Selecting and utilising keywords

Selecting and utilising keywords

The phrase keyword refers to what people type into their search engines when they are searching for some kind of service, information or product. Using keywords effectively is key to ensure a website appears high when a search relevant to its content is entered into any search, as they act as information to tell search engines what a page or website is about. They tend to be most effective when they describe what a customer would be looking for or typing when searching for services.

These phrases are used to optimise the individual pages of a website by associating a set of specified keywords to each that explain exactly what that page’s content is. Therefore this can make or break a website, as if the keywords used are not fully relevant to the content, they will get traffic that is not necessarily interested in their website. It is not possible to select the perfect keywords for your website by chance, it takes a lot of research and work. The difficulty lies in finding keywords that are relevant to the site, but aren’t too competitive to be ranked highly for and also will provide a good rate of conversions. Keywords with high monthly searches tend to be the most effective, as they are already popular topics. This is why it is always beneficial to think how a customer would because knowing what they want will drive them to you.

Surprisingly for some keywords don’t have to be, and usually aren’t, singular words. More commonly they are phrases, this is because when they are longer they have more chance of being specialised and are usually easier to rank higher for as the market for the phrase will not be as wide. Shorter one word keywords will cast a much larger net and require a huge more amount of work to rank highly for, they won’t necessarily always be beneficial to rank for either (this is explained in more detail further on.)

An example of this is if a male clothing store attempted to rank for the word ‘clothes’ It would be good to rank for as it is such a common word, but it doesn’t really specify what the customer will find when they eventually get on the the site, they could find a men’s shirt, or they could find a dress. There’s no guarantee. Whereas if they used more specific keyword phrases such as ‘men’s fitted blue shirt’ they would receive traffic who had searched for that specific item, therefore being more relevant. Also not every clothing store would be selling this item, therefore making the keyword easier to rank for as it would be less common.

There are a few things to consider when choosing an initial set of keywords. Such as whether they are relevant to the content they are promoting, Whether people searching it will find what they are expecting and whether its suitability is good enough to result in conversions and other benefits for the site. Based off these considerations it is good to start by writing a list of possible keywords, focusing on the most relevant topics for the website or page they are for. This list can be huge as long as it’s effective, it will be cut down later on. Add to the list by using your websites analytics to find what keywords have sent traffic to your website before and use the most successful ones, again such as the ones that resulted in some kind of conversion or benefit from visitors frequently.

Further add to your list by looking at what your top competitors do, choose a couple but no more than four or five. Take a look through their website and see what topics their content focuses on, and what words or phrases appear a lot. Take these phrases and search them in a search engine, usually google. From this see how highly they rank for those terms and if relevant how highly you rank, if you are near the top or in the first couple pages of results it may be worth trying to boost your rankings for it. If it’s relevant and you don’t rank for it, consider adding it.

Another way to build onto the list, which will already be quite large by this point, is to search the terms you have in google. Once searched scroll to the bottom of the page and check the related searches, if any are still relevant or even more relevant than what you searched in the first place, add it to the list.

It’s important to understand that simply because a keyword is considered one of the ‘top’ keywords, it doesn’t mean it is good. The most popular search terms tend to be short and vague but actually make up a mere 30% of browser searches. Meanwhile the remaining 70%, often referred to as ‘long tail’ of keywords, are made up of the more specialised, longer phrases and are usually more effective in gaining sales than the shorter, more popular searches. This is due to the fact that if a customer is searching for something specific, they have usually done all of their research and know exactly what they want to find / buy, whereas people searching shorter, more generic terms are usually still quite undecided and browsing.

Judging the value of a keyword relies on your understanding of its relevance to your website. Always take a look at what keywords you already rank for, and who else ranks for them too. This will help you understand where you stand in regards to your competition and whether you have room for improvement, it should also be done for new keywords, as it gives a good idea of how hard or easy it may be to rank for a new phrase.

As well as seeing where you stand in regards to competition seeing where other companies rank for your chosen keywords can help give an idea of how difficult it would actually be to rank for them. The keywords that get visits to a site are usually available to the owner of that site but it depends, so relevant keywords can be chosen easily, however through this information you will not be able to gauge whether those keywords are bringing you valuable traffic, this kind of information is only accessible through testing and tracking them with other programmes.

Once checked it is then time to narrow down the huge list of keywords you have inevitably ended up with. This is done by first looking at the data you’ve collected about popular and worthwhile terms, choosing the ones that are likely to be most beneficial but also achievable.Once this list is considerably smaller it’s time to check how much these keywords will actually help your site. For keywords you already rank for, collect data on their conversion rates and how much traffic they bring to you. For keywords you do not rank for, it is possible to trial keywords by paying for a search campaign that provides you with test traffic to give you an idea of the level of conversions it will bring you. Keep a note of all the impressions and conversions over your selected amount of clicks and work out for all keywords how many conversions you get on average for say 500 clicks for each.

Once this is done narrow down your list to may five or six keywords by choosing the ones that had the most positive impact for your business and implement them.

You may now have valuable keywords to work with, but you’re not done yet. What makes keywords so helpful is that they relate to what customers are currently searching for frequently, however as this is frequently changing sooner or later your current keywords may not be so suitable. This can be avoided by consistently monitoring how set keywords are performing and adjusting them according to the data you find. This can be a time consuming practice, so it may be an idea to create a job role for it if there is not already one within your company.

About the Author
Laura
Content Manager