There are many new and different ways to help grow your web traffic these days. The majority of all web traffic comes from organic search, which is traffic from Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. Whether you are a website administrator for a fashion blog, eCommerce site, or a third party application, the key to getting a steady flow of traffic is to spend time on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Some elements of SEO can get very complex, and leave web admins feeling lost. But there are some things you can do to help your site gain more visibility in search engines without having to hire a consultant for help. Before we go any further, it’s important to keep in mind that “words” and “phrases” drive search results (and that most Search Engine Optimizers refer to these words and phrases as keywords). If you want to be found for standard web search, image search, video search, or shopping search, the core of your website’s ranking will be based on keywords.
Today I’ll be covering keyword research. In future posts I’ll cover other SEO elements.
Keyword research is the first, and most important activity that sets the stage for all SEO efforts. You can probably think of 10-20 terms that are relevant to your business. However, the way you think about your business might be different than the way your perspective customers think about your business. When building your keywords via keyword research, you want to think about your industry using a top down approach, then from your target audience’s point of view.
Google Analytics used in combination with keyword research tools are essential for understanding what users are truly searching for. These tools generally house data on search engine queries that have been conducted. They enable you to get an idea of which specific terms are searched for, and how often. They also allow you to enter terms and get back other similar, or related terms, including synonyms, variations, plurals, and misspellings that can help you build out a keywords database for your site.
When conducting keyword research for a new site, I always begin with Google Analytics data. The organic search traffic report reveals all keywords that bring traffic to your site today. If you don’t have Google Analytics set up on your website, you need get it set up before you can do a proper keyword analysis. Zemalf has a great Google Analytics set up guide. Look at the keywords that drive traffic, and ask yourself:
Do these keywords make sense for your business goals?
Example: If you are a blog or eCommerce site about nail polish and you get traffic to your site about rings and bracelets, you have a problem. When people search Google, Bing, and Yahoo! for “ring” keywords and end up on our site that is actually about nail polish, chances are they aren’t going to stick around. They’ll bounce right back to the search page they came from because your site actually wasn’t relevant to what they were looking for.
Begin a keyword spreadsheet and add only the most relevant 15-25 keywords that have brought traffic to your site. Next, you’ll want to use keyword research tools such as: Google AdWords’ Keyword Estimator, Google Insights for Search, Google Trends Keyword Demand Prediction, and Wordtracker’s Basic Keyword Demand. These tools will help you find new keywords based on search volume for your business. Not only do these tools provide data on search volume, many will give you an idea of how competitive the keywords are. All other things being equal, the lower the competition for a given keyword, the better your chances of getting a good ranking in Google, Bing, and Yahoo!.
If you run the nail polish website, keyword research tools might indicate the following as possible keywords:
- nail lacquer
- nail designs
- nail art
- nail trends 2012
- nail polish colors 2012
- 2012 nail colors
- nail colors
- best nail polish
- OPI Polish
- crackle nail polish
- shattered nail polish
- nail tips
- Chanel nail polish
- Butter nail polish
- zoya nail polish
Add these to your keywords spreadsheet. The total number of keywords on your spreadsheet will vary based on the size of your site, product/blog topic assortment, and the industry you work in. I’d say starting with a list of 40-50 solid keywords is best.
The best Keywords have the following qualities:
- They are highly relevant to your site, meaning they are terms that your website has content to support.
- They have medium – high search volume, meaning these are terms people in your target audience are actually searching for.
- They have relatively low competition, meaning there are fewer search results for the terms – which should enable you to appear higher in the search results, and get more traffic!
Once the keyword list has been established, we can put it into action! There are many advanced tricks of the trade, but for starters, you’ll need to use these keywords often throughout your site’s content. Add SEO keywords wherever you can (without sounding too spammy). Good places for keywords are blog post titles, blog post content, product descriptions, categories, and in product names. The more on-page visible content you have that contains the keywords, the better your chances are of ranking for these keywords. I’ll talk about other places to use your keywords to gain search visibility and traffic in more detail next month!