SEO Tips: Choosing Relevant Keywords
Google Analytics has moved to encrypting keyword data for websites (Search Engine Watch). Essentially this means that keyword data will not be passed along to website owners. The good news is that websites will be less tempted to stuff their articles and content with keywords, giving more favor to sites that organically include them. The bad news is that website owners will have a more difficult time understanding what brings visitors to their sites. It's akin to batting at a piñata while blindfolded and hoping for some traffic candy to fall out!
Additionally, Google unveiled their "Hummingbird" search algorithm (Econsultancy.com). This was more than just another update; it's a whole new paradigm. What Hummingbird does is evaluate keywords in context. This is a challenging technological feat since the algorithm must interpret intent and content! Obviously, Google is trying to weed out poor quality sites and give more credence to those that have genuinely relevant content. This is very good news for quality content producers!
But the fact remains that both marketers and writers will need to still include relevant keywords to their topics and audiences to even hope to be found in any search algorithm. Following are some SEO tips to help choose keywords, regardless of what is going on with the world of online search.
Getting Inside Your Customers' Heads to Find the Right Keywords
As noted in the featured case study, selecting the wrong keywords can balloon expenses without desired results. So how can writers and business owners pick the best ones? Crawling into customers' heads can help understand their motivations behind what they type into the Google or other search engine browser bar.
The first step is to go to Google AdWords Keyword Planner (formerly known as the Keyword Tool) if you have a Google AdWords account. Or you could use another free search traffic tool, such as SERPs.com, if you don't have an AdWords account.
Let's take a very broad term such as writing help. Who might be entering that term into a browser bar?
- Writers who are struggling with their own writing.
- Businesses who might be looking to hire writers.
- College students that are taking rhetoric or who are writing papers and reports.
Talk about different motivations! Writers want to perfect their craft. Businesses want to buy. College students just want to get through the semester with an acceptable grade. Here are some alternative, narrower terms that might be more appropriate for each market:
- Writers: creative writing exercises
- Businesses: content writing services
- College Students: research paper help
Remember to think about the problem that is running through a person's mind when they type a term into the browser bar. Often when people type in a term that's too broad, they'll get a lot of search results and many won't be relevant. That will likely prompt them to be a little more specific about their issue on a second try. Those second tries are the ones to attract.
Tale of Two T Shirts: An SEO Case Study
As a promotional products distributor, one of my specialty niche markets is USA and union made products. Have a special website, USA and Union Made Promo Shop.com, just for them.
One of the primary product categories this market looks for is union made T shirts with logos printed on them. To help promote that my company carried them, decided to use Google AdWords.
Now, the big question: What keywords to use? So I used Google's Keyword Tool (which is now Keyword Planner) to find some relevant terms. I thought terms along the lines of "union T shirts" would work. Technically, they do... almost too well.
After adding these terms to my ads, my Google AdWords traffic—and expense—went sky high! Unfortunately, sales did not grow along with traffic. Why? I sell printed T shirts to unions, associations and businesses. People who were typing in terms such as "union T shirts" were consumers looking for a union version of Land's End! They were submitting orders for one or two shirts. Or quickly visited and bouncing out of my site. Ack! That is NOT my market.
So then I refined my selected AdWords keywords to terms that included references to printing and logos. My traffic plummeted. But so did my AdWords expense and the hassle of responding to inappropriate inquiries.
Is There Enough Search Traffic?
Once several potential keywords that are relevant for the target market are identified, then it's time to select those that have the best chance of being typed into the browser bar by prospective customers or readers.
In your keyword research using either Google AdWords or the a free research tool (such as at SERPS.com), it shows the amount of monthly Internet search traffic that each term generates. Ideally, it would be good to target those choices that have a couple thousand hits per month. However, on some long tail keywords and markets, a few hundred might be a stellar result!
For Internet advertising or online writing, there are two strategies for utilizing this keyword data:
- Internet Advertising. Select only the most relevant potential keywords since selecting broader terms will result in huge amounts of irrelevant—and expensive!—traffic clicking on those Pay Per Click (PPC) ads.
- Online Writing. Integrate as many relevant terms into the post or article as possible without overdoing it. Caution must be exercised so that these terms fit naturally into the text, especially with Google's increasingly more sophisticated algorithms which will be looking at both keywords AND context.
Disclaimer: Any examples used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.
© 2013 Heidi Thorne