Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research

Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research image How to Keyword Research 300x270Beginners Guide to Keyword ResearchAh, keyword research, the myth, the legend, the black art.

If you’ve dabbled with internet marketing at all, you’ve heard the term being thrown around, but what do you really need to know? It’s not that hard, but it’s definitely really important which is why keyword research is talked about all the time. Allow me to just give you the basics.

Keywords are words and/or phrases that indicate what your webpage is about. Typically, what you should do when you create a website or a blog article is choose your keywords first and then mention them throughout the site or article. This is one of the basic ways to ensure your website is optimized for search engines. Keywords make it easy for sites like Google to figure out what your site is about and then serve it up correctly when people search for what you’ve written about.

Keyword research comes into play when you’re trying to select the best combination of words to include in your content that will drive the most people to your site in the shortest amount of time.

How to Choose a Keyword

Obviously, there are many topics out there that are insanely popular, but that just means lots of people are writing about it and it’s insanely competitive. On the other hand, some keyword phrases are so unique that there’s no one out there searching for them. Result for either scenario? No one finds your site. So, don’t go for something as generic as “dog training” or as specific as “3-legged chihuahua agility training.”

The question now becomes, how do you find that happy medium?

You need enough people searching for your keyword phrase, but not so much where your site gets lost in the noise. The (free) answer? Google Keyword Tool.

Here’s a quick video tuturial to show you how to do it:

Here are several guidelines you should know when selecting a keyword:

  • Length - Short keywords typically have high demand while long tail keywords are usually in less demand. In addition to there being less demand, long tail keywords work well because they’re specific and they will drive super targeted traffic to your site. If you’re new to SEO, start with long tail keywords. You’ll be able to rank faster and your conversion rate should be much better.
  • Demand - Demand or competition for keywords will change depending on the length of your keyword and how important it is at that moment in time. Trying to rank for “Super Bowl” in February would be damn near impossible for a small site. Try adding words to your key-phrase to whittle down your competition.
  • Synonyms - Use synonyms to find less competitive combinations of words. Search engines aren’t that sophisticated yet to figure out that’s what you’re trying to do.

How to Use Keywords

Once you have strategically selected your keywords, it’s time to use them. There are several different ways to put them to work to help you start ranking.

  • URL – If you’re just creating a website, try to put your keyword(s) in your domain name. It will help. Trust me. Think about it. If someone is searching for your keyword and it’s in your domain name, Google will be very likely to “think” that the person is searching for your site. If you can’t change the domain name of your site, you can still get your keywords in the URL. For instance, in the link http://www.strategicmarketingguy.com/get-more-views-youtube/, I’ve placed “get-more-views-youtube” in the url because those are the keywords I wanted to start ranking for. Notice how I’m also scoring for the term “strategic marketing” at the same time.
  • Anchor Text – Anchor text is the visible words in links. For example, in this link Strategic Marketing Books, “Strategic Marketing Books” is the anchor text. Google recently updated its algorithm to not only check anchor text but also the words near the link. Essentially, Google is trying to determine if your link has anything to do with the topic of the article it’s being placed in.
  • Title – This a biggie. Get your keywords in the title of your webpage. This is different than the site name and the URL. The title is the name of the particular page on your site and is what shows up in the Google search results. It holds a ton of weight for search rankings.
  • H1, Meta, and Body – Basically what I’m trying to say here is that if you go through the trouble to strategically pick keywords, then use them! Put the in titles and in the body of your articles.
  • Image Alt – This is often an overlooked or neglected keyword technique. Search engines cannot analyze non-text elements like images, so Alt and Title attributes in the img tag are used to help search engines figure out what the image is about. I love this little tip because I get a significant amount of traffic from Google Images when people are searching for marketing images.

Keyword Stuffing, Don’t Do It

With keywords, there is such thing as too much of a good thing.

You may have heard the term, “keyword density.” It’s the percentage of keywords you have on a page compared to the rest of the text. You should keep your keyword density between 1-4%, but honestly, don’t worry about it too much if it’s affecting the flow of your content. It’s WAY more important to have a piece of content that is enjoyable to read. Peoples’ bullshit meters are better than you think and even if they don’t know SEO, they’ll know you’re up to something or think you’re a crappy writer and leave your site.

Search engines are also programed to detect dishonest “keyword stuffing” and will penalize your site for doing it. Moral of the story? Don’t keyword stuff.

If you have any questions or comments about keyword research, leave them in the comments section below or find me on Facebook! What’s working for you? What’s not working? What’s your most popular keyword? Why?

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