Writing by Nick Stamoulis in Keyword Research
Finding the right keywords for your website and SEO campaign is crucial to your long term success. The keywords you target will ultimately determine what kind of search results your content is pulled for in the SERPs and what kind of visitor is coming to your site. If you target keywords that are too broad you risk driving the wrong kind of traffic to your site (“insurance” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people). You also risk not making any real headway because there is typically more competition for broad keywords and it’s harder to do well in the SERPs for them. If you choose keywords that too long tail and niche your site won’t get the exposure it needs to succeed and it will be harder to grow your traffic organically. Finding the right keywords means finding a balance between the broad and niche, the low-hanging fruit (easier to do well in the short term) and long term goals.
The first step in finding the right keywords is to take a look at your analytics and see how organic visitors are already finding your website. Don’t worry about branded keywords for now—what non-branded terms are people using to find your site? What pages are those keywords dropping them off at? How long are those visitors staying and what kind of conversion rate do those keywords have? It’s important that you don’t look at this information in any one silo and try to keep as broad a focus as you can.
For instance, “SEO training” might drive 250 visitors to my site each month and drop most of them off on the SEO workshop page of the Brick Marketing website. Let’s say out of those 250 visitors only 5 actually register for an SEO training. That’s only a 2% conversion rate. Does that mean that “SEO training” isn’t the right keyword for my site? Not at all. If I see that the average time spent on the page is 3 ½ minutes, the bounce rate is very low and visitors are checking out 2.90 (average) pages per visit than I’m pretty confident that “SEO training” is sending the right kind of people to this page but since I am selling something I can’t expect the conversion rate to be as high as if I just wanted someone to sign-up for a newsletter.
Once you have a good idea of what is already going on with your site (maybe you’ve found some great keywords you never thought of before!) the next step in finding the right keywords to target involves doing a little research. There are plenty of keyword research tools out there but I prefer to use the Google Keyword Research Tool.
So I plug “SEO training” into the tool and it spits out 100 different variations I could consider targeting. Some of them, like “SEO training free” I know are going to be wrong for my site. I don’t want someone looking for a free resource coming to my page because I know they won’t convert. Other keywords, like “advanced SEO training” are on the cusp—it’s a good keyword with good search volume, but my SEO trainings are more introductory than advanced. They are for business owners and marketing managers, not other SEO people. Again, it might send a good amount of traffic my way but it would be the wrong kind. A keyword like “SEO seminar” is probably closest to the right kind of keyword for that page.
Now it’s very possible that I am completely wrong about “SEO seminar.” Just because I think it’s a good fit that doesn’t automatically mean it is. That’s a mistake many site owners run into—they think their keyword research is set in stone. Finding the right keywords is a process and sometimes keywords you thought were a sure-thing doesn’t work out like you planned. That’s why you need to keep an eye on your analytics, give things a few months to settle down, and then re-evaluate.