Tutorial Details
Subject: Search Engine Optimisation
Difficulty: Beginner
Updated: February 17, 2014

Learn the importance of keywords and how to carry out optimal keyword selection.

In this guide we will teach you the importance of keyword selection, how to incorporate keywords throughout your SEO strategy, ways in which you can identify competition and which tools to use in order to measure the success of your campaigns.

Keyword selection is arguably the most important aspect of search engine optimisation. Targeting terms that are too competitive or that generate no search traffic are the most common downfalls to 95% of website owners.
The top 5% of websites that actually become successful are the ones that understand their audience and the search terms used to find their competitors.

What Are Keywords?

Keywords, also known as key phrases are terms used within a search query to find web pages. A website needs to rank on the first page of a search engine results page (SERPS) in order to generate significant natural traffic via search engines. In order to rank well for a keyword you will need to optimise your website, just as your competition would have done.

In relation to specific keywords, the more relevant a website is deemed to be the higher it will rank in search engines.

Trophy & Long Tail Keywords

A common mistake made by many website owners is to target trophy keywords which are traditionally only one or two words long. Through my experience with clients, as soon as you mention keywords and selecting suitable terms to target their eyes and ideas go into Vegas mode. They want to target and rank for the most competitive and nationally recognised terms instantly, a big mistake to make for most businesses.

Simple questions you need to ask yourself when selecting keywords are these:

  1. What search query topics do I want to target?
  2. Who are my target audience?
  3. Where are they based?
  4. Who are my competitors in those locations?

These are just a few basic questions that you need to ask yourself. If you were a cleaning company in London it would make sense to answer these questions in this order:

  1. I want to target cleaning services search queries.
  2. My target audience consists of businesses and consumers looking for cleaning services.
  3. They are based in London.
  4. My competitors in this location are ABC Cleaning, Mr. Washy and EZ Cleaning.

From these answers it is very clear that we need to target London based terms such as ‘Cleaning Company in London or ‘Cleaner in London’ yet we see so many

businesses that target terms such as ‘UK Cleaning Company’, ‘Professional Cleaning Company’ etc.

Put simply you are wasting your time for two reasons; firstly those terms will be incredibly competitive with brands that are actually national cleaning companies. Secondly if someone were to find your website after searching for ‘UK Cleaning Company’ it’s not guaranteed that they are also based in London meaning that they might not become your customer.

Make sure you don’t waste your time when selecting keywords so think logically and you will see significant improvements in the traffic you generate via search engines.

Competitiveness of Keywords

How to Measure the Competitiveness and Search Volumes of Keywords.

Every SEO professional will have their own opinion when it comes to what tool is best for identifying keyword competition and monthly search volumes. We are confident in Google’s system and whilst others may disagree, we must pose a logical question as to how another system could have better information on search terms used other than Google itself.

The Google Keyword Tool is our preferable tool to use when it comes to identifying the monthly search volume and competition of specific search terms. However this tool won’t be around for much longer and you will need to use the Google Keyword Planner Tool by signing in through an Adwords account.

How to Select the Best Keywords

Selecting the best keywords is not always an easy task, especially with little experience and knowledge from that industry. Fortunately there are tools such as the Google Keyword Tool that will help you select relevant keywords. The data generated will also enable you to assess the competitiveness and the volume of traffic those terms might deliver. It’s always best to have a balance when selecting key terms. You don’t want overly competitive terms and at the same time you won’t want to target terms that generate little to no traffic.

Through experience and Google’s recommendations we usually target 7 keywords per page. This ensures that your web page is only targeting relevant search terms. Our suggestion is to include 1 or 2 competitive terms and around 5 low to medium key terms.

Below we have identified an estimation as to how competitive a key phrase would be based on the number of words it contains:

1 keyword = extremely competitive
2 keywords = highly competitive
3 keywords = medium to high competition
4 keywords = medium competition
5 keywords or more = low competition

Using Keywords on Your Website

There are various areas that you should include keywords within your website. Whilst onsite SEO is very important, remember that your website should be designed for users and not search engines so avoid over optimisation and stuffing keywords in when it’s not suitable.

Suggestions for keyword locations:

  • H1 tags
  • Within your website content
  • URLs
  • Image ALT text
  • The page name
  • At the top and bottom of the page
  • In references to images
  • In the image itself

Using Keywords in Anchor Text

Anchor text is where you are going to truly benefit from keywords and link building. Anchor text refers to the actual words that form the hook for a hyperlink. For instance if ‘Click Here’ is the anchor text it would look something like this; Click Here. In the eyes of Google, anchor text acts as description of a link. Google views a link from one website linking to another as a vote of confidence from that site. The words used within that link (the anchor text) acts as the description of where that link is sending someone. For instance the anchor text – web design company in Colchester is telling readers to follow that link if they want a ‘web design company in Colchester’. This link is also telling Google that other websites are recommending the recipient website, in this case ‘Universal Web Design’.

Out of context, link building is a simple and proven process. Links are undoubtedly still the most powerful SEO strategy. To back this up simply search for ‘Click Here’ in Google and you will find the Adobe PDF reader-ranking top. On that page the words Click Here are not even used. They rank top though because millions of websites link to that site using the text; Click Here to download a PDF reader. Until the Adobe website does not rank top for the term Click Here then please overrule anyone trying to tell you otherwise.

People that suggest link building does not work are also the ones that struggle to gain links.

Track Your Rankings for Keywords

Any professional marketer worth listening to will tell you to track and measure your marketing activity. Through measurement you are able to identify what is, and what is not working. Once you have a proven strategy the rest becomes rather simple – just keep investing more time and money into it.

This theory certainly applies to SEO and keywords. It is paramount that you track your website rankings for search terms on a monthly basis. This will enable you to see progress, review what has been implemented over the past month and begin to understand what is working for you.

Over the years we have used various Keyword Ranking tools. All have their pros and cons but here are some of the best that we recommend:

We hope you enjoyed this guide and that it helps you better understand the importance of Keywords when it comes to online marketing and search engine optimisation.

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