Keyword research is market research for the digital age. We have never had more data to focus tightly on the markets we are selling to. It is an essential precursor to building a web site and creating laser-targeted web pages properly to achieve success in either a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or online advertising campaign. Here I look at what is needed for SEO – Getting to the top of Google.
Keywords are words or groups of words which people use to search on Google and other search engines.
Google releases data to us through its Adwords Keyword Tool and we can find other useful data for SEO from a number of other sources, such as Majestic SEO for analysing links. However, specialist software (such as Market Samurai), expertise and an insight into the market targeted by a particular business are needed to show whether a web site and web page can achieve meaningful results in a search engine optimisation campaign.
There is a fine balance to be made between the amount of traffic, the competitiveness of the marketplace and a suitable budget.
On average, a top organic search listing will achieve 42% of the click-throughs for a search. The seventh listing will achieve 1%. You can see the gains can be impressive, but proper keyword research must be carried out.
As an example, Google tells us the UK monthly traffic flowing for the following search terms:
- [Hat] 2,740,000
- [Wedding hat] 40,500
- [Black top hat] 1,300
Other research shows that [hat] is far too competitive a term to focus on as there is little chance of ranking for it without very deep pockets. It is probably only a suitable term for a very large retailer to target, being very generalist.
The competition for [wedding hat] is lower and a focused seo campaign for a specialist shop would be worthwhile.
Targeting [black top hat] would be relatively easy with a well designed web site and a good link building campaign. Even though the search numbers are far smaller, the searchers are very focused and traditional silk top hats can cost £2,000 in London’s West End. At the same time, there is high competition for advertising on the term, driving the Google Adwords price up to over £0.60 per click, meaning this would be an ideal term for a specialist retailer to focus their SEO efforts.
Here are just some of the factors a keyword researcher needs to look at to understand how successful a SEO campaign might be and how much might need to be spent on it:
- The number of other websites containing the search term on their pages, in their URLs, meta titles and descriptions.
- The number of links to competing pages and competing domains.
- The authority of links to competing pages and what anchor text those links are using.
- The PageRank of competing websites in the top search results.
- The size of websites in the top search results.
- The age of the domains ranking in the top search results.
- The age and authority of the domain which will be the focus of the campaign.
A sensible piece of research will analyse tens of thousands of pieces of data for a small business; will generate previously unconsidered keywords; and will help a business focus. Software will help gather this data, but ultimately insight and common sense will make sense of it.
Without keyword research, it is impossible to run either a sensible or an economical search engine optimisation campaign. If you are building a new website, this should also be the starting point.