Search Engine Optimisation Part 1 - Picking Keywords

February 27th, 2012 - Posted by Jonathan Silvester, Brand Development

5

To start off with let’s take a look at the most basic facet of search engine optimisation, keywords. Keywords are words and phrases that people enter into the search engines in order to find what they want. If you want your site to appear when people are looking for a particular product or service it's important that you think about the words and phrases people will associate with your company and the services you provide. 

Do Your Research

Choosing your keywords is arguably the most important part of SEO, ultimately it will determine how high you can rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs). When you are researching keywords make sure you run google searches and check how many adverts appear on the results pages. If there are lots of adverts for a word it means that word is high value and highly targeted and it will be difficult to achieve a high organic, or natural, SERP rank for your site.

Develop Keyphrases

Once you have identified the basic keywords you have a choice of either simply targeting those core words or developing them into longer phrases that might enable you to achieve a higher position in the SERPs. The issue here is that search results for your core keywords might be dominated by a number of large national or international companies who have highly optimised sites and will therefore make it extremely difficult for you to achieve a high SERP position. Let's look at print for example, a search for print will produce a list of large companies that sell print. For you to achieve a good SERP position by focusing on the print keyword would be extremely difficult so instead you should look at targeting a longer derivative phrase that is relevant to your business such as 'digital' print. Adding the extra parameter such as the type of print will produce more targeted results and you will have a better chance of achieveing good SERP position for this type of keyphrase.

The Long Tail

Bear in mind that popular searches account for less than 30% of searches performed on the web. The remaining 70% are accounted for by what is known as the 'long tail' and are unique searches that occur less frequently. In order to take advantage of the long tail you should ensure that your page content includes long tail keywords that are relevant to your business and may show up in more unique and unusual searches and that are an extension of your core keyphrases e.g. 'town name' digital print on demand. Long tail searches are much more specific than searches for the high popularity keywords and provide a number of benefits:

 - less competitive

 - better conversion rates

 - diversify your sites ranking potential

You can develop long tail keyword phrases by using the free keyword tool in google adwords or simply enter your key phrases into a google search page and use different variations of the words to generate different suggestions as you type. There are plenty more free tools available with varying degrees of complexity such as Ubersuggest.org, xpathBuilder.com and MergeWords.com which all have web interfaces plus AlchemyAPI.com, which integrates with excel (a google search for these will yield instructions on how to use them).

Next time I will be talking about Search Engine Ranking Position in more detail where we can start to put these keywords to work.