One of the primary skills that you must develop when doing search engine optimization is the ability to identify and choose the keywords that your customers will use, or should I say, most likely use to visit your website or to search for them in a search engine. There are a lot of great tools that will help you find the right keywords but always be wary of testing the results you get as there are anomalies in some of these tools that can cost you time and money. I would like to examine a number of steps to follow to test that you have the right keywords.
There are a bunch of tools you can use to figure out which keywords will be most relevant to your market, some of them are free, some that you need to sign up for and some that you have to pay for. Tools include –
2. Google AdWords
4. Free keywords
5. Your website session logs
6. Yahoo Advertising
7. Keyword Selector
8. Elite Keywords
9. Good keywords
10. Competitors’ websites
Before investing in keywords you have found, always check to see if the keyword is actually as popular as the resources in this research tell you.
I recently came across a situation where one of the keywords we found “Advanced Wealth Planning Techniques” was supposed to have 250 visits per day from Google. We got this information from a bunch of different sources, but what we found is that this wasn’t the case, in fact, these keywords before writing this article are actually getting between 2 and 5 visits per day.
One of the most important lessons my team and I learned from this was to make sure you run an experiment for keywords in pay-per-click programs before you actually buy any domains that use keywords to ensure your keywords actually get the traffic your keyword tools tell you. The way my team achieves this, is that we will create the sales pages for the product or service we want to sell and try it out on the main search engine we want to optimize the new website for using one of our existing sites.
For example, if we know that a particular keyword will get the most traffic on Google, we will definitely use AdWords to prove that the traffic is actually there. If we are new to Yahoo being the main source of traffic for keywords, we will use Introduction.
Generally we will test keywords for 2 to 3 days. Longer exams may be necessary but two to three days are usually a good indication. Once we are confident that the keywords are getting the volume of traffic we are looking for, we will then turn off the advertising, secure the domain name and then implement our products on that domain and improve the web pages for that product or service. This ensures that we are not stuck in a situation, we have been in the past, where we have a domain name with completely useless keywords.
The best tool I’ve found to quickly test your keywords is Google Adwords. One of the primary reasons I love using this resource is that you can instantly test your keywords instead of waiting anywhere up to 5 days for other pay-per-click engines like Introduction.
Another way we look to see if the keywords we’ve chosen are actually worthwhile is by looking at what our competitors are doing. However, use this technique only as a guide because they may make the same mistakes you do. We know quite a few people who copied what we were doing with the previously mentioned keywords and were not going to drive any traffic outside of those keywords just like we were.
The key to success in any business whether it is online or in the traditional world is testing and measurement. The way we test to make sure keywords are used is by checking our logs and seeing who is actually referring traffic to our site. In the ASP code there are a number of session values that will contain this information. We check our sites every day to make sure that the traffic is coming from our target keywords.
If they are not coming from the keywords we are targeting and customers are buying our products, then we will look at what keywords are being used and see how competitive they are and whether we should improve our site for those keywords. SEO and online marketing is truly a science, and like all sciences, you need facts and figures to make decisions, so the better quality statistics you can gather the easier it is to make a change of direction.
For example, we recently had a situation where we started getting a few hundred visits per day for a 5 word statement that was used in both Google and Yahoo to find our site. While a few hundred visits per day might not seem like very much, our conversion rate on this keynote was around 70% which is huge for any online business. The strange part was that our website was actually ranked 97th in search engine results for both Google and Yahoo.
What we have done at this point is simply write a number of articles on keyword topics. Submit articles to relevant sites, including article directories, then confirm this in the author bio section, we have included the hypertext that includes the keyword statement back to the linked page. The result was that we raised our ranking from 97 to the top 5 and got a 70% conversion rate for all the people who visited that web page.
But the main problem is making sure that the keywords you use are what buyers link to. Sometimes I find that a customer’s perception of the keywords a person might use to search for a product is very different from what their customers actually use. When we look at this issue, we simply go back to the customer’s records for the last 6 months and track the data and find out how their customers find it.
The secret to search engine optimization for any website lies in the logs because it will tell you very clearly what people use to access your site and more about which search engines they use.
When you’re looking to buy a new domain or build a new site, make sure you do your homework to identify the right keywords that people will use to find your products or services. Before you commit to buying a new domain that contains your keywords, always test to make sure the keywords are actually being used and that there is enough volume to justify the purchase.
Remember that the reason for testing and measuring is to ensure that you are making a sound investment. If you get it wrong, you will have to spend more money to correct your mistake and no one likes having to spend their hard earned money.