Defining Your Site Keywords: Recognizing Potential

A keyword research phase before site development ensures that your site will attract the most visits from your target audience. Even if your website is live, completing these steps will reveal phrases that can increase traffic upon incorporation. Here is an overview of the keyword-defining process that I’ve learned.

1. Create a list of search terms. Involve your friends and associates.

First create a list of queries. What would you google if you were looking for a company with services such as yours? By involving others in this process, especially those outside your industry, you can compile a well-rounded list.

During my keyword research, I asked a friend, “What would you google if you were looking for a web designer?” She responded, “design website” and “professional website.” Because of my insider’s perspective, the query “professional website” had not occurred to me. I added it to my list.

2. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to gather additional search terms.

Head over to Google’s Keyword Tool to generate additional phrases for your consideration. This process will take some time since a large number of the keywords will not appropriately describe your website or will be too competitive. You will need to shorten the list until the remaining realistic terms can generate measured search engine results.

Enter your list from step 1 in the “Word or phrase” input box, and click the search button. You’ll see a resulting list of “Keyword Ideas.” In the left sidebar, change the “Match Types” from “Broad” to “Exact,” which will increase the accuracy of the search numbers. Then click the download button (directly under Keyword Ideas), and select the csv format, which you can open in Excel, OpenOffice, or Pages. Note any phrases that are a great match for your company and services, and transfer them to the input box. You can download the csv files for these matches as well.

Google's Keywords Tool

3. Pare your list.

Now that you have downloaded your csv files, you can open them in your preferred software. Delete all the columns except for “Keywords” and “Global Monthly Searches,” and combine the entries into one master spreadsheet. Sort the data alphabetically via the Keywords column. Next, eliminate rows with duplicate keywords and phrases that do not describe your business or site. If a user entered the given search term and landed upon your site, would he or she be satisfied? Would the user feel deceived?

In Jill Whalen’s online course, the SEO expert recommends pairing the Global Monthly Searches data with “allintitle” (AIT) data. Allintitle is a Google search operator that returns sites with the designated search term in the html title tag. You can use the operator to determine the number of sites that may have been optimized for the search term and the term’s resulting competitiveness. To collect AIT data, google the following: “allintitle: ‘your search phrase.’” Record the number of search results in your spreadsheet in a new AIT column.

Note: If you complete a high number of successive AIT searches, Google may suspend your search activity. This is just temporary, so don’t worry. Take a break, and return to your AIT data gathering a half hour or so later.

Google's Search Operator allintitle

4. Highlight the valuable keywords.

Once you’ve completed your spreadsheet, sort your data via the AIT column. Highlight keywords with a low number of AIT results and a high number of global searches. For example, a keyword that has 1000 global searches and 500 AIT results is a valuable phrase and should be noted. Jill Whalen suggests that 0-1000 AIT results indicate a non-competitive search term, 1000-3000 is fairly competitive, 3000-5000 is competitive, and 5000+ is very competitive. Owners of new sites, she remarks, should focus on search terms with under 1000 AIT results. After reviewing your spreadsheet with the Global Monthly Searches / AIT ratio in mind, you should have a condensed list a keywords with real potential.

In Conclusion

Now that you have your list of valuable keywords, you can implement them during site development. Or go back and add them if your site has already launched. Incorporate the phrases into areas such as title, meta, and alt tags. And weave them into your regular site copy.

The few hours of extra effort required by keyword research will prove well-spent when traffic hits your site.

May high Google-rankings be yours to keep.

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