Ranking for the right keywords can literally make or break your website. That’s why you need to carry out keyword research and discover which phrases and terms your customers and prospects are using when they search the internet.
While search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies and tactics have changed and evolved over the years, one aspect has remained pretty consistent: keywords. These magical terms and phrases - which have been stuffed into websites by unethical black hat SEO practitioners and leveraged for maximum return by white hat SEO practitioners - are still as relevant today as they’ve ever been.
The bottom line is that your website and the content you produce should include keywords that are relevant to your business/niche. The last part of the previous sentence is in bold for a reason and that’s because you should never ever try and target keywords that are totally irrelevant to your business/industry – even if doing so might give you a temporary boost in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Be Subtle With Your Keyword Research – assess your competition
A great starting point when conducting keyword research is simply to open Google (or another big search engine) and search for terms that you yourself would like to rank for. So, let’s say you are a plumber based in Market Bosworth. The first search you would conduct is exactly that: “plumber in Market Bosworth”.
Instantly, you’ll see the various businesses that are ranking for that particular search term. Some of them will likely be competitors you know in your local area, while others may be from further afield, but looking to attract customers in the Market Bosworth area. Either way, you can see (a) how much competition is out there and (b) the ways in which your competitors are using content and keyword placement on their websites to improve their chances of ranking for that particular search term/phrase.
The long and the short of it
You’ll learn that as a tradesperson, long tail keywords are probably going to provide a better return on your investment – whether that’s in pay-per-click (PPC) ads or SEO.
In a nutshell, long tail keywords make up the largest proportion of searches conducted every day and they tend to convert better. For example, someone searching for “plumbing” could be looking to find information on how to do stuff yourself or places that sell plumbing supplies. However, someone searching for “plumber in Market Bosworth” is after something much more specific and is almost certainly in need of services like the ones you offer.
Keyword research tools
Fortunately, keyword research has been made infinitely easier with the various keyword research tools that are out there.
Which one you use is up to you. They all work in slightly different ways and ultimately achieve the same results. It’s really a case of personal preference.
These free keyword research tools are among the most popular:
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool
- Microsoft Bing Ads Intelligence
- Moz Keyword Explorer
- Google Trends
- Wordtracker’s Free Basic Keyword Demand
- Wordstream’s Free Keyword Tool
You can use them to test keyword combinations and find out how many people are searching for them on a regular basis.
Be sure to pay attention to the keyword difficulty of each term/phrase. This is a good indication of how likely you are to rank for a particular search term. If you’re just starting out on your SEO journey and global super brands fill the top 10 spots in the SERPs, you’re in for a very long ride.