There are countless guides that explain how to do keyword research, but most are either too brief in their explanations or too advanced for the average website owner. The following 5-step plan for researching keywords is the perfect guide for beginners and intermediate users. It will take you from identifying relevant keywords to implementing a successful keyword strategy for your website.
1. How would you describe your business in an elevator pitch?
2. Which of your products makes you the most money?
PRO TIP: If your competitors still include meta-keywords in their code, you can easily find them by installing a product like the MozBar. If you’d like to learn more about the MozBar and other great SEO tools, be sure to visit my post on the best free SEO tools. Google and other search engines no longer use meta-keywords in their ranking algorithm, but it can be helpful to know which keywords your competitors target.
Once you’ve created your account, you’ll want to follow the steps below (or watch the animation above):
1. Select “Tools” in the top navigation bar.
2. Click “Keyword Planner.”
3. Choose the first of four options: “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas.”
4. Enter your list of search queries into the field provided.
5. Adjust the targeting of your query entries.
6. Once you’ve entered your list of queries and adjusted your targeting, you’ll see a list of ad group ideas.
7. You can review each of these, or you can select the tab labeled “Keyword ideas.”
PRO TIP: The actual number of visitors you receive for these keywords will always be much lower than the “average monthly searches” numbers that are shown in Google Adwords Keyword Planner. The number of visitors that come to your website will depend on your ranking in search engines and the click-through rate.
The easiest way to manage this long list of keyword suggestions is to download it as a .CSV file. This will allow you to open it in either Google Spreadsheets, Microsoft Excel, or your preferred spreadsheet tool. From there, you can remove certain phrases that you don’t like or that don’t necessarily make sense for your website.
PRO TIP: When it comes to keyword phrases, search engines do not pay attention to “stop words.” These are extremely common words such as the, is, at, which, and on. You may see keyword phrase suggestions such as “organic juice shop san francisco.” But when you’re adding a keyword like this to text on your website, don’t forget to add the stop word back in.
When you're starting a new website, I’d suggest selecting only medium- and long-tail keywords. This will give you the best chance of getting visitors via search engines. As your website grows and if you begin to rank well for all of your medium- and long-tail keywords, you can always adjust your keyword strategy to include a few short-tail keywords.
Once you’ve selected your list of medium- and long-tail keywords, you should duplicate that list and then add modifiers to each them. Generally speaking, there are four different modifiers that work very well with almost all keywords.
If your list of keyword ideas is long, inputting each keyword phrase into Google may seem like a daunting and time-consuming task. But it’s a crucial step, so please do not skip it, as it will cost you website visits in the future.
If you’d prefer to enter each keyword phrase into Google and take a look at each website on the first page of Google, be sure to ask yourself and document the following:
To find the PageRank and Domain Authority of websites in search results, you'll need to install the free MozBar plugin.
If the websites that appear on the first page are not well-known or especially authoritative, then you should consider using that specific keyword. These low-competition keywords will give you the best chance of ranking on the first page. And Page 1 search results account for 92% of the traffic for an average search query.
For those of you that prefer to use actual hard data to drive your decisions, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial of Moz Analytics. They have a “Keyword Difficulty and SERP Analysis” tool, which allows you to enter a keyword phrase and see various data points that will help you easily decide whether to pursue a particular keyword. If you’re interested in learning more about using the tool, Moz offers a helpful video guide on the Keyword Difficulty Tool.
It’s also one of the most important on-page SEO elements for ranking well in search. As I mentioned in my local SEO marketing post, small businesses should consider implementing the following title tag format for their homepage: industry-specific keyword(s) – city, state abbreviation – business name.
As you build out other pages on your website, you should ensure that a relevant keyword is positioned at the front of that page’s title tag. Be careful not to make these too long, as Google will truncate the text after ~55 characters (including spaces).
While Google and other search engines have said that meta descriptions aren’t used in their ranking algorithms, it’s still important to include relevant keywords here while also explaining what exactly the page is about. A meta description is a web page’s best call to action, so be sure to write compelling copy here, as it will greatly affect your clickthrough rate.
PRO TIP: The majority of traffic to your web pages will come from keywords you didn’t optimize for. Don’t ever over-optimize a website or a web page for just few terms. If you write compelling copy that also naturally includes a few relevant keywords, you’ll do much better in the long run.
Inbound Marketing at Jimdo
Jesse joined Jimdo USA in December 2013. He focuses on spreading the word about Jimdo with his inbound marketing skills. In his free time, Jesse enjoys trying new restaurants, planning his next international vacation, and reading Russian literature. He also loves everything Pittsburgh.