Beginners Guide to SEO - Keywords
SEO relies heavily on keywords as they represent the phrases or terms that you would search in Google. When you are looking for a plumber, you would search something like ‘Plumbers in Kent’. The term ‘plumbers’ is a keyword which will then bring back results for this term. This is often then followed up by a location so the results are localised. Our beginners guide to SEO starts by explaining exactly how to find the right keywords and start to improve your rankings for them.
Commercial products and SEO are quite similar in a few ways. The strength of the competition and the demand for a certain keyword are two main things that should be focused on when choosing the right keywords for your business. The higher the demand for a keyword, the higher its difficulty. This means that the term is more competitive and will make it harder to get ranking for that term. The search volume is another focus as it shows the amount of monthly searches for a specific term which can show how much traffic it could bring to your site.
Unfortunately, SEO can be rather troublesome when trying to get information. We have to rely on statistics and information that is provided by Google. One of the tools that Google provides is their Keyword Planner Tool which will show you what some of the best search terms are and their average search volume basing it off PPC (Pay Per Click) results.
What keywords are best suited for SEO
Keywords are the backbone for SEO which means choosing the right one is of the utmost importance. There are two types of keywords that you should consider when performing keyword research:
- Commercial Keywords (bring you profit).
- Informative Keywords (brings traffic and links).
Companies will often use a website as a method to make profit. No matter if it is a standard site or an e-commerce one, they both can drive traffic, create enquiries and make sales. E-commerce sites obviously also offer a way for products to be bought online and then shipped out to their destination. Luring potential customers to your website will help in driving more sales through the website. This is where ranking for certain keywords comes into play.
When creating content for your website, you have to consider your potential clients. The content that is being added needs to contain the keywords that your clients would be searching for. If it was a product of some kind, the type of product would need to be mentioned somewhere within the description. These phrases are also sometimes combined with a descriptive word such as buy or cheap. Combining this with benefits such as affordable or durable and the content will greatly aid your potential customers in finding the product they need.
The more commercially orientated keywords become, the harder they are to get ranking for them. This is because there is more competition out there and becomes harder to beat other companies. Searches that contain ‘buy’ or ‘cheap’ are just a couple of the terms that are becoming increasingly more difficult to rank for.
Those terms might be harder to rank for, but if you are able to get onto the first page on search engines, you will gain much more traffic and in turn, earn a profit. There are two options available for you to be able to rank on the first page of search engines.
- PPC (Pay Per Click) – This is where you will pay for your site to rank in the advertisement section on the search engine. On Google, there will be a few sites listed at the top and/or bottom of the pages where some websites will show up for the search term. If these links were to be clicked on, it would cost that company a certain amount of money depending on the competition of that term. For certain terms it is not as expensive, but when you get more commercial terms and you compete against some of the larger companies like Amazon or Argos; it becomes much more expensive. Unless if you have an enormous amount of money to spend on a marketing campaign (like Amazon and other large companies) it becomes a very hard task to compete with them.
- Organic results – The organic results are the other results that appear in search engines. Google, for example, show the difference between an organic result and a paid search by having a small green box with the letters ‘ad’ inside of it sit next to the paid advert. The placements in the organic results are dependent on a variety of aspects that Google will rank your site on. From internal links and a responsive design to the content itself; a variety of aspects come into play when getting ranked for certain keywords. This is why creating the best content that is ideal for potential clients is of the utmost importance if you want to rank well.
Links and shares are two ways in order to get your website higher in search engines. One of the best ways to get these is to write content about things that will interest a larger audience. This does not only mean potential clients, this includes other websites, blogs and other industry experts. Getting high quality links and shares from these kind of sources will drive more traffic to your website, but also will generate some high quality links. Search engines like Google will rank a site better if they have high quality links (while still considering the other aspects they rank sites for).
An example of this would be if you were trying to sell rope. This would be like writing an article on the different types of ropes and their uses. This can then be furthered as a way of promoting your own products by linking to them in the article. If the article is interesting and well written, it could generate quite a few links and even get some shares.
You could also write an article that isn’t anything to do with your industry if it is trending online. This might bring some traffic to your site if people were interested. However, this will not increase profit. The visitors that land on your website will not be your target audience. This type of article will help build your online presence and brand recognition.
If you are aiming to meet your goals early on or if they are short-term goals, you would need to focus on money keywords primarily. Alternatively, if you are looking for long-term results, you will need to consider using both types of keywords while also considering the use of commercial terms. The keywords will be tailored to your business and will need to be selected in order to meet your end goals of your website.
Understanding keyword structure
When choosing keywords to target for your website, the structure and length of a keyword is a very crucial part which will determine the difficulty and search volume. There are always some keywords that are much more difficult to rank for, but there are those that constantly have high or low search volumes or even fluctuate.
The length of a keyword is a big factor that plays a part in a keywords search volume and difficulty. With longer keywords, the search volume decreases and vice versa. There are three different terms used for the lengths of keywords. They are:
- Short-tail keywords – These consist of 1 to 2 words and are the simplest formation. They consist of a head word and sometimes a modifier (please find more information on the structure of keywords below). These are often quite hard to rank for due to extensive competition, but they do bring a large amount of traffic due to the large search volume.
- Medium-tail keywords – These are 2 to 4 words. Medium-tail keywords are the most common type of keyword used, but are exactly what should be used by companies looking at SEO. These phrases do not usually bring the same amount of traffic to the site like short-tail keywords do, but they are much easier to rank for.
- Long-tail keywords – Longer than 4 words, long-tail keywords are much easier to rank for. These are not commonly used due to the low search volume. However, when ranking for quite a low of long-tail keywords, it does make up for the lower search volume. These would consist of a head word, modifier(s) and a tail.
The structure of keywords is very important and usually consist of three main parts. These are:
- Head – The main word or phrase which determines the product, service or main subject of the search.
- Modifier – This can be a variety of words, but is mainly used to differentiate the meaning of the keyword.
- Tail – These are all the other words used to describe or explain the search.
So when you are performing keyword research, you should be focusing on medium-tail keywords. This is to make sure that they have a good search volume and have a low or medium difficulty. Just finding the keywords isn’t enough, the better ranking keywords are what you should be aiming for. Choosing the ones that will offer you the increased chance of gaining more traffic and/ or profit is the right way to get your website found.
If you were to choose a keyword that has a lower search volume than others, it needs to be much easier to rank for. This is the same for if you were to choose a keyword with medium difficulty. It will need to have a higher search volume to justify the effort to get your site ranking for it.
How to find keyword ideas
Throughout this beginners guide to SEO, we have already covered how to structure a keyword, but how do you find ideas to generate these keywords.When taking up an SEO plan or going into your own keyword research, you will need a lot of initial ideas to get the process started. With the information already mentioned above, you should be able to choose some of the keywords that best suit your business. Once the initial ideas have been collected together, you would need to look through those keywords to choose which ones best suit your business and how they will impact your sales and traffic.
The services or products that you offer are usually the best place to start as they are the main subject that people will be searching for. For commercial keyword research, it is much more limited. With everything that is mentioned in this article, you will know what to focus on and will be able to optimise that phrase much more effectively. Also, you are always able to create new content to be add to your website.
You do not only have to focus on your industry either. There are other markets out there which can include topics that are somewhat related to your industry. This does not have to be exactly what you offer and doing this could end up broadening your online presence. These markets are also referred to as niche markets.
How to find keywords
There are many ways to find and choose the right keywords for your business. Google has its own tools available to be used in order to find the right keywords. There are however, other tools online from third parties which collect the same information and sometimes offer more.
Here are some examples of the tools you can use to choose the right keywords:
1. Google auto-suggest
Using Google itself is an easy and quick way to generate keyword ideas. Whenever you start typing something in the search bar, it will show a range of suggestions that other people have commonly searched for. As you type more of a phrase or word, it will change the suggestions it gives, showing 4 at a time.
Google also has a part at the bottom of the page which shows searches related to the search you just performed. This is one of the other quick ways to get ideas. Due to the limitations, Google can only be used to get a basic understanding of the topic being searched, but is good for generating basic ideas.
Wikipedia is a great way of looking into niche markets and is a great source of information. It is widely used as it has an extensive amount of information on a wide range of subjects. When doing a search in Wikipedia, it does come up with a table of contents which contains relevant topics and sub-categories. Mostly used for additional research, it is a great way of researching possible markets to branch into when creating content.
3. Quora, Yahoo! Answers and forums
There are some platforms online which allow people to ask questions and get answers form the public. Quora and Yahoo! Answers are two such platforms. There are also specific forums out there which are tailored to a certain industry.
When someone uses one of these platforms, it is highly likely that they and anyone involved will do the search again, or at least something every similar, in the future. Using these platforms, you will see what subjects are trending and what people are mostly interested in. This will the give you an insight into how much traffic those subjects will bring to your website.
There are a variety of forums online which offer a method of searching for certain subjects. Some are better than others and some are more commonly used over others so choosing the right forums is also very important. You would then be able to use the forums search bar in order to search for a keyword. This will bring back a variety of other ideas which you might not be able to find elsewhere.
4. Google Trends and Google Correlate
Widely used by SEO professionals, Google Trends and Google Correlate allows you to view the search volume of certain terms. The volume of any term is not static, it always fluctuates. If you can understand what these platforms show, you will see a rise and fall in the search volume of any search. Many SEO experts will use these platforms as an initial point of their research. This is because it shows the average monthly searches for a specific term.
The amount of searches for each keyword will need to be analysed. If it is rising, you can create content on that keyword before it becomes too popular and is much harder to rank for. One of the benefits to using Google Trends is also that it can show you where most of the searches are coming from. This can be from anywhere in the world and then you are able to localise the results to your country.
Google Correlate works alongside Google Trends to provide more information on your search terms. It shows the patterns of your specified searches and will detail what keywords are more likely to rise or fall with your main keyword. Using this and Google Trends is a great way to get more ideas on what keywords you should target.
5. Google Keyword Planner
As already mentioned earlier in this article, Google Keyword Planner is one of the most popular and most common methods to get keyword ideas for your website. Based on the content of the website, Google will generate ideas based on what people search for that is in relation to your site. There will be some results that wouldn't be worth using. However, there are often some searches that can be rather ideal for your business. You are also able to do a general search of a main keyword which will bring back other suggestions.
Based on the system behind Google AdWords, it is able to generate values for search volume, competiveness and the price for each keyword. Unfortunately, as it is based off this system, the search volume and competition is based off the paid search results and not the organic ones. This tool is progressively becoming more helpful for PPC campaigns so if you are looking for information on organic results, you might want to consider using a different tool. This is still a good tool to generate keyword ideas.
Within the Google Keyword Planner, there are two segments that you will be most interested in. Ad group ideas is the first part in which a variety of suggested keywords are categorized into groups. This gives you a wide variety of keyword ideas and you can then run these through other tools like Google Trends. The other part is the keyword ideas segment which lists the keywords that closely relate to the main keyword.
It is always a good idea to use both of these sections to get a range of keyword ideas. This widens the scope of your initial keyword and can often bring up some interesting ideas that you might consider targeting. The ad groups also might give you an insight into what related words and phrases could be used which your competition might not be using.
Keywordtool.io is a free SEO tool, but offers quite a lot to its users. Using Google, Bing, YouTube and various other search engines, this tool is very helpful when trying to extract keywords from various sources. This tool is very helpful when looking for longer keywords or other variations of your main keyword.
Using Google and Bing as examples, you are able to search for your main keyword and this tool will come back with different variations from the search engines. This tool does it in a different way compared to many other tools. Instead of changing the keyword to something that might be relevant, Keywordtool.io collects the information and will return the keyword with words before and after your initial search. This is done for every letter in the alphabet.
An examples of this would be if you were to search something such as ‘website design’. Keywordtool.io will return ideas like ‘best website design’ or ‘website design specialists’. These ideas can then be exported and can then be used in other tools to broaden it even further or check its volume and difficulty.
Sometimes it is best to look at what your competitors are doing for their SEO. SEMRush is the perfect tool for doing exactly that. It works on most websites and collects very accurate organic and PPC data. This is a great way at seeing what kind of keywords they are targeting. This then means you can either target the same keywords or something similar.
This program is almost like a spy and will collect information on almost any site you put into it. All it takes is for you to enter the URL of your competitor’s website and SEMRush will get to work. Both the organic and PPC traffic data will then be collected and compiled into a report for you to be able to view and use for yourselves.
It will collect stats such as the ranking keywords of the website and will show the current positions of those keywords on Google. The amount of traffic that those keywords brings will also be recorded to show how much visitors they are getting for each term. It doesn’t stop there either. SEMRush collects useful information that is very handy when try to get ahead of your competition online.
It is up to you what you do with the data that comes back from it. One of the things come businesses do is copy their competitor’s strategy and try to get higher or better results than them. This does not always work, but is very beneficial if it does. Other businesses will use other tools once they find out what their competitors are targeting and will begin looking at alternative keywords. These keywords will either bring in the same or more traffic than the original; broadening their online presence.
Assessing your competition and the keywords
By now you should have a long list of keyword ideas that you want to target. These are still only ideas though. You need to finalise your decisions and choose the keywords that have the greatest potential.
This would be by going through the necessary steps in checking the search volume and difficulty of your selected keywords. Google Keyword Planner would be a good place to go to find this information out if you are planning to run PPC campaigns. However, if you want to find out more on organic results, you won’t get as much information. Google have recently been changing this tool as they want to emphasise the use of PPC campaigns.
There are still other tools out there which will detail the search volume and difficulty of your keyword ideas. Furthermore, you will be able to see the work involved to get you to the higher positions on Google. This is just how you assess your keywords, but assessing your competition is another stage entirely.
You will need to look at the strength of your competitor’s websites and check the quality of their links. If this is done effectively, you will be able to determine how hard it will be in order to out-rank them on Google, but also what you need to aim for.
Beginners Guide to SEO - Keywords: The Conclusion
There are many tools out there that can be used to collect information for keyword research. Each tool will collect different pieces of information that can help determine what keywords would be best for you to target. You can use a variety of tools and go through many searches without having to spend anything. However, it is sometimes suggested, depending on your budget, to invest in some tools. For the last part of our beginners guide to SEO, we have listed the main steps in the research stages and have offered advice on what tools you should use.
1. Assessing search volume
Most tools out there will provide a statistic detailing the search volume for each keyword you are researching. However, tools like Google Keyword Planner provide information based off PPC instead of organic results. This can still show the different interest in each keyword and can still be used as a method of choosing the right keywords. This does not however give you a reliable set of data to use when you are looking at only organic results.
There are other tools like Keywordtool.io that provide a good amount of information, but use the same information as Google Keyword Planner. This tool is good at showing more information on a variety of other keywords based on your original search. This means that if you don’t want to be using Google Keyword Planner, you have a suitable replacement.
The search volume when performing keyword research is one of the most important parts. This shows how much it is being searched for over a certain amount of time (most often a month). This statistic is good at showing the number of people that are doing that search which means if you were to rank on the first page of Google for that term, you will be seen that many times. This is a good way to see the sort of traffic you could be getting to your site monthly. This however is only an average and can change.
2. Assessing keyword difficulty
Keyword difficulty is another key part that you will need to pay close attention to. This is because it will show you how difficult it will be to rank for a specific keyword. Again, there are different tools out there that will provide more information than others. Keywordtool.io is good for search volume, but does not offer you as much information when it comes to the keyword difficulty.
Moz Keyword Explorer is an example of a tool that is exceptional in this field. It collects different pieces of information and then gives you a rating for the keyword you searched for. Combining this with other tools is a great way to get a variety of results. You can use Keywordtool.io to get the search volume and then proceed to use Moz Keyword Explorer to get the competition.
This is another free service, but only to an extent. Once you sign up with Moz, you get five free searches a day. This does make it rather limited when you are doing rather extensive research, but this is an example where spending a little money can come in handy.
3. Assessing domain authority
A domains authority is another aspect in which Google will use to rank sites. This however is often overlooked. Assessing a domains authority will provide further guidance as to how difficult it will be to rank for certain keywords. MozBar is an example of another tool that can be used which will help with this part of your research. Downloaded directly from the Google Web Store as an extension; it shows a websites page and domain authority.
Old methods would involve looking at your competitors sites manually. Once you do a search you would have to go through the top 10 websites. However, there are tools available that will save you much needed time by collecting that data immediately. This will provide knowledge on how difficult it will be in order to rank for your targeted keywords. It will also show how long your competitors have been running for those keywords.
You will need to look through each website though for our next step.
4. Checking the first page
Not everything is done using tools. Sometimes it is best to do some of the research yourself and see what comes back. Using tools to check search volumes and keyword difficulty is always suggested to be your first steps. They however can only tell you so much.
It is highly suggested that you look at your competitors sites. You will be able to see what they are doing in order to get ranked on Google. This means you will be able to tell if there are too many authoritative websites on page one. If these sites have high quality and extensive content; you will have a slim chance of ranking above them.
From this, you will be able to further your research. This would be through looking at other keywords which have sites with lower page and domain authority scores. You will then show a potential search that you could target and rank for. Creating a page with high quality content on that keyword is an example of how to improve your rankings. This quality content is what will help you beat the competition.
5. Assessing quantity and influence of links
The final step involves looking at your competitors once again, but this time it's not based on the content. Instead this is about the links they have that direct to their site and assessing their power. Once you have gone through the other steps, you are well on your way to finalising your list of keywords.
Links are still counted as one of the most impactful ranking factors above everything else. If you were to have multiple links to your site from sites with very high domain authority, Google will favour you above your competitors. It is not the case of only getting one link; it is the case of getting many high-quality links from well-known sites to push your rankings further.
Ahrefs and Majestic SEO are tools in which you can check for links and assess their power. This tool however does come at a price. It is a very good tool to have under your belt for future use. You just have to get past the price tag. Discovering what links your competitors have will allow you to see if you can beat them in the rankings. It is very unlikely that your site will outrank them if they have a lot of high quality links.
This does mean that new websites or start-up businesses will have a much harder chance to get ranking. It is already difficult for a new site to rank as Google favours sites with a history. This makes it near on impossible for new sites to get high ranks right away, let alone get powerful links.
It is not always about the quantity of links. A site might have 100 links to their site, but from blogs. This makes the links rather weak and don’t cause as much of an impact. However, if you were to get a few links from high authoritative websites, there will be a much larger impact.
If you follow the steps given in this beginners guide to SEO, you will see your sites rankings change for the better. SEO is a very long process and is very in-depth. However, when done right, it can bring a lot more traffic to your site and even improve profits. SEO is a perfect way of taking your business further.