Keywords are what we type in when we are searching for products, services, or answers on search engines. Search engines rely on website keywords in order to sort their search results in the most effective manner. Companies optimize their web pages by assigning specific keywords to those pages. Picking the right keywords is paramount and fundamental to success when it comes to executing a Google Adwords or PPC campaign.
People often overthink the most basic keyword research concepts. Generating keywords for your business should start with answering the basic question: “What products or services do you sell?” The trick is to find search terms that are highly relevant to what you offer, and that are popular enough that they will result in decent traffic to your site, but not so competitive that you can’t rank well for them.
A good example would be a massage therapist. Although the keyword “massage therapist” is relevant, trying to rank on “massage therapist” alone could be difficult. If the business is located in Toronto, then using the keywords “massage therapist in Toronto” will be easier to rank for, and will result in more relevant traffic. Most people looking for a massage will not travel hundreds or thousand of kilometres away to get one. So, trying to rank for a highly competitive keyword such as “massage therapist” will be less effective because it’s not as targeted, compared to “massage therapist in Toronto”.
As mentioned above, being specific when selecting keywords is good, but don’t be too specific, either. The more specific it is, the less the competition for the search term, which therefore makes it easier to rank well on that term. Of course there’s a catch: The more specific the search, the fewer people actually search for that term. Keywords must be specific, but keywords that are too specific are useless because nobody searches for them. Confusing? This analogy will help: Anyone can get a front-page ranking for “cheap family photographer in Simcoe County”. But since nobody searches for that, your #1 ranking would be useless.
• Keyword Discovery. Uses data from 180 engines including Google and Yahoo, endorsed by a slew of the biggest names in SEO. $50/mo. or $400/yr.
• WordTracker. Similar to the above, but uses data from fewer search engines, and doesn’t include Google. $50/mo. or $244/yr.
• Google Adwords. Google’s pay-per-click advertising program. In setting up an ad, you type in a list of keywords that should cause your ad to be displayed when a user searches for those keywords. Google then estimates how many clicks per day you can expect your ad to receive. By comparing which keywords Google thinks will generate more clicks, you can see which keywords users are more likely to use for their searches. You don’t actually have to make an ad go live, and if you don’t, then it’s free.
• Google Trends. A free tool that lets you compare the traffic that two different search phrases get on Google.
• Overture Keyword Selector. A free tool, using only Yahoo data.
Selecting the right keywords will take some time and patience. If you’re business is in a position to do so, hiring a good SEO consultant could be the best solution. After all, proper keyword selection is just the first step to effective search engine marketing and optimization.