How to choose a keyword for your website in 2015
So you just built a brand new website for your small business and you want to get it to show up on Google. But how do you accomplish this? Where do you start? This post is going to explain how to do keyword research for your website the proper way. I will do my best to include examples and tips. If I have time – I will include a quick video of me doing an actual search for a good keyword to target.
Before you begin this daunting task, I would advise you to analyse your on page SEO and ensure that you have installed Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools on your website. If your on page SEO is top notch, and you’ve installed the proper tools, you are ready to move on to the keyword research part of website development.
Hint: If you built your business website with a free WYSIWYG editor from Go Daddy, Network Solutions, or any other template builder – you probably aren’t ready for real keyword research yet as you will be wasting your time.
“Before you begin researching keywords, your on page SEO had better be AWESOME!”
Keyword Research takes time
Before I dive into this, let’s get one thing straight from the get go: Keyword Research is NOT easy! It takes time – in some cases – A LOT of time. If you really want to compete for your place on Google, it will be an ongoing task. As long as you are in business, you will be doing keyword research and then acting upon what you find. The second you stop – you open the window for your competitors to jump you on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s).
How much time am I talking about? That’s a hard question to answer as it really depends on your niche, your market, and your competitors. In general though, I would say you should plan to spend at least 3-4 hours per week for each keyword you will end up targeting. This time estimate includes not only the time you will have to devote to keyword research, but also the time to implement a page, blog post, or new content on your website in order to actually benefit from the “hidden gem” you found during your research. My time estimate does not include time spent trying to gain backlinks or other SEO techniques to show up for your chosen keyword because in a lot of cases, you don’t have to do off site SEO to show up (if you are in a small town, and your competitors all have crappy websites.)
Steps to proper keyword research
Step 1: Google AdWords Keyword Planner
You will need a Google AdWords account to use the FREE Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool. If you don’t have one, you can sign up for one on your Google Account (don’t worry, you don’t have to spend any money). Once you have an AdWords account – go to: https://adwords.google.com/ko/KeywordPlanner.
The next step is to fill out your “seed” keyword. ** Hint: do not use a one word phrase. In my example – you’ll notice that I started with a 3 word phrase** and the city where you do business. Now select “Get Ideas” and you will be taken to the next screen. On this screen – the first thing I do is click the “Keyword Ideas” tab. After doing this – you will see the exact phrase you typed and the search volume. You will also see a lot of “relevant” keywords that Google has listed below your search phrase. The next step is to sort the keywords by “Average monthly searches”. Our goal is to find the highest search keyword THAT ALSO HAS THE LOWEST COMPETITION.
Don’t just grab this 1 keyword as we have not checked out the competition yet!
“Free Keyword tools are a good place to start, but they are not the be all end all of good keyword research (that’s why professionals pay for more advanced software).”
Keyword Research Video (Part 1)Step 2: Research the keyword further
CAUTION: You will be tempted to grab the highest listed keyword in the AdWords Keyword Planner tool and use it. DON’T! Now it’s time to really research this keyword and ultimately the competition for this keyword. There are several ways to do this, but for ease of use, and low cost – I highly recommend (and personally use) : Long Tail Platinum. (please also note – screen shots and / or demonstration videos will be of this tool as I personally use it.)
Take the top 3 keywords (by Avg. Monthly Searches) and plug them into Long Tail Platinum.
In Long Tail Platinum, under “Fetch Additional Data”, I recommend you check the box labeled “Global Search Volume”. Then under “Apply Filters” – I recommend you set this to at least 200 – maybe even 500.
Now click “Generate Keywords”. Depending on your search term and filter settings – it can take a few minutes for the results to be completed.
Keyword Research Video (Part 2)
Step 3: Sorting the list and choosing your keywords
There are many things to consider when deciding which keywords to target. Some people like to pick the longest, most focused, less searched (but usually higher converting keywords) and others like to go for the keywords that have the most searches. Don’t get overzealous here. We are after 1 or 2 keywords.
I like to look for overlapping keywords with a decent amount of searches but VERY LOW COMPETITION. Their are 2 reasons for this: 1) It’s much easier and quicker to show up for keywords that have low competition, and 2) If the chosen keywords overlap (and have low competition) you are likely to get a trickle down effect from choosing the longer ones.
Example: hardwood floor refinishing costs & wood floor refinishing costs. You see the overlap there? Most likely, as your domain builds authority in you niche, you will also start showing up for the shorter, more often searched term “floor refinishing costs” and if you are lucky even “floor refinishing”.
Keyword Research Video (Part 3)
Step 4: Research the competition for your chosen words IN YOUR LOCAL MARKET
One of the downsides to Longtail Platinum is that you can’t enter a geographical area in the tool like you can with the Google Adwords keyword planner (I hope, and have suggested, that the developers will add this functionality). However, you can now take your 2-3 chosen keywords and enter them in a Google search (I recommend you search the term with and without the city behind them to see if there are any hidden competitors that don’t show up when you don’t include a geo modifier in your search).
To research the competition – you will need to open a spreadsheet and add the following columns (feel free to name them whatever you like): Search Term, Page 1 competitors (domain name), Page in results, KW in title?, KW in H1?, KW in Meta Description?, Good content?, Mobile Friendly?, Page Authority (PA), Domain Authority (DA), and Notes.
(or you can download my keyword competition analysis spreadsheet)
Fill in the information about your competitors on this spreadsheet. This will help you keep track of how to beat your competition.
Step 5: Write content for a blog post or a new web page on your website
Now that you know which keyword you are going to go after (narrow you original list of 3 down to 1 actual keyword that encompasses the overlapping keywords) it’s time to write some content. Make sure that what you write is unique, original, and helpful to your website visitors. Ensure that when you build the webpage your new page has the keyword in the title tag, the meta description, the H1 tag, and is repeated (no too much) throughout your content in it’s main form and variations of it. DO NOT KEYWORD STUFF! Ensure that if you have pictures – the image title tags and alt tags have your keywords or relavent variations of your keyword in them). Don’t keyword stuff here either.
Keyword Research Video (Part 4)
After posting your content – you are only part way done – now it’s time to poach some links from your competition!
Step 6: Post your content to Social Media
If you do not have (at minimum) a Facebook page AND a Google Plus page – you should NOT be doing any of this work. Social media will benefit you in many ways. That’s a post for another day, so I won’t go into it now, but I will say that if you are serious about SEO, especially Local SEO – you better be using social media.
Social Media seems like a pain to keep up with, but if you have a blog for your website, you can actually kill 2 birds with one stone by using the NextScripts Social Networking Auto Poster Plugin for WordPress (SNAP).
Step 7: Copy your competitors backlinks (the ones you can).
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. I told you at the beginning of this post that this was not easy. By now, your head should be about to explode from staring at the computer all day.
Their are many tools for checking the backlinks of your competitors (and keeping track of which ones you are after, who’s finally linked to you, who’s ignored you, and other opportunities for backlinks.) You can always use Google and search by typing “link: (___site name___)… but this is tedious and will drive you nuts.
I personally use Raventools to help me keep track of things (if you use that link, you will receive $50 off your first bill).
If you decide to use Raven Tools, simply go to “SEO > Backlink Explorer (or competitor manager) and type the domain name of the competitor you want to check out. You will get a list of all domains linking to the site you are researching, and it will include other valuable info to help you quickly determine if the links are worth going after. You can group all the domains together and then simply go to those sites and try to get an equivalent link.
Congratulations – you are done with your first keyword. Now do this about 10,000 more times and you will have a site that will dominate the internet in your industry. Or you could take the easy way out and hire a guy like me.
If you follow these steps, and do this regularly (at least once per month, but ideally more often) – you will start to show up for more and more keywords in your industry. Especially if you are a plumber, electrician, hardwood flooring installer, roofer, or any other blue collar industry. This is because in most cities and industries I’ve noticed that most blue collar industry business owners just don’t take the time or invest the money to do proper SEO. They naively believe that all it takes is building a website.
If you want to avoid the headache, feel free to contact me for your free SEO Quote. As an expert in SEO - I specialize in Keyword Research.