Choosing keywords is more complicated than simply choosing the keywords that you assume people search for most often. Doing so usually results in lack of traffic and/or lack of sales. Either you might not get sufficient traffic from those keywords or those keywords might not convert well. Here are some metrics to consider for choosing the best keywords to target with your website.
Keyword Search Volume
It is very important to know which keywords get frequent searches through the major search engines. There is no point in targeting a keyword that gets very few daily searches. You need keywords that will produce enough traffic to sustain your business. Of course you don’t want to just sustain your business – you want it to thrive and flourish. So you’ll need to target the high volume keywords that can bring you the increase in traffic and sales that you desire.
It is relatively easy to get approximate keyword search volume statistics. Google has several free tools that will show this data for searches done on Google and their search network. There are also various tools that give estimates for Yahoo & MSN. The free tools have limited accuracy though. For more precise predictions, you may want to consider investing in some paid keyword tools. Even if you can’t get precise numbers, you can still use keyword tools to compare one keyword to another.
Unfortunately you can’t just target the highest volume keywords and automatically get great search engine rankings for those keywords. Higher volume keywords are usually the most competitive within a niche. When a keyword is more competitive your website needs to be more relevant than all the other websites that are targeting that keyword. To make the search engines think that your website is more relevant for a particular keyword you need to wisely use that keyword throughout your website. More importantly, you need lots of quality websites to link to your website using that keyword as link anchor text. Since keywords have varying levels of competitiveness, you should be targeting keywords that you can realistically get good rankings for. You need to consider your resources, time and seo knowledge.
Gauging the level of competition can be difficult. Some people simply check how many results show up in Google for that keyword, but that tells you very little. That tells you how many websites either have that keyword on their website or in their links. It doesn’t tell you how many websites are aggressively targeting that keyword and how strong those websites are.
To see how many websites are aggressively targeting a keyword, you can check how many websites use that keyword in their links and in their page title. In Google use the ‘inanchor:keyword’ command to see how many websites use that specific keyword in their backlinks. Also in Google, use the ‘intitle:keyword’ command to see how many websites include that keyword in their page title. You can even combine those commands to see who is targeting the keyword aggressively enough that the keyword is in both their title & backlinks.
Next you will want to check how strong each of those websites is. The most important factor to consider here is backlinks. There are various ways to analyze a website’s link profile, but I recommend you use the SEO for Firefox add-on. This will show you many important stats right in your searches. You need to consider how many links those websites have and how strong each of those linking websites is. It also helps to know how many of their links are used to target the specific keyword in question.
When you start compiling a potential keyword list, you will notice that some keywords are highly relevant and some may only be mildly relevant. Obviously you will want to target the keywords that are most relevant to your website.
For each potential keyword, you should ask yourself “could this searcher be looking for something other than what I offer?” Try to make an educated guess about what percentage is likely looking for what you specifically offer. Usually the broader a keyword is, the less relevant it is. A more exact keyword usually converts better because the searcher already knows exactly what they want. They are essentially pre-qualified potential customers.
When a keyword is highly irrelevant it is usually not worth the effort it takes to target it. For example, don’t waste your time going after competitor company names or brand names only offered by your competitors. You might get traffic from those keywords, but most people would quickly hit the back button when they don’t find what they want. Only target keywords where the searcher can easily find what they are looking for on your website.
Do not take keyword research lightly. It is an extremely important part of marketing a website. Without the right keywords, you will not succeed. So take the time to do thorough keyword research before you start doing any website marketing.
You need to consider important keyword selection metrics: search volume, competitiveness and relevancy. Combine all of that research to choose the keywords that have the best balance of all three metrics. A keyword is only good if it can satisfy all your needs.