I first wrote this article on keyword research back in 2009. Eleven years ago and most of the process is still the same. the Tools may have changed but the basics are still the same, a good grounding in the basics will set you up for the future. I will update this article fully in the near future to incorporate the new tools available.
Stevie – May 2020
Keyword research is crucial for any search engine marketing campaigns including SEO & PPC knowing what to target so you receive qualified traffic is the most important thing you can do to make a search campaign a success. Its intent based, we know what our perspective customer wants by what they type (or say, more on that later) into a search engine.
A little about what constitutes good and bad Keywords
My outlook is good keywords bring qualified customers that have the intention of buying , subscribing or performing the action that you require. Bad keyword ether don’t have many people searching for them or bring lots of visitors who have no intention of doing more then just looking.
When I first wrote about keyword research things were a little different now its about theming of pages and using a LSI Pricaple (LSI stand for Latent semantic indexing)
Choosing your keywords
Your choice of keywords will be of utmost importance to the success of any site so take your time . The first thing to do is to pick what’s known as a seed word. Seed words are generic broad words related to the industry you’re targeting.
So for some example seed words.
As we see these words are very generic. If we targeted these words and were successful in getting to number one we would get lots of traffic and maybe some sales but very few due to the words not telling us the uses intention.
Intention is why or what the user looking for, the more detail we have, the more sure we can be of the viewers intention. if we take Computer as an example we ask the question is it a Desktop computer or a laptop computer, and so on until we get to a longer more focused phrase, for example: “Desktop computer Intel i9 processor” I like to call it the buying stages
I used to believe in the long tail theory that the longer the query the more focused the intent of the search. Now i don’t think that is the case its all about the intent. You have to use your common sense and ask does this phrase have the intent I need.
Conducting the keyword research
First thing we need to do is get some keyword search volumes and statistics so lets grab our seed keyword and head over to the Google AdWords:
You will need to creat an account as if your setting up a
For this example I’m using Jewellery as my seed word and I’m presented with the following page I’ve selected phrase match and ordered the results by search volume.
Lets take the phrase costume jewellery we see that last month (Oct 09) we had 1.22 million searches that contained the phrase costume jewellery. thats a lot of searches
Expanding our keywords
There is two ways to proceed. To expand our keyword list the fist thing is to grab a two word phrase and pop is straight back into the Google keyword tool. This will give you more variations more closely related to your keyword phrase. The second option is to place your phrase in Googles second keyword tool called Search based keyword tool. How this one works is that it takes your phrase and finds the search queries that contain that those two words in any order. In this example I’ve taken the phrase “costume jewellery” and placed it in the search based keyword tool.
Search based keyword tool and search volumes
You may notice a little difference in the search volumes between the Adwords keyword tool and the search based keyword tool. The difference comes from using two different metrics, the standard keyword tool uses actual search volumes , that is the total number of searches over the whole of the Google network. The search based keyword tool uses the number of clicks a key word or phrase gets as an adwords ad. so you will see a lower amount on the search based keyword tool. From my experence a organic results get clicked on lot more often then a paid ads, so organic search volumes will be many times higher.
What we are looking for are phrases with high search volumes and low competition so we need to know roughly how many other sites are competing for these phrases. so we head over to Google main search page.
- To find how many pages have the phrase on the page type in the search box “Your phrase”
- To find out how many pages have the words in the title tag type “allintitle:Your phrase”
- To find out how many pages have links pointing at them with the phrase as the anchor text type “allinanchor:Your phrase”
These search engine switch’s will give you a better idea of the true competition for that phrase. If the numbers look good we should be targeting that phrase.
Lets take the phrase Vintage Costume Jewellery I’ve checked the search volume in the Adwords keyword tool and it says for exact match search, the phrase was searched for 74000 times in Oct 09.
- 50200 pages have the phrase in that exact word order on the page
- 50800 pages have the title tag with the words Vintage Costume Jewellery in any order
- 40400 sites have links pointing to them with the anchor text Vintage Costume Jewellery
The numbers look OK. The difficulty to rank for this phrase would not be out of this world. Because the phrase is moderately focused we would see a good number of qualified customers arriving to a page that ranked for that phrase.