The foundation for any search engine optimization strategy is developing a list of relevant keywords or relevant keyword phrases that searchers type into search engines to find a Web site like yours. Not all keywords are created equal, so we need to set some criteria for the types of keywords that we want to target in a SEO campaign.
Our keyword criteria might look something like this:
Now that we have set some basic criteria for our keywords, we need to determine what the keywords are. The first step is to do a bit of brainstorming. Ask yourself how you would search for products and services like yours. Ask your friends and family members. Ask yourself what kind of problems people are trying to solve who might need a company like yours. Another good way is to look at sites that you might be competing with and try to understand keywords they are targeting.
There are tools online and software packages that can help you. Google might have the best free tools, but sites like Word Tracker can be helpful too. I don’t recommend many software packages, because they can lead you down the wrong path. The best resource you have is your understanding of your products, services and company while anticipating and understanding your consumers.
For this exercise, we will use Google’s Keyword Tool. After you have brain stormed your keywords, you should enter them into the Google Keyword Tool. Google will spit out a list of keywords with numbers for “Local Search Volume” and “Global Search Volume”. You should remove any columns that aren’t relevant. Once you have your list, export it as a CSV file for importation into your favorite spreadsheet program.
Once you have your spreadsheet, you’ll want to remove any keywords that aren’t relevant to keep your spreadsheet lean and mean. Now we will have to gather additional information to determine what our best keywords are. What we are looking for is the most popular and relevant keywords with the least amount of competition. You could be surprised by the relevant keywords that are overlooked by your competition.
To determine the competitive nature of your keywords, you will need to use Google. We’ll use the keyword “farm tractor”. Search this term without the quotes. We are looking for some particular information here. You’ll notice that Google displays something like this on the right side above the results, “Results 1 – 10 of about 1,850,000 for farm tractor.” The number 1,850,000 is what we are looking for, but don’t be too concerned with how large this number appears. This number represents how many pages “farm tractor” appears on.
We really want to know how many pages we are competing with. To determine this, we’ll add an operator to our search like this “allintitle: farm tractor”. Now we see something like this: “Results 1 – 10 of about 822,000 for allintitle: farm tractor.” This tells us how many pages have “farm tractor” in the title. This number looks more reasonable. The title is a key SEO element that helps determine search engine ranking. Now we add the number 822,000 to a new column in our spreadsheet. Repeat this for all your keywords.
Once you have completed the list you’ll have a good understanding of the keywords that you should target in your SEO campaign. What you are looking for is keywords that have a high “Global Search Volume” and a low “allintitle” value.
Following these concepts, while somewhat simplified, will give you a head start on your SEO campaign and your competition. This list of keywords will now help you determine the content and menu structure for your site, because now you know the best way to reach your customers.