Choosing the right keywords and keyphrases for your website

When a web browser submits a query to a search engine, the search engine will display the pages that best answer the user’s search. Search engines base their response on the quality of a website with respect to that search term.

Google keyword search The first stage of any SEO campaign is therefore to choose the search terms which will sell your product or service.

The following process should help you to choose relevant, targeted and achievable keywords.

Look at your competitors

Check out your competition and look at their Meta tags (page titles and meta descriptions) to see which keywords they are using. This is a great starting point to identify the most commonly used keywords for your industry.

Make your own keyword list

Put yourself in the mind of your customers and add any keywords you feel are important. Include your company name and town or city as well. For each keyword or phrase think what plurals and variants might be searched for. For international target markets, repeat important keywords in American as well as British English.

Ask friends and customers for help

When speaking to customers, ask them which keywords they relate to your company and how they would search for you. Ask friends and family to make suggestions. As someone who is at the heart of the business, you may know too much and therefore miss certain search terms.

Use online keyword tools

Now that you have your initial list, you are ready to do some online evaluation. Since you can't realistically aim to optimise your website for all of the keywords on your list, you need to narrow it down. Google Adwords, Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics all provide free tools to help you narrow down the list.

Keep the most popular or frequently searched terms and discard those that are rarely searched.

Be specific

Rather than saying "audio walks" try saying "london audio walks" or "architectural audio walks". While the former will be a more popular search term, the latter will be considerably less competitive and is likely to send higher quality traffic to your site.

People who search for "audio walks" could be looking for audio walks anywhere in the world. Only a fraction of these searchers will be potential buyers of your product and it would be more effective to have 5 users interested in "London audio walks" browse your site, than 25 that are interested in American audio walks.

Revisit your list

You should aim to re-address your keyword list periodically. If you have a long history of data in Google Analytics, this will often shed light on what is working, what isn't working and which other searches are generating traffic for you. For a new site, you should do this every month or two. As the site matures, you should only need to update your keyword list every 6 months or even annually.

By tweaking your target keywords over time, your list should get more and more effective and you can move your efforts to content writing and other SEO techniques.

Topics: Search engine optimisation (SEO), Writing web content

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