Keyword Research

Where to Go to Find the Right Keywords

One of the first steps involved in optimizing your website for the search engines is to figure out what your keyword phrases should be for each page of your website. You will wind up with different key word phrases for each page. There's definitely some homework involved in doing this--it can be time well spent, and a whole project of its own.

Pick one page of your site, and write down all the key words you think someone would use to find the product or service you are offering on that page. Using this as the basis, you will pare that long list down to a short list of about 2 or 3 keyword phrases. Each phrase should be short. Three to six words is good. It is okay if the same words are in more than one keyword phrase.

Another way to approach this: when designing your site, start with a list of keyword phrases that you've researched, and make pages that focus on each keyword phrase.

You should end up with a short list: no more than 2 keyword phrases, each less than six words long, for each page of your website. The longer phrases (called "the long tail") are more effective, while single words are usually ineffective. It's harder to get good Google rankings for shorter keyword phrases; it's easier for longer keyword phrases to do well at Google.

Google used to have a free keyword research tool, but they dropped it years ago. However, even today you can still get great keyword phrase suggestions from Google — just enter some words into a search box at Google and see what drops down underneath what you are typing. That list is the Google "suggestions", which are listed in order by volume. In other words, the more people search for something, the higher it is on the Google dropdown suggestions list. Save a list of those suggestions. Some of them might make good keywords for your site, if you have pages about those subjects.

When looking for Google suggestions, be sure to type in the words that you think people would use while searching at a search engine for your product or service. Not your product brand name, unless it is a well known brand, but its more generic term.

Start entering in the key words you think people would use to try to find the service or product you are offering. It will suggest alternatives. You want to pick the most relevant key word phrases you can, but there are limits. In our "Alfa Romeo Alfetta" example, you'd look up "Alfa Romeo" and find "automobiles", "Italian automobiles", "sports sedans", "road racing" and so on.

Still using our example, you wouldn't want the keyword "automobiles" because there are many million other sites out there selling automobiles and things related to them; your site will be effectively lost in the search engines if you try to optimize your site for a very general keyword like that. We wouldn't want everyone looking for an automobile to come to our site anyway! They won't be happy, and your server would be overloaded. We only want those who are looking for information or accessories for the Alfa Romeo Alfetta. So we narrow it down by making the phrase longer using modifiers, like "Alfa Romeo Alfetta accessories"

The rule of thumb is to make the key word phrases as particular as possible while still being generic enough.

Your purpose here is to try to make it easy for those looking for you to find you by selecting keyword phrases they will most likely think of and most probably use when searching for whatever you offer.

In our example site, selling accessories for the Alfa Romeo Alfetta, we would look up words like "aftermarket", "auto accessories", "Alfa Romeo" and "Alfetta". We would get suggestions like, "car parts", "Italian automobiles", "auto dealerships", "Alfetta owners" and so on. From those suggestions, we pick and use as our key word phrases the specific phrases that are being searched for the most by people at the search engines. Of course, these also must relate specifically to our products or services--whatever we are selling.

As further research, you can also set up an account at Google AdWords, and it will offer suggestions for keywords to use to advertise. Some of those Adwords suggestions may be valid keyword phrases for your site. Don't forget that Google's intent is to sell you advertising, so many of the keywords they recommend are only vaguely related to what you are selling.

For help in figuring out the best keyword phrases for your website, you can contact us. We have helped get excellent placement in Google for many sites using these techniques for selecting keywords and the other techniques on our Do it yourself SEO page. We offer a free 15-minute consultation, and no one will twist your arm to buy something. We always try to give you at least one thing you can do right away that will help. Call: 541-655-0285.

If you want someone else to do the work for you, there are firms that will create for you a keyword report and do all your keyword research for you. Any good SEO firm will also give you recommendations for how to optimize your pages based on these keyword phrases. We also do keyword research for many of our clients. Call us or contact us for an estimate to give you the keyword research you need.

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Practical advice on how to pick the right keyword phrases for your site.

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