Search Engine Optimisation for beginners. Part 2

December 1st, 2010

Research: How to Find the Right Keywords

Sure, research is a little tedious, but it’s an indispensable part of finding the right keywords. You want to uncover keywords that:

Have a high search volume (people are looking for the keywords)
Have low competition (smaller amount of results will mean your chances of ranking higher improve)
Are supported by your content (the keywords are relevant to your site).

There are lots of tools to aid you in finding the right keywords, the most popular being Google’s Search-Based Keyword Tool. It provides results based on actual Google searches, and if you are logged into an AdWords account, it will also give you a list of keyword ideas customized to the site on the account.

Before you get too far though, let’s discuss an important concept for deciding how broad or narrow you want your keywords to be. It’s called, “The Long Tail.”

The Long Tail

Popularized by Chris Anderson, the Long Tail describes a phenomenon where lots of low traffic keywords can collectively send you more visitors than a few high-traffic keywords.

For example, although Amazon may get thousands of visits from the keyword “DVD,” they get millions of visits from all of the individual DVD titles (i.e., Dark Knight, Toy Story, etc.). Individually, none of those titles get anywhere close to the traffic of a term like, “DVD,” but collectively, their volume is a lot larger than any one keyword.

How does the long tail apply to you?

When you combine them all, your long tail (unpopular) keywords should make up roughly 80% of your traffic. So, when you’re researching keywords, don’t just focus on the ones getting massive amounts of traffic. Take note of some of the less popular ones too, and then incorporate them into your overall strategy.

Crafting Your Content

After you pick the right keywords, it’s important to start crafting your content.

Search engines have bots that automatically crawl your website, “reading” it to find out what it’s about and then deciding which keywords each of your pages should rank for. You can influence their “decisions” by strategically optimizing your content for certain keywords.

This is especially true if you’re creating content bots can’t read. It’s easy for bots to interpret text, but they aren’t advanced enough yet to watch videos, look at images, or listen to audio. You’ll need to describe them, so they bot can understand and rank your pages for the appropriate keywords.

One quick word of warning, though.

Writing solely for search engines usually makes your content boring, and typically, that won’t help convert your visitors into customers. It’s far better to focus on people first, making your content as easy as possible, and then optimize for search engine bots where you can, without sacrificing the persuasiveness of your content.
Pay attention to:

  • Titles – Create eye-catching titles that raise the reader’s interest. You only have one chance to make a great first impression.
  • Keywords – Pick keywords that will help bring people to your site and are relevant.
    Links – Link to quality sites that compliment what your website is about. It’ll encourage sites in your niche to link to you as well.
  • Quality – Try to publish unique and quality content. This prompts users to come to your site because they cannot easily find the content elsewhere.
  • Freshness – If you are publishing content that does not age or become outdated, that’s great, but you also need to add new content on a regular basis. If you don’t have the time to add content to your website, consider adding a question and answer section or a blog to your website.

And most importantly, do not publish someone else’s content on your site. This creates duplicate content, and search engines can penalize you for it.

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