Update:Google’s Keyword Tool has been replaced by Google Keyword Planner. While some of the information below will still apply, as far as selecting the keywords to research, the interface has changed.
One of the questions I am most frequently asked by my clients is how to get more traffic to their website. While there are many, many components to this answer, today I am going to talk a little about keywords.
Keywords are….or should be….in every website in numerous places. Not only should they be distributed throughout the copy of the website, but they are written into the code of every page as well. Keywords and phrases are the main subject terms used to search a database, so for our purposes, keywords are the words and phrases used to describe your page, and the database is a search engine. For example, if a user types the phrase “caterers in Fresno, CA” into their search engine, you’d return numerous results for caterers in the Fresno area with that phrase or terms either in their keyword tags (which is part of the code), or in the text on their page. If you are a caterer in Fresno, you’d better have that term in your keywords.
Now, having said this, it is important to not “stuff” your text with keywords in an unnatural way. Search engines are smart and they will figure this out and penalize you for it, meaning your organic (free) search engine results will suffer.
So, how can you make the most of your keywords and ensure that you have the right keywords and phrases in your text and in your code? Enter Google Adwords’ Keyword Tool. You can find this tool at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal. Please note that you do not have to be an Adwords customer to use this tool.
Here you will type in a phrase that describes your website. Alternatively you can type in the website of one of your competitors and see what keywords they are using. This is an excellent tool for seeing what keywords and phrases are being used in the site that comes up on the first page….where YOU want to be!
You will also be required to type the letters that you see so Google will know that you are not a spammer.
Click the “Search” button.
You will then see a list of related search terms and phrases that you can use in your own site. These keywords are taken from actual searches and the statistics are given to show how often that word or phrase is used globally and locally, so you can choose the ones that are most effective. There is nothing worse than selecting a phrase that, while you think it may be completely relevant, the average user is typing in something different and missing your site altogether.
I have shown a small portion of the list that was returned, but here you can see that the general term “caterer” returned 201,000 global searches and 60,500 local searches (click the image to view a larger version). While you probably wouldn’t want to leave that term out, be careful of optimizing for search terms that are so broad, because chances are you will end up buried in hundreds of pages of search results. Until you can build sufficient backlinks to please Google, you might be better off to concentrate on more specific searches, to help build your ranking and traffic and then move on to broader search terms.
Generally speaking, you want to find a happy medium and include terms that are searched more frequently, but not terms that are so broad that you might not be found.
It is good to be specific, i.e, “wedding catering” returned 27,100 local searched, while “wedding caterer” returned only 5,400. Not to say you would want to leave the second term out, just make sure the term that is used more frequently is among your keywords.
You can also see that our initial search term of “caterers in fresno, ca” does not have many local searches, because it is specific. It’s a good idea to include that kind of regional specificity, especially if you are a company that relies on primarily local business.
How are you doing with your keywords? If you’re having trouble coming up with the right ones, give this a try with your website and see if you can help improve your organic search results!