SEO/SEM Picking Right Keywords

Published on April 19th, 2013 | by Chipper Nicodemus

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How to Pick Keywords That’re Kind of a Big Deal

So let’s cover the basics first: What exactly is a keyword? A keyword is a word or search term that someone types into Google, Bing or any other search engine when they’re looking for information online. This (hopefully) directs users to information relevant to their search and ultimately to your site. Any keywords you use within your website should obviously be related to the content, products, etc. found on your site. For example, if you own a custom coffee mug business called, Chipper’s Coffee Mugs, a valuable keyword would be “custom coffee mugs.” There will never just be one keyword for your site, but there will be handfuls of words that are more valuable to you than others. And, if you pick/use the best keywords and keyword tools (that are kind of a big deal), customers will come. Here’s how:

What Makes a Good Keyword?

Value: There are lots of different factors that’ll tell you how valuable a keyword is. All of this data can be found from the Google Adwords Keyword Tool amongst others. There’s usually a nice sweet spot with all of these value factors, which makes it easier to pick the best keywords. Just like with everything in life, there will always be a little booger of a keyword that doesn’t fit the bill perfectly. We suggest using your best judgement on how to blend the values to pick the best keyword.

Impressions: An impression is when a keyword shows up in the SERP (search engine results page). One-word keywords will have much higher impressions, but are usually not the best keywords to go with. Think of one-word keywords as being the big fish in the sea; it would feed your family for a month, but is impossible to catch because there are millions of other fishermen in the water. On the other hand, you don’t want to spend too much time trying to catch a keyword with no or little impressions.

Competition/ Difficulty: This is a statistic that tells you how many other people/companies/sites are competing against you for a particular keyword. Sometimes this is a stat that can be a little misleading. If you type in the term: “Facebook” on the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, you’ll get this result: Competition: Low. Monthly Searches: 3.7 billion. This means, there aren’t very many websites or companies using “Facebook” as a keyword, however, 3.7 billion people are searching for it on a monthly basis! Holy search volume BATMAN! Before you jump to the conclusion that you need to pick the keyword, “Facebook,” you have to use your noodle. This is a prime example of where the competition stat is a misleading. “Facebook” is a great keyword to start with, make it the head of your keyword, and then find a longer tail search. A longer what?

Long Tail… Like a Giraffe? This certainly sounds like a funny term, but it has a lot to do with keywords. Having the right amount of tail on your keyword can go a long way for your business. There are a few parts of a keyword. The head, middle and tail. Let’s revisit the Chipper’s Coffee Mugs website scenario. Here’s an example keyword: custom coffee mugs. The head portion doesn’t have to be right at the beginning of the keyword. In this case the head of this keyword is “coffee,” the middle is “coffee mugs” and the long tail is “custom coffee mugs.”

Head: coffee

Now don’t get us wrong it would be awesome if you could rank well in the SERPs for “coffee,” but that might not be the best keyword for a custom coffee mug business. If you think about it, people searching for “coffee” might also be looking for the closest place to get their caffeine fix, not necessarily how to obtain the coolest new custom mug.

Middle: coffee mugs

Now we’re getting closer to that great keyword! We’ve narrowed it down from just coffee, to what you put the coffee in, which happens to be what you sell. Now these middle ground keywords are relevant to your business, but they’re highly competitive keywords.

Long Tail: Custom coffee mugs

This is the keyword sweet spot. It combines the right amount of search volume without being too competitive and is also highly relevant to your business.

Can your tail be too long? Yep! Here’s an example of an overly long tail: black custom coffee mugs with lid – Talk about getting down to the details! While we would imagine the conversion rate would be pretty high, but there may not be many searches on Google for this overly long keyword.

Wondering how to research keywords? There are tools for that! Google’s AdWords Tool is the industry standard, but there are plenty others that have lots of value! Mix and match the tools until you find the best ones that work for you.

Free Keyword Research Tools

Google AdWords Tool– The industry standard for keyword data.

Google Trends– Another cool tool from Google that compares how certain keywords are trending.

Scribe WordPress Plugin– A useful built in keyword tool if you run a site on WordPress.org

Microsoft Advertising Intelligence– Similar to Google’s tool, but for Bing.

Wordtracker

Paid(ish) Keyword Research Tools

Pro SEOmoz Keyword Analysis Tool- This is a great keyword tool if you already have a Pro SEOmoz Account.

Other Keyword Research Ideas

These aren’t mainstream methods for keyword discovery, but they might get your brain wheels churning in the right direction:

Google Instant– This is what Google suggests for the searcher when they start typing in theory search term. This is a great tool to use for blog post ideas because everything Google suggests is highly topical or has been recently been searched.

instantsearch

Google Related Searches: These are searches that Google will display after a traditional SERP has been displayed. This will usually be longer tail keywords. relatedsearches

Now, you should be seeing the value in having some long(er) tail keywords in your keyword mix. Know of any keyword tools we may have missed, or do you have a tool mixture that works well for you? Let us hear it in the comments.

© 2013, Chipper Nicodemus. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Chipper Nicodemus

is a contributing author for VerticalResponse.



12 Responses to How to Pick Keywords That’re Kind of a Big Deal

  1. Jemma Taylor says:

    Very important to the selection of keywords but it was not easy to find the best keywords. I still have much to learn about keyword research Thanks for the article, can be a reference for me!!

  2. Chipper Nicodemus Chipper Nicodemus says:

    Onyinye,

    Yes you can totally handle that yourself! Take a look at this article I wrote that should help you. http://www.verticalresponse.com/blog/local-seo-who-are-you/

    Thanks for reading.

    Chipper

  3. Chipper Nicodemus Chipper Nicodemus says:

    Angus,

    No not necessarily. The word combos don’t have to be made up of low competitiveness. For example the keyword “Facebook” has very high searches, and it would make a good long tail word, “Facebook posting tips.” I hope that helps and thanks for reading.

    Chipper

  4. Chipper Nicodemus Chipper Nicodemus says:

    Barb,

    Your first keyword was much better than the second one. You only need to research the entire word, not each word individually. Your second word is too long tail and I doubt there would be any searches on it.

    Thanks for reading!

    Chipper

  5. Barbara Weaver says:

    I guess “Sexy” would be in high competition huh? Then what if I used something like this.

    “Coffee Mugs As Seen On Facebook”

    Better?

  6. Barbara Weaver says:

    Let me see if I am understandig this. I will choose my key words based on your examples.

    “Sexy Coffee Mugs”

    How did I do?

  7. Hi Chipper,
    I run a small magazine subscription service firm in Nigeria. I have need to improve search engine result for my business site. Is it something I can handle by myself or must I get an expert.

  8. angus says:

    Thanks for the article. Just to clarify, do you want to combine 3 individual words that have low competitiveness and high search rate?

  9. Chipper Nicodemus Chipper Nicodemus says:

    Buty,

    Why don’t you find the Google tool reliable? The search engines are going to be the most reliable sources when it comes to search data. You can use Bing’s tool, but you might want to consider the amount of searches that happen on Bing vs Google. Thanks for reading!

    Chipper

  10. Chipper Nicodemus Chipper Nicodemus says:

    Dave,

    Glad you liked the giraffe example. I’m now a master of giraffe knowledge! Thanks for reading.

  11. Buty Damskie says:

    Very interesting article. Just one thing that bothers me – I don’t find Google Adwords Keyword Tool very reliable. Can you suggest any other tool helpful in keyword analysis?
    – Buty Damskie

  12. Ha ha… I love the Giraffe example. Great stuff… thanks for making the long tail keyword concept easy and useable.

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