Many people are of the understanding that keyword rankings is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) begins and ends, and this can lead to all sorts of bad practices in the industry, such as keyword stuffing, hiding keywords and using the meta keyword tag (which makes us shudder a little). As time has gone on the industry has learned from its mistakes and with guidance from numerous industry professionals, as well as hints from Google on what the search giant expects from keywords, it’s possible to utilise the right methods and achieve great keyword rankings. Whilst it’s understandable that you want to rank highly for your keywords, sometimes it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself; “should I be trying to rank for this keyword?” It might seem like a rather metaphysical question to be asking yourself, right up there with “do I deserve this success”, but it’s an important question to ask, as you’ll see in this article where we delve into the world keyword rankings and keyword research.
Are My Keywords & I Right For Each Other?
You can put away your pipe and put your deerstalker back on the hat stand for just a minute, maybe go and see if Mrs Hudson will make you a cup of tea, because before we all become detectives and get into some keyword research methods, we need to look into the big question that we asked earlier; “should I be trying to rank for this keyword?” This is one of the fundamental stumbling blocks for many SEO campaigns, and it’s a question that you want to be able to answer yes to every time. Let’s use an example to explain: If you have a website that sells shoes, let’s call it ‘Rubber Sole’ (because you can’t go far wrong with an obscure Beatles reference), then you would want to focus in on keywords that are, believe it or not, to do with shoes. For instance, whilst the trendy ‘Rubber Sole’ website might sell fashionable shoes, using “fashion” as a keyword would be near impossible to rank highly for, as the competition is exceptionally high, plus it’s very vague and isn’t completely true to what ‘Rubber Sole’ sells, as “fashion” can incorporate a whole host of industries. However using the keyword “fashion” in conjunction with something more relevant such as “leather shoes” giving you “leather shoes fashion” you would stand a better chance, although this keyword would likely still be rather competitive. Using something like “leather shoes fashion” could be a good term to go after, as whilst it will require a lot of effort, and success won’t be guaranteed, it’s likely a term that your regular Google user will search for. Conversely, if you make “semi-aniline tan leather shoes made in Taiwan” a keyword, you might find that you’ll get some success as it’s a very specific keyword, however there will likely be far fewer people searching for a specific type of leather for their shoes, so it’s doubtful that you’ll see much click through traffic coming from that search term. The trick is in figuring out which keywords are right for your business, which will be searched for by potential customers. You want your appearance in their search results to be relevant to them, as you want them to come to your page with good reason, ideally completing a call to action such as making a purchase.
Location Based Keywords
We’ll use our Beatles inspired shoe shop ‘Rubber Sole’ as our example again, and work on the assumption that this shoe shop happens to have a bricks and mortar store in Crowborough, East Sussex. In this instance the owner of ‘Rubber Sole’ is going to want to target some local web traffic as part of their SEO campaign, in this instance we can take something like the broad keyword of “leather shoes” and add in our location specific keyword, for instance “leather shoes Crowborough” or “leather shoes East Sussex”. Doing this the ‘Rubber Sole’ website should rank far better for local searches for these terms, and their respective long-tail keywords, which we will come to shortly.
Do Your Homework
Once you have a rough idea of what’s important to you, you’ll want to do some research to find out what’s working well in your businesses industry. Keyword research is exceptionally important to a successful SEO campaign, and vital if you want to see a good return on your investment. Effectively what is required is to research your market and see what keywords are performing well. Doing this you’ll not only get an idea of what is needed to make your SEO campaign succeed, but you’ll also gain some invaluable insight into your customer base, and develop further understanding into what they want. In essence, you’re doing a little bit of market research. You’ll likely not crack this overnight (although we all wish that we could), but you’ll gain an idea of what your customers are searching for, and what those who aren’t already customers might be searching for. There are other benefits to this research, as you’ll to get an idea of how shifts in trends and demand might come about and be in a strong position to respond to these challenges and be sure that not just your SEO campaign, but your business reflects this. The old adage of knowledge being power is appropriate here.
Be Mindful of the Long-Tail
It’s always worth keeping in mind that long-tail keywords can bring more people to your website, provided that you have put the effort in with your standard keywords and high quality content to begin with. There are an awful lot of people out there, and many of them have access to the internet and subsequently Google. All of these people will have different ideas about how successful their search term will be when they do a search for something, and Google understands this. Long-tail keywords essentially embrace this, and accept that people out there may want to find what you have to offer on your site, but they might not search for exactly the keyword you had in mind for your respective landing page, and will still find you, provided that search engines such as Google view you as being relevant, which is where getting your keywords and quality content in place will help.
Make Sure Your Content is Reflective of Your Keywords
This might seem like the most obvious thing to point out, but during an SEO campaign, once you have figured out which keywords you want to target, you need to ensure that they are correctly implemented. This is part of the SEO process and involves implementing your keywords across landing pages that have contextually relevant content, utilising your headings, meta data, image alt tags and the copy in the body of your page appropriately. One of the outdated SEO methods that is now considered to be counter-productive is to stuff keywords into as many places as is possible. We can’t stress enough how detrimental this can be. The right level of keyword stuffing can be acceptable, and to an extent beneficial when implemented subtly, but what you don’t want to do is have 30 mentions of a keyword in a 200 word body of copy. Another hangover from ye olde days of SEO is to hide keywords on a page by making the font the same colour, or too similar to the background colour. Google’s algorithms are smart enough to pick up on these tactics, and your rankings will suffer if you get caught out, so the general rule is don’t abuse keyword stuffing. What you want to achieve here is a natural spread of your keywords across high quality natural content.
Where to Begin Researching Keywords
Sometimes you can be in a position where your engine’s revved up and you’re ready to get your SEO campaign underway, but you’re not quite sure where to begin looking for keywords. Don’t panic, even the most seasoned SEO specialist can get caught out by this, and whilst at Michael Bell One we’re happy to do the hard work for you, there are a few places that you can go to get your keyword research mission kick started.
- Search Google
It might sound simple, but doing a quick search for some of your keywords on Google will give you a rough idea of what sort of results will show up, and also give you an idea of what works well and what doesn’t.
- Use Google Trends
This one probably seems like cheating, but using Google Trends will give you a rough indication as to how popular certain keywords are, and how they have performed over time. For instance you can see from this image that “black leather shoes” have been consistently more popular than “brown leather shoes”.
- Check out your competitors
Once again, this isn’t cheating, this is research. Seeing what your competitors are doing will give you an idea of what is working well for them, and an idea of what isn’t. From here you can build on that success and avoid potential pitfalls.
Let Michael Bell One Do the Hard Word
At Michael Bell One we’re more than happy to work with you to work out the best approach for your SEO campaign, and if needed we can do the leg work for your keyword research, although obviously we’ll require some background information from your business to able to do this. If you want to find out more about what we can do for you to get your SEO campaign off the ground and your keywords to page 1 of Google, then please contact me (Jake Judd) or David Park today by calling 01273 478822, completing our online contact form or emailing us at email@example.com.