So where does Keyword Research fit in ?
Let’s use the example of selling exotic pets. You are a specialised supplier, based in Dublin and you sell birds, monkeys, lizards, snakes and spiders. How are people going to find your website if they are unaware of your business. Simple, keywords. Keywords are the words and phrases that website users put into Google, Yahoo and Bing to find specific content. Now you may have an idea on what you believe the keywords are that people are using to find your business niche but how can you be sure?
STAGE 1 – Identify Keywords
The first step of the keyword analysis process, is to identify ALL keywords and phrases that are being used to find your subject matter (exotic pets, lizards, snakes, spiders, etc) within your market area (which is probably Ireland). By using just one obvious keyword such as ‘buy snakes’, Cedar Tree can research and identify additional keywords associated with the ‘buy snakes’ example. In fact, we have found 94 (download keywords).
With nearly 100 keywords identified – how do we know which ones to use?
STAGE 2 – Assess traffic
Now we want to know which keywords are getting the most traffic (traffic means, how many website users are actually using specific keywords in a given period). Cedar Tree can now collect this data directly from Google. Shown below is a small extract of this data (correct at June 2011) showing monthly Irish figures – (download full traffic analysis).
This is only a small extract of the data but we can see that we have reasonably good traffic (for what is a small niche market) for all the keywords shown above. If we wanted to ‘target’ the keyword ‘birds for sale’ which receives 1300 searches per month, we would now make sure that this wording (birds for sale) appeared regularly but naturally within the text and titles of your website content. Remember, Google works on the principal of relevance – so if an internet user searches using the keyword ‘birds for sale’ and your website features the words ‘birds for sale’ within its content and is relevant to ‘birds for sale’ – then we are starting to get the basics in place to achieve a good page ranking. There, I told you there was no science or rockets!
So we have now identified lots of keywords and we have began to target the words that get the most traffic – is that it? No.1 in google here I come!
Well not quite – we now have to perform the most important stage of Keyword Research – Competitor Analysis.
STAGE 3 – Competitor Analysis
In our example, we have used a business (exotic pets) which is placed within a niche market that probably does not have too many competitors. For the purpose of explaining competitor analysis – we will say that there are 100 businesses within Dublin selling birds, all with websites. Now Google only shows the top ten results of any given keyword search and we know that most internet users never search further than the first page of results. So how is our exotic pet supplier going to give his website a chance of ranking on the first page ahead of at least 90 others?
Cedar Tree can now research and analyse how many of these competitors websites are also using the keyword ‘birds for sale’ and if we stand any chance of ranking in the top ten Google results for the keyword based on the strength of the competition.
Strength of competition is not based on how large a company is or how long they have been established – it is based on how well their website is optimised for search engine success. So you see, even if you are a sole trader operating from your bedroom, you can take on and beat very large established companies in relation to where you appear on a search engine results page, as long as your website is better optimised than theirs.
Quite often with keyword research we may find that the competition is too strong – it could be that ten of the other websites have been around for years, have hundreds of good quality pages with thousands of back links. If this is the case then we simply do not target this particular keyword because it will take too much time and effort to try and compete with our competitors. So we move on and target other keywords that we have identified within Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the keyword research process.
What we are looking for is a keyword with good traffic and an acceptable level of competition.