It is impossible to overstate the importance of keyword research in SEO. If you don’t choose the right keywords, even a first place ranking in Google is useless.
How do you know if it’s a good keyword? Ask yourself three questions.
- Is it searched?
- Is it specific?
- Is it relevant?
The Importance of Keyword Search Volume
Is anyone using your keyword phrase when they search? If not, you can rank right at the top of the pile and it won’t mean more traffic or business.
But how do you know what people are searching for? We’ll take a more in-depth look at keyword research in our next post, but here are some free ideas to get you started.
Go to Google.com (or .ca, or .co.uk or the version most used in your country) and begin typing your topic. You’ll see some suggestions to complete your search. These suggestions come from previous search activity on Google. You won’t be able to tell how many searches have been done, but more popular terms will be shown.
Google Trends is another tool you might want to look at. You can enter a search term and see the search interest in different regions and time periods.
Don’t overlook non-techy ways to find out what people are looking for. What do your customers ask for on the phone or at your front counter? What words do they use? What terms do they enter when they search on your website?
The Importance of Keyword Specificity
Another factor in the importance of keyword research is specificity. If your keyword phrase is too general you are unlikely to rank or convert site visitors into customers or subscribers.
Let’s say you’ve got a shoe store specializing in dress shoes. You decide you want to rank for “men’s shoes”, and “women’s shoes”. But maybe the searcher wants athletic or casual shoes.
If they don’t find what they are looking for they will head back to the search engine and amend the search so it’s more specific. You want them to find what they are looking for on your site – so be specific! For example “women’s flat dress shoes”. More discussion on long-tail keywords in a future post.
You also end up trying to against every site that sells shoes…and that’s a lot of sites. The more specific your keyword phrase, the less sites you’ll be competing against for search rankings.
The Importance of Keyword Relevance
The keyword phrase you choose for your page must accurately reflect the content of that page. If it doesn’t, you are very unlikely to achieve decent rankings.
Search engines are pretty smart these days. They’ll parse each word on your page, each heading, each link, and many other factors to determine if your content is likely to satisfy the searcher’s intent. Because satisfying searchers is what they do. It’s their reason for being.
Back to our shoe store. Your keyword research determines that a lot of people are searching for “Naturalzier dress shoes”. You don’t offer them but figure you have comparable brands, so you’ll try to get that traffic.
Writing quality content is hard enough, but now you’re trying to squeeze in keywords that are not relevant to your business. “Hey, looking for Naturalizer dress shoes? Why not look at our Hush Puppies?” Then you go on to talk about Hush Puppies. That’s not going to rank well because search engines can tell which brand your page is about.
And here we are talking about shoes on a page about the importance of keyword research. Ah well…do as we say, not as we do.