottom line.

Part Five :
'Is this Keyword Commercially Viable?'

In Part four of the SEO Keyword Research Series we looked at ‘Evaluating the competition’. To recap, to ensure that you are getting the right traffic you need to find relevant keywords and evaluate the competition. This will ensure you are well on your way to driving the right traffic to your site and providing you with the sales and income you want. The third of the important ‘Key ‘elements is considering the commercial aspects of a keyword. More specifically, asking the question 'Is this Keyword Commercially Viable?'

So what is meant by the term commercially viable? Well, we are looking at the financial concerns of a keyword or phrase here. Basically, a keyword is commercially viable if it brings with it a strong flow of money, sales or profits to your business. A keyword is not commercially viable if it only generates a small amount of sales.

Here is why you need to consider this when choosing which keyword or phrase to target. Imagine you have just chosen some keywords that fit all of the ‘key’ elements. You optimise your website with your new keyword or phrase and (low and behold!!) you manage to obtain a page one ranking on the Google Keyword Search. Your site gets tonnes of traffic and everything seems to be heading in the right direction. The only thing are not making any sales!! No one is buying anything!! The reason is you have accidently targeted a phrase or keyword that is not commercially viable.

For this reason, it is imperative that you check whether your keyword or phrase will be profitable. In order to check this we need to look at Google Adwords and Cost Per Click (CPC).

You will have noticed on the right hand side of the Google search page there is a list of advertisements. These are placed by advertisers in order to create leads into their businesses website. Each time someone ‘clicks’ on the advertisement the advertiser pays Google an agreed amount of money – hence the term ‘Cost Per Click’!!

As there are lots of advertisers wanting to use this service it turns into a type of bidding war - similar to the stock market. Over time, the market will decide what the cost of each keyword is depending on how popular it is in both search engines and with the advertisers. The figure ($) given provides us with an indication of how commercially viable this keyword is.

Therefore, to help you decide whether your keyword is commercially viable you need to check the Google Adwords and search for your keywords or phrases. The more expensive the CPC value the better the keyword or phrase.

This is not a quick process and it is not full-proof although it does give you a guide to work from. Admittedly, you can also buy software that will do this process for you although when you are starting out this is something you may not be inclined to do. Believe me, the time you spend doing this will save you time, effort and money later down the line. Just compare what you would lose if your site was profitable compared to it not.

Part Six: 
‘The ‘Key’ Word is Traffic?'

Few people fully realise the difference between finishing first and seventh on the first page of Google. The majority of people will choose to pick the number one ranked site. Less people will choose to pick the other websites on that page. The breakdown is as follows:

• Number 1 – 42%
• Number 2 – 12%
• Number 3 – 8%
• Number 4 – 6%
• Number 5 – 5%
• Number 6 – 4%
• Number 7 – 3%

So, how do you measure the amount of potential traffic you will receive from a keyword? This is relatively easy to do through Google Adwords. Here you can add the keyword or phrase and then hit search. This will show you how many searches are completed on a particular keyword or phrase OR derivatives of those keywords. You can then change the search criteria depending on the geographical requirements or competition levels. You could then work out how many hits a keyword could produce if you were number one on the search results page.

For example, say you were selling camping stoves. Globally there are 18,100 monthly searches for ‘camping stoves’. If you were number one on the search for this you would receive 42% of that number. This is over 7600 hits. If you were fourth you would get 4% of the traffic which equates to approximately 724 hits. This is a massive change of 1049%.

Alternatively, there are 49,500 global searches for ‘stoves camping’. These are the same two words in teh opposite order but could improve your traffic by over 273%.
You can see how using this tool could prove useful in assessing which keywords are ‘key’ to you generating targeted traffic. Additionally, there is software packages that you buy that will provide the information you require although it may be beneficial to manually do this initially.
I hope you can see that this, in conjunction with the other three ‘key’ elements, is essential for you get the ranking and success you require in your online business.
Thank you for reading and good luck.

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