Choosing Keywords

Choosing Keywords For SEO

mark@seomark.co.uk or Contact Form or Google+ or LinkedIn
Choosing keywords (which can be single words or multiple word phrases) to rank your website for is a critical stage in the SEO process. Choose the “right” keywords and, so long as the on-site and off-site optimisation processes are carried out correctly, your website will rank well, in a reasonable timeframe, and will attract the right type of visitors i.e. those who buy from you.

However, choose the “wrong” keywords and, no matter how perfectly the on-site and off-site optimisation processes are carried out, your website will never be a success. You’ll get very few visitors and/or visitors who don’t convert into sales. So, what factors contribute to making keywords the “right” keywords for your website to target?

Relevance – The keywords that you target should be highly relevant to the products or services that you provide. The more relevant the keywords are, the easier and quicker it will be to rank for those keywords, and the higher the percentage of visitors who will become buyers.

Commercial intent – You should target keywords that catch people at the right stage of the buying cycle. The further along someone is in the cycle, the more chance there is of making a sale. You want visitors who are ready to spend money rather than those who are just looking for information.

Search volume – Target keywords that people are actively searching for. The more people there are searching for a keyword phrase, the more visitors you will get when you rank well for that keyword phrase. There are tools that can be used to find approximate search numbers for keywords.

Competitiveness – To keep costs down, and to rank quickly, you need to choose keywords that aren’t being actively targeted by big brands and/or long established websites. The metrics of the 10 websites currently ranking on the 1st page for a keyword phrase need to be assessed to determine whether your website can compete with them.

An Example
A travel agent, www.africanholidayofalifetime.co.uk (note: this is not a real website) sells luxury holidays to Africa. They have £500 a month to spend on SEO and they want to increase visitor numbers to, and sales from, their website. These are some keywords that they might be considering:

africa – This keyword is too broad. People searching for this could be interested in any aspect of Africa – history, geography, weather, etc. The percentage of people searching for this keyword who want to book a luxury holiday in Africa is very low (less than 1%). The websites currently ranking on the 1st page for this keyword would also be extremely difficult to compete with.

holidays – This keyword is still too broad. It gets a lot of searches but it isn’t as relevant to their website as it should ideally be. People searching for this keyword could be looking for a holiday anywhere in the world and they are as likely to want a cheap holiday as they are to want a luxury holiday. There’s also a very high level of competition for this keyword, which would make it very expensive to rank for it.

luxury holidays – This keyword is much better than the one above. It’s still quite broad, as there’s no reference to location in the keyword, however, the searcher is specifically looking for a luxury holiday, which the client does sell. Competition for this keyword is still relatively high. For £500 a month, there’s very little chance of ranking well for this keyword.

luxury africa holidays – This is a good keyword phrase to rank for. The search volume is relatively good and the client’s website is directly relevant to the keywords being searched for. The competition is at an acceptable level and high rankings should be possible for £500 a month. The only potential issue is the stage of the buying cycle – are these searchers just browsing or are they ready to make a purchase?

book luxury kenya holiday – This is a perfect keyword phrase for the client. The searcher knows what type of holiday they want (luxury), where they want it (Kenya) and they want to book it now. Competition for this keyword is low and for £500 a month high rankings can definitely be achieved  The search volume is lower than for the above keywords, but there are still a sufficient amount of people searching for this phrase to make it worthwhile ranking for.

i want to book a luxury holiday to kenya in March in 2014 – This keyword is highly relevant. The searcher knows exactly what they want and they are ready to spend money. A high ranking for this keyword could be achieved quickly and at a low cost, however, there is no point ranking for it as no-one is searching for that exact keyword phrase.

Business owners tend to get drawn towards trying to rank for the broad, general keywords in their industry that get the highest number of searches. This inevitably ends in disappointment as they don’t end up reaching the 1st page for the keywords and the visitors that they do manage to get are at the browsing stage of the buying cycle rather than the buying stage.

Rather than targeting a couple of generic keywords, a better approach is to target multiple, specific keyword phrases. Research has shown that more than 40% of all searches done online are comprised of four or more words. Therefore, not only is it quicker and cheaper to rank for longer, specific keyword phrases, but you can still get lots of visitors to your website by doing so.

Further Reading
2-Minute SEO Guide

Assessing The Level Of Competition For A Keyword

Finding Websites To Get Backlinks From

On-Site Optimisation

More Content = More Rankings, More Visitors & More Sales

mark@seomark.co.uk or Contact Form or Google+ or LinkedIn