Choosing keywords to target in your website promotion means selecting the most relevant terms that will increase the visibility of your site on search engines. Conducting keyword research is one of the first steps we do when promoting your website. We will outline how we do it below so that you can try it yourself if you wish.

The key is to select the best keywords for your site based on the topic of your site, then use them to improve visibility. The goal is to develop a solid list of target keywords.

So let’s dive in and look at the process of collecting the information and using it to drive traffic to your site!

Why do you need to do keyword research?

Keywords are used to position your products and services (via your website pages) for maximum exposure to the correct audience. However what you think people are typing in to Google might not actually be the case. Which is why you need to find out – we need to research what phrases your potential customers are actually using to search for products and services like yours. When working with a client’s site, this is one of the first things we do. Much of the SEO work after that relies on good, accurate keyword research.

Start with an SEO Audit

Along with the keyword research we also research where a given site ranks in search engines before we do anything to it. This tells us how well optimised the site is before we start and guides the types of changes that we make to it – we don’t want to disturb anything that is already working well. Thus we can maximize our efforts by focusing on a website’s strengths and weaknesses. Which means you get faster results.

This typically means doing an SEO audit. This establishes an baseline or starting point.

Find the best 20 – 50 Keywords

Alongside the the audit we also do the keyword research and our goal is to identify 20 or more good relevant keywords that align with the goals of the site, which will make it visible to of the best possible audience.

The caveat here though is to pick your fights wisely. The highest volume keyword is not always the best – infact it rarely is! And going head to head with large corporations with an entire marketing department and huge budget isn’t going to cut it either. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.. but when you do it is better to get 10 medium traffic phrases onto page one than to dedicate all your time into getting one high traffic phrase one to page one (and failing)

How do I conduct keyword research for my website?

There are many approaches to this and there is no “standard way”.

We do what we have found to be effective ie it works. There may be other ways to get the same result.
Here at Rankwell we have a two pronged approach.

Firstly we do an independent research based on our understanding of the niche and the content of the website. We are looking for overlap with the competitors – which would indicate a valuable keyword. But we are also looking for missed opportunities. These are phrases that the competition have either overlooked or are not working on for whatever reason.

Secondly we like to have a look and see what is already working for other websites so we can see if there are any “soft spots” where we can then position our customers websites. At the very least this gives us a full understanding of who we are competing against. Plus it exposes us to many keywords we may not have thought of or discovered by ourselves. We can also see which words overlap with our own list – meaning it is more likely to be useful

What is our method for keyword research?

You have to start somewhere so start with a selection of broad obvious keywords – seed keywords – which may or may not make it to the final cut. When we are working on a site we ask out customers (the site owners) to suggest some phrases they know to be relevant. We also look through the site and pick out key category or page titles and so on.

Find Related Keywords

These are typically uncovered using a keyword research tool which will analyse your seed keywords and suggest similar associated words. A good keyword tools give other useful data as well – such as

Search volume – how many searches per month does this keyword of phrase get?

Competition Strength – how strong are the sites on page one? Are they big authoritative sites – which would be harder to beat

Cost Per Click – this indicated the value of the keyword or phrase in Google Ads. This tells us if the word(s) have commercial value. If people are paying money to get traffic from it then it must ( assumedly) be bringing is some kind of business for them

Difficulty – many keyword tools use a formula to work out how hard it would be to rank for any given word based on the above factors (and others). This is not a Google metric and how it is calculated differs depending which keyword tool you use. It is useful for sorting out the relative importance of the various words on the list though.

Do Competitive Research

Now you have an idea of what the best search phrases could be – let’s see what is actually being used by other sites. Using a selection of the more popular phrases identified above plus them into Google search and see what sites rank for them. Visit some of the sites and see what they offer. From this action, compile a list of the top ten websites that would be competitors to you and which rank well in your region (in this case Australia) or city (eg Melbourne, Sydney etc). This is your competitor list – these are the people you have to beat.

Now, using a competitor research tool pick the two or three most relevant competitors (or more if you have time) and take a good look at the exact keywords THEY are ranking for. There will be some overlap with keywords that YOU want to rank for. Plus there may be quite a few that you didn’t think of as well.

This shows you what others are doing, and may also reveal areas where they are poorly optimized and you can swoop in with a better optimized page to overtake them in the rankings.

There is one last thing to do…. check for other opportunities that they might have missed or are not interested in.
Cross refence their keywords with the ones you found for your site earlier on. There will be some overlap – but they may be missing something that you have found. That is a golden opportunity.

All of this work really requires a good keyword research tool such as…..
Here you can put in your main keyword and in short order get back a large list of related and associated keywords along with an indication of the search traffic each one gets. It will also tell you how much competition there is for each keyword and also useful data such as the PPC cost to buy traffic for this phrase. And you can click on any phrase to see who ranks in the top ten – a huge time saver.

Add in Long Tailed Searches

Sometimes this process overlooks the best phrases. These may only have 20 or 50 searches per month but when someone searches Google using this phrase you know there is a high chance that they are ready to buy or move to the next step.

They are usually made up of three or more words and are called long-tailed keywords
They are nearly always the easier to rank phrases and you should certainly include some in your final list if they are relevant and useful.

As an SEO agency it is hard for us to know what these long-tailed phrases are until we have been working on the site for a little time. You may know what they are via sales feedback and experience in your industry. Or we can find them as well if you have a PPC ad campaign running. The takeaway here is don’t be afraid to also throw in some lower volume search phrases if you know that they give a good return. After all the desired end product is increased sales and inquires – not just a busier website.

Cull the List

Now the next stage involves putting all this mass of data together and filtering out the ones we need. Don’t get overwhelmed, there is no need to optimize your site for every one of the hundreds of keywords you probably have.

You are looking for the best 20 – 50 Key Phrases or words.
And by best I mean

1. not overly “difficult”
Try to avoid highly competitive phrases even if they do have the highest search volume. They are also the hardest to rank for and you might ever make it on to page one.
2. Popular
Pick phrases ideally with 1500 searches per month month if possible. Depending on you geographic restrictions and niche it might not be possible to do this*
3. Relevant to your website
Refer back to your website and see if there is a page which ties in with that keyword or can be made to tie on. If there isn’t one mark it for use later on, or keep it separate with the understanding that you will need to create new content to match it.
4. Factor in any pages that you have found to already be ranking for particular keywords when you did your SEO audit earlier on.

We like to use a manual method using a spreadsheet and inspecting the keywords, rather than leaving it up to automation.

There is also one more important thing we like to do. Go to Google and quickly survey who ranks in the top 10 or so positions for each of those phrases. You can do this manually – our keyword research software saves us a bit of time by finding this data for us.

You may find the page on results page dominated by large websites like wikipedia which you are best NOT to compete against.
Or you may find that Google has a totally different idea of what that keyword means. They are totally irrelevant to what you do.
Or you may also find that the websites Google shows have no commercial value at all. ( eg all info sites or news sites.)
If you see any of this this you have just dodged a bullet! Spending months optimizing a site for a search phrase which attracts the wrong audience is not productive. Do not pin your hopes on getting a high return from this particular keyword or phrase. Keep it if you must – but be realistic about its value.

Don’t Over Optimise

It is best to pick no more than 2 or 3 keywords for any one page. Even if you have 10 great phrases that align well with a given page. Google is smart and if those phrases/words are relevant and can be found on the page then you will probably rank for them as well at some point.
It is just tricky to optimise the content of a webpage for more than 2 or 3 phrases without making it huge and over optimised. Remember the we are building the page for humans first and search engines second.. so if it is too complicated and people leave it confused then it doesn’t really matter where it ranks.

Now you should have a shortlist of the best 20- 50 keywords for your site and your desired audience. There may be some overlap with competitors keywords that you researched earlier – that is totally fine.

Map Your Keywords

Well done, you have now completed the first part of your keyword research

Now you need to assign each keyword to a page on your website (or create a page f one doesn’t exist) This is a process all itself which we will cover in another post..

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