Quick beginning guide to keywords
Keywords help search engines determine if your web pages are relevant to the search terms entered by a user. However, making your pages more relevant isn’t simply a matter of packing your copy with your chosen keywords. In the early days of search engines, this was accepted practice, but now you’re much more likely to see your site punished for this rather than rewarded.
Why? Well, search engines such as Google and Bing compete largely on quality of the results that users get. Google dominates the market because of its obsession with presenting the most relevant search results, and it continues to focus on this as its number-one priority. If a page is artificially padded out with keywords, it will irritate the visitor and probably result in them clicking the Back button: not the result either you or Google was looking for. Here’s how to assess your knowledge properly.
Load the tool
Google should be your first target when optimising your site, so start with its keyword tool. You must begin by signing up for a Google AdWords account, but there’s no need to create a campaign at this point. Click Tools, then Keyword Planner at the top. Choose “Search for new keywords and ad group ideas” in the “Your landing page” field, type the URL of one of your main competitors, leaving all other fields as they are and click Get Ideas.
This will present a list of keywords. Click the “Avg. monthly searches” heading to rank them by number of searches carried out per month on each. This search figure is surprising inaccurate but in our experience, but it does give a rough indication of the relative importance of each. You can also see the price that Google suggests you bid for the keyword when setting up your AdWords. You can ignore this figure, but it does show which keywords are most expensive.
Finally, you’ll see an indication of the level of competition for that keyword. Pay particular attention to high-volume keywords with low to moderate completion.
Click Download to export these keywords as an “AdWords Editor CSV” file, which you can later paste into your AdWords campaign. Open up your favourite spreadsheets editor and delete the columns you don’t, leaving the keywords, monthly searches, level of competition and suggested bid.
At this stage, don’t bother with keywords that have a low number of monthly searches. I draw the line at 250, and most of my effort will be focused on high-traffic keywords. Equally, avoid generic keywords that have massive monthly traffic: while this won’t cost you anything financially, it signals huge competition and makes it much harder to rank near the top. In most cases, your keywords will be phases. For example, if I were setting up a soap-making business. I wouldn’t be focusing specifically on “soap” “soaps”, but rather on “soap making” and “soap making kit”. Both of these contain “soap”, too, and so will rank against that keyword, but I don’t expect a high position. Finally, remember to include action words too separate out casual browsers or information seekers. In many cases, this means adding the word “buy” or “kit” alongside product names in my copy where possible, as many searches will type “buy candle” or “candle kit” rather than just “candle”.