Episode 2: Keyword Research
Top Keyword Research Tools
Google Trends (Free)
HitTail ($9.95 and up)
WordTracker ($27 and up)
WordStream ($199 and up)
I want to begin discussing keyword research by alleviating a very simple, yet confusing thing; and this is super important for beginners. The term “keyword” can be a single word, or more often, it can be three or four words that a person types into a search engine to find information, services, and products. The term keyword is as old as search engines, and one thing we’ve noticed with the evolution of SEO is that people are getting more savvy when using search engines. They know that the more words they type in, and the more specific they are, the better results they will get. So that’s why we see keywords are getting longer and longer.
Long tail versus short tail
This brings us to our next point about keyword research. Keyword length can be broken into two categories: short tail and long tail. Short tail keywords are obviously shorter, and often have one, two, and maybe three words at most. Whereas, long tail keywords usually have three, four, five or more words.
When getting started with SEO, many people focus on long tail keywords because they tend to be less competitive, yet they yield a very high conversion rate. Short tails keywords usually have a much higher search volume, but they often yield a much lower conversion rate.
If you think about it, it really makes sense. The more specific someone is, the closer they are to the buying process. It would be like someone searching for “Chicago condos”, as opposed to someone searching “2 bedroom Chicago condos for sale”. If you are really smart, you can do what I just did and target long tail keywords that have short tail keywords inside of them.
How to research keywords
Keyword research involves three things:
- Common sense
- Competitor analysis
- Keyword tools
The common sense part is really just asking yourself what you would type into a search engines to find your information, service or product. But don’t stop there. It’s not good to just focus just on “mesearch“. You’ll also have to do a little research as well. Start your research by looking at a few competitor websites. Look to see what keywords you see in their title tag, heading tags and content. Once you have some ideas, you will be ready to use a keyword tool. There are plenty of keyword research tools out there, however; because this is a beginners guide to SEO, let’s focus of Google’s keyword planner tool. Its free, very popular and gets the job done.
Google’s keyword planner tool is actually built for adwords users. Those are people who are spending money to advertise their site on the top of Google’s rankings. This is often referred to as SEM (search engine marketing) or PPC (Pay Per Click). Adwords let’s you bid on keywords based on search volume; however, SEO people use the adwords keyword planner tool to get a general idea of how many keyword searches are performed each month. Keep in mind, search volume is never 100% accurate in Google’s keyword planner tool. But it allows you to closely gage which keywords are better than others.
Local Keyword Research
The last thing I’ll mention about keyword research is that you should know the simple difference between a local keyword and national or global keyword. The local keywords tend to have a city or state in the keyword, whereas the national and global keywords do not. For example: searching for “Austin cars for sales” can show very different results than searching for “cars for sale”. Although Google is getting better and better at understand the user’s intent. That just means that Google is getting better at understanding if you’re searching locally whether or not you include a city or state in your keyword.
This just the basic information you need to do keyword research. Once you master this information, there’s infinitely more, so always stay a student.