Keyword Research, Where You Must Begin
Keywords are essential to help search engines link your sites to certain words, terms or phrases. Keywords can be individual words like "diet" or "weight loss," a set of words like "healthy weight loss," or even phrases containing many words such as "eat all you want and still lose weight." This is also the difference between short-tail and long-tail keywords, or the difference between targeting broad markets under heavy competition from other advertisers versus niche markets with less competition. It's best to add keywords (both short-tail and long) to every site, blog, URL, title, article, image and location that has boxes for them, keywords that describe the content of what your information is about. But before we get into the details of how and where to insert keywords, we're going to discuss at length how to discover which are your very best keywords.
Your best keywords describe your website content and are being searched by lots of people with relatively low competition.
Okay, that was a mouthful but true. Certain keywords will only help if people are actually searching for them, and your site is relevant to that subject, and (hopefully) there is not a ton of competition. If the competition is low, then you're golden and the climb to the front page can be quick. If the competition is high, you can still get to the top but it will take great SEO habits and more time.
Start by making a list of possible keywords and phrases that describe your business, website, service, book, product, whatever it is you need to market. Let this list be as long as you want because a few hours of initial keyword research will help immensely in SEO efforts over time.
The extra hours spent determining the very best keywords equates to greater likelihood of reaching the top spots in far fewer weeks.
Let's use a fictional example for how to get started. Let's say that Linda Marshall saw a UFO as a child and has spent her life pursuing this field. Linda wants to write a book and build a website for her study on UFOs. She has collected hundreds of photographs, dozens of videos, stories from eye-witnesses and even people claiming to have been abducted, everything that has to do with the entire UFO phenomenon. Linda's book is half finished, and she also plans to host a blog, market t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc. She hasn't made a final decision on the book title or that of the website but has some thoughts.
Now it's time to come up with an array of ideas for Linda's keywords and keyword phrases. These should be both short-tail and long-tail terms. Short-tail terms are competitive, broad ranging and typically one, two or three words. Long-tail terms are more specific and can be several words or a phrase. Remember that lower or upper case letters don't matter to search engines. Here's a partial list:
Unidentified flying object
I saw a UFO and nobody believes me
Alien abduction cases
Alien abduction stories
Men from mars
I went for a ride in a UFO
Encounters of the fourth kind
Close encounters of the fourth kind
Search for extraterrestrial life
And so on and so on. Obviously this list could become quite long but that's okay. Linda should write down just about anything that comes to mind so she can then research what the results for those search terms are as well as the results for similar terms.
Fortunately our research is made easy because Google has a very helpful and (in my opinion) mandatory program called Keyword Tool External at this link - http://adwords.google.com/keywordplanner. There you can type in certain words or phrases and get data on how many times per month Google actually receives that exact request for information. (Notice the results from searches change each month as these things fluctuate like the stock market.) You'll also see a bar graph indicating how much competition there is from others using those same keywords. Ideally, you can find keywords that have low competition from other advertisers and a high number of searches from users each month.
Back to Linda's example. The first thing I notice is that the term "UFO" gets 5 million global monthly searches (as of June 2013) and has low competition which is outstanding! The plural of the term, "UFOs," also has low competition from other advertisers, but it only gets around 2.2 million monthly searches. Actually that number is enormous too and generally would be fantastic, but in this case it would be smarter to use the singular "UFO." Entirely spelling out the words, "Unidentified flying object" just gets 5,400 searches which could be considered a good long-tail keyword choice.
The word "aliens" gets over 9 million monthly searches while "extraterrestrial intelligence" gets 18,100. Plus the second phrase is so likely to be misspelled that this choice is really a no-brainer. However "aliens" can also refer to foreigners so that needs to be recognized. Check this type of question by either clicking on the listed keyword or typing "aliens" into a Google search. Since the top results are entirely about visitors from outer space, that's comforting (at least for Linda).
Let's compare "ufo sightings" verses "ufo pictures." It sounds like a fair match, but the first phrase gets 201,000 searches per month with low competition while the second phrase only gets 27,100 searches and has similar competition. Again we see that "ufo sightings" is smarter than "ufo pictures," and "ufo sighting" (singular) is not quite as good as the plural.
"Alien abduction cases" gets 880 monthly searches. "Alien abduction stories" gets 5,400. "Alien abductions" gets a whopping 74,000. Since they all have low competition, that's another easy decision.
An analysis of "flying saucer," and "spacecraft" and "men from mars" shows us that they all have high search numbers over 100,000 per month. While "spacecraft" has about three times the searches of the others, it also means different things. In cases like this, I'd prefer the term that most resembles what Linda has to offer, which is called relevance. Since "men from mars" feels kind of wacky, and results from a "spacecraft" search is dominated by NASA projects, I'd pick "flying saucer." On this note "flying saucer stories" gets just 73 searches and "flying saucer reports" gets 110, but "flying saucer photos" does get 720. It's not much but better than nothing, and it is a huge part of her website and book.
What's incredibly helpful is that Google will automatically provide other similar terms you might not think of but are often excellent substitutes. In Linda's case, scrolling through those results showed me that "Area 51" is a hugely popular term and relevant for what Linda has to offer.
There are also ways of filtering the results and asking Google for certain parameters. Here are some quick tips to use this service even better:
· By signing up and logging into a free Google AdWords account, you'll get many more search results, from 100 to 800 entries.
· A right side tab allows you to filter results by a number of choices including relevance, competition, global monthly searches and more.
· For some people, like dentists or businesses where physical presence is required, the local monthly search results will be more important than the global searches.
· You can also filter for Approximate Cost per Click if you ever decide to pay for front page listings. This is entirely optional, not at all mandatory for SEO, but if you find a cheap option like 50 cents or less per click, it might be worth it. The tab gives even more insight to the real competition for those keywords, as in the lower a price the better. Linda might consider paying for "ufo sightings" since it gets 201,000 monthly searches, has low competition and an Estimated Cost per Click of 59 cents. I would only consider this if you have a great product or service to sell and expect to convert browsers into paying customers, or if Linda hopes to have people contribute valuable information (like UFO pictures and video) to her blog.
· On the left side you can filter for matches that are Broad based, Exact or contained in the "Phrase."
· Advanced Options allows you to select Locations, Languages and to apply other filters.
· You can choose searches by Desktop and Laptop, Mobile devices and more.
· Instead of a keyword you can input a website URL to see which keywords they are coming up for in searches to do homework on the other guys.
For many people, it's most important to focus on the basic categories of Global Monthly Searches and Competition level. From there, you'll get what you really need and then can play around with further inquiries.
Back to our fictional example of Linda Marshall. If I also select the search to list by order of Global Monthly searches, it will be clear which is the order of Linda's best keywords. A brief study of her search terms would lead to a partial list of these initial keywords in this order:
I've included "Linda Marshall" because it's often important to brand yourself along with your subjects. Additionally, nearly 2,900 monthly searches occur for that name, so Linda will need to make an effort to stand out from the other Linda Marshalls of the world. (If branding yourself or a product, like an invention, is the primary goal then your name and those terms will be high on your keyword list.)
At this point, these are all short-tail keywords. They will be best for Linda's URL, page titles, book title, meta description and other areas, though we need to recognize some long-tail keywords also. The best long-tail results will get used in page text content, blogs, articles, press releases and more. Here are some of the long-tail terms that Linda will want to store for later:
Pictures of an alien
Sightings of UFOs
Videos of aliens
Latest UFO reports
New UFO sightings
Additionally, Linda can include locations like "Arizona Desert" or other descriptions like "Annunaki return" that will be reserved for articles, blog posts, blog titles and other places where long-tail keywords are most effective.
These will be some of Linda's main keywords for the website, book, blog and more, as she'll benefit by sprinkling them into everything she does. For examples, her URL domain name might be http://www.ufoalienabductions.com and book title might be UFOs and Alien Abductions: Real UFO Sightings and Reports from Area 51. She might make multiple blog posts and submit articles with titles like "Grey Aliens over the Arizona Desert" and "Why the Annunaki are Returning to New Mexico."
Now that Linda knows both short and long-tail keywords, she can design her URL, book title and anything content-related to her subjects. This will surely help Google and people find her over time.
We've learned the next most important step of SEO efforts. You must use the Keyword Tool to discover which terms are relevant, most commonly searched and have lower competition. Hopefully you can use relevant and highly searched words that others aren't using. After doing keyword tool research you should have a list of at least six to ten optimized keywords and phrases.
GOGFP Step #3. Use the Keyword Tool to optimize at least 6 to 10 keyword terms. These should be both short and long-tail to be used later accordingly.
Short-tail keywords are mostly going to be used in your URL domain name, meta description, page titles and within your text and page body. Long-tail keywords are mostly going to be used in your meta description, blog titles, page titles, articles submitted, press releases and comment boxes. There is an overlap effect for short-tail and long-tail keywords, as the short-tail are more related to headline type things while the long-tail are more related to textual body type things. This will make more sense as we get into it.
I have been marketing a short-tail term for about two years, sell ebooks, since I teach writers to make and sell ebooks. It's a highly competitive term. Currently my Amazon book is the first page of Google, but it took many months to get there. Additionally, a huge number of closely related long-tail keywords list me on page one or they have in the past. These are terms that I didn't plan for but just happened naturally through my blogging, articles and text on my websites. This is a very partial list:
sell ebooks wordpress
how to make and sell ebooks
sell ebooks automated system
create a blog to sell ebooks
web pages to sell ebooks
best sites to buy or sell ebooks
how much does it cost to sell ebooks on Amazon
sell ebooks as a minor
build a website to sell ebooks
sign up to sell ebooks for free and get 50% royalty
sell ebooks on iPad
how to sell ebooks on Facebook
best place to sell ebooks
make free life website to sell ebooks from start and on air
websites already built to sell ebooks
I want to start a blog and sell ebooks can someone teach me
It can be humorous, and the true list is far too long to even mention. Over time, all of these search terms have lead people to my blog or website on selling ebooks. Some terms will still get my site on page one while others have dropped down. It's important to recognize a few things here:
· It would be impossible and foolish to attempt to market all of these long-tail keywords. Don't try too hard with long-tails; they tend to work themselves out.
· Even though I’m not on the first page for several short-tails, I am on page one for a huge number of closely related long-tails. In time this will help my chances of a page one result for the coveted short-tails.
· After two years of doing this, I wasn't quite on page one for a highly competitive short-tail term, but I was there for dozens of similar terms and finally made it to page one. Don't worry if you experience similar results. Short-tail and competitive terms take longer, while less competition and long-tails can be a very quick climb to the top.
Now you understand how to find your keywords. Very soon we'll discuss where and how to implement them on your blog, website and more. But first I want to briefly discuss some methods of SEO called White Hat versus Black Hat tactics. This is a subject that can either make Google very happy or could even get your site banned from their index.
This concludes the free sample of this book. To read more please visit the Buy the Book page.