Not All Search Terms Are Created Equal. When selecting which search terms, also known as keywords, you want to rank
highly for, there are three important factors to consider: which keywords are
most relevant for your site, which keywords have low competition, and which
keywords have high search volume.
Formula for keyword research:
High Search Volume
High Visitor Value
Not All Search Terms Are Created Equal
Reaching Searchers Successfully
To discern which keywords make the most sense to optimize for your site,
here is a 4-step process to identify the best keywords to target with your SEO
Step 1) Put together a list of keywords you think someone would use to find
Step 2) Go to the Google Keyword Tool here:
https://adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool and type in the list of keywords
you came up with. Then once you’ve entered the target search terms, click on the
search button to reveal a list of related terms and their corresponding monthly
traffic volumes. Sometimes Google will change the link for this tool so if you
have difficulty getting this link to work, just do a Google search for “Google
Keyword Tool.” This tool is free and does a great job of recommending potential
Step 3) Download all of the keywords into an Excel spreadsheet by clicking on
the download button.
Step 4) In your new Excel file, do a data sort of keywords with the highest
traffic. To sort the data, you’ll have to go to the data tab at the top and click sort.
If you’re having difficulties, do a Google search for sorting data in Excel. Ensure
that you sort first by keywords with the highest monthly traffic volumes.
Once you’ve done all of this, select five to ten keywords toward the top of
the list that you think are most relevant to your website.
Now that you have your initial search terms, we will want to determine how
much competition there will be for these keywords. The Google Keyword Tool
will provide its own competition estimate when you download the file. However,
you should be aware that this estimate refers to the level of competition on the
paid search side and isn’t a true reflection of how competitive a search term will
be when attempting to optimize your website for organic rankings.
Google gives priority to sites that are seen as authoritative, have been
around a long time, and are consistently creating and publishing useful
information for their users. Therefore, if you do a search on your target
keywords and see a bunch of sites appear that adhere closely to that description
—such as Wikipedia or the New York Times—it’s going to be very difficult to
make progress with even the best strategies in place.
When determining search term competition, there are plenty of great SEO
tools out on the market. One that I tend to use quite a bit and highly recommend
is Moz (www.moz.com) While this tool does cost some money, Moz offers a
free thirty-day trial. This Seattle-based software company has acquired a
particularly strong reputation in the SEO space and they have a very active
community that’s always happy to answer SEO-related questions. This software
will help you identify opportunities, while the community will put you in touch
with experienced professionals who can answer questions and provide insights
into SEO. If you do decide to use Moz on an ongoing basis, you’ll only need the
minimum level of service, currently $100/month. Though, as mentioned, the
company does offer a free one-month trial if you want to explore their tool set
before making any type of commitment. Also important to note, you do not have
to be a paying member of Moz to benefit from the information available on their
blog. So feel free to check out their blog at any point if you have specific
questions about SEO or simply want to check out what’s new in the industry.
Before going any further, it’s important to understand that there are some
great SEO tools out there to help you reach your online goals. While Moz is one
of the more prominent resources featured throughout this book, my goal is to
showcase the value that tools like this can bring to the table when working on
your search engine presence. Later in this book, there will be other tools
mentioned that provide similar features to Moz. I want to give you some insights
into what these tools can do for you and then give you the ability to go out and
find the tools that will work best for your purposes.
With regard to these SEO tools, the strategies outlined in this book could
absolutely be done for free, without having to spend any money on software or
tools. If you would like to research keyword competitiveness with a tool that
offers a free version, you can utilize WebSEO Analytics here:
The software tools that I highlight throughout this book are designed to help
with these SEO activities while speeding things up. However, you should never
spend money on anything related to search engine optimization unless you can
afford it and feel you will receive a future payback from your investment. With
this in mind, let’s continue with our SEO keyword research.
Once you have an idea about which search terms you want to target based
on relevancy and potential traffic, go to the Keyword Analysis tool in Moz or the
free tool at WebSEO Analytics.
Once at the Keyword Analysis tool, you’re going to input the search terms
to get an idea of how competitive they are on the major search engines so that
you will get some idea around competition levels such as this:
The difficulty score takes into account the authority and page rank of sites
that are currently enjoying strong rankings for our targeted search terms, along
with how many websites are going after the same keywords and a few other
additional factors. In my opinion, any search term that has a difficulty score in
the low to medium range should be okay to go after initially. With Moz, this
would be any term with a competition score under 50. However, the lower a
search term’s score, the better, as it will be easier to get increased rankings. In
the event that some of your targeted search terms are too competitive, it would
be advisable to start with some of the other search terms from your initial list.
After all, the goal is to increase your search traffic as quickly as possible, and
choosing the right search terms to target is a key factor in this goal.
Once you’ve found the right combination of search terms based on traffic
potential and overall competition, these will be the keywords we’ll target
initially with our search engine optimization efforts. This list will be constantly
changing as we obtain rankings, but this is where we’ll start. Once you obtain
strong rankings on your first set of keywords, repeat the process and go after
more search terms!
To go a step further, another useful tool for identifying potential search
terms is SpyFu. This company can provide invaluable competitive insight. There
are both free and paid versions; the free version will be more than ample for
your needs when it comes to keyword evaluation.
First, navigate to spyfu.com and input a term you’re considering. For
example, if I wanted to research the term “buy a car” on SpyFu, I would receive
the following information in the organic search ranking analysis:
As you can see from this search, I would be able to identify the top websites
currently ranking for the search term in question, the ranking increase or
decrease that each of these sites has recently experienced, the strength of domain
for each of these websites, and the estimated clicks/month that each website is
driving from the search term in question. This is powerful information that can
also be used to identify the search terms that make the most sense to target.
Our main focus with this type of research is to find the right organic search
terms. By organic search terms, I mean search terms that naturally rank on the
search engines as opposed to search terms that have been bought. When you do a
search on Google, you’ll typically see sponsored searches at the top and righthand
side of the screen that have actually been purchased. Our focus is on the
rest of the search results that can be had for free!
Here’s an illustration to demonstrate the difference:
Throughout my career in marketing, one thing I’ve always found interesting
is the fact that 80 percent of time, money, and resources spent on increasing
search engine visibility is focused on paid search. However, 80 percent of all
search engine traffic actually comes from the organic searches, which can be
obtained for free!
Keep in mind that it’s far better to focus on ranking at the top for fewer
terms than to focus on ranking in the middle of the pack for more terms. Why?
Because the percentage of traffic that goes to the top positions dramatically
increases as your ranking improves.
Data Courtesy of Moz
Identifying the right search terms to target is the most important thing you
can do to help ensure your success on the search engines. If you don’t have the
right search terms to target, it is highly unlikely that you end up getting much
value from the rest of your efforts. It will be more difficult to make progress in
the rankings, and even if you do make progress, there may not be much search
traffic for you to benefit from. Focusing on the right keywords is the motor that
will drive this car forward.
With this in mind, it would only be fitting for me to include some other
highly regarded keyword tools in order to provide some additional options
available for keyword research:
Market Samurai ($97/one time and offers free trial)
Market Samurai generates keywords and traffic statistics based on Google
search query data and provides a range of additional analytics and tools.
Some of the more popular tools include the Rank Tracker, which allows you
to track all of your keywords, the Keyword Research Tool, which helps you
find relevant keywords and conduct an in-depth analysis, and the SEO
Competition Tool, which allows you to analyze the top ten sites ranking on
your target keywords.
Word Tracker ($69/month and offers free trial)
Word Tracker generates keywords and traffic statistics based on searches
performed across all the main search engines, including Google and Bing. It
uses a database of over 330 million search terms, which it updates weekly.
Keyword Discovery ($69.95/month and offers free trial)
Keyword Discovery generates keywords and traffic statistics from over two
hundred search engines worldwide and claims to have the largest keyword
database, containing nearly thirty-eight billion searches. Keyword
Discovery imports the search engines’ search logs into its database or
collects samples from its user panel and other sources. Data is collected
daily, but due to the size of the index, the database is updated monthly.
Finding the right set of keywords to target with your search engine
optimization efforts is the first and most important step in getting to that
very important spot at the top of Google. So make sure to get it right and
you will be well on your way to achieving success online.
SEO Challenge #1: Keyword Development
Use the Google Keyword Tool to find ten keywords that have at least one
thousand monthly searches and are relevant to your target audience. How
many monthly searches does your top keyword receive?
Tools And Tricks
Google Keyword Tool (https://adwords.google.com)
Go to the free Google Keyword Tool and find search terms that are
receiving high volumes of interest every single month. This is an incredible
resource for keyword research.
Market Samurai (http://www.marketsamurai.com)
Generate keywords and traffic statistics based on Google search query data.
The Keyword Research Tool can help you find relevant keywords and
conduct an in-depth analysis.
Word Tracker (http://www.wordtracker.com)
Generate keywords and traffic statistics based on searches performed across
all of the main search engines, including Google and Bing, by using this
database of over three hundred million search terms.
Keyword Discovery (http://keyworddiscovery.com)
Generate keywords and traffic statistics from over two hundred search
engines worldwide with software that claims to have the largest keyword
database, containing nearly thirty-eight billion searches.
Competitive Research Moz (www.moz.com)
Use the keyword analysis tool to figure out how competitive the specific
search terms may be. Don’t spend your time optimizing for search terms
that are too difficult to effectively acquire rankings.
Use the keyword difficulty tool to speed up the keyword research process
by screening the Keyword List and excluding the terms that will be difficult
to achieve top page positioning. It will help you select the terms for which
you have a good chance to rank.
Research keywords and find the search terms that are driving the most
traffic to competitor websites on a monthly basis.