Keywords. Keywords. Keywords. You know they’re important. You hear about them everywhere. But how do you find them, and more importantly, how do you select the best ones?
In this post, I’m going to take you through a simple yet proven five-step process for finding and selecting the best keywords to target.
So, let’s dive in.
Step 1: WRITE DOWN ALL THE DIFFERENT SERVICES THAT YOU OFFER
For example, a photographer who offers different types of photography may write down: wedding, family sessions, boudoir, newborn, lifestyle, senior portraits, film. Making this list will ensure you think about all the different areas where you should be doing keyword research.
Step 2: CHECK OUT GOOGLE’S SUGGESTIONS
Go onto Google and start making a list of the suggestions it gives you when you start typing in your services. (Insider Tip: Clear your cookies and cache so you get fresh results.) If Google is suggesting these to you, who else is Google probably suggesting these to? That’s right: your prospective clients. Don’t underestimate this strategy, and do it for each of the services you wrote down in step 1. It may be slightly time-consuming, but the list will be a pure gold mine.
Free Tool: One way to speed this up is to use keywordtool.io. Type in a phrase and it will spit back all the different suggestions associated with it.
Step 3: RESEARCH KEYWORD SEARCH VOLUME
Now that you have a list, you want to get an idea of how many people are searching for the different phrases. For example, at one point, there were an average of 70 people every month searching for bridal salons Minneapolis and 0 people searching for wedding salons minneapolis. If you were a salon in Minneapolis looking to attract more wedding/bridal business, is this valuable information? You better believe it!
For all of you DIYers not interested in spending money on a paid tool, have no fear—there are a few free tools you can use to gather this search volume data (as well as more keyword ideas).
www.serpstat.com: This is one of the few paid tools that allows you a certain number of free searches every day.
http://freetools.webmasterworld.com/tools/google-adwords-keywords: This is a tool very few people (outside of the SEO world) know about.
Step 4: DETERMINE WHICH KEYWORDS TO FOCUS ON
Now that you’ve done the research, the big question remains—what keywords do you select?
This is a gray area (I always joke that SEO is not black and white, it is literally 50 shades of gray).The general rule of thumb is as follows:
The shorter the phrase (short tail) = more search volume = the cooler the prospect
The longer the phrase (long tail) = less search volume = the hotter the prospect
The goal is to rank for both short and long tail key phrases. Selecting long tail key phrases is a safe move since they are often easier to rank for and can drive traffic while you work on ranking for short tail phrases.
Step 5: UNDERSTAND HOW GOOGLE INTERPRETS EACH SEARCH
Now that you have selected a few keywords to target, type them into Google and see what results are displayed. Are the results showing up similar to the type of business or content that you are trying to rank for? If so, you’ll have a shot at ranking for them. If not, I’d recommend tweaking the phrase since it appears that Google interprets the search to mean something different.
Example: I helped a paper designer who had done a ton of keyword research and wanted to optimize her site for the phrase “unique baby announcements.” But when trying this search on Google, we quickly realized that Google thinks someone is looking for unique baby announcement IDEAS, since all of the results were lists of these—not companies selling paper announcements. This vendor either had to tweak the phrase or—if she was set on ranking for this phrase—create similar content around a list of unique baby announcement ideas.
BONUS: Doing keyword research for a blog? Check out answerthepublic.com. This free tool is a must when it comes to uncovering questions being searched for online, and it will give you plenty of ideas to work with.
Following the five steps above will help you understand how people search for your services and make it easier to select which phrases you should be going after. Now, go do some dynamite keyword research!