[UPDATE: This post is part of a series on WordPress SEO written before the many updates by Google in the recent past. Though the info in this post are still very relevant, most of the tools and tactics referenced in this post have changed. You're therefore advised to use with caution.]
This is part 4 of our search engine optimization training series. I encourage you to read the previous entries.
In our last article we emphasized the importance of strategically placing the right keyword phrases in your content to effectively optimize your wordpress blog. Having touched the WHY of implementing seo keywords in your content we want to shift our focus to the HOW in this our search engine optimization training updates.
What to Concentrate On In SEO Keyword Research
Ever heard of long tail, short tail and the other fancy words SEOs use when talking about keyword research? Do you know all of these have different impact when you are working on improving search engine ranking?
Some SEO experts classify SEO keywords into head and tail while others classify them into head, body and tail keywords. Not minding the classification here is simply what they are all about.
1. Head keywords are usually of one or two words. For example marketing, professional blogging, Amazon, etc. These type of seo keywords are most times brand names or general words. Though these keywords produce a greater percentage of searches every day the traffic generated from head keywords is usually not targeted.
2. Body keywords, which most seo’s put with head keywords are mostly a combination of two or three words. For example blog marketing tips; make money blogging, seo expert tips, internet marketing, home business etc. These types of seo keyword phrases get lesser searches than head keywords however; they are more targeted than the head keywords.
3. Tail keywords are most times referred to by many as long tail keywords. But the important thing to note is that these are keyword phrases of three or more words. These are searched far less than the head and body keywords. But from a search engine optimization point, they are far better in producing targeted traffic than the first two. For example, search engine optimization expert Houston, work at home business tips for single mothers, facebook marketing strategist dc, etc.
What you should note however, is that when you’re doing keyword research you should concentrate on “body” and “tail” keyword phrases and less on “head” keywords.
SEO Keywords Research: The Tools of the Game!
There are a plethora of tools you can use for keyword research. However, for this search engine optimization training, I want to concentrate on just a few free resources which I personally use.
Frankly, I don’t think you need most of the highly priced keyword research tools out there if all you want is putting your wordpress blog in the first page of the search engines. If you understand the strategy laid out in this tutorial, you can actually work on this whenever you’re creating your content.
However, if you intend to go deeper into search engine optimization as a professional offering SEO optimization services online then purchasing one of these keyword tools is a must. Also, if you want to speed up your keyword research and achieve quicker results then investing in a keyword tool is something you need to consider.
If any of the above applies to you here is a keyword tool you want to look into:
Having said that here are the keyword research tools I use:
1. Google Adwords Keyword Tool
This free keyword tool provided by Google has become one of the most accessed keyword tools out there. It returns results directly from Google’s own internal database of what people are searching for. Although no keyword tool is 100% accurate, Google’s own data is likely to be the most accurate. This tool gives you around 100 keywords. You can then dig deeper by taking some of the keywords it returns as seed keywords to find more body and tail keywords.
You can access the keyword tool here:
2. Wordtracker – free version
This is similar to the google adword tool. While the google keyword tool returns a monthly search result this one gives you an estimated daily search results for each keyword. Though this tool gives you the opportunity to estimate the type of traffic you can potentially generate with a particular keyword phrase, I rarely use it except when researching for niche sites. Get the tool here:
This one gives you some good intelligence for spying on your competitors. It helps you have an insider look at what advertisers are paying per clicks (PPC) for your target keywords on Google Adwords. As a general rule, if the cost/click hits anywhere between 50 cents and $3.00, it’s a good indicator that you potentially have a profitable keyword. Here is the link:
4. Google Trends & Hot Trends
This is another tool from google that, if used well, can help you generate keywords that will generate a quick burst of traffic to your blog. This is very good if you’re running a news blog or a current affairs blog. Google Trends and Google Hot Trends basically show you which terms around the world are popular right now. There is a lot of useful information you can pick up with google trends and hot trends. There's news volume, search volume, and several notable news articles displayed for you, along with where they occurred on the timeline. You can also see which countries, cities, and languages made the most searches. With Google Trends the work is already done for you. You just need to put it to good use. Get the tool here:
SEO Keyword Research: A Step By Step Guide
Now let’s move on to a simple guide for keyword research. For this I personally use the Google's Adword Keyword Tool and the Google Search Tool – two free tools from google! Here we go:
Step 1: Preliminary Keyword Research: Brainstorm
Ok, the first keyword tool you actually need for this is your brain! Oh, but that the truth! Remember, you’re writing for humans and people do not go scampering for some software before they look up what they want on Google! Right? So most times you need your brain to come up with the seed keywords for your keyword research.
This is quite easy if you know your target niche very well. You simply need to “think up” a few keywords/phrases people may enter into the search engines while looking for information about your niche. For example, if you’re targeting the “credit card” market you may think of keywords like, “the best credit cards online”, “best credit card 2011”, “online credit card approval” etc. Write down a few of these and then proceed to step 2.
Step 2: Research the Demand
I usually do my keyword research having in mind the principles of demand and supply. I consider the demand as the number of people searching for information using a particular keyword/phrase while the supply is the number of webpages already targeting that keyword/phrase. To know the demand for a particular niche and the keywords to target, I simply take the keyword phrases I’ve brainstormed above and enter them into the Google Adword Tool. For example, using our topic in this article – search engine optimization, I entered, “how can i optimize my blog for the search engines” in the search box as shown below:
Note that I have checked the “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms” box.
And here is a graphic of the results:
Ok, there was nothing for the phrase I entered but I’ve about 100 keyword phrases there to work with! Click on the “Download” icon and download this result.
Now, before going to the next step I do a little “dressing up” of the list. If you’re monetizing your content with Google Adsense this “dressing up” is something you’ll want to do.
Here’s what you need to do:
Open the list of keyword phrases as an excel sheet. Then rearrange them in descending order according to “Competitors”. This will return the keyword phrases with the highest number of “Competitors” on top. To do this in excel you simply need to use the filter function.
Note: These competitors are Adwords advertisers targeting each keyword phrase. The idea is that the higher the competition the high they must be paying per click. If that is so then this can possibly translate to more high-paying adsense ads showing up on your content! Cool, right? ?
After doing this with the list I downloaded, this is how it looked:
The keyword phrases I highlighted are ones I considered as possible ones to use based on what I’m doing with this blog seo tutorial. However, before anything else I’ll need to analyze the competition.
Step 3: Analyse the Competition
In this step we want to analyze the keywords phrases bearing in mind these two questions:
• Will this keyword phrase bring me enough traffic?
• Can I rank high with this keyword phrase?
To answer these questions I use the following formula to choose which keyword phrases to focus on:
• At least 1,500 monthly searches
• Not more than 30,000 pages in Google “in quotes”
• Not more than 10,000 results for “allintitle”
The first criteria answer the question of traffic while the other two answer the question of ranking. Not doing this can result in a waste of time and resources because you might end up targeting a keyword phrase that is too competitive or don’t get enough searches.
The list of keywords you got from the Google adwords keyword tool already give you the approximate number of searches each phrase receives each month. And so using the criteria above simply trim the list removing any keyword phrase that is below 1500 searches each month and then go on to analyze for ranking.
For ranking you need to do two things, first, you need to find out how many people are using each keyword phrase on their pages. You do this by entering the keyword into Google in quotes. This will tell you how many other pages contain that exact phrase. The next step is to see how strong those other competitors are.
As we have seen in our previous articles Google and the other search engines usually give a tremendous amount of weight to the words appearing in the title of each page. You therefore need to see how many of those pages are also using the phrase in their title. You can easily know this by entering the following search command into Google:
allintitle:”keyword in quotes”
So let’s do this for our keyword phrases from step 2 above.
Before doing that I’ll open up the list of keywords and beside the “Competition” column I’ll create two more columns and name them “Competing Pages” and “Allintitle” like this:
I’ll now go to http://www.google.com and taking each keyword phrase in the keyword list, I’ll enter them into the google search box with quotes.
For example, for the phrase “search engine optimization course” google returned 174,000 competing webpages:
Take note of this number and write it down in the “Competing Pages” column against the keyword. Do this for all the keyword phrases.
Next take each keyword phrase and again enter them into the search box but this time enter: allintitle:”keyword phrase in quotes” like this:
For “allintitle” you can see that this returned 9,070. Do the same for all the keyword phrases and enter them in the column named “AllinTitle.”
Here is a graphic after I’ve done these two steps for a few of the keyword phrases:
Using the criteria above I’ve highlighted some of the possible keyword phrases I could easily optimize for in this wordpress seo tutorial!
All you need is to go through the list and note the keywords you can use in your content for search engine optimization purposes. Remove the seo keyword phrases that fall out of the bracket and then save your new list. These keyword phrases will now form the frame work for your content creation in the days ahead.
Ok, that is for now but before I sign off it’s important to point out again that researching and using the right seo keywords in your content is very crucial to your blog’s ranking. Targeting the right keyword phrase is the secret of this game. If you will use this search engine optimization training
guide as a game plan, I assure you that you will not need any SEO expert to rank your blogs and websites.
Over to you: What seo keyword strategy do you use? Is this search engine optimization training guide simple enough for even a dummy to use? Share your views in the comments below.