Keyword Analysis Part 3 of 12
We’re continuing on with our Keyword Analysis series that is designed to guide you through finding the best keywords for your small business. If you missed it, here’s the link to read Part 1 Keyword Analysis: How Keywords Work and Part 2 Keyword Analysis: Spiders Algorithms & Customers.
Remember to have your business plan handy, so you can refer to it and make any additional note in it. As I mentioned before, if you haven’t had the opportunity to finish it yet, no worries, just do what you can when you can.
If you are just popping in for the first time, and are wondering “What business plan?”. Our first series was dedicated to putting together a Simple Business Plan to market your small business online. There is a downloadable kit and a series of 7 articles to walk you through step-by-step. So, go check it out here.
So, now let’s dive into part 3…
Refining and Sorting Your Keyword List
The next step in your keyword analysis plan is to separate the good keywords from the bad keywords. For our purposes, a good keyword is one that gets lots of searches, and a bad keyword is one so few people search for, it’s useless to try to build a web page around it.
For example, if you have a small business selling women’s clothes in a Chicago suburb, one of your keywords might be “women’s clothing Chicago.” Chicago is a big city, and that term probably has some decent search volume. On the other hand, your store name (unless you own Macy’s or JCPenney) will not be a good keyword. Yes, you can get your site ranked very high in the search results for your own name, but if no one is looking for it, that keyword is useless to you.
Google AdWords Keyword Tool
Update: Google now requires you to sign up for an AdWords account to use the Keyword Tool. It’s FREE and you can sign up using your gmail account. If you do not have a gmail account you can get one here free.
There are lots of tools available to help you determine which keywords are good and which are not so good. Some of the tools are free, and some of them are very expensive, but one of the best is Google’s own External Keyword Tool. You can find it here: http://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
This tool was designed to be used with Google’s AdWords program, as a way for advertisers to discover the best keywords to target with their pay per click campaigns (PPC). You don’t have to use PPC to benefit from the keyword tool, but you can gain a lot from looking at the numbers you’ll find here.
When you first get to the site, you’ll have to enter a CAPTCHA code to see the results. That’s to help keep non-humans from wasting bandwidth. Just enter the letters you see and hit enter on your keyboard and the pop-up screen will disappear, allowing you to access the page.
For simple keyword research, we’re only concerned with one section of this page. In the upper left corner you’ll see a box that says “Word or phrase.” That’s where you enter your keyword. Go ahead and do that now, then click “Search.”
In the main part of the page, you should see a long list of related words and phrases appear, with columns of numbers accompanying them. Going back to our yarn shop example (from part 2), if you entered “hand-dyed yarn” in the search box, you’ll now have a list of 100 potential keywords, including “hand dyed fibers,” “hand painted yarn,” and “hand dyed wool.” You’ll probably see a few you hadn’t even considered, but which might be good matches for your site, so go ahead and add them to your list.
The columns you see represent various kinds of data you can use when making keyword choices. The first column is labeled competition, and it shows you the number of advertisers who bid on that keyword in Google’s AdWords program. Unless you’re going to use PPC to drive traffic to your site, that probably doesn’t mean anything to you. However, it is a good indicator of the usefulness of a particular keyword, because advertisers don’t generally bid on poorly performing search terms.
Update: Google now uses the words “High”, “Medium”, and “Low” in the “Competition” column, I actually like this better than the colored bar you see in that column below.
The next column is Global Monthly Searches. This is the average number of times a specific term is searched in Google. The numbers are averaged across an entire year, so seasonal terms like Christmas cookie recipes probably don’t get searched much in July, even though the number is high.
The next column, Local Monthly Search, is the average number of times a specific term is searched in Google if you specified a country or language for your search.
If you place your cursor over a keyword you’ll notice a magnifying glass, click on it. You will open up a new screen in Google Insights for Search. This allows you to view search trends.
Update: Instead of the magnifying glass, now there is simply a downward pointing arrow. Click on the arrow and you’ll have 4 options: “Google Search”, “Google Insights for Search”, “Exclude term”, and “Show more like this.”
In Google Insights for Search you can easily tell if a keyword’s search numbers are spread throughout the year, or if there are spikes of activity. This will help you determine the best time to target specific keywords.
For example, it doesn’t make much sense to fill a gardening blog with posts about planting tulips in May, when the keyword phrase “planting tulip bulbs” is searched most often in the fall. (The example below is set to show search trends from 2004 to 2011.)
It’s Homework Time
Now, grab a piece of paper and your favorite pen and enter different terms, maybe even your favorite hobby, and just poke around and make note at the different trends, competition, and searches. Go crazy and get familiar with the information!
In the next part of the keyword analysis series we’re going to review what all these numbers mean in the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.
I’d like to hear what you think of this lesson, please share any question or comments below.
Hope this helps!