The 5 Essentials for Using Keywords

By Guest Writer, James Daniel

When using keywords, you can’t rely on your own instinct.

There are many types of tools out there that can help help you see exactly how people are phrasing their search for your product or service - from Google’s basic keyword tool to applications such as Wordtracker or Keyword Discovery. Whichever you use, you’ll end up with a huge list of real search terms – and the arduous task of producing a shortlist.

Profiling your keywords

Optimizing a page of web copy is time-consuming (and/or expensive), so it’s vital that you’re optimizing for the very best keywords - the ones that will send you a high volume of targeted visitors ASAP.

To produce this list, you’ll want your keywords to tick 5 essential boxes:

Keyword Essential #1: Relevance

Let’s say you’re a Travel Agent, scrutinizing a list of keywords that include the word ‘holiday’ - among the genuine phrases, you’ll find ‘annual holiday entitlement’, ‘school holiday dates’, ‘Bank Holiday bus routes’ and so on! So you have to strip out all the phrases that accidentally share your keywords.

For some industries, this is no small task. If you’re a model, your list will include all sorts of Airfix modelling kit terms! And if you’re an IT Consultant, well . . . how many times does the word “it” crop up on Google?

You’ll also find near-matches that don’t quite fit the service you provide. Get rid of these now, or you’ll be wasting your time – as well as the searcher’s.

Keyword Essential #2: Search Volume

There's no point optimizing your website for something that only brings a small number of hits. If your keyword is getting less than say 2 dozen searches per day, it might not be the best choice. Move onto something more popular.

Keyword Essential #3: Competitive Edge

Some keywords attract a lot of competition. Choose the wrong keyword (like ‘Travel Agent USA’) and you'll be saddling yourself with millions of competitors. It’s much easier to rank for keywords that your competitors have overlooked – just as long as the keyword still offers you a decent number of searches!

In most cases, this means finding a ‘long-tail’ keyword: a highly specific phrase that uses 4 or 5 words together.

Keyword Essential #4: Transactional Value

Is the searcher looking to buy, or are they just gathering information? Of course you can start a relationship with the ‘browser’ types and aim to convert them over time, but your efforts are better spent attracting people in ‘buyer’ mode.

As a rule of thumb, the shorter (and more popular) keywords show less commercial intention, while longer, specific phrases suggest the searcher is ready to buy.

So that’s another good reason to look for long-tail keywords: as well as a better ranking, you can expect a higher conversion rate!

Keyword Essential #5: Sustainability 

If 100 people search for something this month, there’s a good chance that another 100 people will do the same next month – unless there are seasonal factors (summer, Christmas) or other forces like changes in the economy or legislation.

Before you invest in your keywords, you need to be sure they’ll be sending you traffic for months (maybe years) to come. So if a phrase is part of a changing trend, move on and choose another keyword!

Now, how many keywords are left?

Once you’ve run these filters, your list will probably be reduced to a few dozen keywords – maybe less. Then you just need to map out your content and choose which keywords suit which page.

From there, you’re ready to optimize. But that’s another story…

James Daniel is a UK-based SEO Copywriter and MD of EarthMonkey Creative Media.
He runs regular one-day courses in SEO Copywriting.

You can follow James at:

Web: EarthMonkey Creative Media
Blog: Yet Another UK Copywriting Blog
Twitter: scribblinmonkey