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All your search engine optimisation and pay-per-click efforts can be completely wasted if you choose the wrong keywords.

Like the man who spent all he had building his dream house, only to discover it had no foundations, all the time and money you have spent on optimising your website for search engines could be completely wasted if you choose the wrong keywords.

Common mistakes

A common mistake is to target well-searched phrases, only to find that you’re facing a constant battle that you shouldn’t be fighting, and the visitors who do come to your site were looking for something else in the first place.

Choosing the wrong keywords is, frankly, pants

Example: “lingerie” might well be a highly searched phrase, but getting people to your site for this phrase is no good unless you actually sell pants.

You need to choose keywords that are:

  • Relevant
  • Specific
  • Good value for the effort

In this post, we’ll attempt to provide an easy-to-follow guide to help you make better decisions when choosing your keywords.

Keyword research – a step-by-step guide

1. Choose 10 phrases to start

Start by writing down 10 keywords or phrases of your choice.  Base this list on what you want to sell most of to your customers.  Look for phrases rather than single word searches that could relate to lots of topics.

Example: You sell wooden photo frames.  “Frames” could relate to all sorts of things; zimmer frames, frames for spectacles, window frames etc.  “Photo frames” is better, but this would cover all types of materials and price ranges. “Wooden photo frames” is targeted and specific – people searching for this are looking for your product.

2. Use Google’s keyword tool for research

Get yourself on over to https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal.  This is Google’s free keyword research tool.

Google's Keyword Research tool

If you type in the keywords from your initial list from step 1, you’ll be given data on the number of searches carried out for that phrase during the last month (check the “Local Search Volume” column for the number of UK searches).  Even better though, you’ll also be given some alternative suggestions that are similar to your original phrase.  These will often include variations that you wouldn’t necessarily have thought of yourself.

By going through this step, you are making decisions based on actual data, rather than guesses or a hunch.

3.Filter the suggestions

Export the suggestions into a spreadsheet and then go through the list, filtering out any suggestions that are either irrelevant to your business, or duplicates.  Add a column called “Competing pages”.

4. Check the competition

Check how many other pages are competing for your keyword

So now you know which are the most popular search phrases that you might want to target.  But the most popular keywords can sometimes be the most competitive.  Remember, in order to be number one in Google, you just need to be more relevant to your keyword than everyone else.  If no-one else is making much effort to go for a keyword that you’re interested in, you could pick up quite a few visits without too much effort.  Conversely, you could spend all your time and effort trying to get to top spot against some big companies that are spending millions every year on online marketing.

The simplest way to gauge this is to go through your filtered list and do a search on Google.  Make a note of how many pages are returned for the search, and put them into the “Competing pages” column in your spreadsheet.

Perform a simple formula and divide the “Competing Pages” value by the “Number of searches” and put it into a new column called “Score”.  Sort the keywords into order by this column.  Keywords with a low score are well searched but not too competitive – and these could be the ones to target.

5. Select keywords for each page

From your list, choose a maximum of three keywords per page on your site.  Pages that are specific to one or two keywords are more likely to get good search results than pages that try to cover loads of keywords.

Example: A page just about “apples” is more relevant to “apples” than a page about apples, oranges, bananas and grapes.  The relevance to each of these keywords becomes diluted.

Choose specific keywords as much as possible, even if the search volumes are relatively low.  Better to be number 1 for “wooden photo frames” and get 100 visitors per month that are likely to buy one of your frames, than be page 3 for “photo frames” and get 200 people to your site that might be looking for a wooden frame.  Or maybe a metal frame.  Or a plastic frame.  You get the picture (oooh, bad pun).

How we can help

Blue Planet has been helping businesses with their online marketing for more than 10 years. If you are serious about making your website work harder for your business and would like to have a chat about what we can do for you, call us on 01825 760909 or email enquiries@blueplanetinternet.co.uk.

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