Keyword Research

Description: We've all heard about the importance of choosing the right keywords to include in the content of our website. But how do you find out which keywords are the right ones for you?

Keywords form an important part of the content of any website, regardless of what services it offers or what subject it may be concerned with. The basic rule behind the use of keywords is simple - if you use the right ones in the right places, you'll be rewarded with a steady stream of visitors from the search engines. If you don't use any at all, your website may as well be situated in the middle of the desert, because you'll probably get more visitors there than you will from the internet.

Some webmasters throw in keywords at random and only use the first few that come into their head, but this isn't the best way to go about the task and it will certainly result in you missing out on visitors who are looking for very specific information - information that your site might well be able to provide them with.

There are plenty of free keyword tools on the internet and it's worth using several to see which ones give you the best results, as well as which ones you personally like using. They can help you to identify which keywords you should be using in your site content, as well as alerting you to keywords you may not previously have thought of.

The great thing about keyword research tools is that you will usually be able to put in a single word, and it will return variations on that word as well. For example a recent search for the word ?cars' using a free keyword tool revealed that there were over 1.2 million searches for that single word in the past twelve months. Scrolling through the results revealed that the phrase ?Disney cars' was searched for over 57,000 times, and ?custom cars' nearly 22,000 times.

But how does this knowledge help you when you're searching for keywords and phrases to use on your website?

Your first thought would probably be to use the word ?cars' as many times as possible throughout your site, because so many people search for that word. But it's a very general search and the people using it could be after any kind of information at all. That's not to say you shouldn't use it at all, but what you really want to attract is targeted traffic - traffic that has very specific needs that match with what your website can offer.

For example if your website deals specifically in selling toy cars - models, Matchbox cars, model cars from television programs and movies and so on - then you would include relevant keywords and phrases throughout your site. If you have a page dedicated to famous cars from television and movies you would make sure that phrases relating to each specific car were included on that page. An ideal place to do this would be in the description of each car, but you should also include some keywords in the opening paragraph of text which acts as an introduction to the products on offer.

By doing this you will start to appear in the search results whenever someone searches for ?Dukes of Hazzard model car' for example. People who search for the generic term ?cars' might still find you, but there is a good chance that a lot of them won't be interested in model cars at all; they'll be looking for life size cars instead.

These phrases are called long tail keywords, and they are the secret to getting more targeted traffic to your website. Good keyword research techniques will lead you to the best phrases to use, and you will be rewarded in more ways than one.

Firstly you will find that it's far easier to rank more highly in search engine results for more specific phrases. This is quite simply because less people will be using them. Big companies such as General Motors have got the money and the resources to pay for a high placement with a general word such as ?cars' - something you can't hope to compete against. But with longer and more specific key phrases you have less competition, meaning that it's much easier to land on page one of Google in a more organic way - without spending a single cent to do it.

The second advantage is that because long tail keywords bring you highly targeted traffic, you will find that although you may get less in the way of visitor numbers, the visitors you do get are more responsive. You will probably get more sign ups to your free newsletter if you have one. More people will request information - and most importantly you will make more sales. If you were trying to compete to get top billing for the word ?cars', not only would you struggle to achieve your goal you'd also find that a lot of the visitors you did succeed in getting would leave your site very quickly, because it's not what they were looking for.

Researching your keywords can take some time but it's time well spent, and it's also worth remembering that it should be a fairly regular activity. Keywords that are popular now may not be so heavily searched for in a few weeks or months from now, so keep an eye on what's going on and change your keywords and phrases now and again as and when necessary.

There are a number of keyword research software programs available as well which require a fee to be able to download them, but they offer you far more in the way of features that can help you enhance your website. Free tools are more than adequate to begin with, but when your website becomes more established you may wish to invest in a recommended software program to help you dig deeper into the opportunities these tools offer you.

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