Keyword Research: Which Search Phrases Should You Rank For?
Video transcript+ Hellen Overland
So now that you have decided to do some SEO, it’s time to figure out what keywords or what searches you want to appear in the search results for.
When somebody does a search in Google that’s called a search, it’s otherwise also called a keyword. You type your keywords into Google, and when you are starting to do SEO the first thing you need to decide is what searches/what keywords you should show up for. The interesting thing is that you are so used to your business that the way you talk about your products could be completely different from how your customers are talking about your products, and those little changes in how we search for things actually matter.
If you were, for example, to search for ‘t-shirts online’, did you know that there are 165,000 searches done every month in the US alone for the word ‘t-shirts’. But more interestingly, the number of people searching for ‘buy t-shirts online’ actually far outnumbers the number of people who go into Google and type in just ‘buy t-shirts’. People are specifically interested in buying t-shirts online, but if you didn’t do keyword research to find what keywords people are searching for in Google, you would never know to use that online keyword. You sell t-shirts, so you would just want to rank for ‘buy t-shirts’. But that ‘buy t-shirts online’ keyword has more search volume.
So how do you find out what people are searching for?
At the end of the day it’s actually kind of straightforward. Google gives you a tool for you to find out how many people are searching every single month for your keywords. So the first thing to do is to go into google and simply search for ‘keyword tool’ or ‘Google keyword tool’ and that will get you to Google’s keyword tool, which you can start using. You want to type in, first of all, what you think people are going to be looking for. For example ‘buy t-shirts’, ‘buy t-shirts online’, ‘buy t-shirts in California, or ‘New York’ or wherever you are, and then Google is going to come back and it’s going to tell you how many people search per month for those particular keywords but it’s also going to give you all the recommendations on other keywords that people are looking for that are related to what it is that you do.
A couple quick tips you need to understand about Google’s keyword tool before you start getting excited about the millions of searches Google is going to tell you about:
The first is something called exact match. There is a little button in the Google keyword tool called ‘exact match’. If you click that button then you are going to get a more accurate number of how many people actually search in Google every single month for that keyword. Google defaults to showing you whats called broad match keyword, which means if you were to type in ‘buy t-shirts online’ into Googles keyword tool it’s going to report on all the people who searched for ‘buy t-shirts online’, ‘buy red t-shirts’, ‘buy t-shirts in my city’ - it’s going to give you a whole universe of searches, but you want to know specifically what keywords to use, so you want to make sure that you have checked that exact match option. The other thing you want to look at is you only want to find out how many people are searching for your keywords within the countries you actually ship to. So there is a little option in the Google keyword tool to choose the countries the searches are happening in. So if you are in the US and you only ship your products to the US, then you want to make sure that you are only looking at US search volume, so make sure you set the country as well as setting the keyword tool to show you exact match keywords when you are choosing your keywords.
Another thing to bear in mind is that you are not going to get (even if you are in the number one position in Google) you are still not going to get every possible click from every possible search people do in Google. For example: if a keyword has a thousand searches per month and you rank number one, not everybody who does that search is going to click on your result. They might decide that somebody else’s meta-description tag looks better and click on that. They might click on an ad instead, or they might decide “That’s not what I meant” and then go back and do another search. So if a keyword has a thousand searches per month and you rank number one you might only see a couple hundred visits come to your website per month from that keyword. So just bear in mind when you are choosing keywords that you are not going to see a thousand visits per month just because a keyword has a thousand searches per month.
Also be aware that Google rounds numbers, so when you see that a keyword has ten searches per month, that doesn’t actually mean that it reliably has ten searches per month, it’s an average over a course of time that around ten or so searches per month will happen for this keyword.
When you are choosing keywords for the pages on your site you are going to want to choose about 3-5 keywords maximum for pages on your site. So if you sell t-shirts and you only ship to New York State then your keywords might be ‘buy t-shirts online’, ‘order t-shirts for New York State’, but you don’t want to put in ten or fifteen other keywords or you will have trouble crafting a high-quality title tag, you’re going to have trouble creating a good meta-description tag that speaks to people searching for these keywords, you are definitely going to have trouble writing focused content around all these different keywords, and you are going to have to do extra link-building to rank a page for many specific searches. So try to keep your pages focused. Pick 3-5 keywords per page and try to stick to keywords that are strongly related to each other on every single page.