Picking the right keywords to focus on for your website seems like an fairly straightfoward process but I see people all the time missing the mark so I thought I’d spend a little time today talking about the process that you should be going through in order to pick the best words.
Let’s start at the beginning. What are keywords and why do you need to pick them? Keywords are the words or phrases that people enter into Google when they are searching for something. Let’s say they’re looking for web design in Northern Colorado. They’d likely go to Google and enter “web design in Northern Colorado.” Google then begins looking through its massive database of all of the sites in the world and trys to find just the sites that mention the phrase, “web design in Northern Colorado.” It then brings back thousands of sites that match the phrase “web design in Northern Colorado” ranking them from most relevant to least relevant. You can assume that the sites listed at the top are really about “web design in Northern Colorado” while the ones on page 50, way down the list, are less relevant. They might be just about Colorado. Or maybe they’re just about designs.
So the question is, “how do you get your site to come up in the top of the listings when someone searches for things related to your company?” You have to use the phrases that you want to be found for in your site. So let’s say you run a web design company. You want to be found for “web design in Northern Colorado.” But maybe you also want to do some work specifically in Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs. If you want to be found when someone searches for “web design in Denver” then you have to make sure you include that phase in your site. If you think a lot of companies are competing to get listed when someone searches for “Web design in Denver” then you have to really work on that phrase. You can’t just casually mention it one time in your site. You may have to dedicate several pages of your site to talking about “web design in Denver.” That way Google sees all of the sites that mention that phrase and they think, “Gee, this site is really about ‘web design in Denver’ because they mention it 7 times on 3 different pages.” The other sites just mention it 1 time so your site will likely come up above theirs because your site is perceived as more relevant. Now this is an over-simplification of search engine optimization so those of you who are reading this and are thinking that it’s not that easy, you’re right. There are hundreds of things to consider. You can’t just mention a phrase 7 times and bam, you’re at the top. But for illustration purposes, you get the idea.
Okay, so now you know that you want to be found when people are searching for “web design in Denver” and “Web design in Northern Colorado” but what if noone is searching for those phrases? You could spend all day working to get ranked well for those phrases but if noone is looking for them, it doesn’t do you any good, even if you are at the top of Google. So that’s why we need to do some keyword research. You need to ask Google how many people are looking for the phrases that are associated with your business. Let’s say that 200 people a month are looking for “web design in Denver” while 32,000 people a month are looking for “website design in Denver” which phrase should you focus your efforts on? Notice the slight difference? It’s the difference between web and website. It’s not uncommon to find that 10 times as many people are looking for one phrase as another. But without the research, you’d never know. It’s essential that you look at how many people are searching for each phrase before you waste time optimizing your site for a specific keyword. Once you have that research in hand, then you can dedicate the time and money necessary to promote your site on the search engines. Otherwise your site may rank at the top of Google (which is a pretty nice feeling) but what good will it do you if noone is searching for that phrase? It’s pointless. It’s a a waste of time.
I hope that helps.