Good Keyword Research Takes Time

To a business owner, keyword research can seem like a waste of time. You already know the important keywords for your field, right? So why not start building your website based on ranking for those terms? Well, it’s never that easy.

A good business owner believes that it’s worth spending some time on the factors that will contribute the most to the success of the business. These are the kinds of things that you’ll want to spend the time to do right. If you do business chiefly online, finding and using the right keywords falls into this category.

The fact is, if you expect (or hope) to be found via the search engines, or plan to do any online marketing, keywords will play an essential role in your business. As Christine Churchill explains, “Almost all online marketing has its foundation in keywords. The words you buy in pay per click, the terms you target for organic, the phrases you focus on in your own images and videos, all depend on making good keyword choices up front.”

Making the wrong keyword choices can cost your company money. If you’ve been reading the articles I’ve written over the past few weeks on keyword research, you know some of the keyword research mistakes online businesses can make, and how to avoid them. Perhaps the biggest mistake a company can make in the way of keyword research, however, is to not do it at all. The second biggest mistake is to rush it, without giving keyword research the amount of time and resources it deserves. Remember, using the right keywords can be critical to your company’s online success. Indeed, Churchill suggests it is as crucial to online success as laying a proper foundation is to constructing a building.

So what is involved in doing proper keyword research? Well, you can find a lot of tips right here on SEO Chat under our keywords topic. You may need to start by broadening your horizons. Make a list of all the keywords you think visitors might use to find what your business offers. Then ask your friends and family what words they’d use in a search engine if they needed to find a company in your field online. You might be surprised at the terms you’ve left out!

Once you’ve expanded your list, you’ll need to narrow it down. How much you need to narrow it down will depend on your particular offering. Victor Murygin suggests optimizing for perhaps 5-10 keywords if your site is small or you’re selling only one product or service. Large websites that sell more goods and/or services will of necessity target more keywords.

In any case, you shouldn’t narrow it down arbitrarily. At this point in your research, you’ll need to use a keyword research tool. Google’s AdWords tool comes in very handy here. This will tell you how many people are actually searching for particular keywords. Focus on the ones on your list that people are actually using in their searches.

Once you know which keywords searchers are using, you can start integrating them into your site’s content. Murygin recommends  using no more than three to four closely-related keywords on each page. “Using more than 3-4 keywords or over-using keywords can skew rankings and ruin the quality and integrity of content,” he notes.

As a writer myself, I find the quality argument most compelling. You’re creating content for your visitors – and these days, social media plays an increasing role in search engine rankings. If a visitor doesn’t enjoy reading your content, they won’t press the Facebook “like” button for the page or give it a “+1” in Google. And they won’t share the link. Increasingly, poor content will lead to a negative effect on your search engine rankings, which can lead to fewer visitors.

Once you’ve created compelling content with the right keywords, your job isn’t over. You will need to review your site’s keywords and traffic on a regular basis. People start using different terms for the same things over time; if you wish to stay relevant, you need to be prepared to change your use of keywords along with them. Tools such as Google Trends can help with this.

I’ve just given you a quick summary – really a sort of overview – of the steps you need to take to do keyword research properly. I haven’t covered such topics as checking your competition or understanding your keywords’ KEI or a number of other important points. But now that you’ve seen an outline of the process, you have no excuse for shirking this very important task. If you do a good job with keyword research for your site, you’ve taken a big step toward helping your online business succeed. Good luck! 

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