Monday, April 12, 2010

Key is the Word

by Sharon Briault

What is a keyword?

A keyword is a word or phrase that describes the main concept of a topic.

When someone looks for information on the internet, it is the keywords they type in which tell the search engine what to look for. You use keywords all the time, although you possibly aren't aware that you´re doing so. Every time you search for something on the web, you are using keywords.

For example, if you put "pasta recipes" into your search bar, you will see pages of results relating to pasta recipes.

One thing to bear in mind is that a keyword can actually be more than one word. Take the previous example for instance - pasta recipes. Even though this is two words, it is classed as one keyword.

Why Are Keywords Important?

Keywords are important because they have such a huge influence on where your article or your website is ranked by Google.

If you want to get ranked highly by Google, you will need to establish what the frequently searched-for keywords for your topic are, but not those with such high search results that they´ll make your keywords non-competitive.

There are Two Types of Keyword

There are two types of keywords; short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords. Very simply put, a long-tail keyword comprises more words than a short-tail keyword and this can help to narrow your search results.

Let´s take our previous example again. As a search term, "pasta recipes" is classed as a short-tail keyword and at the time of writing, there are 647,000 results for this on Google.

However, if we make that search term into a long-tail keyword as follows, "seafood pasta recipes", this brings up only 4,240 results on Google. See what a difference it can make when you refine your keyword search like this?

Basically, short-tail keywords will generate more search results than long-tail keywords. This means that if you want to get ranked highly on Google, you will come up against a lot more competition if your keywords are short-tail. Therefore, your aim should be to find frequently searched for, long-tail keywords without a lot of competition.

In the next section, I´d like to tell you a bit about keyword searches and the free tools that are available to help with this.

Finding Keywords

So how do you find the keywords with the best fit for your website or article?

Firstly, it may help you to know that Google offer many free tools to assist with keyword research. I personally use their free keyword tool all the time and that is what I´m going to be using for the following examples.

Next, and very importantly, you will need to have a clear idea of what your product is, i.e.; the service you are offering or whatever it is that you are promoting, selling or giving away

Then, put yourself in the place of the customer who is looking for what you are providing. If you were them, what would you type into Google? (By the way, this is where your keyword research tools come in handy!)

To help establish the keywords that are being typed into Google´s search bar, I simply type some keywords or phrases for my product into the keyword tool. Almost instantly, I am shown a list of alternative keywords or phrases that have been searched for, but which still relate to my topic, along with the number of searches for each keyword or phrase.

Now, the figure I´m interested in is the Global Monthly Search Volume. This figure tells me how many people have searched for a particular term in any given month.

For this example, the search term I am using is "Make Money". This is a very difficult area to get into as it is already very highly saturated with websites and articles, but I know it will give me a nice long list of results for the benefit of this example.

Next, I double click the 'Global Monthly Search Volume' heading which will re-arrange the search results in the order of lowest to highest which makes it easier to read.

If I scroll down the list, I see that there are 150 entries that are related to the original search, but underneath, I can see that Google have suggested some additional keywords that I might want to consider.

I am looking for keywords that have searches of at least 2,000 and 3,000 per month. I don´t really want to go much higher than that as generally speaking, the higher the searches, the higher the competition and much lower results indicate that not enough people are searching for that particular keyword. Of course, I would suggest that you spend some time researching this yourself for your own niche.

So again, for this example, I am now going to click on the 'Add' button next to all the keywords with a result of between 2,000 and 3,000. This gives me a list of about 16 keywords which should then be saved by going to the bottom of the section I am in and clicking on the word 'text' next to ´Download all keywords'. By default, this will save all my keywords into Notepad.

And so I now have my keywords.

Checking Your Keywords with Google

Now that I have my list of keywords/keyword phrases, I can check them in the Google search bar for competition.

Using the keyword "Make Money" once again, I have picked three from my list which are;


Students make money 2,400 Make money from the internet 2,400 Make money betting 2,400

They all have the same global monthly search figures of 2,400 which fits in nicely with the criteria of at least 2,000 but less than 3,000 searches.

Now I need to key these phrases into the main Google search bar, but I am going to put the keywords in quotes, i.e. "students make money". The reason for doing this is to ensure that my search is focused solely on my exact keywords and doesn't include other sites/articles which may have some of my keywords in their title.

By typing "students make money" into Google, I get 438,000 results. (You may be interested to know that without the quotations, the term students make money gave me a search result of 88,300,000, so you can see how refining my search has helped to significantly reduce the amount of results).

Next is "Make money from the internet" which has 39,000 results and finally "Make money betting" which has 363,000 results.

Now, the whole point of all this keyword research is to find the ones which will best help to get your website/article onto page one of Google. In order to do that, ideally you need to be competing with sites/articles with search results of no more than 40,000, so "Make money from the internet" is a possible keyword.

Of course, in an ideal world, there would only be 2,000 searches and 10,000 competing sites, which would make things a lot easier, but hopefully, I have explained the principle.

Google Wonder Wheel

On any Google results page, at the top left of the screen under the search bar, you will see the words "Show options". Type your keywords into the search bar and then on "Show options". Now scroll down the page to the Wonder Wheel which you will find on the left hand side of your screen.

Now click on that and you will see your original keyword search with lots of additional options and ideas. If you then click on one of the ideas, you will be given related keyword suggestions and so on.

Why not give this a go - it really is a great tool. Incidentally, you can change the keywords in the search bar at any time to reset the Wonder Wheel.

I hope you have found this basic guide to keyword research useful.

(Please note that all search results were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change regularly)

About the Author

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