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Finding keywords for SEO

Keywords are one of the trickier aspects of SEO, and before you’ve even got to the stage of how many to use or where to place them, there’s the challenge of finding out what the most effective ones for your website will be.

When Google crawls your website and scans your code to understand what your site is about, and which searches it should appear in, keywords are the first signpost it has. It will then compare these keywords to the content on the rest of the page to see if it is relevant and if it’s worth ranking alongside other pages with similar keywords.

Put pen to paper

The first step to finding keywords for your page is putting pen to paper and writing down what your page is about, what questions it answers, and who it has been created for. This initial step will give you a direction to start in and allow you to hone in on the keywords that will help Google to understand what your page is about.

Start by selecting the page you want to optimise and writing down 10 search queries it might be the answer to – the aim is to get inside your audience’s head. Think about the language they might use and what they might be looking for, the query doesn’t have to be framed as a question. Repeat this process for each page you want to optimise, you should find it will become easier as you go along. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, go to Google and see what it suggests. Not only will it offer up popular search queries for keywords as you type them in but it will also give you ideas for related searches at the bottom of the search results.

Another free Google tool which can be helpful in analysing the popularity of a search terms is Trends, where you can see how many people have searched for something over a period of time.

Finding Keywords Using AdWords

AdWords is a tool for setting up Pay Per Click campaigns but it’s also a great way of researching keywords and finding out how much traffic they generate. You need an account to access its Keyword Planner (which used to be known as the Keyword Tool) but you don’t need to buy any ads to use it. The planner allows you to type in keywords and quantify the amount of traffic each one gets.

To use Adwords, login and click on “select your keywords” in the “your first campaign” stage. This will bring up the keyword planner where you can add and save the keywords and search terms which you’ve already listed in the pen and paper stage. It’s easy to compare how much interest there is in each one by looking at the search popularity bar which will give you an indication of how much monthly traffic each one gets. You can also click on “more like this” to generate similar search terms which you might not have considered.

Don’t be too competitive

It doesn’t pay to be too competitive when selecting your keywords, as high competition keywords (ones with a large number of monthly searches) will be dominated by well-established brands and sites that will be impossible to budge. By being smart with your keyword selection though and opting for more niche and less competitive search terms you stand a better chance of improving your search rankings.

It’s important to realise when planning your keywords the difference between short tail and long tail keywords. Short tail keywords are one or two words long and their tend to be large volumes of people searching for them. However, these search terms are harder to rank for because there’s so much competition it can be difficult, and in some cases nearly impossible, to rank highly for them. This is why it’s better to optimise your site for long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are search queries of three words or more and while there are less people searching for them they are easier to rank for and attract more targeted traffic, which is a good thing. Your page might be at the bottom of the search results for “bowling alley” but if it ranks number one for “bowling alley near my town” the person who find it is likely to be a lot more pleased with the result and a lot more engaged.

If you think you’ve found a good set of keywords the next step is to assess the competition. Use these search terms in Google and see what comes up. Pay attention to the sites at the top of the list of search results and see what your site could offer that these sites aren’t, or for inspiration on areas where your site could be improved.

If you need help finding keywords, or think think your site needs improving to set it apart from the competition, get in touch with one of our SEO experts here at Vu to see how we can help.

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