Keyword research, yadda yadda, we’ve heard it all a million times.
We all know that keyword research will help you capture as many page views and as much traffic as you possibly can from search engines, which can generate new business for you and your company.
But did you know that keyword research is useless without first doing heavy duty competitive analysis? Most people think that using Google’s free keyword tool is enough for keyword analysis. It’s far from it.
You may find a keyword that seems very promising in the Google keyword report – but what if the top 10 results for those keywords have a domain authority greater than 80? There’s no chance you will touch any of those 10 spots, so any time optimizing for that keyword term is lost.
Common Sense Keywords Aren’t Always Best
If you’re promoting a site that sells vacuum cleaners, it makes sense to think that users will type in a common sense keyword.
In some cases you might be right, but that doesn’t mean common sense keywords are always right for your business.
In many cases, users enter keywords that aren’t exactly common sense keywords.
Using the vacuum cleaner example, many users might choose to enter ‘cheap vacuum cleaner’ or ‘space-saving vacuum cleaner’ instead of simply typing in the words ‘vacuum cleaner.’
This is especially true of web-savvy individuals that know typing the term ‘vacuum cleaner’ will give them millions of search results with few of them being very focused around what they really want.
When working in SEO, it’s your job to think about these issues and avoid common sense keywords that won’t really get your business traffic – at least not the kind of traffic that will actually result in sales.
If you’re selling an affordable vacuum cleaner or one designed specifically for hardwood floors, for example, a more refined keyword will get your business more focused traffic.
Keep in mind too that you won’t just be linking to the client’s homepage, you can link to specific products that will fit into the content you are generating for the link.
Know Your Target Audience
In order to narrow down what keywords are best for the company or site you’re working with, you’ll need to know who their target audience is.
If you’re selling vacuum cleaners, your target audience is not 15 to 22 year old males.
The opposite is true as well – if you’re selling video games, your target audience is not 30 to 40 year old homeowners.
Knowing your target audience will also allow you to tap into their thinking and search habits.
Many companies even perform market research to figure out what search terms their target audience might use and how to best get their attention with their website and marketing materials.
How Do I Know if I’m Picking the Right Keywords?
In many cases, you may need to try out different keywords or create a variety of different content pages with different keywords to see what’s more effective for your business.
Keeping with the vacuum cleaner example, you may find that ‘cheap vacuum cleaner’ is a better keyword for your company than ‘powerful vacuum cleaner.’
While your keyword should be one your target audience is likely to choose, and it should effectively describe your product or site, you may not always know ahead of time what keywords will be the most successful.
Incorporating Competitive Research into your Keyword Analysis
You can start your keyword search by using Google’s keyword tool, this will give you a great foundation. Then head on over to SEOmoz’s keyword tool to look at the top 10 sites ranking for your chosen terms.
What is the domain authority of each of the sites ranking? How many total links from unique C classes? What is their alexa ranking? What is the page authority for the specific page? Furthermore, you can determine if the keyword is A. Transactional, or B. Informational. Based on the type of query, the results will vary. If your keyword is transactional, you may be competing with E-commerce giants like Amazon and Wal-mart, so try to find keywords that don’t have mega sites in the top. Also, tell-tale signs of good keywords are SERP’s that have pages ranking from Squidoo, Hubpages, etc.
Once you compare these SERP’s and have a clear view of how many spots are actually available in the top 10, you can make informed decisions about what keywords are actually viable. Choosing a great keyword with high monthly searches that is impenetrable will get you NOWHERE, because you will not rank for it. Instead, choose more long tail, specific terms that may not bring in as many searches but where you actually have the potential to capture some traffic by ranking in the top 10.
Performing adequate keyword research can make our break your SEO campaign. Don’t skimp – make sure you spent the time and resources to identify the best VIABLE keyword terms.
Marcela De Vivo works for ParkingGames.com and is a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area. Her articles consist of topics from optimizing SEO strategies to how to’s on inventive blog content and social media marketing.