Keywords. Love them or hate them, they’re an important part of SEO. The right keywords can make or break your website and its rankings, because it’s not just about getting people to your site, it’s about getting the right people. 

There are quite a few things you need to consider when you’re choosing your keywords. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you’re wondering whether or not a phrase will work well for you:

Is it a word people search for?

The keyword or phrase you choose has to be something that people are actually going to search for.

Do some research and find out what exactly it is that people are typing into their search bars. Those are the words you need to target. There are a few programs that will tell you the average number of monthly searches a particular phrase gets, and my preferred tool is the Google Keyword Planner.

Does it deliver traffic?

There’s no point ranking well for a term that isn’t getting very many searches. Using the keyword planner, you can see exactly how much traffic a keyword phrase gets per month. A phrase that gets 500 searches a month might be a better option than one that only gets 10.

Who’s your competition?

The keyword planner will tell you the competition rating for a keyword phrase – high, medium and low competition. Obviously the lower the competition the better, but depending on your industry, you might find that every term has high competition.

Type your keyword phrase into Google and see who comes up. This is your competition for that phrase. If you see a lot of paid ads above the natural results, you know it’s a highly competitive phrase and ads will be expensive. Is this phrase going to be too competitive for you?

How long is your keyword phrase?

You’ve probably heard of ‘long tail keywords’. They’re basically a key-sentence rather than a key-word. Single words are highly competitive because they are general, while long tail keyword phrases are less competitive because they are more specific.

For example, “Lawyer” is going to be a highly competitive keyword, but “Family Lawyer Northern Beaches” might be less competitive and easier to try and rank for.

How to research keywords

Alright, you know you need to have the right keywords. So how do you know you’ve got them?

Start with a brain dump. Write down any ideas you can think of – what you’d like to rank well for and what you think you rank well for. Google some stuff, check out your competition, ask your friends. Just get a list started.

Then use some tools. You can use Goole’s Keyword Planner or just type something into your preferred search engine. It’ll give you some predictive options in the search bar, like this:

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and also some related search options at the bottom of the screen, like this:

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Next, work out the difficulty. For each keyword you research, you need to work out your chance of success. If a word is highly competitive, it may not be worth trying to compete. You need to understand the demand for a keyword phrase and the work that’s required to beat the competition and rank for it.

Once you’ve got a big list happening, and you’ve gone through each one to see if people search for it, what the demand is and what the competition is like, you can narrow it down to words that are going to work for you. Chances are, the long tail phrases with less competition will be the best ones to target to start with. Assign each keyword phrase to a page of your website and target just one keyword phrase per website page or blog.

What next?

Head over to Part 2: How to use keywords properly and I’ll tell you what to do with your keywords.

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