Choosing your best keywords

In the previous lesson, The Keyword Matrix, we developed two spreadsheets for chocolate and related terms, one of 85 search terms using the free trial and one of over 5000 terms using the full version.
The spreadsheets gave a prediction of the daily searches for each term:
The ‘predict’ figure is the first metric you should look at. High scoring keywords will be the most popular words in your marketplace – the words people use when they’re searching for your products – so ‘gifts’ for a luxury chocolate site, ‘cheap flights’ for a travel site.
But of course there is a problem. Because the keywords are so popular, lots of sites will use them. You will face a lot of competition and much of that competition will be good at search engine optimization.
An experienced SEO will welcome this challenge and will apply skill and hard work over a number of months to compete effectively. But a novice SEO will find it virtually impossible to compete for these highly popular keywords. What then should the novice do?

Strategies for a novice SEO 

search2I think there are three strategies you should follow:
1. Include the most popular keywords in your website copy, even though you may not rank well for them. Your customers will expect to see these keywords, and search engines will take note of them. By including them, you lay a foundation for the long term: slowly but surely as you add more content, your rankings will rise.
2. Use the most popular keywords along with ‘qualifiers’, either geographic or sector specific. So while it might be difficult to rank well for ‘chocolate gifts’, it is not such a challenge to rank well for ‘chocolate gifts Buffalo’ targeting a geographic area or ‘corporate chocolate gifts’ targeting the business sector.
3. Look for niche keywords or markets that others haven’t yet found. Such keywords have the magic combination of being relatively popular searches, but having little competition.

Slowly but surely as you add more content, your rankings will rise.

Here’s what each of these terms mean:
• Searches is the number of times the exact keyword appears in our sample of people’s searches.
• Predict is the number of times over a 24-hour period that we estimate the exact keyword will be searched for over all engines.
• Google is the number of results that Google will return for the exact search term in quotation marks (you can also choose other search engines).
• Google KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index) is a calculation of the “effectiveness” of each keyword, taking into account the predicted
searches and the number of competing pages.

1. Include the most popular keywords in your website copy.
This means including the keywords that have a high ‘predict’ figure into your keyword strategy.
2. Use the most popular keywords along with ‘qualifiers’. Look at the Google competition figure. If this is too high, add a qualifier to the keyword. So, instead of optimizing for ‘chocolate gifts’, optimize for ‘chocolate gifts Buffalo’.
3. Look for niche keywords or markets that others haven’t yet found. Pay close attention to the Google KEI column.
As with all things in search engine optimization you have to use a mixture of solid data AND human intelligence. Keyword research is not a simple oneoff task. You will achieve much more if you investigate the tools, think about what they tell you about people, and develop your own ideas and methodologies.

A final tip to expand your keyword list 

If you optimize well for a phrase such as “chocolate gifts”, you may also pick up traffic from people who are doing the longer search ‘corporate chocolate gifts’. So having an idea of these longer phrases can help you estimate your overall market.
Wordtracker reports on exact search terms only, so keywords such as “corporate chocolate gifts” do not influence the count for “chocolate gifts”.

Now you’ll have gathered and prioritized many relevant keywords. We’ll explore how you can use these keywords in your website copywriting so that you attract much more of the traffic you want.

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