In the grand scheme of things, there are numerous ways to find a website: you might’ve come across a URL on a business card or billboard, been sent a link through e-mail or some form of social media, or maybe you clicked on an advertisement that led to a company’s website. While all of these are perfectly legitimate and common ways to find a website, it’s usually unwise for a company to market their website using only those methods. Why is this? Well, it’s mainly because search engines remain the best – and most widely-used – way to find a website. As a result, being listed in one of them is one of the best ways to market your website. But in order to do so properly, you need to perform keyword research.
But First, a Brief Introduction to Search Engines and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
On the surface, a search engine may seem like a tool used solely for navigation—and frankly, it is. However, consider the significance of that: nowadays, almost anyone online who needs to find something goes to a search engine and types in what they want. The websites that rank on the results page are either organically ranked – meaning that the websites are search engine optimized – or are part of a paid results area, usually located at the top and side of the page.
With that being said, it isn’t hard to see that the search engine is one of the greatest marketing tools at our disposal in this day and age. However, they’re more than that: they can also determine market trends and desires through keyword analysis. These trends are, for the most part, identifiable through search volumes of a certain keyword of phrase. Various tools – such as Google AdWords’ Keyword Tool – are around primarily for this purpose, but they’ll be discussed later. First, we need to talk about finding out which keywords are best for your website.
Finding the Right Words
Being ranked for a certain keyword can make or break your website’s traffic flow. For a business with an online presence, a lack of traffic also means a lack of revenue—which isn’t good. However, it’s important that the traffic that comes to your page consists of the market you’re targeting; for example, if you were selling dog food, a great deal of traffic from people looking for bicycles probably wouldn’t do you much good.
Consider the content of your website, and what keywords would be best representative of it. Going back to the dog food example, the first keyword that would probably come to mind is “dog food”. While this is an excellent keyword that both describes your product and would be very beneficial if you ranked high for it, the latter of those two is actually the problem: ranking for the keyword. Broader keywords such as those are much harder to rank for, as they’re usually dominated by well-established web presences that have been there for years. While you may make it to that point if you tried really hard, the process would probably take years, and you would be ignoring a just-as-good alternative: long-tail keywords.
As their name suggests, long-tail keywords are a bit longer than the broader keywords. While they may not be searched as much, there’s a benefit to using them. The benefit lies in the fact that the more precise and exact the keyword (i.e. “[brand] dog food” vs. “dog food”), the more likely the people searching for it are willing – and ready – to buy. With that being said, consider different keywords that are slightly less precise. Now that you’ve found those, it’s time to do a little more research.
Researching Your Keywords
By now, you may have a list of keywords you think will not only best represent your website’s content, but will also be a bit easier to rank for. With that step out of the way, it’s time to research these keywords, and understand how good they really are.
To do this, there are a variety of tools at your disposal. One of the most popular is Google Adwords’ Keyword Tool, which will not only tell you how many people search for that specific keyword, but also how much it might cost to launch a paid listing for it. Bear in mind, however, that the search volume provided by these tools is significantly higher than the traffic you’ll receive if you rank in that search.
These tools – which also include Google Insights for Search, Google Trends Keyword Demand Prediction and Microsoft Advertising Intelligence – may also recommend other keywords, so you may end up with a completely different list of great keywords!
“…And In the End…”
Now that you’ve found a great list of keywords, it’s time to put them in practice. Before you decide to optimize your website and base it around some specific keywords, however, consider performing a trial run: this can be done through paid listings available through major search engines, especially Google’s AdWords program. These trial runs will help determine whether or not a keyword is “good”, which you’ll be able to base on your click through rate, traffic, and conversions. And that is a whole other blog post!
Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via Flicker Creative Commons
Ryan Brothers is a Social Media and Internet Marketing blogger for Hudson Horizions, a web development and design company in NJ.