Keyword Research

DIY Keyword Research? Why not?

It is extremely important to choose the right keywords for your web site. Your entire online success or failure depends on this choice. However it is well nigh impossible to do this research without good tools. If you want to do your own research there are two excellent FREE tools:
    • The Google External Keyword Tool
    • SEOQuake browser plugin
    Keyword Research

    The Google Keyword Tool works best if you have a Google account otherwise there are certain limitations put on what you are allowed to do. The SEOQuake plugin is available on the following browsers: Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Opera. Tough if you’re wedded to Internet Explorer! If you haven’t tried Chrome yet, you probably should. It is supplied free by Google and seems to work far quicker than any of the other browsers.

    Choosing a keyword is not rocket science but it can be difficult because you have to weigh up the following conflicting attributes:

      • Popularity
      • Commerciality
      • Competition

      Keyword Popularity

      Using the Google Keyword tool enter a few words and/or phrases that you judge users would search on when looking for your product or service. Based on these words Google then comes up with a list of suggested keywords. An even better way to do this is to search for an authority site on your subject or better still a competitor’s website that is usually much higher in the search rankings than your own.

      Put this website URL into the Google Keyword tool and get it to do the hard work for you. You can select your “local” location. Google displays the “global” monthly searches and “local” monthly searches. So, if your market is mainly UK based, make sure that you select the UK. Finally tick [Exact] Match Types, making sure that Broad and “Phrase” are unchecked. This will give you a reasonable idea of the real minimum monthly search numbers. Order these keywords by the number of searches and export them to a csv file for loading into a spreadsheet program.

      Keyword Commerciality

      You now have a list of keywords ordered by search ferquency (popularity). The next step is to scan through them and only retain ones that indicate that the searcher is looking to spend money on your product or service. If you have a site that sells cricket equipment you will see over 200,000 monthly searches on the exact term [cricket]. On the face of it this might look like a good term to target as the competition score in Google is low and if you carry out the search in Google there are no adverts and no online shops.

      However, think for a moment and this should ring alarm bells. If there is no competition this is probably not worth targeting as the searchers are not looking to buy stuff. Now look at the term [mongoose cricket bat] – there are only 720 local UK monthly searches. It has a midway competition score in Google and when you search for it there are Adwords adverts as well as shops in the Google SERPs. This indicates that the search has commercial possibilities.

      It should be remembered that Internet shopping has been around for quite a while so the chances of finding an empty niche, with commercial possibilities are very slim. What we are looking for is a niche already being exploited but with the ability for us to be able to exploit it better.

      Keyword Competition

      Ideally you do not want to be competing with other sites that optimise well for the same keyword and have considerably more online presence than your site. Some of your rivals will have been working with SEO companies for years and will be pretty much impregnable on many keywords.

      The domain age of a website also matters a lot and a website which is over ten years is really hard to compete with assuming they have good SEO. This means that a new website will never be able to compete with the popularity of a good site which has been around for a long time. In order to choose the right keywords you will need to do some more good keyword research.

      This time we use the browser plugin tool SEOQuake. Once this is installed and switched on (enabled) each entry on a search engine results page is scored for all sorts of different characteristics. The main ones we look for are PageRank (PR), Yahoo Links (L) and Age. Basically, the lower these numbers on a competing site the easier it is to get your site to rank in competition.

      The final choice of keyword to target is a balance between these factors. If your domain is over two years old then don’t worry so much about domain age. If you have a new domain, all is not lost but your rankings are likely to be variable – up one day, down the next. Steady positioning seems to come as the domain ages. Links are important but remember the reported incoming links will probably not have anchor text equal to your targeted key word. So, if a site has 200 links but you generate 50 with the targeted keyword as anchor, you will be in with a very good chance of overhauling them, all things being equal. PageRank is another factor – even if your site is PR 0, you can overhaul a PR 5 if your site is finely targeted to the keyword.

      I came across this interesting “rule of thumb” the other day, which makes great sense to me. You take an average of the PageRanks of the 1st 10 sites ranking for your keyword and you match that average against the monthly searches on your keyword, using the following table:

      Average PageRank for top 10 sites
      0.0-1.9 2.0-2.4 2.5-2.9 3.0-3.4 >3.5
      Monthly Searches 1-500 OK X X X X
      501-1000 Good OK X X X
      1001-5000 Great Good OK X X
      >5000 Fantastic Great Good OK X

      Of course, if your site has PageRank then you should probably subtract your PR from the average PR, and this now makes the possibilities so much better.

      Unless you’ve got deep pockets and a lot of time don’t target the Xs, and initially anyway I’d avoid the OKs. The Goods, Greats and Fantastic however seem to offer good opportunities. Fantastic should rank very quickly; Great within days to a couple of weeks; and Good within a few weeks. This supposes that you carry out some modest link building.

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