What has a fat head, a broad middle, a long tail and the power to make or break your business? Keywords.
Such a powerful phenomenon that Google can use them to accurately correlate global flu trends, keywords are the centre of the SEO universe; however this doesn’t mean that getting your head around them is straight forward or formulaic. The textbook is under constant revision, with new tools and approaches always in development – partly in response to the changing thoughts of search engines about how much power to assign keyword data.
Everyone will have a different approach that works for them, but underneath the myriad methods lies the universal acceptance of keyword power. And, as the phrase goes, with great power comes great responsibility – use them wisely and you will see your site climb up the rankings; mess around with them too much and you could fall foul of over-optimisation rules and get your site struck off.
What are Keywords?
Keywords are basically the words and phrases people type into search engines to come across your site. They are the signposts that journey far and wide across the Internet to allow Google – and therefore the public – to navigate their way to you. The bulk of these signposts will be positioned on your site itself, but will also be dispersed across other sites that mention you, leaving a trail of crumbs back to your site.
What is Keyword Research?
The aim of Keyword Research is to find out:
- What keywords people are using to find your site
- What keywords people are using to find your competition
- What keywords are most valuable
- Where are you currently missing out
The goal is to harvest a juicy collection of words and phrases that are relevant to your business, that are used by people looking for your business, and that are likely to attract a stronger customer base.
Why is it Important?
At its simplest: without targeting keywords, you won’t rank, and you won’t get search engine traffic. Beyond that, it can help you decide which products to sell and which words you should use to talk about them. With the right keywords, you can build the right website, create the right content, make the right links and achieve the right SEO for your business.
The wider ripples of effective keyword research will be seen in the related waters of link prospecting and competitor analysis. These three key SEO areas are inextricably linked and all feed into each other, as you will see.
What Does Google Say About it?
Google is a busy guy, processing more than a billion searches a day. Most of these will be so familiar that he will be able to finish your search phrase for you. Google holds all this keyword data and makes it publicly, freely available, even throwing in a load of useful tools to analyse and digest it for you.
But a staggering 1 in 5 searches will be a totally new query that Google hasn’t seen before. Which is why keyword research isn’t always as easy as you assume it would be on the surface. How can you predict the unpredictable, when even Google doesn’t know what is going to hit it 20% of the time?