The most important thing to keep in mind while doing Keyword Research (KWR) is that there are different categories of keywords. A keyword is the word or phrase a user types into a search engine when they are looking for something online.  Say you were looking to buy a shirt online, more than likely you would go to Google or Bing and type something like “printed t-shirts for sale.” That is a keyword phrase. Most of us use keywords everyday, but when performing KWR for your business, it is important to understand and differentiate between the different types.

  • Long Tailed keywords are the longer, more specific phrases you use to describe your site or page. “SEO” is a keyword, “SEO firms and consultants” is a (long tail) keyword phrase.
  • Sale Oriented keywords are often called “buy now” keywords. These are the keywords people use to look for something they are trying to purchase. For example if someone were looking for SEO services, they might search for “SEO rates,” or “SEO pricing.” These keywords might not drive tons of traffic, but they usually convert more often.
  • Product Based keywords are words people type when searching for general products, companies, or services. These people may not be ready to buy, but are thinking of doing so. Some examples may be specific brand names like “Puma,” attached with descriptors such as “cheap,” or “affordable.”
  • Descriptive keywords are words or phrases that are used to inform someone of how to do something. For instance, someone may search, “how to do SEO,” “best way to do SEM,” or “I need to drive more traffic to my site.” These people convert often, so capture them with a video, white paper, or content that helps them. As a bonus, create a form and capture an email so you can convert them into a sale down the road.
  • Bunker keywords are those keywords that do nothing for your site. Instead of using keywords like “free” and “download,” use more sale-oriented keywords as discussed above.

Define Your Goals

Now that you know what the different types of keywords are, you should sit down and determine the goals of your site. If you are attempting to drive tons of traffic and don’t care if it is relevant or converts, use general one-word keywords like SEO or t-shirts. (Note: general keywords like this are difficult to rank for) If you are not worried about the number of people coming to your site, and looking for relevant traffic that will convert, use long-tail keywords. Looking for traffic to drive sales? Use more product-based keywords, and use descriptive keywords to become an industry go-to for answers. These also make you look more reliable to your customers. Knowing your goals will help determine which keywords you will use to build your site and content.

Choosing Your Tools

You learned everything you need to know about keyword research and you set your goals. What’s next?  You can’t do proper research without the proper tools. Some of the tools I love are the Google Adwords Keyword Planner, WordTracker, and my absolute favorite, Spyfu. Spyfu also allows you to learn what your top competitors are doing, so you can target their keywords and improve on them.

Test Your Keywords

Now that you set your goals, picked your tools, and decided on your top ten to fifteen keywords, you have to test their performance. Most people think they are done once the site or pages go live. However, you have to know what keywords are performing well, which ones are converting, and which ones you need to eliminate and switch to more valuable words and phrases. Create a ranking system based on rank, traffic, and conversions to determine the success of each.

Trust Analytics

In order to test and track your keywords, become a pro at assessing analytical data. You can use Google Analytics, which is the preferred method, but many content management systems will provide you with data on the backend. Some require plugins while others have it readily available. Regardless, view the data to understand how your keywords are ranking and performing. Another good source for this is Google Webmaster Tools. Using these tools will help you assess the value of each word or phrase and determine if you should continue focusing on them.  Follow these tips, tricks, and suggestions and you should be well on your way to becoming a Keyword Research superstar.