Join David Booth for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding keyword attributes, part of SEO Foundations.
- There's an enormous amount of data available to us about the keywords that people are typing into search engines, and it's important to be able to evaluate the different attributes of a keyword before we decide whether or not to target one with our SEO strategy. There are three things you'll need to consider when choosing your keywords; relevance, search volume, and competition. Let's start with relevance. The first thing you need to do when you're deciding whether a keyword is relevant to your business is to ask yourself one simple question. Does the keyword you found accurately reflect the nature of the products and services you offer? If so, you've probably nailed it.
The number one objective of a search engine is to find and deliver the most relevant content to its users for a given search term. The best way to understand your customers' search behavior is to put yourself in their shoes. Remember the car example we looked at earlier in this chapter? If you were in the market to buy a car, how would you use a search engine? You probably would not go to Google and type the word car in and click Search. Instead, you'd probably refine your search down to something very specific that narrows down what you're looking for, maybe like used 2013 Toyota Camry.
Now, if you're an organization that's selling 2013 used Toyota Camrys, and you have a page on your website dedicated to them, then that's a relevant keyword. The best part about relevant keywords is that they're much more likely to drive conversion actions on your website than more generic ones. The second item to look at is search volume. While a used 2013 Toyota Camry might be extremely relevant to your business and likely to lead to a sale, it's also not typed into a search engine that often.
Search volume is the number of searches per month for a particular keyword. If you use a tool like the Google Keyword Planner, it's represented as the average number of searches for the last 12 months. Because this number is a rolling average, seasonality and other trend patterns are not accounted for. So if your business is seasonal, you'll want to take a look at the Search Volume Trends feature in the Keyword Planner, or even Google Trends when you're analyzing your keywords. Now, let's have a look at competition, and what we mean by that is essentially just how difficult it's going to be for us to rank in front of our competition on a search engine results page.
on a search engine results page. Unless you're introducing a new product or technology to the market, then you're probably going to find content similar to yours already out there on the web, and we can look at things like the number of pages about a given topic or authority and trust of the websites competing with you, backlinks to their sites and more, and there are some great paid tools out there that can help you really dig into some of these competitive metrics like Moz's Keyword Difficulty Tool. Let's type in three varying levels of specificity here for this car theme.
for this car theme. This tool makes it easy for us to see that trade-off between volume and competition. We can even drill deeper into the SERP analysis reports to get a feel for the competitive aspects of the pages that are currently ranking for these terms. This kind of analysis can give us a gut check, and a realistic look at just what it would take for us to rank for a keyword that we're researching. But even without a paid tool like this one, one way to look at competition is by evaluating the keyword in the paid search, or the cost-per-click markets.
The number of search advertisers actively bidding on a keyword can be a good proxy for just how difficult a keyword is going to be on the organic side. The Google Keyword Planner has a competition column that shows you this. While the interface gives you only low, medium, or high ratings, as a little trick if you download the list, you'll actually get a much more accurate number on a zero to one scale for the competition metric. And don't forget to use the sort and filter functions of Excel to find more of those long-tail, less competitive, and extremely relevant keywords.
less competitive, and extremely relevant keywords. Let's tie it all together by going back over this quick example with respect to the three pillars of keyword research; relevance, volume, and competition. We saw how terms like used 2013 Toyota Camry would actually be considered much more relevant to a company selling 2013 Toyota Camrys than a generic word like car, or used car. And on the competition side, we also saw just how competitive those generic terms are. We also saw clearly the trade-off between search volume against relevance and competition.
and competition. Hopefully, you're now seeing that for many organizations, finding lots and lots of these specific types of keywords that don't get a lot of search volume, but are very relevant can be a solid strategy to guide their SEO efforts. Often, if you add up all those relevant less competitive keywords together, you'll find that you can be attracting lots and lots of highly relevant, likely-to-convert visitors to your website. So let your competitors spend all their budgets going after the keyword car, and used car, and let your keyword research be your guide as you balance how to get as much relevant search volume as you possibly can with the least competition.
with the least competition.
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- What is SEO?
- Understanding how search engines index content
- Researching keywords
- Using SEO tools
- Optimizing pages for keywords
- Optimizing code and site structure
- Building links to your content
- Optimizing nontext components of a webpage
- Analyzing content quality
- Defining your audience, topics, angle, and style
- Promoting your content via social media
- Measuring SEO effectiveness
- Setting up Google+ Local
- Optimizing ecommerce sites for search
- Configuring sites for mobile